Interview by Jan Welch
How old are you and where did you grow up?
I am 36 years, 6 months and 7 days old. I grew up in Sines, a lil ole’ fishing town in Portugal. Sines now has one of the biggest cargo ports in all of Europe.
What made you want to get your first pair of inline skates? What model were your first pair of skates?
I received my first pair of inline skates in 1993. After racing with roller skates for about tens years, I made the change to 5-wheel inline speed skates. My first skates were Bont Carbon boots, with gold Mogema frames and Hyper 80mm/82a wheels. I do not remember what bearings they had in them!
How long after making the switch from roller skate racing to inline speed skating did you venture into aggressive skating? Did you do the whole pre-grinding, stair riding, gaps era or did you go straight from speed to aggressive?
I received my first pair of speed skates when I was thirteen, and a few months later I saw people doing tricks with inline skates on TV. I had no money for skates, so I started saving 100 Escudos per day (like 50 cents). To save up them, I never ate at school and did not spend money on anything. About five months later, I went to pick up a pair of Roces Street skates, that I had pre-ordered from a shop in a city two hours away from my hometown. I had saved up two-thirds of the money I needed for them and my mom paid the rest. During the months that I was saving up for these aggressive skates, I started doing the whole speed slalom thing, backwards stair riding, and even sliding on the speed skates. I remember that my coach, teammates and even my dad thought it was funny the way I was using my skates. At the same time I was still winning races!
Did you have any sponsors when you speed skated? Who was your first sponsor when you made the move to aggressive?
Nah, it was so different… I never even thought about being sponsored when I was young. I was part of a club, and we used to buy everything through the club, but I remember my first inline skates cost me around 100 Contos (500eur). I received my first sponsorship when I was around twenty years old from an energy bar company from The Netherlands called MAXIM. The Portugeses distributor was in my hometown and the owner of the distribution thought I would make a good marketing tool for them. Skate wise my first sponsor was OUT, I had Poppy’s and then I received the first REMEDYZ. The distribution of these brands in Portugal went under and I started buying skates again for a period of time. I ended up skating for Rollerblade Portugal for a while and then on the REMZ flow team for Kato, before eventually skating for USD.
Did any of your friends you speed skated with transition over with the sliding, stair rides and eventually aggressive skating? Or did you have to find a whole new crew?
I did not stop speed to start aggressive skating right away… I slowly started skating with aggressive skates and at the same time I was still racing. About four years later, I was tried to join the Portuguese National Team and was rejected because they said I was too young. I trained like crazy for years to be on the team and after the rejection I felt it was time to leave racing. I didn’t enjoy it anymore and I began to hate all the training and races. Not one of my racing friends transitioned over to aggressive inline. It was just me sessioning with the BMX guys in my town, then over time other kids started getting into it. But they always came and went, I think I went through three generations of aggressive skaters during my time in Portugal.
So when you got older did you stay in Sines? Or did you move to a new city?
I stayed in Sines until I was twenty. In Portugal we do twelve years of school before university, and at eighteen years old I was supposed to finish the 12th grade and graduate. But during the 12th grade all I wanted to do was skate! Seriously, my mind was not into school! I was going to school but I was looking at skate magazines inside my books and spending all day drawing skates in my notebooks. I was and still am completely addicted to skating. This resulted in me losing one year of the 12th grade, so my dad told me I needed to get a job. My first job ended up being really easy but boring. Knowing how bored I with this job, my parents suggested that I should try to study something that I could relate to. I agreed with them, so I started studying to take my graduation exams and the next year I moved to Algarve, in the south of Portugal, to spend the next five years studying Sports Science. When I finished my graduation I started working as a personal trainer. I also taught a few fit ball workshops for trainers, but it wasn’t really my world…
When did you start making skate trips outside of Portugal and what was one of your first memorable trips?
My first skate trip was when I was a 14 year old speed skater. I was part of the Portuguese team and represented Portugal in many competitions. But for “aggressive skating” my first trip was to Lausanne, Switzerland in 1996, and then to compete in the ASA amateur contest at Rollerparc Avenue in Paris, France. I’m pretty sure I got last place in that contest. Then two years later I went to FISE in Palavas, France and placed last again.
Do you think 14 year old you would have thought that 34 year old you would still be in love with skating as much as you still are? Did you have goals you wanted to achieve as a child? Did you achieve them?
DUDE, I was 7 or 8 and all my older racing colleagues from Sines went to race in Italy, but I could not go with them because I was too young! When they got back they told me there was a 60 year old man racing the marathon, and I remember that day at dinner I told my parents about him and how much I wanted be like him when I was older. It is funny because every now and then my mom reminds me about the day I told them I wanted to be like the 60 year old man racing marathons in Italy. SO YES, I’m on my way!!
