Greener Pastures Chapter 4 is out in a few hours, so what better way to get you stoked than an interview with one of the riders with some details of what you have to look forward to. He tells us about awesome Swiss board builders – Fibretec.
Hey Matt, how are you doing?
Where are you from?
Cape Town, South Africa
Is that where you started skating?
Yes, as kids it was what we did when the waves were bad. Pretty much everyone was into bombing hills back then because of the Red Bull DHX (which took place from 2000-2002).
I pretty much got into it in 2001, but not properly involved until 2009 when things started getting interesting with freeriding. The sport became a bit stagnant in South Africa after Red Bull pulled out of the DHX, but things are looking great internationally now, and better than ever locally!
Does the skating happen all over the country or just in a hot-spot?
Cape Town is certainly the hot-spot, due to the mountains and the fact that the local government spends a lot of money to tar the roads properly. Also, 4 of the 5 South African races happen in or near Cape Town, so the racing is growing fastest in the region.
Any racing happening now?
I just got back from Hot Heels Africa, the last race of the IGSA World Cup Series. It’s always an incredible race, and the vibe is incomparable to anything I’ve experienced at any other race.
Hot Heels Africa 2011
It looked awesome, and the Euro riders did well ! Now that the racing season is over, what are you up to?
I’m mostly taking easy at home, surfing a bit, and making some plans for some big mountain freeriding at a new spot we found that has always been a bit intimidating to skate, but now that a few of us have seen what is on offer in Switzerland, that is exactly what we are after! Big technical hills that require a bit of concentration.
Was this your first time skating Swiss hills ?
It was. I have always intended to come skate the alps, and finally my studies and finances allowed for it.
How did you end up there ?
I planned to come do the Czech Republic World Cup race at Kosakov, and then my plans evolved to include the Voss race in Norway, and then in the middle of the two I decided I should spend some time in Switzerland.
How did you end up in Greener Pastures ?
I heard a rumour about the trip, via Fibretec, and that there was an opening due to Kevin Reimer’s injury. I didn’t really think I had much of a chance, as there were a lot of riders around who would have possibly taken the spot, but in the back of my mind I was quietly hopeful.
Then while in Norway I heard that Fibretec had decided to take the last spot, and I was in.
So you didn’t have to slay a dragon or pass an interview to get in ? Lucky boy !
Haha no I spoke to Patrick a few times before, and he had said that there was a chance that I’d be able to join representing Fibretec, and then we were both in Norway for 10 days, and spoke more then, and filmed a quick clip for the race, so by the time the trip started I had skated with Pat a bit, and shown that I wouldn’t be a liability!
Haha good times. How many Fibretech riders were involved with GP ?
3. Myself, Samy Cantieni and Yvon Labarthe. It was cool to represent Fibretec through the 3 of us. Fibretec has been part of the Swiss scene, as well as the South African scene since way back when Stuart Bradburn was world champion in 2003.
What was Fibretech’s involvement in this project ?
Quite an integral role I think. Tamara, Patricks girlfriend, is also part of the Fibretec team, and she played a big part in the organisation of the trip. Reinke, the founder of Fibretec also seemed to be a part of the trip before I was even included, as Samy and Reinke are good friends, and worked together in getting things like the van camera ready with decals and stuff like that. Then Yvon’s role was quite big, as he is more than just a rider, but also a guru with technical filming. All in all it was cool to have a part of the Fibretec family on the trip.
Awesome. What’s the setup over at Fibretech HQ ?
Reinke Blättler is the founder of Fibretec, he runs the company and is pretty much the reason it is such a rad company with such a good feeling to be a part of. The factory produces boards in Zurich, and the factory is also pretty much skate central in Zurich, with most “pre-skate” and “post-skate” chill sessions taking place there.
I remember seeing a board being manufactured in Episode 1. Is that what you ride ?
That was a board being made at the factory, it wasn’t my board, just a flexy freeride board called the S-Flex.
I rode a Flying Pan Drop Through 960 this year, and the Top Mount version for a few days. The road surface in Switzerland is crazy grippy, so I stuck with the drop through for most of the trip, as freeriding for me is easier on such grippy tar with a lower board.
The Flying Pan is something I am very stoked about, it was released at the beginning of this year, and was everything I was looking for in terms of freeriding, it has a micro-dropped platform, which is something that I was looking for to help with the control of long standup slides. It is also cool to race and freeride the same setup, something that I have always wanted in a setup.
Another revelation for me was skating Abec11 Classic urethane in the Swiss Alps. Myself and a few South Africans were freeriding the first spot featured in episode 4, and decided that Classic Thane and Swiss roads were designed with each other in mind! Flashbacks and Zigzags in 81a to be specific!
For most of the trip I skated Flashbacks, with Zigzags getting thrown on for faster freeriding, and 76mm Flywheels for racing at Kosakov.
