This is a pretty damn heavy interview from one of the godfathers of Euro stoke. Honza tells us about his 5 year old baby – Kozakov and his newborn race Grim Mountain. He also shares deep thoughts on the IDF and some advice for downhill racers.
Ahoj Honza, how are you?
Hey! Rushed as always. We have just made the first CGSA national race, 70 racers on the road. From that, we are simply moving to the freeride, which will be next week. 14 days after that, there will be another race at the main city and in 8 weeks we are going to have Kozakov and Grim. So basically no sleep, TONS of work, but lots of happy times on the hill.
Things are blowing up there!
After all these years, a LOT of riders are popping up all over the country from the smallest village to the main city. Recently, 3 physical shops were opened and a lot of online stores as well. There are HUGE bands of riders who are just freeriding or sliding, but more and more riders are interested in downhill, which I think is the most attractive discipline. Here is the video from the race, made by our famous film team 3heads, who are making Kozakov videos every year. http://vimeo.com/66857400
What is the CGSA?
It is an organisation making events in the Czech Republic. We started it 5 years ago because of the need to organise the Kozakov Challenge. There were always rumours that “a national cup will be made” blah blah… Lots of talking but nobody did anything. So after 5 years of earning experience from Kozakov, I’m okay with the organisation of Kozakov on the international level. But still, after 5 years of talking from everywhere, nobody did anything the national level, so now we did that!
This year, we have more races than ever before in Czech Republic and luckily IDF heard our voices to have one more big race /(Grim mountain) at Cz, so we are making that as well. We will organise about 5 freerides and 4 races, Kozakov, Grim mountain and local events as well. New playground with much more stuff to organise to have a smooth races. I love organising races.
Who else is involved?
Me and another 2 friends. Petr “Seta” (Šéťa) and Jakub Krovak. We are the head, but without the work of all the community it would be impossible to make it happen. E.g. Jan Pataki knew about the place for the first race, he brought a LOT of friends who helped us and he supported this race from the start to the end. The next races and freerides are made with the same cooperation with people from the community. The aim is not to do things alone, but cooperate with the community as much as possible and I’m very very glad that people are not just sitting back and watching what will happen. They actively ask us if we can do this or that, we are trying to help them as much as they want and after it all both sides are happy.
Everybody is welcome here and we are very very glad, that people are helping. We have lot of events and lot of playgrounds where to go.
How will skating in the Czech republic change with the arrival of the CGSA?
We are now more organised. It is still about bombing hills, but with closed roads and no danger of cars. We are asking riders to have integral helmets and leathers. There is a community of riders not interested because it is not “punk”, but I think this is the way to grow the sport here. If race or freeride, then it should be a safe freeride or race.
We had a really bad crash at the race when one of the women hit a tree with her head and she was wearing a helmet, so the injury was hard, but not fatal. That is what are we trying to prevent. But not every rider wants to go this way. I understand, but then that rider must be ready, that there are dangers, and they need to be a man/woman.
We are getting organised on the national level which, I think is better for the system, because our voice, is much better heard than if just a group of friends will ask.
We are supporting our best riders as well and I fully believe that our best riders from Cz will kick a few a…es at the IDF races this year.
It changed how the community works and I’m happy for that. It looks like the head is here. We are trying to use our experience from organising Kozakov races and cooperate with community and people enjoy that. We are trying to share the experience and give the race organisers the best ideas we can offer, so the events will be unforgettable.
It changed the look of this sport on the level of every rider as well. Riders know where to go. The page www.cgsa.cz gives every rider exact information about each event. There is no confusion about what to do next weekend, just look at the pages and you are ready to go.
So basically, this changes everything on all levels. I hope people will be interested in this idea, or it could be another year of punk riding. For now, the feedback looks very positive so that gives me energy for other events.
It will be fun to ride events the CGSA is organising and you can expect a certain level of proficiency. At races race, medical care, closed road, party tent… If freerides, than closed track, transport on the hill by bus or tractor, closed road. Same level you are expecting. Yes, it will no more be that punk, but I think that many riders will appreciate that the road is their’s and there won’t be any fear of cars in front at the turn etc.
What’s the next step for the community?
Having fun like never before and having the first official National Champion! There are still a lot of steps, which the communities around the world have already made. We have to do the same. We will get people together, let them ride together and let them enjoy what they like and we will end with a big family on boards!
How was Kozakov ‘12?
As always – Fast and furious. 14 hours of rush to organise and then some sleep. I think and hope, that riders enjoyed that year. Personally, it was fun! The road was dry till the finals so there was a lot of screaming, partying till the morning and of course hard riding, sliding, carving and crashing.