Since you’ve been on the forefront of the tri-skate movement and big wheels in general, have you gone back to your roots at all and strapped on some speed skates?
When I moved to South Africa, I had to choose what I wanted to bring with me, and at first I only brought the essentials with me. Then slowly, every time I would go back to Portugal, I would bring back more things to South Africa. Last year I ended up bringing back my old speed skates and mounting the boot with a 243mm 4x80mm frame. I tried the frames from my speed skates on some Imperials but they did not fit. Then Powerslide sent me a pair of 3x125mm marathon skates and fell in love with them. I have been using them more and more, practicing technique, skating fast, doing downhill’s, etc., but not racing. I am trying to stay away from every type of competition, I am way to competitive and I hate the feeling I get from them. Skating has got to be fun for me!
Were you big wheel blading and aggressive skating at the same time? Or is big wheel blading something you started doing again in the last couple of years?
Back in 2009 I received a pair of Powerslide 4x80mm UFS frames and I was skating rails with them. When the Valo Team came to Portugal, I decided to try a big drop ledge with them and split my chin open. After that I retired the big wheels. I got back into big wheel blading three years ago when I moved to South Africa.
What triggered your desire to get on bigger wheels after moving there?
Greg Fraser and Earl Abrahams! They are two of my best friends since moving to South Africa. When I first moved here we would go skate and film around town, but over time, we did enjoy not being able to skate fast from spot to spot on small wheels. This was when Powerslide was about to release the 125mm Megacruiser skates. I made a proposal to Powerslide to make three videos to promote triskates, three videos of three guys on three wheels. We had so much fun making the first one. It was like rediscovering something completely new. We still have two videos to go!
What is your favorite thing about skating big wheels that you cannot do on aggressive skates and vice versa?
Skating on big wheels is such a smooth ride. While aggressive skates give you much more stability on landings when doing gaps or coming off tricks. I also love the feeling of being tall when riding on a big wheel setup. It gives me the confidence to bend my feet and lean more while turning or sliding without being scared of the boot touching.
How did you end up going to Angola to promote rollerblading?
Angola was a Portuguese Colony and still has a very close relationship to Portugal. Everyone there speaks Portuguese and before their economy crashed two years ago, there were a lot of Portuguese people working and living in Angola. There is an energy drink in Angola called Speed, that I do action sports consulting for. I help them plan and market events related to action sports in their country. I absolutely love it there and the kids that skate there are super talented. Unfortunately, Angola is suffering with the economy crisis and I haven’t been able to go back.
What was it like skating the big downhill in Angola?
The turns were super tight and killed most of my speed. The fastest part was at the end where I was going 70km (44 miles) an hour.
Are there any downhills in South Africa you want to conquer?
Yes, there are three downhills in Cape Town that really want to do. Maybe four! Three of them are seriously amazing, perfect speed, perfect turns and perfect asphalt. The fourth is a big hill that goes to the city center. The downhill skateboarders have flashes that trigger the stop lights to change to green. When all the lights are green you can reach speeds of over 70km on it. I want to film this hill and use a flash to trigger the lights for a VLOG video. But first I need to understand how the traffic lights work because I do not want to catch a red light at 70km.
What is your favorite current skate setup?
I have a few, but I have recently been skating USD Sways with Trimax frames for urban skating. For distance, I have been skating the Powerslide Imperials with long 125mm frames. But then I love the Powerslide Kaze for slides! I’m just not a “one skate man”.
Have you tried the Kaze 150mm off-road skates?
Yes I have and I even made a video with a review of them. I like them but they are not as easy to skate as you would imagine. I’m waiting on my buddy Greg Fraser to get his pair so that we can go on off-road adventures together. Off-road skating is awesome, but you should not do it by yourself. If you are going to be skating over rocks and through the woods, you need to be wearing a helmet.
Tell me about your shop. Do you sell just aggressive or a mix of things?
I do have a shop and I only sell Powerslide products. I already work with Powerslide, so this way I know I can provide the products to my costumers with the best possible service. I sell a bit of everything and I have to admit that I still don’t understand why I sell the amount of aggressive skates I do. But they are selling easier than ever. I also organize a Tuesday night skate at the skatepark, a Thursday night skate at the promenade with multiple disciplines and Saturday morning skate classes.
So we know at sixty you will be skating marathons, where do you think you will be in your skating life when you are forty-six years, six months and seven days old?
I seriously don’t know!! I love what I do and I am working my ass off everyday to make my life better and better. I have no doubts that it will be related to what I love. But I do not know where I will be living! Either here in South Africa, in Portugal or somewhere completely different with my wife and daughter! The LINOS!