Sponsor(s): FR skates
Current Setup: FR Igor
Favorite Trick(s): Nowiper, fanvolte, antieagle, footgun.
Favorite Skater(s): Zhang Hao, Liao Jie
Favorite Video(s): Valhae team, Seba vs. Jiazi, Slalom heroes from Korea and old videos in general.
Hello Jon. Thanks for your time. Can you kindly introduce yourself?
My name is Jon Ander Larrucea. Not many people know my middle name or the fact that I’m Spanish but I grew up in many different places across Spain. This is a very divers country so I had the chance to experience different cultures and languages from a very young age. I lived in the Basque country, then Barcelona and then we moved to Canary Islands for 5 years. The time there was amazing. I had that age when you start going out by yourself and making good friends. My passion for sports starts there and I loved cycling but I was skating occasionally too.
After that I moved to a beautiful valley in the Pyrenees called Vall d’Aran. I forgot about the skates and focused on mountain biking. My connexion with nature was strong but I was missing the ocean.
After some years in that Valley we moved near Barcelona. Back to the beach and a very nice and long promenade that incited me to start skating again. I found some old skates in my family’s unit store so I started skating and never stopped.
How did you begin inline skating? When your first time at inline skating, what did you feel?
I took some ice skating classes when I was so young that I can nearly remember. I don’t remember learning to skate, that’s the truth. I have always been comfortable on skates. By learning so young, I took is as a natural state. Then, I knew how to skate (basic skating) but I wasn’t skating that often. When I moved to the beach and started to skate daily, I improved fast and soon I started to want more. I’ve always been in good shape and I competed in cycling and rugby so it’s hard for me to be content with a certain level, I always seek for new challenges and tricks to master.
Skating has been the discovery of my life. I use it every day as a transport method and as a good friend of mine says, « it’s like having a super power ».
I remember the first time I saw freestyle slalom. I thought to myself « that is exactly what I’m looking for ».
It became my obsession. I already had good flexibility and a good pair of skates (SEBA FR1).
I started learning from SAT, then Munobal. Trick by trick I wanted to learn the whole alphabet. I wouldn’t stop until I had them all.
Your freestyle slalom life has many achievements. How did you decide to start freestyle slalom? Have you tried other types of skating?
I discovered slalom progressively. I first started skating because of the ideal conditions. Then I saw some guys going super-fast through football cones. They were doing just fish and cross but it blew my mind. I wanted to do that. I decided that I would do that. In a matter of few months I was going as fast as them and I was trying to do other tricks too, even if I wasn’t as fast. I was trying stuff like one leg backwards, heel toe snake, stuff like that.
Then I discovered the crazy. This is funny because I did the crazy before actually seeing it! A friend explained me (with words) what he saw and I did it. It was horrible but it was there! so I started to practice every day with the giant cones and distances. My legs became more flexible because of that.Not so long after that I discovered the first person doing slalom for real, with real tiny cones and exact 80cm space between them, in a straight line and flat surface. I wasn’t used to that at all and I was opening my legs more than what I needed. I saw the crazy well done, the mabrouk, nelson… So many new possibilities appeared before my eyes!
I like skating in the streets but mainly for transportation so my main goal is to arrive quick to where I have to go. I focused on speed and endurance rather than on tricks like jumping. Like, why would I jump that bike if I can just go around!? haha
What is your vision of freestyle slalom? How do you describe your style?
(For me) Freestyle Slalom is the art of keeping the momentum by flowing between the obstacles. When I do slalom I try to take one initial push and then keep it through the line of cones, without losing that initial momentum. You can accelerate, go slow or even stop but the idea is to keep that continuity, the flow. If you stop, if you slow down or change the rhythm, it has to be 100% voluntary and confident. That is actually one of the most important factors to take into account when determining how good is someone on skates. It is critical to know when to push and how to not lose the flow while performing the tricks. How many beginners start a great volt and during the trick they slow down and push again while being in the volte position…
One good example of this breaking continuity is Liao Jie. He’s so electric and plays with the speed change but he’s so fluid at the same time. That is real control, in my opinion.
My style is mostly based on this principle. It is also based on creating my own sauce, my own footwork. That can give the illusion of having a different style than everyone else but actually, what it is, is just different tricks and transitions. For instance, I love fanvoltes and I love playing with the different versions and directions so that creates that illusion that I skate different. Keeping the flow while doing these kind of tricks can be challenging.
Slalom and music is great duo. Do you listen to music when slalom skating? How does that affect you?
I didn’t need the music from the beginning. I believe that when you train technique, you don’t need as much music because you focus on the trick. When you start slaloming, everything is technique. After you start to master the basics and start to improvise, the music is essential. To the point that i can’t skate without music anymore unless I’m focusing on a technical trick.
What do you do while learning new tricks? In general, can you talk about your training program?
I write everything down. « Failing to plan is planning to fail ». The most important is to organize the trainings and set reasonable goals with a certain deadline. I personally like to set my goals in terms of my own progression. I mean that I just want to become a better version of myself.
I keep track of all the tricks I do, the tricks I want to master, what is my average on each trick, how many cones or spins I can do and how many I want to do at the end of the day, at the end of the week, the month and at the end of the year.