It was a year when one of the parties name was “everybody who has a birthday this year has to celebrate it tonight” which was massive, second one was strong as well. You can see from the videos that people enjoyed it. We had 3 buses which was a good idea, there were a lot of riders already on the hill and it was okay to have them all.
Was it any different from previous years?
Hard one. I think that it is constantly ok, riders enjoy the road and the party. Smiles are still there as well as crazy behaviour, good mood and happiness. That is the arrow which shows me that maybe this race is okay and we would be happy to make another, year after year.
Can the Kozakov experience get better?
Every year, I sit on my roof trying to consider what happened; what was right and what was wrong. Always there is a lot of “if I would do that this way it will be better” and always I’m crossing fingers, that there will not be many things like this every year. But there is, so every time, there are experiences that can be much better.
How will the community benefit from your Kozakov experience?
We are using the experience earned at all the Kozakovs and we are using it at every event. It starts from where the tents have to be if it rains and ends with what has to be done to make the event as smooth as possible. Our experience makes running races more stable and riders will enjoy happy days of riding.
It was awesome to have an Euro bro finally win, when will a local win?
It is close! We are supporting our best riders, they are training hard and I hope that the day is close and we will finally beat the other nations. I think that all the other riders know why they constantly beat our riders. Can you imagine the party, if one of ours wins? Nobody will be able to move away for another 2 days, because of the sum of the alcohol in the veins. Nobody wants to risk that.
Is anything like the CGSA existing in nearby countries?
I heard that guys from Austria are making something as well, there are 4 organisations over Germany. Maybe there is one in Poland. For sure there are organisations like the CGSA, I just don’t know about them all.
The East of Europe doesn’t get nearly as much exposure online as the rest of us, will this change soon?
Lets hope so! Numbers of people have are massively increased in the last 2 years. What is normal in the Western part of the world is only starting here. You can see the growth in the riders, community and race organisers over this area. It is stronger every year, and it is a very nice view, how downhill skateboarding grows.
Last autumn brought the demise of the IGSA, did you see it coming?
There were rumours, that something had happened in Canada. Then came the wind of change and suddenly it was global and strong. It was the last piece of snow that started the avalanche. Riders and race organisers choose what to do and that there is a need of global change, and than the majority just swapped and continued doing what they love – enjoying downhill skateboarding.
There was a period of silence before you aligned yourself with the IDF, what made you decide to go with them and not the IGSA?
It is true. I needed to know, that our baby – Kozakov would get the best support and it will have chances to grow. So I asked race organisers what they thought, then riders and at the end members of both organisations. Mischo Erban helped me a lot to understand what is going on exactly and what is going on every day, since he can speak Czech very well. (Ask him to tell you a word “termoska” he can say that fluently!) Every person gave me a piece of valuable information. I made a mosaic and on that basis we chose, that for our baby Kozakov and for the idea how to organise races seems to be the better way to go with IDF.
What was the most valuable piece of information that made you choose?
There was a lot of information I had to resolve with my own ideas; how the global organisation should work, where to move and what to do. Fully understand, that it can’t be done by my heart, but the new born organisation was much closer to my own ideas than the older one and with every piece of information I got more involved to choose the new one.
In the end, I just wanted to see the constitution to be sure that our baby is going to an organisation which will provide a safe background and there will not be any issue with a fatal ending. I’m now very optimistic that IDF will be a very good organisation and it will help riders and the sport globally.
Observing from the sideline, it seemed that if the IGSA had gotten Mischo, then Kozakov, maybe they would be alive today.
I’m not the right one to judge this. From my side I’m very happy that we are doing Kozakov. Riders like Kozakov and that is all. I still don’t believe that our race is more special than other races (except harder party and quite fast road haha). I have seen happy riders at races all over Europe and so I don’t believe that our race is so important.
Mischo is another song as we are saying. He is an icon and thousands of people are seeing his profile everyday. The impact from Mischo was much harder.
Will the Kozakov experience be different under the IDF?
Yes, there are few surprises prepared for the riders, they will be used both at Kozakov and Grim mountain. I’m very very excited to see the riders reaction and I hope they will enjoy it.
What does the IDF offer you as an organiser that you didn’t get under IGSA?
It is not about an “offer” but about the idea of how to work and what to do. How I see the evolution of this sport is closer to the view of the IDF. Their constitution for example looks sexy. Riders have a chance to change something and their voice can be heard. There are lots of topics where IDF is more optimistic.
How do you see the evolution of our sport?
