Starting the week with a throwback to the King of Ground 2004 contest in Nagoya, Japan with Martti Kuoppa during the KGB era.
Who remembers this one? Martti Kuoppa freestylin’ at his indoor training spot in Helsinki, Finland right before the 2007 Red Bull Circle of Balance. I still go back to this one ever so often, and always gets me hyped to ride.
Welcome to part 2 of Diversion’s exploration of the flatland scene in Japan. On any trip random things occur, this time, Bobby ran into Viki Gomez and Martti Kuoppa as they started their tour of Japan for KGB. They visit shops, jam with the local riders, and even visit the first flatland only bike park in the world! Check it out!
Photos: Provided by Viki Gomez.
Who better to cap off this first 4 years anniversary week than Viki Gomez!
Chances are like me you watched in awe as the Red Bull Circle of Balance contest unfolded. What became apparent to me as the battles progressed, was the level of control, focus, adaptability and machine like quality Viki Gomez possesses.
To win the worlds biggest flatland contest 3 times passing over a ten year time period is a huge achievement, that might never ever be done again.
As I sat at the top of the bleachers trying to take as much of the event in as possible, what I couldn’t help notice, was how calm Viki was during the whole contest. The level of focus he showed during the tense battles was very inspiring.
You could sense a few riders quite rightly were just stoked to be invited and enjoying the moment, whereas Viki maintained “gameface” throughout the event. It was fitting that a bomb trick will be remembered for winning his 3rd Red Bull COB title, it was a moment I won’t forget in a hurry. I think flatland needed that! Viki demonstrated truly what it takes to win at the highest level.
As well being a contest machine, Viki is of course an artist, delivering ground breaking video parts, that have been inspirational for years, there aren’t too many riders that have truly excelled in both.
Without further a due, I’m really excited to bring the first part of this Viki Gomez interview, as I say “enjoy!”…
Basic introduction, your real name is Jorge right? How old are you? How long riding? Where are you from? Etc..
My name is Jorge Gomez. Nick name Viki from the famous cartoons Viki the Viking! I started riding 17 years ago when I was a smaller teenager with long hair and the looks of Viki. I am from Madrid, Spain. I am 31 years old, and I have been professional for 12 years and visited 50 countries so far until today. Here are my most memorable contest results since 2001:
2 times European X games champion (2001-2002)
3 times King of Ground Gold medallist in Japan (2001-2004-2006)
Braun Cruzer Tour champion of 5 contest out of 7 and tour champion (Contest like Flatground, King of Concrete, Ninja Spin, etc)
2005 Metro Jam Champion in Canada
Bmx Flatland World circuit champion (2010)
Red Bull Flamenco Flatland champion (2011)
3 times Red Bull Circle of Balance Champion (2002-2007-2012)
I love my bike and I love riding and freestyling!
Of course Viki you are world renown as one of the best flatlanders of all time, I recall the first time I met you at the Madrid Worlds in 1999, you entered Masterclass right away. Spain is not famous for its flatland scene, what got you into flatland?
Well, when I started to ride there were a huge amount of flatland riders in Retiro Park, the biggest park in Madrid City. I had a BMX but not prepared for freestyle and one day I crossed this park and I saw around 20 riders riding together, flirting with the chicks, having fun,etc…from that moment I realised that this was the coolest thing I wanted to do in my life! And I went for it!
I kind of forced the riders to admit me in the crew! Hahaha Nowadays most of them are my best friends and we laugh a lot remembering the way I wanted to become friends with them! First thing I said was: “Do you have pegs to sell?” I was a 14 years old kid with super long hair and the cap and they said I looked like “Viki the Viking” (German cartoons famous in Spain) and since that day they called me Viki! In this park I rode for 6 years and it has been the best teenager time of my life!
We didn’t only ride, we were trouble makers, but always with good and positive humour! We were a big family and I believe we still are somehow! even if life separated us due to age duties like work, family,etc These guys will forever be in my heart, and these memories are still the reasons why I keep riding! I met for once and for all the real spirit of freestyle, and I will stick to it all my life!
