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On 31 October 2008 at 00:00 | updated on 01 November 2008 at 07:49

Interview of Igor Cheremetieff

Interview of Igor Cheremetieff

Here is an interview of Igor Cheremetieff, the #1 at the WSSA World Ranking in Freestyle Slalom Skating. Let's turn back time and listen to him talking about his debuts, his development, and all the way he went till now. Let's penetrate his mind and learn a bit about his perception of the discipline. No doubt you will find some interesting facts to satisfy your curiosity!

By 

General facts

Name: Cheremetieff, Igor
Birth date: July 6th, 1982
Nationality: French, of Russian extraction … that's why I love going to Russia!
Job: I'm a wage-earning employee at the roller-skating departmental committee in Paris. My job is to develop roller-skating, and to support the Parisian associations in general. My state diploma of roller-skating instructor (BE: Brevet d'Etat) is very useful for that; I'm also the one who's in charge of organizing the training for the first degree in roller-skating instruction (BIF: Brevet d'Initiateur Fédéral); I'm also in charge of finding subsidies (committee, associations), and I take part in the organisation of the PFG (Paris Festival Glisse) – that big event which the PSWC (Paris Slalom World Challenge) is part of.

You and your discipline (freestyle slalom) : personal evolution

A personal definition? What is your vision of freestyle-slalom?

Doing crazy stuffs on the cones… I'm a trick-hunter, always looking for the most twisted trick or transition! In fact, it's above all the technical challenge that attracts me: as long as I can manage to make it look easy (because mastered), I like it!
I think you can only call it slalom once you're able to start a line and improvise according to your technical ability, without systematically doing the same routine. You should bear in mind though: it's so much better to learn to hold on your trick at least a bit: no doubt it's more impressive to make a wheeling on 20 cones than on 3 and a half… ;)
Roughly speaking, slalom is the pleasure of making tricks on cones (with or without music: it's just a catalyst of motivation lol), and determination working on tricks you sometimes just can't believe they're possible.In my opinion, to fully master a trick you have to be able to do it standing and manage 20 cones or so (it's theoretically possible, even with sevens).

The genesis

How long have you been practising freestyle slalom skating?

To be honest, I don't actually remember…
My first competition was in 2004, and I'd been slaloming for already two years …so I must have begun around 2002. But I've been skating since 1997-98 (just doing silly stuffs, I was supposed to do speed-skating at the time).

How were you introduced to freestyle? Any anecdote?

I was in Dijon (fr) for a speed-skating competition with my friends from Besançon, and there was a slalom show. As I was always clowning about – such as going backwards all along the line for example – everybody turned to me (I was at the back row) and told me I had to take it up …actually I was open-mouthed with admiration for the skaters (doing crazy), and I had already taken the decision to take it up!

What aspect of slalom first attracted you?

In fact I was bored with moving on with no purpose, repeating the same moves over and over, pushing on one leg, then other, and so on...
I immediately liked the technical aspect of slalom-skating. Even if I was somewhat clumsy at first, that was really motivating. I didn't know a single thing about slalom-skating, and it was kinda cool to discover some tricks sometimes by myself or sometimes by chance when meeting people…

The progress

What are your influences: Did you train alone, with other people (emulation) ? What was the role of the media (internet, websites, videos) in your training?

