Featured rider: Michal Velhartický

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Super cool Czech skater Michal tells us all about downhill skating in his country, the best race in Europe, and matching his bushings and socks.Ahoj Michal, how are you? Čau! I am all good, don’t want the winter to come yet! Fall is the part of the year when you have the most skills after the summer season. How do you survive winter? I snowboard, that’s the only way! I skate this shitty hill in the city at night, if it’s dry. I don’t care about the cold so much. There are lots of deep holes and cracks, pretty much like one line you can skate down. What city do you skate in? Prague Nice places to ride? A few. You have leave the city when you want to bomb hills, and I can’t really do that during the week. There are spots so to freeride, and do slides as well. Is there a community there? Oh yeah, there is! The stoke is spreading like crazy these days, pretty much like everywhere else. And the fashion too, it’s cool to have a longboard you know! What’s cool about it? The carrying and posing at tram stops and parks, matching your bushing to your shoe laces, that sort of stuff haha. How cool are you? Mega cool! I have lots bushing and various colours of shoe laces to match them. When did you start skating? 2009, before the first Kozakov was about to happen. Who else was skating in Prague then? Čutka, Vinčenzo, Joshua, Thomas Kahle, Jergen and other people I didn’t know. What is the community like? There are lots of kids who are really into slides more than into bombing hills. I guess it’s an easier way to start when you don’t have a car. We had a race this fall in the city called Slivenec Dh skate cup 2012 and lots people showed up with leathers and skated fast. I was stoked to see that. I would say there is a core group of skaters, I mean those who come to skate at Kozakov Challenge every year, people who will skate it next year, kids who are getting better and then kids who are into slides and don’t care about downhill at all. What are you into? Speed! Bombing! I like technical and fast tracks. Who organised the Silvenec DH skate cup? Kokeš, Crocan and I. Other friends ( Thomas ONE15, Šéta) helped a lot too. Why did you make a race? There wasn’t really any other offical event beside Kozakov Challenge and not everyone is on a level to skate it or can spend money on the riders fee. We actually had lots of people saying that they want to race, but they will come to freeride only. That pissed me off. The riders fee was really low. All this whining about ”racing is not me” made me angry. How can know you if you never tried it? We had a nice hill with hay. Why were people complaining? They’re pussies! Didn’t appreciate a closed and safe hill which was near the city. Only a few losers, but it was still surprising to hear that. The event went very well, we got nice feedback. I was very glad we did it, even for the price of time and stress. There was nothing really to complain about, we got lots of freerides and a smooth race. It made me wonder why other people who organize an event cannot do it too. Are there other national races/freerides? Freerides yes, unofficial. A couple of slide jams this year. Time trials at Kozakov Challenge has always been considered as the Czech championship. Something is cooking for next season. Something big! I don’t know much about it, I am not going to be very involved. Who is the Czech champion? Pavel Zajic got first this year. Big guy, he won for the fourth time in a row. He’s a legend from Brno (33 or 34?), so fast! When are we going to see a Czech guy on the Kozakov podium? Next year! What is special about next year? Nothing really, there have been other friends from around the world and Europe winning, a Czech dude should be there too. We started with a girl on the podium this year – Lenna. When did you start skating down hills? 2009, right before the first Kozakov Challenge. Kozakov was my first real downhill. I skated on this piece of crap with independent trucks which Thomas Kahle let me use. After two weeks he told me about Koz, I had never heard about it at that time. He told me to bring a helmet and all the pads I have, so I showed up with a regular bike helmet and some skate pads, silly! To see people with Evos and in leathers seemed to so bizzare and lame! I was thinking to myself that ”I like longboarding, but this is too much”. On my first run I was wobbling like a mad man, tried again, I was better. It totally changed everything for me skateboarding wise. I knew that I wanted, to go fast and faster. What is your role in the Prague community? I am just a kid who likes to skate. I try to hit people up to go skate. There is a freeride event I would like to do next year, nothing big but gnar! Where? Prague, it is still just an idea… I hope I can make it work. Won’t say more, I’ll send you an invite! What was your first race? Almabtrieb 2010. How did you do? Not so well, I qualified but the heat was crazy, I had a fever, lots of people got sick, I was vomiting all over the place till 4 in the morning. I didn’t really feel like I was there hahaha. Is there anything you remember? The fast straight! Awesome vibes. Crazy heat too, too much sweating on the bus.