Featured rider: Federico Barboni

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More European unification chat with a master from Italy with Federico; aka the man behind teamflat.it and the Verdicchio race aka Don Giovanni. He tells us about his passion for yoga, downhill skateboarding and Italian fashion.

Ciao Fede, Where are you from?
Ciao! I’m from Jesi, a little town up the hills in the province of Ancona in the middle of Italy.

When did you start skating?
I started skating when I was 14 in my local place. During the summer I skated a lot with my friend from a city close to my town. I’ve practiced many sports in my life, from skating to basketball, but I always thought that this would be one of the most interesting sports that links passion and feelings with nature and emotions.
At the age of 15 I discovered for my first time the gravity sports (thanks to my friend Roberto Marasca that was the first Italian that ride a streetluge here in Italy)  that has opened a fascinating world made by adrenaline and wheels. Streetluge first made ​​me fall in love, then the downhill skateboard made ​​me totally dependent!

How has your dependency on downhill skateboarding evolved since you were 15?
Well, the first impact with the downhill skateboarding was a bit scary because it was totally different from “take a short board and go in a local spot”, in fact my first run was without leathers, just a pair of jeans, a t-shirt and an helmet (of course) with my friend who told me: “Now go faster than you can!”. I never forget that tip and after that I was focused on finding new roads to shred in Italy. I was so lucky because in Italy there’s a federation that support soapbox downhill and since nobody knew downhill skateboard, we started to go to their events to promote this new sport. It strongly grew up in the last 6 years with that federation and now we are trying to manage it through a new federation named DSI (Downhill Skateboard Italia) because we are becoming more numerous than soapbox!

Who founded DSI?
DSI was founded by my friend from north Italy Massimo Poletto, he is the father (maybe the ones in 1999) of downhill skateboard since I started going downhill events. We were always in contact with them because we were the only one in Italy and since two years we thought about a real federation for manage downhill skateboard events through all the Italian regions. Now my job in the federation is to evaluate the roads that could be fine for an Italian Championship. For 2012 we have actually just one confirmed in the north part because many organizer are getting in trouble with laws of their cities, but we’re looking forward for a greater understanding of the sport in the coming years.

What is the Italian Championship?
The Italian Championship should be a sort of downhill skateboard event through Italy where people earn points to be the master Italian Champion of downhill!! I think like an IGSA World Cup in miniature size ahah!
In 2011 we had Figomoro Contest in north Italy and Verdicchio Race in my region as the final of the championship. I think Verdicchio was a great opportunity for young Italians to ride close with a lot of excellent riders from all over the world and we hope to give this opportunity again soon.

Who organised those 2 contests?
Figomoro Contest was organized by Original Parkerz Crew of Massimo Poletto and Verdicchio Race from Team Flat Family, that is me and Roberto Marasca. For us Verdicchio race was really a great job which have tried to give a strong kick to Italy to hear that this sport is becoming more strong every day.

Was this the first event you organised?
My first event was “Marche On Speed” in 2007, on a hill close to Castelplanio where the Verdicchio Race was held last year. It is deeper and probably more technical than Verdicchio but actually the concrete is a bit rough so we did again in 2009 and then the Verdicchio Race in 2011.

Who is the Italian champion?
Actually the Italian champion for senior class is Massimo Poletto (good old fox!) and for the Junior class was Lorenzo Lucchese. I think a lot of teens are becoming strong here in Italy and I hope to see them soon in some IGSA events as well.

What is women’s skateboarding like in Italy?
I wish to see a women division soon in Italy too but as you know, Italy is the home of fashion and most of girls here are more attracted by the fashion than by the chance to experience the thrill of downhill skateboarding. In my opinion this is really sad but I’m sure that we will find some chicks soon!

Do they practice other disciplines?
I’m not quite sure about how they waste their time (everything outside downhill skateboard is wasting time, I’m joking!), but I think that a lot of them usually dance like TV stars or practice “making up”  for pseudo-competitions on the streets for the most beautiful. Really lame scenes!
But I wanna be good with them too, in fact I should admit that I met some girls in Milan that are getting involved with downhill skateboard, a part of them with slalom skateboard but anyway is great to see them shake over a board! C’mon chicks!

