Jon Larrucea

World #10 Freestyle (Feb.13)

Things have changed since our last interview one year ago! At the time, Jon Larrucea had reached the world's Top-3 (Jan.12), thanks to a hold-up at the 2011 European Championships (two titles) amongst other feats. At the time yet, he was saying that he felt he still had a great scope of progression ahead. The world's podium is a very coveted place and Jon experienced it at his expense, ending the 2012 season at the world's 16th place…
Back on the 2012 events: studies and graduation, injury and recovery, improvements and motivation... and opening on the 2013 season: determination to come back up, upcoming trip to asia, opportunities and plans... All of this topped with modesty and gratitude, for a realistic an organized top freestyler!

* What do you think about your skating improvements over the last season?

I don’t really feel like improving so much during the last season. Maybe I invented some footwork combinations, new ideas and projects but nothing very plausible about technique… that’s what I want to improve, not only because nowadays it is important in competitions to make good results, but also because I guess it is my weakest point. Learning new tricks and controlling them is always challenging and motivating.

“I got injured in falling very badly and I had to miss the rest of the important events of the year”

* Let's have a quick look over 2012: you were one of the most active skaters of the season with 16 WSSA competitions! What were the key-moments of your season? How do you explain that drop in the ranking? The French taking over the European podiums of 2012 must not have helped… Other reasons?

Last season was complicated. After my Erasmus in Denmark (when I didn’t train so much or so hard) I started to train seriously again and get good results. When I started the holidays I trained pretty much and it reflected in my performance (Gandía and Gavà “SummerStyle” where I did quite well, winning the classic and being 2º at the battle after Romain Lebois.) I was starting to train footgun wheeling and I felt strong. Then, one week later, in Ancona I got injured in falling very badly and I had to miss the rest of the important events of the year… I was very sad because I missed almost the whole summer, when I can skate the most, and I had to rest while the others could train and enjoy the Spanish summer… My recovery was very slow and skating (overall new tricks like footgun wheeling) was hurting a lot because the injury was at the ankle.
On the other hand, I didn’t have much time to train because I was finishing my studies in International Business and Economics, and teaching skaters in my club GavaFreestyle. But this is not really an excuse.
All in all, the drop is reasonable and I feel lucky to remain in the top 20.

* The 2013 season has just begun. And you have already started to climb the ranking back up: from #16 in December you are ranked #10 today. The reconquest is on?

I like to think that I’m reconquering the 2011 place but I know everything can happen. I look at the ranking and I see many good skaters. I have to train in order to be strong enough to be in the world podium, but I see that this is reachable, I just need the right motivation. Sometimes this is the key to keep improving. In my case, motivation went down after my injury and I’m trying to be fully motivated, just like before, but sometimes it is hard. I have to say that the best performance I did was when I could travel with more Spanish skaters, and especially with my friend Adrián Almazán. He has always been my motivation and company in many travels. Now I have to travel alone most of the time and it is different…
I’m optimistic as for the ranking, the season has just begun and there are many big competitions left. I think I can reach the top 5 during this year, maybe the podium if I’m lucky. This is my goal right now.

* During the winter, did you work on some updates in your skating, in your freestyle and your technique?

I did what I could. We don’t have an indoor place and the weather has been -let’s say- not very 'friendly'… I managed to learn footgun wheeling and started to try backwards. For the rest I control better some wheeling transitions and I changed a bit the position of my frame (from outside to middle). I don’t know if for other skaters this is important, but for me this is crucial: I like to wear the frame exactly in the place that is best for me.

* What 2013 competitions did you take part in, were your performances encouraging for the rest of the season?

In 2013 I have competed already in Hannover and Albacete (Spain). In Hannover I didn’t do it very well but still managed to finish second in classic (I really hated the floor). In Albacete I think I did just well, like I expected to and I won the battle against the new talents from Madrid and Toni Castro. I was focused on Toni, the biggest threat, and I could beat him thanks to the footgun wheeling and good runs. I feel really good about it and now I have to train for the next time I meet him (without forgetting other skaters that are doing really well), at the second stage of the Spanish Slalom Series in Seville (May 5th).


