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      Hopkin Skate Blog — European Race Season

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      The Christoph Batt tapes: 2010 to 2012

      The dedicated followers of the blog will know the story. In 2010 I bought a new digital tape recorder and interviewed international riders at Newtons. Then I proceeded to lose the recorder and all the interviews. One day I found the missing interviews and started posting them up under the title of "Lost Newtons Interviews". One of the interviews I never published was with two crazy Swiss dudes called Batt and Rufli. They were amongst my favourite international riders that year. They hung out at the shop, and I bailed them up one day for an interview. You have to imagine the situation. It was pouring with rain, a Sydney summer thunderstorm. We were under this big old air conditioning unit next to the old Hopshop, rain cascading down the driveway and myself, Robbo, Batt and Rufli standing under the unit trying not to get wet. The first part of the interview was done in 2010, some of the information is now out of date but should still be published. Second part of the interview was done in the Hopshop last month after Newtons Nation 2012.  I think putting the interviews together is a nice juxtaposition.

      Christoph Batt Newtons 2012

      Batt man interview 2010

      Hop: Christoph Batt - who are your sponsors?

      Batt: ABEC11, Magun (Christoph pronounces it Magooon) Skateboards and Magun Trucks. Hop: Really?

      Batt: Magun is not really sponsoring me but he helps me out with better prices.

      Hop: Which Maguns are you riding?

      Batt: Size is 200mm and they are the newest model.

      Hop: What are the boards?

      Batt: The board is also a Magun board. I designed it myself but Magun helped me out, but I did all the cutout.

      Hop: What is the shape?

      Batt: For most people, it is pretty flat because I do not have a lot of concave, the board is a little bit how you say going down in the middle? Yeah dropped.

      Hop: What is the length?

      Batt: 92cm long.

      Hop: What is is made out of?

      Batt: Wood core with carbon. It is a full carbon board.

      Hop: Is it going into production?

      Batt: No. He only does it for friends and you go there and order it. Every board is hand made. You have to go have a look at his home, look what he has. We are the only ones that really have had something made for us.

      Robbo: Is it true Magun lives in a cave in the Swiss mountains?

      Batt: (laughing) No.

      Robbo: That is what Martin told me! Martin said he answers emails for him and he goes outside and blows a big horn and Magun comes down off the mountain.

      Batt: No no. It is quite the small town he lives in but not that small.

      Hop: And the trucks, does he do that in production is is that a special order?

      Batt: He is doing in production but only in small production every time, so he'll do 50 or maximum 100 pieces. He'll sell them and then do new ones. But with now the new riding style with all the guys, sliding around and no hands, not a lot of people want to have the Maguns.

      Hop: Do like riding them?

      Batt: I love them.

      Hop: Why?

      Batt: They are so stable. It is like I'm on a train, if you have to ride a line it is so nice to ride with.

      Hop: Where they good on Mt Panorama?

      Batt: On the Saturday absolutely. Not really in the wet. It is better to have a truck that turns more, but in the dry it was great to go down the hill on the Maguns. Batt in flight on the Esses at Newtons Nation 2012

      Hop: What bushings are you using?

      Batt: Reflex. Orange Plus. Sometimes I put red in or yellow on top. Depends on the track. For Newtons it was Orange Plus all round.

      Hop: So are you are freerider as well?

      Batt: We did for five years only racing. Last two years we have started freeriding.

      Hop: Do you use the same trucks and set up?

      Batt: No I have an Airflow Fast and Furious with Randal trucks. Magun is not made for sliding around, stand up stuff, its a racing truck.

      Hop: Which ABEC wheel did you race on?

      Batt: First I had some runs on the Flywheels, which was pretty good but too hard for me because I am a bit heavy. So I changed to the Big Zigs Lime.

      Hop: And you freeride on...the flys?

      Batt: Sometimes on the flys but mostly the ABEC freeride wheels 81a, that's a pretty good wheel for sliding around.

      Hop: Do you get some flow from Airflow?

      Batt: No. Hop: You just like that board?

      Batt: It's a good board, nice concave, good wheelbase, I like it alot. [Hop note] Interesting to see in 2010 Christoph was skating on Airflow decks for freeriding because he like them so much, and now in 2012 he is sponsored by them.

      Hop: You won Kozakov in 2010?

      Batt: Yeah.

      Hop: Run us through that, was there some luck there? It is a very long race.

      Batt: It is 3.5km long and I love this race.

      Hop: How are the legs after that run - burning?

      Batt: their fucked. Absolutely. It is quite long, you have a steep part on the first, then you have three hairpins, then a long straight of maybe one and a half kilometres and at the end of this you have a 90 degrees where you go in full tuck at 95kmph, that's a tough corner. It is such a fun race, I love it. I was lucky to win it, because it rained on Sunday and it was decided on qualifying times and I was like one thousandth of a second in front of K-rimes. It was really like nothing. It is a good race for me, it has straight lines, I'm heavy, have a good tuck.