Nowadays many kids are lucky to have a coach but back in the days, skaters from my generation and older, we needed to organize ourselves and get out that intrinsic motivation to improve in a sport that maybe no one else in our town was practicing. The kids don’t realize how lucky they are and many times this environment kills their drive to push themselves, because someone else is there to do that.
Although you were injured at the beginning of 2011 season, you had reached third place of the world freestyle slalom ranking and you had won 2 European champion titles. That is one of your best seasons as far as we follow. Did you expect such an achieve?
I didn’t expect anything. I trained very hard to achieve that but I didn’t do it for the results or for any specific result. I trained hard because that was my life, basically. Whatever I do, I try to do it well and in this case, it is also my passion so it wasn’t that difficult to put in the effort.
Recently, you have not been entered in slalom competitions. What is the reason of this? Could it be Cirque Éloize?
Short answer: yes.
I had a nasty injury and spent almost half a year in Copenhagen, Denmark, studying my Economics degree. All this together made me have less trainings. When I finally started to recover my trainings and started to compete again, I had this amazing opportunity to join the contemporary circus. So I stopped competition in a moment in my life that wasn’t necessarily the right one for me. I didn’t want to stop so early but life presents you opportunities and you have to make the choice. I’m naturally inclined to take the risky option, to move into something unknown, the challenge and uncertainty.
I gradually stopped competition but I still compete sometimes and I keep skating and doing slalom almost every day. I don’t understand who, with full physical capacities, stops skating completely after stopping competition.
You like to traveling. During the trips, you are meeting and skating with many skater of different nationalities. Does that affect your skating culture?
I know it sounds cliché but traveling has opened my mind more than anything. Traveling alone has been specially life changing for me. Meeting new people through skating is just amazing and it makes me feel so lucky every time! I noticed, for instance, that in isolated places where there are not many slalom skaters, the few skaters there have a genuine style and focus on the footwork, the style, the joy.
On the other side of the spectrum, in big cities with a lot of skaters and competitions nearby, It’s more normal to find slalom skaters focused on technical tricks.
Slalom skating is one of the most popular forms of inline skating. In your opinion, what is the most important reason why skaters choose slalom?
We choose Freestyle Slalom because it’s cool! It gives you the possibility to have a unique style, more than any other skating discipline except, maybe, for figure skating, in my opinion.
Another reason is because it’s so technical that mastering freestyle slalom will make you control your skates to a level that you will be able to do whatever you want with them.
One example: I have never trained for speed skating technique but I have a natural double push that some speed skaters compliment, but I never trained or were taught that technique. I just feel very comfortable on my edges and I know a lot of slalom friends that feel the same way.
You can be really creative too and the perception about our sport is changing fast.
When I was in NYC, I was giving workshops, joining the skating activities and slaloming in Central Park. I met a guy that said to me « so far I always thought that doing freestyle slalom was lame but then I saw you and you completely changed my mind! ». That moment brought me so much joy because I could change the perception of one person in a country were slalom isn’t so popular. I imagined, if I could reach a lot of people, would I (or any slalomer) create an impact or shape the culture of a country in some way?
Freestyle slalom is so popular in Spain, Poland, France, China and Vietnam. Why is freestyle-slalom popular in these countries despite having got different culture?
Because Freestyle Slalom is not about culture, religion or language. It’s about style and style is international!
Our sport is like a hidden treasure and by having more exposure in these countries, more and more people will join. It’s a snowball effect. Also, learning Freestyle Slalom isn’t easy so having active slalomers around, that are willing to spread the knowledge, is key for a healthy and organic growth of the sport.
By the way, I think you missed south America and some African countries like Senegal. People are really passionate about Freestyle Slalom over there :)
Your Judge level is 1 in World Slalom Series website. Can you talk about your plans for the future? What are your goals the freestyle slalom?
I like judging but I still enjoy more skating haha. I want to keep skating and improving certain moves but I’m not super ambitious about the technical level. Recently, the slalom community has seen major names abandon the competitions because of health problems and they are teenagers!
We, skaters and rule makers, are pushing the sport to limits were we can injure ourselves. I don’t know a single top skater performing tricks like the christie wheeling that don’t complain about a certain pain or injury. Tomorrow a crazy monk living at 3000m high in a small village can put the skates on and invent a trick. He would jump super high and land with his head in perfect balance. Yes, it’s difficult. Yes, no one else can do it. But is it beautiful to see? Is it going to leave the monk and everyone that tries to imitate him with chronic pain?
That’s one of the reasons why my motivation to keep pushing on certain tricks was killed. Other reasons are purely a matter of preferences.
I prefer to use my time and energy in other stuff and enjoy more the life that I was depriving myself. I enjoy creating my footwork and sharing it with others around the world. I love it when I see someone from the other side of the world doing one of my combos or some specific moves.
Last question is about recommendations. Do you have any recommendations for beginner skaters? How they can improve themselves?
Take your time, enjoy the ride and don’t even think about competition yet. Competition may boost motivation but ruins the base of beginners. I see it all the time. People that want to compete from day one then lacking the basics because those don’t count in battle.
Please, skate because you like doing it. You don’t have to compare yourself with top skaters. Just be better than yourself every day and don’t forget the basics, they will help you to improve fast in the future. Learning things right from the beginning is much more simple than having to review the basics when you are practicing the seven and notice that the most challenging part is the backward entry.