Kio Hayakawa vs Yu Katagiri Semi Final Battle: Red Bull Circle of Balance

Two of the biggest heavy hitters in flatland, Kio Hayakawa and Yu Katagiri go head to head in this heated semi final battle at the Red Bull Circle of Balance last month in New Orleans. It’s also crazy to think they are both from the same city, Niigata, Japan! Hit play to watch this one go down!

Matthias Dandois vs Terry Adams: Red Bull Circle of Balance 2022

Matthias Dandois vs Terry Adams, two good friends, and Red Bull team-mates go head to head in this quarter final battle at the Red Bull Circle of Balance, and both threw down flawless runs.

Moto Sasaki vs Jean William Prevost: Red Bull Circle of Balance 2022

The UCI World Champion, Moto Sasaki from Japan goes head to head with Canadian beast, Jean William Prevost in this amazing quarter final battle at the Red Bull Circle of Balance in New Orleans. Hit play to watch this one unfold….

Scott O’Brien talks about the up & coming Red Bull Circle of Balance 2022

Interview: Effraim.
Photos: Voodoo Jam Photo Files.

With the return of the Red Bull Circle of Balance less than two weeks away, it’s time to catch up with Scott O’Brien who is MC’ing the 20th anniversary in New Orleans. I dubbed the COB the Super Bowl of flatland a while back and this is huge for flatland it’s back. It’s time to get into it with Scott and discuss this amazing event. Have you got your ticket?

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The Viki Gomez Interview part 2

Interview: Effraim
Photos: Viki Gomez/Red Bull Content Pool

I feel like I have already done the intro for the interview in part 1 so lets keep this short and sweet and get right into this…

It was great to see a banger ultimately decide a huge contest like the Red Bull COB, how long did it take you to get a link such as the steamroller kickflip to halfpacker ready for a contest?
The floor was super cool, and I know that I can pull this combo in good floor having the right mindset. I really appreciate that the judges understood how hard it is to pull a kick flip, because it’s so special and hard trick! I learnt that from MK, kickflips are hard and require a strong mind, and this day my mind was strong as never before.

Tell me how you go about putting your combinations together, what are some of the things you consider? Like before the Red Bull COB, how did you decide on your combos?
I was practising completely different combos for COB. But the day of the contest I couldn’t pull them together so I decide to change the plan, and go for a kind of tricks where I could feel more relaxed. This way I could be “one” with my bike and be able to control my nerves, enjoy and make the crowd happy.

Besides Red Bull and obviously representing Fenix Bikes, who else is supporting you?
Well, right now I have got a lot of new sponsors, especially after winning the COB! I signed for G Shock Japan (I am sponsored straight from Japan), Arnette Sun glasses (this is a very special/exclusive team with sponsors like Dani Pedrosa, Moto GP rider), Levi´s (amazing Streetwear line of fashion), Orbea bikes (They are going to make true one of my dreams that you will see coming next year around May), Suelo (Now this brand belongs to Jykk Japan and I am sponsored with all the parts also designing new parts) and DCShoes (Being part of the VIP Family of a brand made from riders). Editors note: More on Orbea Bikes soon…

Wow you must get a ton of goodies each month, thats awesome! In my opinion, you are the most stylish rider out there right now, so let me ask you, what is style for you?
Thank you Effraim! I heard that a lot from riders and I am really happy and thankful if its like this! I am just natural with my bike, I follow a natural way of moving according to my feelings and then magic happens! I am pretty transparent person and it shows in every aspect of your life.

Speaking of style, what music are you into?
Any music that is good is welcome. I will always like anything that has beauty and spirit!

How concerned are your sponsors with you being in the public eye with edits, or are they more concerned with you riding shows?
I am lucky enough with my sponsors to be seeing as a BMX Flatland Legend! They know the love and passion I put on my bike, they know I have won a lot of contests, made my own innovative bike company, made my own contest like Flamenco Flatland, and they support me because they trust me, and they like that I come with new ideas all the time.
For me life is about coming with new ideas, not only about tricks, but also about projects and exciting business. I give a lot of advices and ideas to my sponsors, I connect good people together of different business of fashion, music, cinema, festival organizers, bike manufacters, urban culture, shops, etc.
My shows are all about showing Flatland in my own way, they way I feel, the way I love it and always representing it in the right way! I don’t feel like a BMX rider at all, I feel more like an artist on wheels with a business mind, lucky enough to travel, make connections and meet amazing people around the globe! I am very interested in others people life’s who have nothing to do with BMX but with art, music, fashion, culture and business related.

What if any are your practise rituals on a normal day?
Wake up, say thank you for a new day and take this day as it comes! Sometimes are riding days and some others are projects and email days. Some others are days to disconnect and many of them are busy days somewhere in the world riding with my bike. The only ritual is to follow the vibe of the day, so whatever you do will be the right decision and then you can take the most of it!

Does that change leading up to a big contest such as the Red Bull COB?
Yeah definitely! I can easily say that I have nothing else to proof in contests terms. But I will always be competitive. I have won a lot different contests in the past but this contests is definitely the best ever and any rider´s dream! I have won it three times and every time I realise I am so stoked.
It makes me realise that your life can become magic if you really wish it with love and passion for what you do! Realizing this makes me understand that I have a powerful tool in my hands! And now I know I can use this magic power in everything I wish to do in my life!

The COB win in japan marks ten years at the top of the sport for you, it’s crazy now to think of you as a veteran, but a veteran who is pushing new styles and concepts, so do you have any words of advice to the older generation of riders out there that maybe think they are to old to compete?
I realized that Flatland is like wine! It just gets better with age, and as any good wine it needs to be kept in the right conditions. So I just have been taking a lot of care of my self in health terms because I just wanted to ride so life gave me all the ways and opportunities to keep on riding! I never got old in my heart, therefore I never lost the passion and love to ride and as long as you feel as happy as the first time you ever rode then nothing will change! Only your experience will makes you more mature and wise so you will ride even better. This is my philosophy of riding.