      Hop: Was that your favourite race in 2010?

      Batt: Yeah. In 2009 I was second, in 2010 I won it. Overall I think Newtons was the best race this year because the track is so wow, never had something like this before. Hop: What is the scene like in Switzerland, you got outlaws going? Or sanctioned racing?

      Batt: Not really, that is the problem, we are a lot of people in Switzerland who skate, but is so hard to close roads to race, very expensive. Mostly we go out on weekends, Friday night I go to Zurich and meet the other peoples and we go camp out on the mountain somewhere. Then 5 o'clock in the morning we race and at 7 we go back home. We have a lot of hills, some hills you can go the whole day, you can ride them, other you have to go a 5 o'clock in the morning. It is a lot different to the scene here. In Europe it is more racing. Here there is more freeriding. Europe is much more race style.

      Hop: What Europeans would you like to see racing in Australia in 2011 or 2012?

      Batt: There are a lot of fast guys in Europe. Germans like Dominik Kowalski, Boris Schinke, a lot of french guys. There would be 10 or 15 people in Europe that could win any race. The problem is we do not have as much time as the guys in Canada or America has. They have more money from the sponsors and so more time to race. Hop: There are a lot of good manufacturers in Switzerland, I'm thinking Indiana, Airflow, Fibretec. They are moving away from the traditional skinny European longboard?

      Batt: It has changed a lot, Christoph Haller, a very good rider, he works at Fibretec and he changed a bit the style of the board, they are wider, there are carbon boards for racing, they are very good boards. And also Airflow, they are a doing very good work.

      Batt man interview 2012

        Hop: Christoph, last time we spoke to you in 2010, you would have been on different wheels, trucks and board? Who are your sponsors in 2012?

      Batt: At the moment I am riding on Airflow Skateboards, Magun Trucks that is still the same but the trucks are new, and from the beginning of this year I'm riding on DTC Wheels, it is a new European wheel brand. Hop: And the wheels, you obviously were the fastest on Mt Panorama you won the Top Ten Shootout. How much of that win was equipment and how much was the competitor?

      Batt: Wooah that is hard to say.

      Hop: Do you think you are faster on the DTC Wheels? [link to review]

      Batt: Yes, I think so, absolutely. Maybe is it not only the wheel that is faster, it makes me go faster because I am so comfortable on this wheel. When I want it to grip it grips, when I need it to drift it drifts. That is the point that makes me faster on this wheel now. Hop: Do you think that it is because of the core or the urethane? Because that is the one of the features of this wheel, it has a unique aluminum core?

      Batt: Yes the aluminum core is the big difference on the wheel. I dont know if it is the core or the urethane because there is no lip on the wheel. It is the whole wheel altogether that makes it special.

      Hop: And it grips?

      Batt: Grips absolutely. I have never had a wheel with as much grip as the DTC 75mm. Even without the lip there is so much grip.

      Hop: You said there was a new version of the Magun Trucks?

      Batt: Yup, a few weeks ago the new model came out. Before it is 205mm, now it is 184mm and there is not as much offset as the older ones so it turns a bit quicker. Yah, that is the change we did and I'm very happy with it.

      Hop: The Magun production, is it still very limited?

      Batt: It is still a limited production, it is not like a big company. Hopefully he will be doing a lot more so we can sell them and bring them out to the whole world.

      Hop: Last time you were on a Magun deck, and now you are on Airflow?

      Batt: Now I am riding the Airflow Fuse but it does depend on the road. At Mount Keira I tested the Airflow Bracket, it is like a top mount version of the Fuse. That worked pretty well. However I do most of my racing on the Fuse, because I am used to a drop through. Both of these boards for me, it is like a new feeling on a board with a small bit of rocker and 3D concave. It is an amazing feeling on the board, you know where your feet are everytime. Very happy with the Airflow range. Batt ripping on a Fuse

      Hop: Airflow seem to be stepping up production and getting more involved with the scene, we are seeing more of their boards here and in other markets?

      Batt: We are hoping to make our market bigger, sending boards to here and Canada and America. The boards are selling very quick in Australia

      Hop: Any Swiss races being organised this year?

      Batt: There is not a lot. But this year we have an IGSA National Cup right after the three World Cups in Europe, in Lausanne. In the afternoon there is qualifying in a park in the city where we can run for five hours, every run will be timed. Then in the evening, at ten o'clock, the best 100 riders will have two timed runs through the city on the main road.

      Hop: Is it an outlaw?

      Batt: No, a sanctioned race.

      Hop: You will be racing the European season this year?