I'd been skating on my own quite a long time (boo-hoo)… I had found a spot that was rather nice and very close to my place in Besançon, on the riverside on a pseudo-cycle lane where there were a lot of bicycles, roller-skates, and passers-by… So the spot became a kind of ‘home sweet home' to me, and I used my car as a cupboard in which I put all my stuff …and my necessary tool: the radio set plugged into a car battery providing music (no need reloading, just one year out of two).
Then a lot of skaters passing through came and skated with me. It was always the same story: people are infatuated for a couple of months, they come every day, and then one day… they disappear ^^ However there was a hard core made of Mat and Alex, who were often there and helped me a lot! Mat brought me some technical tips to begin with (crazy sun and other basic tricks). He was from Annecy (a larger town not that far from Besançon) and knew much more about slalom than any of us – and I made the most of it!
Then there was Alex, the guy who knows everything ;) He's the one with whom I made the videos shot in Besançon : Eau Style Slalom ) and (Catch Me If You Can. By the way we've got other projects in mind, but nothing's set for the moment… wait and see, who knows?
Soon after meeting these guys, I trained a lot. I didn't consider it as training though: it was more like times of happiness on my spot!! – which for two years or so became the slalom-skating spot in Besançon (well, it was the only one).
At the same time, I also discovered the Internet (which was quite new to me)… and pow! There were the Russian videos Issue 1, 2, 3 and 4. They showed in a continuous loop on my computer screen: at nights to get asleep, in the mornings to get in a good mood … and the rest of the time I was skating!
I tried so many stuffs so hard that I eventually managed to master plenty of new tricks, and I made my own style by picking up here and there what I found cool in the other riders' sets.
In this section I must talk about my friend Kedal too: we were in the same class during the session for the roller-skating instructor diploma. He passed, and I preferred to pass it in two times… I wasn't in a hurry after all! In April 2005, I visited him and he convinced me to stay one more week to go with him to Andilly (French cup): it was my first competition on the French circuit.

Steps of progress: What are the key-moments in your evolution?

At the very start, there were the first three competitions: Annecy 2004 and the PSWC 2004 (I took part in speed-slalom only), and Lausanne 2004 (I did the speed and the style-slalom). Each time, I came back with many tricks to work on :p
In 2005, I didn't improve that much.
On the other hand, in 2006 I found myself in Bordeaux for a 5-month work experience at the French Federation of Roller-Skating to pass my final degree at the sports university. I had to work on slalom-skating tricks (listing and classification), which enabled be to think more deeply about what I was actually doing myself while slaloming, and also to find new tricks and transitions.
In Bordeaux, there lived a slalom-skatergirl named Chloé who didn't work a leek the whole five months I was in Bordeaux because there was a general strike at university …studying is so tiring ! And we'd skate together everyday from 5:30 PM to 8 PM at least, but most of the time we'd stay on the spot till the lights went off (at 11:30 PM – we were in a university hall…) and during the weekends, to relax we'd go for a short slalom-skating. During this time we both improved a lot: we managed to correct each other, and to exploit and personalize each other's ideas.
I also took the opportunity to do some freeskating and though it was not my speciality, I really had lots of fun!
And then, I had the privilege to travel quite a lot thanks to Seba – at that time it was the beginning of my sponsoring. With him I met Russian people, Singaporean people, Chinese people… who enabled me to come back from my trips with many new tricks to make mine.

…Now

Titles you are proud of ?

Especially the titles I won this year: I won Battle Moscow 2008 and Battle Beijing 2008 (Beijing Slalom Open). It was awesome to skate against KSJ (Moscow) and the two Chinese guys Wang Hang and Guo Fang (Beijing) !!! That really boosted me!
The Best of Battle Moscow 2008 by Lenick, losyatnik.ru:
The Beijong Slalom Open Battle Finals 2008
I'm also very proud of my 2007 French champion title! Mostly because my slalom run went down very well …so well that I never managed to do it again that well afterwards :'(
I don't know how I managed but I did it! Moreover, it was the run: you start with a quick acceleration to warm up, then you put your foot down on the accelerator to keep the rhythm, and then you end up with putting your back into it: to sum it up, I was at top speed the whole run through ^^.
And lately there's also my run in Classic individual freestyle slalom at the World Leisure Games in ChunCheon (Korea, Sept.08). I really enjoyed building it because I just put the tricks I felt like doing, and it was really nice, even if I did not rank very high… I made two small mistakes which cost me dear!

You are present in different slalom circuits (individual style, and freestyle battle). What do you personally get from this diversity of experiences and practice of slalom?

It's fairly easy to do both types of competitions because it's quite complementary. However, for the next season I'll probably give up more or less individual competitions to concentrate on Battles.Because in individual competitions, firstly I tend to bridle myself to stick to the rules, and secondly most of the time the results do not correspond to what we've seen! And as I don't enjoy it as much as before, and as the results are a real mess, I'd rather save my holidays to take part in competitions that are less stressing, and from where I come back re-boosted with new tricks to try!

