INTERVIEW w/ Simone NAI OLEARI
"I was in an ascending phase during the whole season"
Chloé Seyrès for WorldSlalomSeries.com
2013 Top-5s Interview Series
Collected January 2014
NAI OLEARI Simone (ITA)
Speed Men's World #1
Nb of Comps in 2013: 8
Total score: 2203
Italian Simone Nai Oleari spent 17 months leading the Speed Slalom World Ranking so far, having reached place #1 in August 2012. After an impressive 2012 year, he improves his overall season performance in 2013 with a perfect Best-4 of 1300 points, winning the Hannover Inline Games, Namwon Slalom Open, the Cups of Paris and Moscow and upgrading from European Vice-Champion (2012) to Champion (2013) in Warsaw. All those wins are far enough to make up for a less bright result at the WFSC (6th) and he secures a comfortable seat on top of the Ranking, being almost 150 points ahead of World #2 Chinese Guo Fang.
C.S. You joined 8 competitions this year, how do you analyze the evolution of your performances throughout the season?
SNO. For sure, 2013 has been my best year ever. I was almost always in a very good shape and I had the chance to take part in 8 WSS competitions including 5 three-cone events, where I got the first place in 4 of them; and 2 four-cone events, the World Championship and the European Championship, where I won the European title for the first time in my career! I was - and still am - so happy for that!
I think that I had almost constant results for two main causes. First I was in a good health, God helped me, I didn't have any health problem during all the season. I just had some pain in my back 2 weeks after the European Championship because of an exercise I did wrong, but I recovered after 3 weeks. Secondly because I trained hard all year long, so that I was in an ascending phase during the whole season and my times and precision in the cones improved competition after competition.
C.S. At the WFSC you get knocked out by Davide Piacentini, the current World Champion, in quarter finals after two insane runs. You finish 6th at the Worlds again, like in Lishui in 2012. Is that your next goal, a podium at the Worlds for 2014?
SNO. Actually I don't know why, but it's been 3 years that I get the worst rank of the season at the Worlds! Funny, isn't it? To be honest, the World title is the only title that I didn't get yet… And I really would like to take part in the next Worlds in a very good shape and well prepared to fight for it.
2013 EFSC Final S.NaiOleari Vs. D.DeAraujo
"the winner is always
the one who deserves the
title more than the others"
C.S. Let's go back on that 1/4 final fight between you and Davide, can you relate the competition and that round from your view point?
SNO. First of all, I want to congratulate Davide once more. During that round, me and Davide did the best 2 times of all the KOs of the 2013 Worlds. Although I was faster the previous week in Russia, that day I thought that I had done my best against Davide. Looking back, even if I thought then that I did everything well, now I can easily see where my mistakes were and what to work on to be faster next time. Anyway my opponent was in a very good shape, he trained very well and he got the title because he deserved it more than the others that day. In a sane competition, the winner is always the one who deserves the title more than the others. What I can do now is keeping in mind how to be faster for the next competition.
"during the final, it started to rain"
C.S. Which competition gave you the biggest adrenaline rush this year?
SNO. Every competition is a world of adrenaline and new experiences, even for skaters like me who have been used to compete for a quite long time. The two I'd pick up would be the Europeans and Paris. But since I have to choose only one competition, the answer is surely the PSWC in Paris! I met the strongest skaters in the world during the KOs, the previous WR n°1 Yohan Fort, and moreover, when I was against Diego (note: De Araujo) during the final, it started to rain! It was for sure the most exciting final of the year! I remember that I just wanted to run: I wasn't afraid of the water on the ground, I wasn't afraid of my opponent (even if he was very fast), I only wanted to end the competition, to be the fastest and get the victory. And I did it.
C.S. What do you think of the update of the speed slalom ruleset for 2014?
SNO. I really appreciate every effort done by the WSSA to improve freestyle skating. Every change should be well accepted if it's made to make competitions fairer, clearer and more understandable. Every update in this direction can just attract more skaters. We have to remember that it is thanks to you all skaters if this World Series exists, that it is thanks to all judges and committee if it has improved until this point. As long as judges and committee work for the skaters, the World Series can only improve, attract more skaters and become greater and greater, competition after competition.