My truck setup is Aera’s with 176mm hangers and 46° baseplates, with 90a Fat Ant bushings. It seemed the 176mm 46° Aera setup was the most popular on the trip, probably due to the fact that you can race and freeride the same setup! Fat Ant bushings are another cool South African feature on the trip. A Cape Town product, with quite a few big names including Ramón Königshausen riding them, and it was good to put them to the test in the Alps.
My setup stayed pretty much the same for most of my 6 weeks in Europe, with a few days on the topmount Flying Pan, which proved far too grippy for the tech standies we were mostly doing for the filming.
I did flip my trucks for the Kosakov race, just because the first corner required some high speed footbreaking. Apparently flipping trucks is not what the cool kids are doing! Patrick’s back truck is flipped, so I took some consolation in that! haha
What can we expect from episode 4 ?
The theme of this episode is “Landscapes”, which is a huge part of travelling in Switzerland, as nearly everywhere you go, you are greeted by some epic scenery. This episode also features most peoples favourite Swiss road (James mentions it in episode 1), a highly technical freeride road, with more slippery tar than the rest of the country. It is essentially a single lane road that leads to nowhere, but has 18 hairpins, each with it’s own subtly different pre-corner kink. The kinks before hairpins are what most people don’t realise is the tricky part of skating the swiss roads. They force you to either pre-drift too early (especially if the hairpin is toeside and the kink is heelside) or pre-drift too late (when the hairpin is heelside and kink toeside). The end result is that you start railing the kinks and going for the super late slide, which is really difficult to get right, but ended up being one of the hardest parts of racing the Kosakov, so I was glad to get the practice!
Also included is the much anticipated Flare skating scene. I didn’t really know that it was voluntary (George pulled out after his faceplant, and James stayed put in his tent), and when I was woken up and told it was happening, was too sleepy to question the safety of the situation. The instigators had been getting rowdy that night, so I was really questioning how much thought was going into the situation, especially when a massive box of flares was dumped on the floor and we started taping them to the front and back and bottom of our boards, and a few on helmets for good measure. It was pretty impossible to ride with the flares unless you were the first person down the hill, as the combination of smoke and blinding light meant you were essentially skating by wire, with about 2 metres of visibility, and a vague idea of where to go. Needless to say, Kyle bailed after one run, I bailed after 2, not sure how it went from there but I do know the crane car got involved and the shots they got were pretty epic!
WOW. Was this your favourite part of the trip ?
It was probably my favourite 2 days, for a few reasons, but a big factor was that the session there was “open” in that all the skaters in the area were invited to come session for that day, which included 5 of my South African friends who were in the area, 2 of which are part of the Fibretec crew, and really good friends from home, Ben Malherbe and Paul Du Plessis. Ben had been living in Zurich for a year, and had been getting myself and Paul really amped to skate the hill, and so for the 3 of us to session the hill together was really cool, and a much needed break from the intensity of skating and travelling for 2 weeks with the cultural melting pot that was the green van!
What was it like living in a van for 2 weeks with the rest of the guys ?
It really was an interesting experience. I joined the trip as probably the least travelled skater, as this was my first “euro-tour” and so for me it was pretty overwhelming to be thrown into a bus with guys who I’d only seen on videos, and had been pretty inspiring in terms of their skating (James Kelly and Kyle Martin deserve special mention here). I have lived and worked in close quarters before, so I new that things would probably get tense occasionally, especially with the huge differences in the Swiss and Canadian interpretations of “getting it done”, but pretty much any bad feelings were resolved quickly, and in the end they were only due to the stressful nature of shooting such a big feature in such a short time with so many unpredictable variables.
How many of the guys had you met/skated with before ?
Ramón came to South Africa last year for Hot Heels, but I hadn’t met any of the rest of the crew before.
What are your plans for next season ?
Next year is my final year of my degree (Industrial Engineering) so I need to do my thesis, which will probably make it impossible for me to travel, so another euro-tour is not planned at this stage, but anything can change in the next 6 months! My plans as they stand are to freeride as much as possible, as that has been giving me much more stoke than racing has this year. Although in saying that, I underperformed at Hot Heels this year, which has given me a bit of drive to get back on form in terms of racing too.
Good luck with your endeavours ! If we get a van (or plane), will you come skate somewhere with us ?
For sure! I am dying to get back to Europe for another skate adventure, as soon as I am done studying I’ll be over for a few tours for sure
Choose 3 numbers between 1-13
1, 6, 11
1 – What do you take with you when you go for a skate ?
Water and suncream! it’s too hot in South Africa not to bring both. Every year the internationals who come to Hot Heels always get roasted by the sun!
(and your helmet :p)
6 – Do you like lemons ?
Only in a double Gin and Tonic.
11 – What’s your favourite sandwich filling ?
Tabasco. I don’t think that counts as a filling but for me it is the most important part of a sandwhich.
Haha you’re an interesting human being. It has been a pleasure talking to you. We look forward to seeing more of you in Europe!
Thanks for the opportunity, and I’ll see you guys next time I’m up North!
Quick thank you to Fibretec Downhill Boards for giving me the opportunity to join the Greener Pastures trip, and also Abec11 Wheels and FatAnt Bushings for their support!