After japan I heard you took your brakes off, what made you decide that? Have you accomplished all you want to contest wise, onto new challenges?
Riding with brakes the way I ride it feels for some reason much harder than ride with no brakes! Links with brakes are all about waiting for the right momentum to make the link in the exactly right moment, and it’s very limited time to react properly. I have been lately feeling claustrophobic about being locked in this momentum so I decided to scape from it and find in brakeless riding the freedom to choose the momentum to make the link.

Tell me about the “freestyle concept” Viki? I noticed you change up your combos all the time. How does that work in regard to contest preparation?
In order to freestyle you need to have a lot of tricks, and for that you need to practise a lot of tricks. So everyday I make sure I make at least some tricks of every style possible out there. During warm up and then it comes the “conceptual” combos. I mean, for example kickflip is a concept, so I try to make a combo with 2 or 3 different kickflips mixed. Then whiplash is another concept. I try to mix forward and backward whiplashes. Then XF is another concept, and like this over and over all the time with many more concepts. At the end Freestyle happens when you can improvise and mix these concepts. It takes time to get this level, but my priority is to be a complete rider with a lot of variety of tricks and styles.

This has been truly awesome. Any final words of thanks, shootouts etc Viki?
I want to thank you Effraim for this interview and congratulate you for the daily work on!
I want to thank from my family, friends, and specially the big support from my girlfriend Alexa who has changed my life into a dream during the last 3 years! She has been and is my best friend, manager, supporter and lover!
And last but not least I want to thank all my sponsors for supporting and believing in me! Red Bull, Orbea, G Shock, Arnette, Levis, DC and Suelo! Also the new spanish ageny called “Step family” company for helping me to grow much more in Spain! Thanks Red Bull international for all the great trips and invitations worldwide! Thank you all the riders for the support and nice words on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! You all give me the motivation to keep on!

Let’s finish off this interview with some questions from you all at home, (these are the questions Viki answered..)

Reader questions:

Navid asked : 
How long are you planning to ride flatland? (personal riding, not competition nor progressing, just riding)
I have a deal with Jesse Puente who is about 8 years older than me. Whenever he stops I will take his age as a refference to stop. But honestly, do you think JP will ever stop riding?

Uzumaki asked: 
What is the name of the reggae song you rode at, at your qualification run rebeljam?
Ask Michael Sommer, he was the Dj. I just asked him for a Reggae song.

Sven asked:
Do you think much about the future? What are you going to do for a living when flatland won’t pay the bills? Any plans like Terry Adams to invest in houses and live from the rent, etc? It´s cool to live the BMX dream, but what comes after that?
Flatland is not paying me money wise only, it s giving me everyday opportunities to travel all over the world, design bikes, being a marketing and team manager, make conexions, come up with ideas and concepts. And the most important nowadays: Lifestyle! Giving me knowledge everyday to learn a lot about the business of entertaiment and marketing. So my philosophy is to keep learning and progressing. I know life will show me the way as always! Nothing comes after the BMX dream. Life is a dream and I just keep on living.

2) Why did you move to Luxembourg? Girlfriend? Do you have any plans to go back to Spain? Do you ride alone in Luxembourg? Do you have an indoor spot? You know the winter can be harder there than in Malaga.
I moved because I have been following my girlfriend during her studies the last 3 years in Stockholm, London, Madrid and now Luxembourg. It has changed my point of view in life and I am very open to live anywhere new and exciting in the future! It helped me to become more sophisticated and cosmopolitan.
For me Winter and cold has become a positive thing. I appreciate the good weather, and when is bad weather I stay positive and patient. I have an indoor spot where I ride alone, so I am very lucky! I love the feeling to be able to ride when is super cold outside. It’s a nice feeling that I never experienced before.

Pugloaf asked: 
Longest break you took from riding? Any tips for pivot tricks?

I think one month is the longest break I took, and it was because I got injured in my ankle. I am addicted to ride so if I stop it s because something had happened.
Regarding the pivoting, just put your feet/foot in the top of the pegs and feel the flow.

Adam D asked: 
When you picture links/tricks in your head, is it from a side point of view like your watching a video, or over top of your bike like what you would see while your actually riding?

When I invent a new trick or link it’s from the same point of view as what I see when I ride. But when I want to practise freestyle in my mind I see it from outside like watching a video.

Julien Politi asked:
Do you ”practice”, or do you just ride? I mean is there any precise riding pattern that you stick to to maintain this high level, or do you just freestyle without planning anything?

I practise basic routines everyday of whiplash, XF combos, kickflips, backwheel, spin both sides and then I go for the tricks I am practising at that moment. Freestyle comes only sometimes and it’s amazing when it happens!

Byke asked:
Who designed what with KGB?

I mostly took care of all the designs, accounts, orders and legal paperwork since Martti took care of the whole marketing campaign, relations and web page.

And why did you decide to go separate ways?
Well, KGB was our university, and we really learnt how to manage a freelance job. It was a time to move on progress, and KGB wasn’t the answer for our demands so we decided to move on and find new ways. To establish a bike company might take at least 20 years to have a respectable name in the industry. Despite this, we made some noise in the industry and had an amazing funny time! I encourage people to try their own thing, you will never loose even if your profit is zero. You will win knowledge and life surely will payback with money in the future. Believe in yourself and don’t be afraid to risk, because at the end you will profit more than you can imagine right now.

If you missed part 1:

The Friday Interview – Viki Gomez! (Part 1)

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?

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