C.S. Who is the speed slalom revelation of the year according to you?
SNO. I think that the revelation of the year is Arabi Laya from Iran. I'm sure she trained hard all 2013, even if in the first part of the year she was absent from the international competitions. The results of her training were clearly shown in Moscow last October (where she got first place) and during the Worlds last November (where she got third place). I believe we can expect great things from her in the next years.
Moscow Final S.NaiOleari Vs. F.Motevasel
C.S. Indeed, there seems to be a new rising nation in speed slalom, what do you think of the Iranian skaters?
SNO. I met for the first time almost the whole Iranian team in Russia last October. They are good persons and great skaters, I had a very good impression about them. It's not about where they come from: they work very well as team and they are very active in their country, teaching freestyle skating in many skating schools and organizing many local events during the year. I believe this is the true reason why they are all very strong in speed slalom.
"I don't want to find any excuse not to skate"
C.S. Last year you told me you wanted to find a place to skate and that you had moved to Milan. Was this life change beneficial to you in your training?
SNO. This change has been beneficial to my working life and to my sportsman life as well. Having two more free hours per day (which I used to waste into daily transportation before moving) meant a lot, even if I would spend those two hours just staying at home and sleeping.
During our last interview I was optimistic, thinking I would find a nice indoor place in my new city, with a heating system and a clean floor. But I was dreaming, things didn't turn out in that way. Still I found a very small covered place for when it rains, which it happens very often during the Italian Autumn, Winter and Spring. Not to disturb anybody, I can go there to skate when the nearest offices and the bank are closed, when the pedestrians are all at home and after I have swept the ground…
I love skating, I don't care about difficulties, about where and when to skate and I don't want to find any excuse not to skate. The other WSS top ranking skaters will surely understand my point of view about this.
"you can always do better, learn and improve"
C.S. What are your objectives for 2014 as for results and skating technique?
SNO. As always, my main goal is to have fun during competitions, meet new skaters, make new friends, visit other countries and discover other cultures. The skating world is a sane and safe place where to stay. Speaking about competitions, as I said before I would like to be able to compete at the 2014 WFSC in a really awesome shape, very well prepared physically and mentally. Without anything to regret about my preparation. Then fight hard for the best. Secondly I would like to keep my first place at the World Ranking several months more. I got this place in August 2012 and I never left it. It would be awesome if I could break the record of the longest stay at the first place of the world ranking.
About technique, skating improvements and evolution even if you think you are done, gained and have made everything possible, you can always do better, learn and improve. And I'm working towards this direction, always.
"the task to beat me and take it away from me
is up to whoever wants my first place"
C.S. Do you see competitions differently now that you are at the top of the ranking?
SNO. I believe that the World Ranking is only “on the paper”, that every competition is separate, different, and that it's impossible to know who is going to win a competition just by checking the WR. Anyway I admit that since I've held this first place for that long, I don't want to let it go now: the task to beat me and take it away from me is up to whoever wants my first place.
C.S. In 2012 you took part in 10 competitions, 8 in 2013, do you keep on that same range for 2014 or do you plan to join more?
Honestly I would like to take part in all the WSS competitions taking place around the world, compete every weekend… I have always liked this idea, but I have to face reality, I have another job different from inline skating, for which I get a real wage. Moreover my leave days are limited, so that I have to balance between the two activities. Still I'm satisfied with the number of competitions in which I've been able to take part each year so far.
Free Space: I want to use this free space to say thank you to all the people who helped me during the year. First of all my parents who have always supported and helped me. They are always present and their support is really special to me. Then my thoughts go to my coach. With him, I've learnt how to train, how to work and improve. Without his support I would be lost.
Then again I have to thank my sponsor. They believe in me and their support has been really precious.
Last but not least, warm thanks to all the skaters, to their parents, to the organizers, the judges and the speakers whom I had the chance to meet during the year. Thanks for being genuine, thanks for telling me that I inspired you to practice more Speed Slalom, thanks for your gifts, for your awesome way of being kind to me, thanks for sharing your experience and your culture with me, thanks for being my long distance friends. Hope to see you all somewhere in the world in 2014.
Chloé Seyrès for WorldSlalomSeries.com