Mihael Zadravec: Darkwood & KNK

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This second interview with Mr KnK is really bromantic. Mihael tells us about his season, falling in love with Italians and his upcoming escape to Spain! Stoked to talk to you again bro, how are you?
Great Gbemi! It’s nice to be back online with you! Summer is almost over in Europe and I am dreaming about warmer parts of the world. Maybe some tropical islands! That would be nice.

Did you have a fun summer?
I must say that I had a really nice summer… regarding skateboarding; the best one ever. We travelled a lot and visited some of the most beautiful places in Italy and Switzerland. Did the Almabtrieb also and the first race ever organized in Zagreb.

Who did you travel with?
Mostly with my girlfriend Nadia, Nadim and my dog Era. Occasionally some of our friends would join the trip.

Nadia at KNK

I didn’t know you raced!
I’d never raced before, but this year I went to some races and had so much fun! I was racing in Queens Well (Croatia), Lozio (Italy) and Almabtrieb (Germany). Learned a lot! I didn’t get any good results but I will be back next year, so better watch out! Haha.

Almatrieb is quite a tasty first race!
Almabtrieb was f*** awesome! Such a great track and organization. I hope they make it next year again. Super turny and fast. So many good riders at one place pushing it over the edge. Really nice.

Are you and Nadim the first FASTvenians on the race circuit?
Yes, haha! Nadim, Jernej and I were the first FASTevians that raced at Almabtrieb. EVER! They were much better though. mihael_nadim

Who is Jernej?
Jernej is my friend. He is one of the BROs before PROs guys. He was traveling a bit with us this year. Fun guy.

How was the race in Croatia?
Race in Croatia had some problems with organization. However, that was not to be blamed on the guys from Longboard Magazin Croatia. There was a marketing agency involved who messed things up and the race couldn’t be finished. Never mind that, everyone who came there for skating had a blast! There was a ton of skating in two days on a super fast and narrow track with a new pavement. It was really a nice event.

What was the track like?
Track is very fast considering how narrow it is. I know some people were going up to 70km/h. It think it must have been something over 2km long. Super nice. For safety reasons we did 2 man heats.

Seems there are more events popping up in the East Europe!
It seems like every day something is going on, yes!

What has been the catalyst for the growth of the community there?
Now I see that you asked about East Europe haha. Not much is going on here. There are some people skating hard like guys from Longboard Magazin Croatia and Bros from Slovenia, but mostly the scene got stuck at city cruising. Not that there’s something wrong with that. It’s just that Slovenia is a small country… and longboarding in Croatia is quite a new trend (maybe 2-3 years).

Are we gonna see more events like Kozakov and KNK from you guys in the East?
I think  two events per year should do the trick, haha! No really. Organizing events takes time and two is more than enough if you wanna do some skating on your own. Next year we might organize 2 freerides on Bear’s Guts; Bear Awakening and KnK Longboard Camp… and guess what; They will both last for 6 days!

How did seeing the Almatrieb organisation influence you?
Almabtrieb had support by very experienced people in the industry. I think that they did a great job and I learned a lot from them. I will definitely use some of that knowledge when organizing a next KnK Longboard Camp.

Was the race in Italy fun?
Race in Italy was f*** scary! Well, at least for me. The track was not so fast but some turns were quite hard. There were 2 different pavements on the road and that spiced it a bit, it was fun. Hertler won the race and my friend Jernjej was 8th (I think). I sucked so much! Got wobbles while pushing… so yeah, haha! Organization was great! Italians nailed it again. It’s so much fun to party with them and I love how they function well together. They give you an impression that they are all friends or family and  they probably are. Next weekend I am going back to Italy for the Slash The Temple Slide Jam. We were also at this freeride in Italy – Montemale. It was our first event of the season. Also very well organized and super fun.

Seems like you’ve fallen in love!
Yes, with Italians! It’s just amazing how they manage to pull out the worst road and make such a great event there! They are the best. I am going back next year for sure. I would like to take this opportunity and send my love to them!

Is their approach to skating different?
They are the same as the rest of the world, I think. Haha! However, I noticed they some of them got very good at freeriding. So, yes… like the rest of the world.

