Naomi Grigg's Latest Interview 2011 (ENGLISH)
You've done slalom since 2003, competed around the world and was MTV body double for "Date My Mum" tv show. Any golden memories to share?
Oh plenty - The one that comes to mind right now is being on a stage show in a strip bar in London's Soho. That particular night there was no stripping for it was a comedy night - a new experimental show called '60 acts in 60 minutes' which then got picked up by the BBC and presented as '28 acts in 28 minutes'. As with most of these things, timing was very precisely organised, but backstage was chaos, and we were all doing it for the princely sum of £5 and a shot of vodka. Ah the early days...
Anyway, rehearsals went fine, but when the buzzer went for the act before me to get off the stage, I headed onto the stage to find a cable right across the middle of it and that the act that was on before me had flung a load of sand into the air at the end of his act. I found some small corner of the stage, and tentatively danced for 55 seconds to Michael Jackson, waiting and praying for the buzzer. The buzzer went, I shot off the stage, had a fiver thrust into my hand and a shot introduced to my mouth and then it was over. Right up until the BBC called up and wanted a much more highly paid re--run.
What's your favourite trick?
The Grapevine. For me, it is the definitive trick of freestyle.
Favourite competition you've competed?
It would probably be one of the PSWC competitions in Paris. The're great fun because they're open air and have a lot of skaters there to mess around with. I only competed in a few before turning to judging, but I'll be joining in the battle competition this year once again and am looking forward to enjoying the vibe.
For afterparties though, Paris is poor. The best after parties have been at the Asian competitions in Beijing, Shanghai & Singapore.
What gave you the incentive to start workshops around the world and do you enjoy it?
I had been a qualified ICP instructor for a few years, and had already advanced to being a Level 3 instructor, which is the highest level available - so I was already pretty experienced with teaching regular skating here in London. Then I went to Paris and won my first competition. It seemed sense to translate my teaching knowledge over to freestyle skating, so I created a weekend workshop in London.
The workshops were very successful and positive reviews floated on the internet. Soon I had an email from a skater in the Netherlands asking when the next one was, as he would like to attend. I replied with 'No no, you stay right there... you find others that want to do it, I'll pay my travel, you give me your sofa for two nights, and you can do it for free'. And the rest is history...
I do really really really enjoy it. I love the teaching. I get to play mechanical lego with people's bodies - how can a mechanics geek get a better job than that?? I have also always loved the travelling to different places. Airports are my friend, and I can sit happily in a Boeing-747 economy cabin for any length of time.
What I no longer enjoy is the impact that not being consistently present in any particular location or local community has on my enjoyment of the rest of life.
Other than skating, what are your other hobbies?
I like reading about religious philosophy, the concept of God, other spiritual beliefs etc. I also love dancing but I'm not very good and rarely do it nowadays.
Now with the new freestyle vision moving forward, increased popularity in the sport and Chloe Seyres retirement, who do you see holding onto champion status for female ranking or becoming the next craze?
For women, speed has to rear its power at some point. At some point in the future, speed will become a necessity in women's slalom. From a judges point of view, Chloe Seyres was always a lonely character in battle finals, for women of the highest level are now doing the highest level of tricks but at a much slower pace than the guys - but Chloe had a higher speed and power with slightly lower level of top trick. It made it very very difficult to judge and she would be top for one judge, and bottom for another.
The loss of Chloe from women's finals will be a great shame, as she was putting a lot of pressure on other top women to increase their speed and power, but I believe that the transition will happen anyway and we will see newer, fresher women advance to the top level with speed as their base.
It is very difficult to increase your speed when you have evolved with high level tricks as your focus. If you come from a position of fast and free improvised freestyle, as the more successful men usually do, then stretching to include higher level tricks in that is much more doable.
In re-joining some competitions, I want to bring more speed and chaos to women's slalom (cone pickers at the ready please), but must leave the high level tricks to the fresher blood.
Define freestyle skating for you?
Freestyle is the beautification of skating. It is any gratuitous movements that have no practical end.
So what now for the future ahead?
For me? The USA. I'm planning to settle in Seattle for a while and see what happens from there - I've learned to not plan ahead too much in life or make assumptions about what is around the corner. In the USA we have started importing Seba freestyle skates, and now run a slalom competition series which spans the nation. There is a lot more to do though, and that will now be my main focus.
I am also training and qualifying new ICP Slalom instructors, and am working with the WSSA to train more classic competition judges in the west.
LinksInterview: Keanoush Zargham
Photos: Keanoush Zargham & Geoffrey Yam (Graphics Designer)