That’s interesting, is this the big public riding spot in the KGB video that you talk of? It’s interesting to me what you said abut family, as I remember you were always with Nathan, Martti and Phil in “The X trials days”, kind of like a mini family almost.
You are one of the few riders out there that can juggle the professional riders life of travelling, shows, commercial projects, and yet still progress in a hardcore way, delivering banging edits with new tricks/variations, how hard is it to juggle this lifestyle?
I realised that the more busy you are the best your brain works. Therefore the imagination level that you need to put into flatland gets higher and your riding level increases as well. I remember when I was 23 and I only was riding all day long, my life felt empty and thats why I started KGB, just to keep myself busy and keep learning things in different ways. After riding ideas were coming nonstop! Everything is all about the mindset that you have. If your brain is on fire, your imagination and body will be on fire as well. So how I keep myself fit is working on new projects, brain storming and using riding as a therapy to free and/or increase my mind! At the end, I am a business man where I am the boss, the employee and the product! And by loving what I do life pays back with beautiful opportunities!
Do you progress when your on the road touring? You of course travel a lot, I saw recently Dubai, England, and Maldives, Japan, and I’m sure that’s not all…
New tricks come anytime and unexpected. Sometimes riding and sometimes in your mind. I remember talking with Akira Okamura about one of his signature tricks and he told me, “I was in the toilet and suddenly: Booom!!! This trick idea came to my mind!” Laughs!!! I realised then that I wasn’t the only one having these moments!
What are the benefits of this lifestyle in your opinion?
Everything is a benefit. And specially the way I travel! I am always with locals and this way you can experience their culture and learn from it. Therefore you progress a lot as a person and this is what we are here for. To become better people and progress! I have been in 50 countries in the last 14 years and I have learnt a lot about the world. I stopped believing about nations, countries, borders and frontiers. I believe more in the different cultures of the human race, the different visions and at the end we are all in the same planet which make us very alike to each other! And I can see that the world is getting better, I don’t watch the depressing news and I judge by my experience and everyone nowadays just want to have a good life. I think thanks to the internet people realised that love is the best way to live!
You blew up on the scene in 2000, I recall the Worlds in Koln 2000, so many fresh tricks with savvy style! You’ve been a heavy hitter since then, at what point did you realise flatland would become a job for you?
Actually since day one I got my first real BMX freestyle bike my dream became true! I knew from that day that it will never matter how hard it will be, I will always ride! I have been very lucky ,my bike saved my life in many aspects and I think that by being grateful every single day, life is bringing me more opportunities to keep on riding! All is about Karma! When I do shows I feel that people get happy, exited, kids smile, and I am so thankful to have the chance to make this happen! And with this Karma riding life just goes on!
For as long as I can remember you have always had brakes? What is your opinion about brakes, no brakes?
Well, I think brakes are mandatory to learn basics and be original making different switches. At least in the beginning. Being original is the most important thing in Flatland! This sport should be call “Originality on bike” then many people will understand what is this game all about. I went deep searching for new ways of progression! I had many masters like Martti, Nathan, Phil who taught me how important is to go your own way and I found myself using the brakes in order to find this freedom and be someone original and respected out there.
But right now, I reached a new level where I feel free with no brakes and thanks to all the basics I have learnt, I can explore into new levels and this feeling makes me really happy! Flatland is infinity, so searching is the way, but not the final form. So don’t worry about brakes or no brakes. You better worry about searching new unexplored ways. Don’t count your life with seconds, minutes, hours, days or years…better count it with the actions that you have done! For me every new original trick that I have done is an action, and this is the way I count my life in Flatland!
In my opinion the KGB dvd captured some of the best riding of all time from yourself and Martti. What’s your fondest memory from filming for that dvd, and also that time period hanging out with MK a lot?
I think everyone can feel that our philosophy in riding is about going deep in progression and show that Flatland is infinity! This DVD has this feeling and also KGB was all about it! This part of my life has been my university in business and definition of progression!