How do you cope with your fame in the freestyle skating circle?

Quite well, I must say! I try not to become big-headed and to remain open to everyone. I can remember too well that not so long ago I was a good old gumbie myself! Anyway I'm not the type who will get influenced…

Do you get any opportunities thanks to skating?

I've been travelling a lot for two years now! Thanks to Universkate that sent me all around the world. I also had the opportunity to take part in European competitions with the French Team!
I've also been in touch with a few media, the radio or some television channels, to give interviews in competitions contests – in France or abroad. It is kinda funny when I've got to give interviews in foreign countries as I don't speak English very well. Anyway, people understand me, that's the main thing :).

What about your slalom sessions today? What does your typical slalom-session looks like? How often do you train?

As soon as I can find the time… sadly enough I don't have much time :'( But on the other hand I'm almost always on my skates : it's my (only) means of transport in Paris ! – okay, sometimes I take the tube…
As for my sessions, the unfolding depends on the events following. If there's a Battle soon, or if there's nothing planned, I just enjoy myself… like I try stuffs or very very big tricks, punctuated by freestyle lines now and then. But on the whole, try stuffs and see what's up then ^^
If there's an individual competition approaching, I get in run building mode… searching inspiration, and thinking about which tricks to do… Usually, I need a couple of sessions to build up a basic thread for my run, but details vary most of the time. I quite enjoy building up lines. And once my run is built, I repeat it over and over again to make sure I won't make a mistake by forgetting a few parts during the competition. In fact, those periods are somewhat repetitive… I don't do anything new or risky.

What aspects do you like best in slalom? Is it the same as what attracted you at first? What are you favourite kinds of tricks, and why?

The aspects I like best… without hesitation: technique ! …but also the possibility you have, when you're not motivated or when you're too tired, to have fun freestyling with easier tricks. I love the concept of being able to enjoy yourself with your own know-how.
As for the tricks I like best, let's talk about wheelings ! Never mind the way you take, and never mind whether it's spinning or not : I looove that ! the technical challenge is very difficult and I love it when it lasts long… This explains why in Battles I attempt such last tricks, and why I try to realize whole runs on one wheel only. Most of the time, everyone is pleased: the public and myself)

Your aims?

Next step of mastering: I'd really love to feel comfortable doing a 20-cone backwards wheeling (it gets better gradually, but it's not yet what I want), and I keep on working on wheeling rotations too, especially the special one foot… Oh yes, and I'd like to manage to stop a rotation on one wheel to go on straights !!! (but it'll need looots of work)
And if I have the guts to break my knees on purpose, maybe I'll try to master the butterfly… but this leg position is far from being natural to me :'(

Besides

other passions?

I used to practise other sports, like fencing, badminton, climbing …but today I don't have time enough to practice all these sports. Anyway if I could, I would!
Otherwise, I'm a board games enthusiast – but please forget about Monopoly! I'd rather play games that require a little strategy to find out how to exploit the rules to annoy the other players :D In real life, I do my best to be kind on the whole, but in such games, I turn a real vulture!
And for that reason, I like computer games too…

What do you get out of these different points of interest? Do you make the most of them in exploiting and re-using the capacities you acquired in your other passions, or do you partition them?

My passions are quite dissociated… it's not easy to re-use the three agility points you've got in your video-game and apply them to your skates! And here is the same problem: what am I gonna do with my resources of sheep, rock and wheat (cf. Les Colons de Catane) when I skate?!
The funny thing might be to initiate riders to games, or players to skating ;)

More to say? Special thanks… ?

I've already talked a lot…
Thanks to all the people I met on skates and with whom I shared memorable experiences… Mat, Alex, Marco, Francky, you, Kedal, Seb, Greg…. And the rest ! See you everybody…
Oh and long live Les Deux Minutes du Peuple!

Links

Igor Cheremetieff on Rollersouk
Best of de Battle Moscow 2008 by Lenick, losyatnik.ru
Finale of Beijing Slalom Open
Text : Close'yr'es
Photos : all rights reserved
Released  on 31 October 2008 - Read 12866 times


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