Where else did you skate this summer?
Mostly on our local spots in Slovenia. We have this 8km long beauty that we skate whenever we can and a bunch of other great roads that are skateable.

mihael_local_spot

It’s been well over a year since our last interview – what’s new with you?
I moved to a villa in Monaco… got rich doing KnK! Haha! I am joking. I took a dog from the animal shelter last year in September. Her name is Era. She is awesome! Brings me and Nadia so much joy every day. Everyone should get a dog (not buy one… get one from the shelter) @Nadim.

Is it unrealistic to dream of getting rich off KnK?
Well, anything is possible, you know… maybe if I die trying, haha! Some people think we make big money from KnK, but anyone who organizes an event can do the math and see that we don’t profit much. Usually some leftovers are used to get new breaks for our van and stuff like that. Along with wheels, the Bear also likes to eat car brakes.

You must have looked like a Spanish skater with a dog on tour.
You could see me around calling for her all the time, yes. Sometimes it’s difficult but at the end of the day when all three of us sleep in a bed just feels great. We are a family. Well, sometimes she must sleep in a living room. Go figure why haha! And yes, sometimes I wish I was from Spain so I could enjoy more sun.

Wanna escape for the winter?
I have this dream… Spanish coast calling me! Then I wake up and go back to my programming. You never know, maybe I make it this winter and travel somewhere for a week or two. It would be nice to make a trip to some warmer parts of the world and skate something.

Good time to learn to surf!
Huh! I don’t want to get hooked on surfing! That’s why I never tried it. Longboarding is emptying my pockets already and I don’t think there is enough for 2 sports. Besides that, longboarding is the one and only for me. Maybe if I get a chance I will try it… surfing.

Have you fallen deeper in love with longboarding?
I’m pretty much sure I already hit the bottom! I am sitting there for some time now and enjoying it to the max!

Are you still expressing love for the sport in the same way?
This year I decided to learn more about filming and photography so I got this Canon 600D for a good price and started playing with it. Getting to know the camera and equipment is quite easy, but I still need to learn so much stuff like composition, angles and stuff like that. Also, there is the whole editing process… so much stuff! There are some really good movies out there and I would love to be able to produce something as good and to express my own style trough it. It’s always good to learn new things.

What stuff have you done with it so far?
Well, not much. We did 2 movies. Nadia and Anton were helping me. So, thank you guys! Anton is my friend from Rijeka. We went to Lozio and Gioasteka together (which was my “KnK” btw). He is a very good skater and very handy with the camera. We made some pretty nice shots in Switzerland and there is some more material that is waiting to be edited from Gioasteka freeride.

What do you edit with?
I am using Final Cut Pro X with Motion 5. It’s a very good software and I like it a lot.

What are you hoping to accomplish with this new weapon?
Make some nice video and enjoy them when I get old. Also, the videos are used to promote our new longboard brand Darkwood.

How did having a camera impact your enjoyment of skating this season?
I like posing so I had to learn new stuff to look cool, haha!

What’s your favourite pose?
Doggy style.

Haha. Tell me more about Darkwood!
Started with the project about one year ago with my friend Mihael (we have the same name, yes) just because nobody wanted to sponsor me, haha! This way I can sponsor myself maybe? We will see about that. However, Darkwood longboards are still in a development stage. We have first few models almost ready (finally after one year) but we still need to work on the finish etc. I hope that we will launch some products next season and I hope that this journey will have much to offer. As long as we have fun doing it.

mihael_dolomites

You’re a pretty big dog in the Euro scene, why couldn’t you get a sponsor?
It looks like I am not as big as you think, haha! More like a chihuahua.

How are Darkwood longboards different from existing boards?
They are not much different. They are like any other good boards out there, but they are better because we make them, ha!

What sorts of boards are you looking to develop?
For now we plan to have what we like to call a “performance series” and “cruising series”. Freeride, downhill, cruising boards… you name it. I am thinking also about “shortboards”, but we will see. One step at the time. There are some boards out there already and riders seems to enjoy them. We had many good responses on our prototypes so it looks like we are on a right way. On a highway to hell! Haha!