What is Team Flat Family?
Team Flat Family is an idea born in 2000 from me and Roberto Marasca. It became an association in the same year and we get through the years more than 10 sign-ups per year. We have always provided our athletes the boards and wheels for their first try and a lot of them continue to love this sport. Actually we’re starting some short courses in the primary schools around the province to give the opportunity to discover this sport and to fall in love with it. I’m really positive about this point and I hope one day to see my dream realized, the dream of seeing more and more children over a longboard than in a soccer field, and in Italy this dream would be like win a big battle for me.

Does your dream extend to the rest of Europe?  
That’s for sure bro! I think that Europe has a huge potential in gravity sports, I met a lot of people from all over Europe and everyone are getting really obsessed by this feelings, so my hope is to see more people involved in downhill skateboarding. My dream is to get a huge European Tour through all the countries, because sometimes mostly riders can’t afford all the costs to move overseas, so trying to have more dates in Europe would be a way to give the opportunity to all to ride more during the sport season. In the meantime, a lot of companies are growing in Europe with stuff of excellent quality, then the combination of endless roads and quality stuff makes Europe a fertile territory for a big supported tour. For example I’m riding since the last year just European stuff (Fibretec or Olson & Hekmati boards, GOG’s trucks and DTC wheels, Risch Helmets this year and Icaro before) because I’m happy to give my money to a “local” producer.

Euro or DIE!
Yeeeeeeeeeeeeahhhh!!!!

Are you looking to collaborate with other associations in Europe? 
I really wish to do that. Now there’s only some drafts and ideas with some my friends in Germany, but last year at Verdicchio Race I had the opportunity to talk with a lot of guys from Sweden and Norway and we’re all riding the same frequencies about this fact. Obviously we will need a critical synergy between all the european association that will wanna let this possible, but I’m sure that we will keep smiling and we will realize this dream!

Man! You know we’re in.
Of course my friends, you will be an important part in this mission as well, all that will do something to get this possible.

Robert Marasca is your best friend?
Roberto is THE FRIEND. He’s the man that put a streetluge in my hands  for the first time: indy trucks, krypto classics, oh man, good times! He was the first streetluger in Italy and he was just 200 meters from my house, the impact was inevitable! He brings me for the first time in an IGSA race in 2007 in Thun (Ch) at the Alp speed race, where he get a third place in streetluge. After that, all the years we get in all the most important IGSA race in Europe, from Peyragudes to Almabtrieb till Kozakov, where in 2010 I get my first third place in Streetluge.
We always stay together in the week, shredding hills, doing free climbing, yoga sessions (yes YOGA my friends! Dasha Kornienko knows why!) and this fact gave both the opportunity to think everytime how the gravity sports had changes through the years and how this had changed our lives forever.

Haha why Yoga?
When I think about Yoga I say: Yoga is a good activity to get the right balance between your body and your mind. Yoga can  really help the rider a lot, one because it’s like a powerful stretching and also because you can improve your body knowledge, and as my favourite philosopher Schopenhauer said “Know yourself to be happy the day that you will be alone” I say that Yoga could be a way for find the inner happiness (combined with downhill skateboarding indeed!)

Do many Italians practice streetluge now?
Until two years ago I would have said that the Streetluge dominated the Italian scene of gravity sports, but now I can fully say that now the downhill skateboarding is practiced by more people in Italy even if the Streetluge and Buttboarding  are still practiced by lots of people.

Have you tried downhill soapbox before?
NO, NEVER, AND I WILL NEVER TRY THAT SHIT!!

Too scary for you?
No, too lame to be considered a gravity sport like the others. Maybe could be funny to see them going down but anyway they’re really slow. Most of them use big bearings as wheels and most of time they destroy the concrete after few runs, so taking a good line becomes really scary because the road becomes a bit dusty.