| What did you learn from that first experience? That I needed to skate faster! How did that first taste of competition impact you? I wanted more of it, we did almost the whole tour. Really awesome trip. Who is we? The czech team. Lenna Salačová, Adam Rogul Roguljič, Michal Černý ( Čutka), Michal Slivenecký, Vinčenzo Jarda Kejř What other races did you do in 2010? Graveyard call, Teolo… Missed Insul, ran out of money and had to go to work, and then Kozakov too. https://vimeo.com/50718075 Do you guys have a national association? There are two for some reason. ČLA ( czech longboard association) and also Czech gravity sport association. Are you involved with either? I think both, I am not running any of them. What is their purpose? CGSA does Kozakov, CLA helped to do Slivenec DH. They are not competing, but both plan lots events for next year. It will be sick from what I hear. What do you ride? wolfshark, longbird trucks 180mm, 46°, biggiehawgs, KMFSU, 84a zombies are fun. Are any of those your sponsors? Yeah, I was asked by Longbird truck to skate for them and Thomas helped to hook me up with Landyachtz co-sponsorship and ONE15 longboard shop. What is a longbird? Czech presion trucks You have bro model trucks? Haha, no! I helped with some details, the design was done by Dusan Kocar, he is an engeenering master! They have a final version, which is now available for sale. What makes them different from other trucks on the market? To be honest I haven’t tried many other trucks to compare them with. There are probably three people with aera trucks here, maybe some surfrodz. Not many others but I was skating Kahalanis for the past couple of years. They have unbendable axles, made from gnarly material, the kingpin is precision (I was breaking lots of kingpins for some reason, which is scary when you’re going fast on open roads), they are very light, the geometry feels very stable. There is no crazy slop, the pivot cups hold the pivot at the right place, they are more affordable than other CNC trucks on the market. What do people in CZ ride? Mostly cast trucks. They would rather burn more wheels than have a set of nice trucks. They think 350-400 is too much! Also not so many dealers selling popular trucks from north america. What do you do when you’re not skating? I work a full time job, go to school, love my girlfriend. What are your plans for next season? I want to race a lot, but if I find things fishy like they were this year, I am going to freeride only. I want to spend my money on skateboarding not standing around and getting frustrated. The future seems promising. How was this year fishy? Not enough protection, late starts, shortened tracks, cancelled race days, pushing out of corners, lots of waiting, that sort of stuff.  When you go to a race, you expect a standard from it, because it costs money. Also considering things you sacrificed to get to there, like days off work (I have a full time job, I need to use my vacation days very wisely). That gets me really pissed off! The fact is that some people just suck at organizing. Don’t do it if you don’t want to be doing  it. It takes time, it causes stress, but once you decide to do something, do it properly! That goes for everything in life. What should have been done to stop this frustration? You need to think when you organize an event, I don’t understand why some would want to fuck it up! If you have average inteligence  and you skate, I believe there shouldn’t be a problem. But there is. I have organized a race, and nothing went wrong, the weather sucked on the first day, and we got lots of freerides. People were happy because they skated a lot. How do you think changing the sanctioning body will change your race experience? For better or for worse. I think for better since the IDF is looking pretty cool with all the names behind it. I don’t like the way the IGSA want to do three types of ranking. I come to a race to have fun and also want to skate, to compete and see the big names and see how people from the other sides of the world skate compared to me. I also think it would lead to more waiting. Repercharges are doing the job. I mean letting people who didn’t make it to the race, to race and even still manage to still get in. That makes me think of Sammy Hasselberg, he went through the whole repercharge and ended up like 9th in the race or something like that haha! Lots of skating in two days! As a Czech skater, how does it feel to have Mischo on board the IDF boat? Mischo is a true legend! I love when he hangs out with us, his czech is very clean. No slang and crap, funny! He has the best advice about skating. He laughed at me this year at Kozakov, when I was considering whether to predrift or to footbrake. He said “ predrifting is for stupid people, are you a stupid person Michal?” and I was actually way faster. It just works for me better on this hill. Predrifts are more fun though. Mischo is a very experienced rider and organizer, he knows what’s up. Choose 3 numbers between 1-39. 37-38-39 37: Daisy Johannes asks: What is the craziest thing you’ve crossed paths with while skating down roads? Hitting a wall after crossing a red light and not hitting the car that was in front of me. 38: Ari asks: Would you rather have a dorsal fin or gills? Gills definitely! 39: Possala Wang asks: favorite dance move? Pogo! It’s been fun talking to you bro, hope to share more stoke from your side of world and maybe even hang out next year. Thank you as well. You’re funny. There are definitely going to be invites to all bros from around Europe next year for some skate fun Any thank yous? Everyone I skate with. ONE15 for getting me into this. Kozakov organizers for making my very favourite race every year. Links https://vimeo.com/user5140415 https://vimeo.com/user5615849 http://www.longboard.cz/ http://longbird.cz/ http://www.longboardshop.cz/ http://www.landyachtz.com/

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