Don Giovanni came through the studio and told us THE SECRET to winning his upcoming IDF race in Italy. We also discussed Italian skatehouses and awesome hamsters! Fede Mercury! Stoked to finally do this! How are you?
Finally! I’m good mate, super.
How’s your week looking?
It’s looking full, the schedule is tight and I’m fighting between lots of things to do for the race, but I’m not worried about because I know that the crew is on the course, like me.
What race are you preparing for?
Well, this year Roberto Marasca and I will celebrate 15 years since we started to ride street-luge and eventually, longboard and, as lot of people asked for another race from us, we thought to organize the Verdicchio Race again in our country, making it bigger with a 4 day event instead of 3 and choosing a road that represents an important part of us during these years.
We’re so excited to make it happen and I can’t wait to see all the people from all over the world again up in the beautiful hills of our Italy.
15! Is there a party to mark this date?
It will be definitely a party to celebrate this on Saturday after the awards. I actually don’t know clearly if we’ll run around completely naked but I think that we’ll figure out something soon.
When was the first Verdicchio?
The first Verdicchio Race was in 2011, hosted in Castelplanio (An), it was a big success for us and for the riders too that gave us lots of positive feedback during this years; we’re so happy about that because the municipality and the populations around the town, understood better the benefits that could comes from a sport event like that and the demonstration is made by all the positive vibrations that the people took back home, respecting the lands were they’re hosted.
What did you learn from the first edition?
We learned that organizing such an event takes lots of effort and time, passion and patience. We understand that nothing is really finished till the last minute and that something can always go wrong. The important thing is to always be ready, keeping a smile on your face and learn from that situation, even if it’s a bad one. At the end there’s nothing better than the smiles of people from all over the world that come to your event. Getting positive feedback from 2011 every time I meet some one is the best reward I could ever ask for.
4 years later, will this summer’s race be different?
This year the first big difference will be the track: we (Roberto and Matteo Fioretti [the third head of the event]) thought about doing it again in Castelplanio, but the road got some new cracks close to the better racing lines, so we decided to move to the hill on the opposite side of Castelplanio, in Poggiocupro; this road is more fast and technical than the old one, plus for us, it’s a historical road, because it’s the road where we organized the first downhill meeting in 2007 with the “Marche on Speed” where there were still dirt-surfers and in-lines!
How different is this track from the old one?
The track is faster than the old one, top speed is around 80 Km/h and it’s very funny.
It has a quite long straight part, with few easy turn where you can (must!) tuck till you arrive at the pack of hairpins: here starts the rumble with one hairpin close to the other with fast acceleration in-between. The road is wide so there’s enough room for packs. After the fourth hairpin comes the “Campari hairpin”, a wide and fast hairpin with a tricky change of slope that’s could prove decisive for the race.
The name “Campari” comes from the fact that, through the years, all the spectators in that turn are always drinking and partying throughout the race, leaving their Campari caps after the event. Of course there will be Campari for the spectators this year too!
After this haripin, there’s an acceleration part that finishes into a flat left hairpin that could be tricky. If you survive till here, you’ve just got to tuck till the last right hairpin before the finish line. I personally lost a race in the last hairpin even though I was in front, so, don’t forget that last section!
Any advice for people coming to your race?
Yes of course.
First of all, it will be hot, damn hot, so don’t forget your sun creams and hats. Second, don’t become addicted to the Verdicchio wine too early, third, there’s no third at the moment but we’ll keep you updated.
This year we have no Peyragudes/Almatrieb, next year the competition for the IDF World Cup status will be tough!
I won’t hide that we were waiting to get the event sanctioned as a World Cup this year, as we thought we had done a great job in 2011 with IGSA, but apparently, as it would be the first event with the IDF we couldn’t be a candidate for a World Cup.
Reading some threads around I saw that lots of people were sad about that so we’re happy that it wasn’t only ourselves who had the same feeling about it. This means that we did a good job in the first edition and that’s more important that all the titles that you can get for the event. Peyragudes and Almabtrieb are epic events and they will deserve the World Cup for sure next year, but we’ll work to make it always better year by year, looking forward to getting a World Cup title next year.
Would Verdicchio be different as a World Cup?
My biggest dream would be to give the chance live stream the entire competition. We’re working on that and I wish to give this service in the next edition.
Are you attending any other races this summer?
