INTERVIEW w/ Igor Cheremetieff
"I’m a judge now
but I’m far from having stopped skating…"
Igor Cheremetieff (FRA)
Freestyle Men's World #20
Nb of Comps in 2014: 12
Total score: 2213
Polina Semenova for WorldSlalomSeries.com
Proofreading by Chloe Seyres
Video by Sebaskates and Mirenkov Leonid
Photo by Sebaskates, Tiphaine Bourbon,
Freestyle Slalom Perú
Igor is an iconic figure for the skating community. He inspires skaters all over the world with his performances. He supports every skater with his smiles and tips. His pro-model skate is considered one of the best of all times. Skaters of all ages and nationalities continue to train footgun wheeling, which he was the first to develop. Throughout all his years of competition, He's always stayed in the Top 20! This year he decided to put an end to his sports career. Here is an interview with the newly retired freestyler...
P.S. Igor, you have been competing for almost ten years. What are the best achievements of your slalom career?
IGOR. There are different things that I’m proud of or happy about in my slalom career.
My biggest pride is probably when I receive messages saying that I gave to some skaters the motivation to start and dedicate themselves to slalom. It also makes me very happy to know that people simply enjoy watching me perform on competitions or videos, and that even sometimes they click and they start. Likewise, each time I could share a trick with the slalom community, it made me proud and happy to see skaters doing it all over the world. I’m mainly thinking about the footgun wheeling, but there are some other tricks I used to do and which I shared with skaters, who liked them enough to work on them and integrate them into their slalom routines.
Another important achievement was joining the SEBA Team and the way I evolved within the "SEBA World". Meeting Sebastien and being invited in the Team was probably the best thing that happened in my life.
From then onwards, I could travel all around the world and meet skaters from many countries, giving me the opportunity to learn more about slalom and share tricks.
Working next to Sébastien allowed me to dedicate myself full-time to my sport. Now I have become the SEBA Team Manage, I can also consecrate myself to the rules updates, the organization and more, in order to improve things. Sometimes, I even have the opportunity to visit new countries and show what is happening into the slalom world to the local skaters, in terms of tricks, events, rules…
Of course, one of the main things I'm proud of is when I was asked to work on my pro-model. What an opportunity! It didn’t happen to many skaters in slalom. It's hard to believe it at first, but after a while, when you see prototypes coming and when you test them, you know it's for real. Now, I must say that it always makes me smile when I see skaters, whatever their level, skating around with "my" skates on.
Last but not least -so that this interview doesn't last forever- I’m glad that, now that I won't be competing anymore, I can be useful to my sport being a judge and working on events!
"each time I could share a trick with the slalom community, it made me proud and happy to see skaters doing it all over the world"
"it always makes me smile when I see skaters,
whatever their level,
skating around with "my" skates on."
P.S. What is your most important victory and what is your biggest regret?
IGOR. I had many strong moments during several competitions, but the most important one for me was probably in Moscow 2008, when I beat KSJ during the battle final. I had the feeling that everything had become possible! KSJ was a kind of master that everyone in Europe was "afraid to skate with", but in the end, he was not unbeatable and this was a really big victory for me! I had the same feeling that very year when I managed to beat Guo Fang and Wang Heng.
The biggest regret is a hard one to answer. If I had a regret… it would be not to have been able to keep the first place at the world ranking longer. It was such a nice time! I had to face a new feeling when I started not to be able to reach finals anymore… I quickly learned to turn the pain into something more positive, but the very first time was pretty harsh on me!
However, if I could turn back time, I wouldn't change many things. Maybe add more training. And believe even stronger that so many things are possible! For example, I thought about Christy Wheeling spins around 2007 / 2008, but thought it was too crazy and gave up… Never give up on a trick! If you can’t do it, maybe others will.
Moscow Battle08 Final Men by Mirenkov Leonid
P.S. Why did you decide to retire?
IGOR. I still want to compete on events now and then, though! For example, I really wanted to join the PSWC 2014, but I was too busy and I had rather be 100% involved into the organization instead of competing.
Retiring is a very hard decision to make. I've been at the top for a few years and since then, I've had less and less time available for my personal training. The general level has increased so fast that now it is insanely high. I can't keep up with that good a level, combined with work and private life. Now, it’s almost impossible for me to reach a battle final, even a semi final… And it's still hard on me to be eliminated so early during competitions, whereas not so long ago I was qualified for all the finals. That's why I think I'm more useful as a judge than as a competitor -even if my legs beg me to go and skate when I'm sitting at the judges' table.
P.S. Which competition feelings will you miss?
IGOR. Some of the feelings I already miss. For example, when events happened in crowded places, and when I could skate for 30 sec, building that relationship with the audience, the other skaters and the judges, dedicating 100% of my body and soul to that moment. To be honest, whenever I can, I go skating in Parisian outdoor places to renew with that feeling. I may be a judge now, but I'm far from having stopped skating!
Another feeling I loved, and I will not experience again unless I go back to competition, is when the round has started. Watching the other skaters of the group, skating around the area, thinking of what I'm going to do and listening to the DJ, letting the music flow inside of me and being like a lion in a cage, knowing that the doors will open for 30 sec any time soon… I miss feeling like a ticking time bomb about to show everything I knew and could… That was just awesome! It is unique and can only happen on competition. It can't be recreated in any other situation.
And of course, there’s also the feeling of executing a new trick cleanly while performing, feeling the balance in the middle of the arena when everybody’s looking at you. I wish every competitor could feel it! These are just magical seconds…
P.S. What does your life look like now ?
IGOR. It's not that different. I’m working as much as I can for SEBA & my sport. I try to find the time to enjoy slalom sessions -although it's getting rarer- and dedicate all the free time I have to my girlfriend, Ariane. If only there were 48 hours in a day, I could skate more for myself, practice other sports I love, like Subdiving or badminton, or enjoy other activities, playing music, meeting friends and so on…
P.S. What do you think about the new generation of skaters?
IGOR. Just like all the old skaters who can’t keep up with the level, my first thought is that they are doing too many technical tricks. But I also remember how I felt doing new "hard tricks" and I must say that I'm glad they are still increasing the level. I’m frustrated to see how fast they are learning the tricks we needed to work on so hard to create. But I’m happy to see performances getting higher and higher.
The only negative point I could think of is that I think they still need to find the balance between technique and freestyle, whatever the competition - classic or battle. Some good freestylers are only doing show and forget about high skilled tricks, and conversely some good technical skaters are only focusing on "wheeling contests". I hope that soon we will have the good balance between the two.
P.S. What are your forecasts for the next champions?
IGOR. Tricky question… We all know the strong kids. In Europe, there is Sergey Timchenko. Even if he is already doing many finals, I hope he will grow up and find maturity in his skating. If he does, I’m sure he can become a great champion.
We all saw the chinese kids at the Namwon Slalom Open in Korea. They will be a big deal for the next european skaters!
I hope that we will have surprises with newcomers whom we still don’t know and who will bring new ideas, styles, tricks…
P.S. A few words to the skaters?
IGOR. Can’t wait to see you all and hope the family will keep on increasing like it has since I've been around! Help the beginners, they need you and we definitely need them.
P.S. A few words to your fans all over the world?
IGOR. Thanks for all the feedbacks you give me all year long! It really warms my heart. I hope I’ll find the time and ideas to do more videos… and we all may keep enjoying slalom all over the world :)
See you all around somewhere!
iGor Skates Pro-model 2013 by Sebaskates
Polina Semenova for WorldSlalomSeries.com
Proofreading by Chloe Seyres