Back on the subject of a single unified European Association – what needs to be done for this dream to be realised?
I think first we need more to communicate among the various regions: we have the connection between all each others but our ties are weak, we have a well known potential but sometimes different languages let this doubtful (Italians in primis!), so I think that first of all we need the most important thing: find who is really interested on it, to get a serious representative of every region and after start step by step to develop the real scene for this sport. I know many riders that have lots of experiences behind event developing and I think that they are of my same idea.

Via what channels?
In our era we have plenty way to be in touch all each others: for the managing between the representant Skype could be the best way to keep in touch with all, also smart application for smartphone like WhatsApp would be fine for fast updates. The website will be like the “virtual riders meeting” where get the officials communications and the social network will help us to spread to the world that Europe is coming up with a super scene!
I studied 5 years IT & Management at University in Bologna and I would love to give my skills to build this awesome project.

Many of the people we also talk to are. We spoke to Thomas Kahle a few weeks ago, he is definitely up for bringing the Czechs into ‘’Longboard Europe’’. Koma is also in!
I know Thomas since the first edition of Kozakov race and we have great love and understanding between us. We ride the same frequencies about this idea and maybe we need to be more in touch to join our skills and plans.

What would be the advantages to the riders irrespective of discipline across the continent?
Well, I think that the advantages that can give a European federation like this one thought could be many: involving partners from different economic sections in a huge project like this one, will give the possibility to spend more money to the riders prizes and event stuff, for example RFID for the timing system (really small passive chips that are activated when they are close to a receiver recognizing chips, it’s used a lot in the metro, Skipass, sport club, and also could be useful for this purpose). Or start numbers more pretty that doesn’t waste helmets (maybe this is merely an Italian fashion influence ahah!) and for keeping updated all the different tools that the federation will use to let everything comfortable for the movement.

Aside from the Italian championship, how was last season for you?
Unfortunately because of the Verdicchio Race (and my Master Degree before) my last season had just one event which was in Milan where I was first in the downhill contest and one in Turin where I get a first place in the slide contest. After Verdicchio all the Team Flat take their shit and went at full speed at KnK Camp to shred as much as possible and chill with the others. People from Slovenia was so cool and I hope to be there this year soon in May.

What are your plans for next season?
For the next season all the IGSA European Championship and maybe something outside the boundaries but I’ve to deal with my job. Also there will be the Figomoro Contest in north Italy and some Open Skate Day between Milan, Florence and Turin about slalom skateboard. Sounds like a nice season back on the road! Can’t wait for it!

See you at Bo Peep Don Giovanni?
Ahah right bru! See you there for the European openings!! or as Italians says: “Ci vediamo bro!”

What do you do when you’re not skating?
I work as a SEO Webmaster of a food company here in my town that sell typical Italian food through an e-commerce, during the week I do free climbing, downhill skateboarding and yoga, the weekend just shredding hills indeed. And in the meantime I’ve some time left for sleep and eat ahah!

You only practice downhill?
No of course, I like dancing when I go out after work or pumping with my slalom board when I’m free, unfortunately my city doesn’t offer long roads to shred, but skating everything can keep the smile on your face every time.

Choose 3 numbers between 1-24
3- perfect number
12- my number
23 . Michael Jordan

3 – What impact has longboarding had on your life
Longboarding gave me the opportunity to challenge myself and feel the World in it’s truly his nature.

12 – What’s your favourite band
Air, Pepe Deluxe, Pennywise, Apocalyptica

23- Bacon/Chocolate?
Bacon before chocolate

Bru! You are the man. It has been an absolute pleasure talking longboarding with you tonight. I can’t wait to skate with you, but I won’t be leaving any women I like around you!!
AHAHAHAH Beware!!
It was a pleasure for me too bru, you and your staff are doing a really excellent job, keep this forever!! See you soon in UK!!

Haha, no staff! Just bros.
True!!!

Well I think that’s all for now, I hope to get all the things above done next time that we will talk!! I just wanna say a big THANK YOU to all the people that make possible the Verdicchio Race last year and a special thanks to my photographer David Marsili for his beautiful pictures around Italy!