Unfortunately I’m realizing that days are moving forward fast this year and with my new (office) job, I don’t find much room for trips as I wish. Maybe I’m getting old? Nah. It’s only a matter of time, now I have to deal with this job opportunity because of my master degree in Computer Sciences, but I’m looking forward for the next year to come back on the road. This year I hope to attend some freerides and to meet my friend Pablo Quilles in (finally) Alicante and Marcos Costa in Tenerife (for the 2nd time). I love to skate with them and I miss them too much (of course I miss the German gang too!)
When are we going to see rad skatehouses like theirs in hot mountainous parts of Italy?
I hope soon! I’m really looking forward to getting a place close to the mountains to set up a skatehouse. As Italy can offer lots of places to skate, I wish to find more than one skatehouse.
The Spanish have done it really well and Stuttgart has a sick skatehouse! What would the Italian version look like?
Yes they did a very great work and I don’t hide that I’m a little envious :P
The Italian version will look like a big dish of pasta I think! No I’m joking, I think that it will looks like every skatehouse around the planet, with the plus of good food and Italian coffee, that is not nuts!
What do you like about Costa’s casa?
When I was in Tenerife, I was in the first Costa’s skatehouse and it was very cool, enough space for the hosts and two animals; a cat and a hedgehog (that sadly died last year, I miss him a lot, he was so cool!)
Steezehaus in Stuttgart is awesome too, there’s a rad skate pool with a garden for the pussy, I dreamed to live there too many times.
I must go in Alicante soon, really soon, I hope before the end of the summer, can’t wait to be there for my first time.
Last time we spoke, you were getting ready for the 2012 season (damn we’re old), how did it go?
That’s right, we’re getting old! The 2012 season was the best season for me, I got 2 second places with the streetluge in Portugal at Lagoa Azul Pro and Descente! in Switzerland and two 3rd place with the buttboard in the same races of the IGSA Euro Championship. In the same year I become the Italian Champion of downhill skateboard and that was the year where I get for the first time a sponsor: during the past years, me and Roberto attended lots of races around Europe without a sponsor and without asking for that, we always believed that if something was to come, it will come without asking, and all the efforts made in 12 years at the end paid off. Lots of young guns now start to skate just for free stuff, but I always encourage to don’t forget that you must skate for yourself and not for the money or goodies, because goodies (more than money) comes at the right moment, always.
“…you must skate for yourself and not for the money or goodies. Goodies (more than money) come at the right moment, always...”
How stoked were you to get sponsored?
I was more than stoked! I would not believe it. In March, 2012 when I got my actual Risch Helmet, I was too excited for that: after helmet after helmet, I finally got my favourite and the best one I could ever ask, a Risch! It was an honor for me and things moved forward in the same direction with Cult Wheels: I met the guys in England at Bo Peep Festival and we had immediately a good feeling of each other, for me was like being on the moon when I was in the same room as them. They always supported me during the years and I hope to give back all of myself to them. We’re constantly on touch and I’m actually the Italian brand manager for Cult, Sabre and Lush to expand the knowledge of the brands in Italy too.
What did you get up to in 2013?
2013 was the year of SKOA Trucks. It was a case with them, I sent a mail to the guys asking for a pair of trucks to buy and I get back the reply with a proposal of sponsorship, I could not believe it and I was falling from the chair in that moment! So I took the chance to ride these trucks that I’m still using, I love them and thinking about the work and studies behind this truck, I think that is money well spent.
The last cool thing that happened in 2014 was the chance to be part of a TV Spot for Vodafone with my friends Roberto Marasca, Stefano Barbizzi and Fabiano Ferretti, it was an incredible opportunity for us and for the sport too, that got the visibility from a brand like Vodafone. I hope that chances like this will increase in the future for the sport in general, with a media coverage always more constant.
Still riding Dehmel boards?
Yes I’m still riding Olson & Hekmati board DH93 and still the same board that won in 2012. That seems weird for most of the people outside but I found my comfortable shape in that board so I never changed it.
Why are you strange?
Why am I strange? That’s a good question. I don’t try to be strange, I don’t like to sit and do nothing, I don’t like to watch and talk about what I see, I like to do things and push myself and this sport in my country as much as I can. I never cared about what others say. Since I was 14, I’ve been surrounded by people that didn’t like skateboarding and sometimes it’s still like this, but all the effort made during the years is yielding results. Strange is more the ones who don’t believe in what he prays.
Are the young guns putos like you?
No ones is like me okay? Don’t say it again.
