Road to Nitro with Roman Abrate
In just a few weeks Travis Pastrana will once again make action sports history, this time at the kick-off for his inaugural Nitro World Games event. Poised to reclaim the mantle of action sports title from the fading X-Games, NWG comes at the world with a completely new contest format: mega-ramp. And seeing as Chris Haffey and Wake Schepman are already touring bladers on the Nitro Circus, it would only make sense that inline was part of NWG. And it is! Five athletes from around the world were invited to participate: Haffey, Schepman, CJ Wellsmore, Dave Lang, and France’s Roman Abrate, who took time out of his pre-NWG training to tell us what being chosen for the event means to him, as well as what he’s doing to get prepared for the biggest event of his life.
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Roman, congrats on qualifying for Nitro Games! That’s a pretty big deal since you know that in the US blading doesn’t usually get up on the big boy stage these days. You excited about it?
Hi everyone, and thank you! Yes, I’m so happy that blading will be part of the Nitro World Games, and especially for a mega-ramp contest.
For a few years I’ve been unable to stop thinking that a mega-ramp contest would be one of the best ways to expose our sport to the public. Even more because Nitro Circus is an awesome event with a big audience and they are always trying to push the limits of extreme sports. So yes, I’m really happy that blading will be part of it!
Before the announcement was made there was quite a bit of speculation about who the five riders would be— did you think you’d be part of that group?
When I heard that only five riders were selected for the show I didn’t think that I’d be part of it. There is many good skaters in the world… so to be selected makes me genuinely happy! I guess it might have had something do with the Big Air edit I made at Woodward Camp a few years ago. Ha ha.
How did you get involved with the Nitro Games selection process?
I just received an email from the organization with all the info about the competition, inviting me to be part of the event. Getting that email made my day!
What kinda practice time do you have on big mega ramp-style set ups? How do you plan to prepare mentality and physically?
Unfortunately I’ve only skated on a mega-ramp once, and that was four years ago at Woodward Camp. And it was a lot of fun! I skate a lot of park so jumps and spins are a big part of my skating… so I just need to adapt that to a bigger ramp. To do that I’ve been training with one of my best friends, Mathias Wecxsteen, who teaches freestyle skiing. He’s been a huge help! He’s had me doing a lot of training on the trampoline and airbag, practicing a few tricks, trying to be really confident with solid grabs.
Do you set up your blades any different for the speed and impact of a huge launch ramp this this?
Usually Ikeep the same set up, but for this event I’m planning on something new. I will probably use longer Kaltik frames and certainly will ride on eight wheels. I have already asked Wicked for some special bearings, and Undercover to test different sets of wheels to find out which ones would be the best for this kind of ramp and conditions.
What can you tell us about the ramp set up? Is this an air-only kinda thing or will there be mega disasters and sliders bars and stuff?
It will be a straight 40ft. jump kinda like they have on a ski big air comp. We each get three runs and the best two runs count.
No one in the world has more mega experience on blades than Haffey — how do you compete against that? What’s your game plan?
Yes, of course — Haffey skates mega-ramp like no one else and it’s good motivation! All the riders chosen to compete — Dave Lang, Wake, CJ — are awesome and have the potential to put down serious moves on the mega. So I suppose I ‘m not really planning anything since I absolutely love to skate mega, and this will probably be the biggest event I’m part of. So you could say my plan is to enjoy every single moment. Then I’m just gonna do like always, compete at my best while trying to push myself and the sport with big and stylish tricks.
From the other guys listed on the invite list, who are you most excited to see hit the ramps?
They are all good skaters, but Dave Lang is probably the one I really want to see on this set up. We’ve already skated together at some contests and demonstrations (like last year at FISE), and he got landed some massive tricks with awesome style. I guess with a bigger “air time” this will be even more enjoyable to watch!
There are some people inside blading that look at something like Nitro or big events of that kind and say they are a circus, that blading doesn’t belong in that atmosphere or alongside these sports. What do you think about that? And what does something like Nitro Games represent to you?
Indeed people, especially in blading, have clear-cut opinions related to those kinds of things. I think Nitro Circus is a good balance between entertainment and live action sports. It’s a great experience for the audience. It’s also a reminder that we don’t have to be serious all the time — we also need to have fun. If people want to start skating after watching this show then that’s all that really matters I guess.
And yeah, Nitro is a circus, but it’s more than that. It’s a big part of extreme sports progression. For years, the Nitro crew has been doing their best to help the riders and push the boundaries of their sports. Either way, next month’s event will be nothing like a circus. It’s a mega-ramp competition where the athletes have to do the best performance with the biggest and most stylish tricks. There is nothing to complain about, just be thankful for the opportunity we are given.
Anything else you want to add or say or tell people to be on the lookout for?
Thanks ONE for the interview, it was a pleasure ! Also thanks to USD, Kaltik, Undercover, Wicked, Grindhouse and FFRS (french team) for the great support and sending me to Nitro. I think they’ve invited a nice bunch of riders, and we are all gonna skate to our best level and offer the most stunning blading show possible. Can’t wait to see what’s gonna happen!
Well best of luck leading up to the event — we look forward to watching it all go down from SLC!
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Roman is a professional and also a good young man. I’m excited to see all the guys compete. Great article.
I wonder what are his thought after taking second place