What Darkwood model are you riding now?
I am riding a Darkwood Surgeon. It’s a directional topmount board featuring a graphic called “The revenge of the surgeon”. In the same series there are five boards that are related to each other like characters in a story… You will have to wait a bit to see the complete thing. People are saying that the concave is nice and the rocker spices it up.

How did the events you organised this year go down?
We did two events this year; KnK Longboard Camp (6 days) and September’s Freeride (4 days). It was really nice. Everyone were very relaxed and had up to 12 runs per day on the Bear’s Guts. The Vixen was closed this year. I had many runs this year – people that are returning every year know that I haven’t skated much on our events. This year, I finally did. It was amazing to see all riders coming down with smiles on their faces. Parties were super easy and relaxed also. We had a bunch of beers every night but nothing got broken. Weather was very good except for the big heat in August – we had up to 39*C! It was hot as hell, but still we skated all they long – better than rain, I say.

Is it getting easier?
Every year it get’s a bit easier, yes. Also, it’s much easier to run an event with a single track – no more sitting and coordinating from the van all day long. That was kind of… boring. Since it’s so much easier we decided to make two 6 days events next year, so get ready for 2014. Gbemi, are you coming to Slovenia next year? Do us an honor and visit us sometimes soon.

Haha man. One day, I promise. Will there be bacon?
We will arrange something specially for you. You should try our newest sensation; Benzin. Once you try that stuff you will drink Slivo like water!

What is Benzin?
It’s probably the worst thing that you could drink. The original name is Brinjevec – something like schnaps but tastes like a petrol, haha!

Which freeride would you recommend?
I would recommend KnK! Apart from our freeride, I can recommend only those that I already mentioned in this interview, but I am pretty much sure that wherever you go you will have fun. The longboard community in Europe is so great, there are so many good events… actually, all of them are the best! No matter if the track is not super smooth and freshly paved, as long as you know how to have fun, you will have it. Gioasteka, Montemale, Lozio, Almabtrieb, Loralo… there are so many! Just pick one at random. nadim_jernej_at_montemale_freeride

Which event did you enjoy the most this year?
Actually, the best was skating some new random spots on a way to all those great events. We had an opportunity to skate some really nice passes in the Dolomites and Swiss Alps. Swiss was of course the best. There is nothing better than an “off event” session with your friends.

Aside from the 6 day formats, what else will be new next year?
It looks like we will come up with a new protection system. We are currently working on it so it’s hard to say exactly what to expect, but we are trying to get rid of the hay and try something that is “reusable”. We will see. Other things will stay the same because they seem to work well.

What is the problem with the hay?
Hay is expensive and to get it from one place to another is even more expensive. Also, there is a lot of dust involved when working with it. After we are done with the event, usually nobody wants to buy it and we have to dispose it somewhere. We always have some issues with this matter. So it would be better to invest in something that is reusable and not having to deal with “new” hay every year.

There are alternatives to hay?
Well, for some parts of the track we will still have to use the hay bales because they are more practical. Alternative would be something filled with foam. Shaped like a hay bail, maybe bigger etc.

Does this exist yet?
Yes, there are some professional solutions available which are quite expensive. Some event organizers use big industrial bags filled with foam etc. We will see what we will come up with.

https://vimeo.com/74440646

What will you be up to for the rest of the year?
For two months I will work my ass off, then I will pack my things and go to Spain, haha!

Make sure you visit… that magical island!
I will.

Having this conversation with you has been a nice way to round up the weekend. Stoked for all the new stuff you’re working on. Thank you on behalf of everyone for organising the best freeride in the world!
It’s my pleasure, Gbemi!

Any thank yous?
Too many! I would like to thank everyone who I had the opportunity to see again this year and all of those who I just met, for having fun with me. See you all around somewhere soon! Big thanks goes to our KnK crew who was once again not only the best crew ever but also very good friends! Thank you all! And thank you for having a nice talk with me. I love you man!

Links.
Darkwood Longboard; http://www.skatedarkwood.com
KnK Longboard Camp; http://knk.longboard.si
Longboard Magazin Slovenia; https://www.facebook.com/longboardmag
Longboard Magazin Croatia; https://www.facebook.com/LongboardMagazinHrvatska

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