Haha, young guns are more greedy than me (now), they have lots of places on the internet to find information about the hardware and about learning styles; they use lots of tech terms, “swag”, lots of things that comes from this new generation. In the past was nearly impossible to get all this knowledge about the sport and the stuff, so we invested more in hardware with a lot of tests with them. Now seems nearly impossible to ride without a precision truck, even if Matt-K proves that there’s no need for that to be competitive, so in my point of view, it’s only a matter of trying different stuff and trying and trying… of course this is expensive, but drinking or cool clothes are expensive as well, so it’s just about where you want to invest your money sometimes.
Who are the most promising talents in skating & partying to look out for?
In Italy now there are a lots of hot riders for me (in terms of riding and partying of course lol).
We have a great scene of longboarding in Italy, lots of young guns are getting strong event by event, Giorgio Garino for example, he turned 18 recently, but a few weeks ago at the IDF WC Lilly Hammer race, was close to the finals in the DH open class with riders like Kevin Reimer and Thiago Lessa, and this is for me is an exciting consequence of what’s going on in Italy. Also Stefano Barbizzi, Filippo Salerni, Patrick Lombardi, Giuseppe Maltese, Marcus Aldinucci and others, are definitely getting better day by day and I can only wish them the best and, of course, always more than I got from my effort.
At the end of our last interview, you said ‘’ I hope to get all the things above done next time that we will talk!’’ – referring to more skating in Italy, and some Euro collaborations. Any progress on that?
Of course: 18 events between April and October between Freerides/Races/Slidejam.
The events in Italy increased a lot in the last 4 years, many people understood the importance of making event to let this sport grow in the right direction: Slide Jam like “Slash the Temple” from the Landrockets Crew close to Treviso area in North Italy are gaining lots of success with their awesome location just after 2 editions, lots of freerides comes out from the south of Italy like in Sicily and I wish to see a downhill race soon.
In Piemonte region there’s even a regional championship with 2 or 3 races, in Emilia Romagna and Tuscany regions downhill races are increasing every year: that’s awesome, the dream of having a big scene in Italy too is not far from the realisation.
I’m always in touch with lots of people that want to organize a race or just a freeride, I try to give them all that they would need to organise an event. I’m looking forward to adding another event to my calendar.
You also said you only ride Euro material. Are you still supporting local brands?
I’m still riding only European materials yes, and more new brands born during the last 4 years in Europe. In Italy too there’s new brands like Owl Longboard, Zero 31 boards, Don Longboard, Wheelrun, that are pushing longboarding with new ways of construction, so I can say that the experience is growing and it’s nice to see that people wants to spread their knowledge with the Made in Italy sign.
Is the DSI still alive?
DSI is still alive but not so active at the moment. Lot’s of things changed in the last year.
After 2011, we gained the opportunity to get downhill skateboarding recognized by FIHP, that is the national federation for in-line skate and hockey which is recognized in turn by the Olympic Committee CONI.
FIHP recognized skateboarding since 1977 and admitted downhill skateboarding in 2012, and that was a big success for the integration of the discipline with the skateboarding, that has it’s own remarkable championship along the Italian peninsula.
This year Verdicchio Race will host also the Italian Championship for 2015 and we’re very proud of it, but we look forward to see more downhill race event that will join to be one of the Italian series for 2016.
Another respectful thing is that in this federation there’s federal instructor of disciplines as in-line skate, hockey and skateboarding, this opportunity has allowed us to integrate the teaching of skateboarding for children with that of downhill skateboarding, allowing riders to become federal instructors recognized by the CONI and therefore entitled to any teaching of the discipline as a regular teacher of tennis for example. I think that this could be a great chance for all that loves skateboarding and wants to spread the art without any complaints from the local administrations.
We’re working constantly with the other represent to let the skateboarding become a well practiced sport and we wish to see it at the Olympics Games in 2020.
Did you do much skating last year?
Yes I did, but never enough.
I miss travelling with lots of my friends from the other countries, but the time spent for the passion of skate during the travels made the friendship endless, and this is better than everything else.
How is Team Flat?
Team Flat is a nice place to stay if you don’t ask the wrong questions. It’s a quiet place where we eat good food and practice everything from buttboarding to downhill skate. There’s no following of trends there, and when someone tries to take good footage, most of the time doesn’t care about uploading them after. But it’s quite fun place to stay.
Are you having a fun year?
The best part has to come and will start soon!
Don Giovanni! This has been too much fun. Let’s hang out soon. Good luck for Verdicchio!
Any last words?
Do not throw cigarette butts on the ground.
https://vimeo.com/123706810 Verdicchio Race 2015 promo
http://theowllongboards.weebly.com/ The Owl Longboards
http://www.zero31.eu/ Zero 31 Longboards
https://www.facebook.com/DONLONGBOARD Don Longboard