Final Battle Pro – I Battle Albacete (Mar.13) :

“ It is my first time in Korea and I’m very excited about the idea of going to the cradle of freestyle slalom.”

* You are about to do a trip around Asia. What are going to be your destinations? How long will you stay there? Are you traveling alone?

I will travel alone from Barcelona next Thursday 18th (April) but I will meet my international friends soon. My first destination is Seoul, South Korea. My family is afraid about the situation over there, and I even had some problems to convince my father that everything is ok and that I have to go. The competition is in Namwon. It is my first time in Korea and I’m very excited about the idea of going to, what is for me, the cradle of freestyle slalom. I admire Korean skaters and I hope to meet my heroes there, apart from the superstars that I already know I think there are many more that are not famous but have a super style.
Then on Tuesday (23rd) I will travel to Beijing for the Battle Masters. The competition is in the weekend (29th), so we will join the Chinese in their trainings and make a kind of freestyle slalom camp. I think this is a gift for me, the best skaters of the world concentrated in the same space, innovating, training, sharing, learning… I’m looking so much forward to it!
I will come back to Barcelona on Tuesday (30th) and leave the same week to Seville on Friday morning and when I come back I will probably drive to Zurich… Such a crazy trip and I will probably be one month away from home.

“I think this is a gift for me, the best skaters of the world concentrated in the same space, innovating, training, sharing, learning… I’m looking so much forward to it!”

* What will you get out of that Asian trip, your expectations ?

Right now I feel that I'm improving and physically strong, so I focus on learning and keeping improving. Of course this trip is an opportunity to learn a lot and I will take the most of all the trainings. I will also try to beat some guys but the problem is that as it is a young sport, the level is constantly growing and it’s difficult to catch up fast. I also want to visit Seoul and learn a little bit of that great country.

* You are part of the freestyle elite today (WR#13) and you are one of the 20 lucky -and deserving- freestylers to be on the list for Battle Masters! How do you feel about that?

As you say I’m feeling lucky because I know there are people passionate about this sport who can’t practice because of their economic or political situation. I realized that when I was in Dakar for instance. The support and promotion I receive from Seba and Inercia is immeasurable. Of course I deserve to be on the list, but I was helped with the right means in order to be where I’m now and I feel grateful. Sometimes I don’t realize the impact we have in our community, and then I remember when I was starting and how I idolized the top skaters of the moment. The cool thing about our sport is that you can talk, skate or have lunch with the best skaters because they are normal people with normal lives!

“I’m feeling lucky because I know there are people passionate about this sport who can’t practice because of their economic or political situation.”

* Last year you had been kicked off at the first round of Battle Masters. What happened?

I don’t remember my group but I remember the floor very well. I’m not a big fan of wooden floor, all the more if it is floating… I couldn’t adapt on time and there is no warming area: a killer combination for me. And let's not forget that in Battle masters you find the real best skaters in the world, every round is like a final!

* Do you feel ready for a revenge? What is your goal for such a battle ?

Revenge is not the word but I would love to reach the final.

Battle SummerStyle 2012

* What is the next stage when you are back? Do you have a lot of competitions coming ?

As I said, Seville, then break for one week, Paris, battle Summerstyle in Gavà (Barcelona), Conero Battle, Busto, European championship… I really want to travel to South America. We share the same language and many people ask me when I’m coming. I’d love to go to Argentina, Peru, Mexico, Brazil… a tour would be perfect haha. I love Thailand too but I still don’t know if I can go.

* Anything you want to add ?

Thanks to all the people that believe in me, my sponsors, my family and my pupils because you are my support.

Collected by Chloe Seyres
April 2013