I’m a newcomer, moreover I’m from Eastern Europe. Never been to an overseas race, so my opinion is based on what I can see from the last 10 year history of this sport; mainly from the internet. There was a very huge wave at the “rich time” of this sport. It was used very well and the strategy was very great. A lot of now older persons will remember the 90’s and how they were involved in streetluge or longboard. But big sponsors are long gone and tough times are here for long time. There was an energy, trying to organise sports like they were in the 90’s but then, economic strength and mood between people was total different from now.
So the scissors started to open. The new generation (I think that I’m part of it) sees this sport differently. Here is a very nice fact; the “old school and new school” love each other. Then came the point where the scissors about the ideas of how to look at this sport were so opened that it was not possible to continue and the revolution was here.
Now I think there is a need to prove that the new organisation is really THE ONE and people will start to believe that it was maybe right and they will understand what really happened and why.
There is still very little information for “non inside” people; there are still a lot of communities confused, they don’t know what happened and wonder why they have to choose old or new organisation. This has to be repaired and then we will see.
What is the Grim Mountain?
Grim mountain (www.grimmountain.cz) is the second race we are doing directly after Kozakov challenge and before Peyragudes. Idea is, that if riders are already in Europe, why not give them another competitive week of racing in a week where no other race is scheduled. So they can stay and race on sick roads and then move to Peyragudes.
It is an IDF race so they will earn points and they will enjoy another part of our country. It is planned that it will be the same story as is known from Kozakov. This road is slower, but more fun to ride. Camp at the top of the hill with a party tent, party every night, and in the morning, get ready, put you leathers on and enjoy another road!
What is the track like?
There are spots that if the rider makes a mistake, he will loose the whole run. There are places where you must be brave, or you will lose time. There are hard turns where skill will be needed or the time will be lost. It is something different.
We were focused on giving the riders not just another deadly fast road, but something more comfortable, where all of them will enjoy riding at less speed but more technically, unlike the “HHHWWWOOOAAAAAAIIII” which is always the upper part of Kozakov.
This will not be a rest session before Peyragudes but something different to what they expect from Kozakov and Peyragudes but still great fun. This is Grim mountain. Registration is still open and riders can sign in on the IDF pages. I think that lots of riders will enjoy this road.
Will the GRIM party be different from Kozakov?
You mean if the tent will survive once more? Haha I hope so! It depends on riders and people around. The same story at Kozakov. It depends on riders if the party will be good or bad and I’m unbelievably glad that riders at Kozakov are very interested to make the party as good as possible and I hope that this mood will be transported to the Grim Mountain as well.
We will do our best make the environment as comfortable as possible and we hope, that it will be acceptableo once more.
What are you looking forward to most to this summer?
Good weather and no rain!
I hope that Kozakov will be okay, riders will enjoy it and there won’t be any hard crashes. I hope that riders will trust us and they will visit and enjoy our second race as well. And after both this races I will for sure look forward to stop my brain moving 10000 percent faster than normal and get a few days of sleep.
If a rider can only afford to go to one race this season – what should it be?
Now it will be only Grim, because Kozakov was sold out a long time ago. I would recommend Grim, which is more friendly for riders who are afraid to move at very fast speeds, but they are not afraid to ride fast. The road at Grim is slower, but not slow. I will recommend Grim to myself because of the more tactical possibilities on the road. I’m not afraid to say, that I don’t like moving faster than 90, but I don’t mind 75!
For those interested in points, there are not many top riders for now, so there is a big chance that you will get better points from this race.
Does Kozakov need the IDF/IGSA, Do good races need to be sanctioned?
I think that these organisations are helping riders together. And I would be happy to contribute for the greater good to help riders get more professional and help them get what they like – enjoying riding and racing.
Any messages for the riders?
Ride safe! After we had all the crashes at Kozakov, after I have seen all the crashes everywhere at every races. Don’t do stupid things. Don’t let adrenaline cloud your mind and judgement. Stay focused on what are you doing and don’t be afraid to brake if you think that you are riding above your limit speed. Nobody will mock you. You will not became a hero by crossing the lane of the leading rider in a turn with hard break. That person who crashed because of you is your friend. Don’t be afraid to be the last at the finish. It is much better than being the first who will spend 2 months in hospital.
It’s been fun talking to you again buddy. Stoked on the CGSA and the possibilities for the future. Good luck in the upcoming races and see you around!
Thank you for you time as well and hope to see you at Grim, or at any of ours freerides!
If any rider would like to go to our freerides (Czech national races are only for Czechs) there is no problem, just follow www.cgsa.cz or let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send all the information about every freeride the month before. Always around 40 EUR for 2 days of freeriding.
Photos by the talented Czech photographer: Jirka Livora – cgsa.cz