And what better and funnier than having MK as a classmate? We learnt a lot, we lost a lot but at the end we WON A LOT because we learnt big lessons! Now we are prepared in life to achieve any dream we want and having these lessons learnt is the most precious treasure you can ever wish!
MK is with no doubt one of my best friends and still the person I look up to riding wise. When you think about it, no human yet had reached his level! And this is amazing! I follow his steps and I am so lucky to have learnt a lot from him. Nowadays we meet in amazing epic places where we just laugh non stop remembering the crazy times we lived, and living even craziest times nowadays!
That is awesome! Tell me something about competing, over the past few years you came back to featuring on the podium after a few years struggling to place well, what changed for you?
After winning COB 2007 I lost my motivation to compete. Also Martti lost it. So weird times came along for us where we saw flatland going so down. We come from X Games times where Flatland was huge! And seeing flatland going into the direction of wooden small floors wasn’t so exiting! So I decided to take a break and keep progressing at home and don’t think about contests! But if you are a Red Bull athlete, you can take a break, but eventually you will need to come back strong to compete. And I am really happy that Red Bull pushed me to comeback! After all I got 3rd place in the BFWC 2009, first place of BFWC 2010, Red Bull Flamenco Flatland 2011 and this year I have won Madrid contest, Fise in Costa Rica, Bike days in Switzerland, Colombia contest and the best that I could ever imagine! Red Bull COB 2012!!! I also want to thank my girlfriend Alexandra for being my main inspiration in life! When you love some one deep it gives you strength! And when someone loves you deep it gives you a lot of courage! She believes sometimes more in me than myself, and it’s really helpful when you are down. I thank and appreciate every moment of my life with her!
Is there such a thing as winning mentality?
The only way to success is when you don’t let your mind to come in between. If you are able to have this mindset in a contest, then you will be very satisfied about your riding! And that’s all what really matters!
So the Red Bull Circle of Balance’s back this year and you already won two of those events, the COB is pretty much the biggest and most prestigious event in flatland, would you agree that your riding seems more favoured towards the battle format style contests rather than the traditional 3 minute run format?
As I said before, everything depends of your mindset. Doesn’t matter the format, the place, the atmosphere…everything is in your mind! Set it free and you will succeed!
Tell me something about the Madrid scene? It seems to be up on the up right now, I feel a lot of positive energy coming out of that scene right now.
Yeah there are a lot of new kids riding and they are like a small family hanging out together. I like the way they support and respect me, taking me as a master for them! They are my friends and super cool guys who just have fun with their bikes and have a lot of passion in riding. Guelo is the captain of the crew, and we became really good friends in the last years! He keeps the scene alive always helping new riders to feel comfortable and motivated!
I’m always curious when your at the top of the sport, and your searching for new ideas, where do you draw your inspiration from?
As I said before, by keeping your mind busy in positive and progressive things in life, your riding will be also reflected by the right mind set! I try to learn something new everyday. Not every time is a new trick, but a new combo, a new feeling, the way you leave the spot happy and motivated looking forward to come back. And I am always feeling lucky to have time and being able to ride! So this way you can get the best out of it! Never take things for granted!
To wrap up Part 1. We can’t have a VIki Gomez interview, and not ask about Dominik Nekolny. Nowadays he’s going more towards his own style of riding, but still does a lot of your “known” old switches. Does it feel strange competing against him?
With Dominik everything has been all about mix feelings. Of course I got surprised the first time I saw him doing many of my signature tricks! My visión of riding is completley different in this sense, but then I realized that he was doing my tricks because they were hard tricks, and he has been the only one capable to make them! I just thought to my self “why someone with so much skills is doing someone else tricks?” But then I realized that he was in a learning process and besides that, I should be happy that someone is following my way, and proving that with these tricks you still can place good in a contest. I am happy to be an inspiration for someone. After the confusing times I got to know him personally, and he is a super nice guy and I always have jokes with him!
Part 2 to follow soon…. Comments anyone?