      Batt: Yes I will for sure.

      Hop: Have you done Peyragudes before?

      Batt: This year it is a new road, no one has done it. They built it 1 or 2 years ago and it is completely new. I'm looking forward to it, it looks really fast.

      Hop: Are you going to any North American or South American events this year?

      Batt: I'm not sure. I would like too but depends on the money. Calgary would be really good to go there. At the end of the year, like in 2011, I'll go back to South Africa again for Hot Heels and the other national race there.

      Hop: And Teutonia, would you do Teutonia? It is probably a hill that suits your style ... going fast.

      Batt: Absolutely, I want to go to Teutonia, but it depends on the money. I will go there once before I retire. My plan is to do every race on the World tour at least once.

      Hop: The other Airflow riders, like Ramon, have you seen him?

      Batt: He is in the middle of study now. I'm sure he will be going to Maryhill, he won it last year, he'll be going back to defend his title. I think he is doing the Euro tour, but I don't know his plans for the end of the year.

      Hop: And Martin?

      Batt: I think he has now retired from racing. He still skates a lot. I think he is over the whole racing scene. He is back in Switzerland, he is working, he is skating a lot.

      Hop: Maybe we'll see some of his design work now he is not touring?

      Batt: Oh yeah, he working a lot on a lot of stuff. I know now he is working on a new balance board. He is always working on something.   Thank you Christoph Batt for taking the time for an interview.

      Photo credits: Scott Hopkin

      A day in Piotta Switzerland with nothing to do

      Jacko is hanging out with the shredders at Piotta Switzerland
      In Jackson's words, here is the story... So the Van is dead and we are stuck in this town called Piotta in Switzerland, hanging out at the hotel awaiting a call from the mechanic to let us know we are good to roll.
      The town of Piotta. Photo by Simone Posavec
      This town is fairly small, not much to do and we found ourselves just hanging out at the hotel waiting. From the window of our room I look up to the amazing mountains and notice a road winding up the hill, so I did what any skater would do and got on google maps to check out the situation. Turns out there is a long winding road that leads up the side of the valley, and whats more, there's a tram that goes right to the top! So while everyone was farting around playing internet party, I decided to grab my board and make the most of my time here. I skated over to the area the map said there was a road and managed to find the tram/train/cable car/funicular (call it what you want) . Off like a roller coaster to the top of the hill, stoked!
      Maximum gradient of the Ritom cable car is 87.8 percent. Photo by Philip Nijman
      The tram is actually the steepest of it's kind in Europe, so it felt pretty cool to be on it and take in the amazing view of the valley and surrounding mountains on the way up. According to the map, I had to roll down about a kilometre or so on some smaller road to get to the actual road I wanted to skate. I jumped on my board and went round the first bend only to be greeted with rough as hell bumpy pavement on a road wide enough for only one car that was super steep. To top it off, there were cattle grates every 50 meters or so! I decided it was too hectic to skate down because sliding for safety was just out of the question, so I sat on my board and hammered down the long road, toasting my shoes and slightly jumping over the small cattle grates. It was an experience indeed... After about 10 mins of hectic buttboarding, I emerged back onto the main road at the top of the run, and was greeted with some nice smooth pavement. What a relief...
      Ticino road. Photo by Andre Jenny
      The road itself was pretty cool, it was steep with sharp hairpin turns and some of the straighter sections between corners had some nice sweeping turns, not to forget the amazing view I had while going down! It certainly did not look this long from the hotel window, it took me nearly 10 minutes to skate down from the top! By the time I got back to the hotel everyone was still sitting around playing on their computers... Thank god I got out and enjoyed the fresh Swiss mountain air! Swiss mountain air is helping the moustache grow. Photo by a small man in lederhosen.

      Skate mission in the Alps - the best of times and the worse of times

      Words, images and luck by Jackson Shapiera Photo captions by Hop

      Part One - Life is heaven Swiss Alps

      We are at that part of the European Tour where we enter the Alps and disconnect from the real world for 2 or 3 days and skate some of the most amazing roads in the world. However before we get too far into it I'm just going to share with you what we managed to sneak, while I  have some connection to the real world. Just outside of Luzern we stopped at this spot in a beautiful valley, and rode a gondola to the top of a narrow as hell, steep as shit, windy and curvy road that went through the forest and then opened up into 8 back to back hairpins followed by long drops through the town.

      Epic run near Luzern

      The run finishes right back to the gondola to ride back up. There's not much I can say about it right now except...RAD. It was just straight up rad

      Patrick Switzer in the gondola, can he be beaten at Padova and if he becomes World Cup Champion will his wheels mysteriously change colour to green in 2012?

      Anywho, I'm off to get lost in the mountains and skate some epic shit, and sleep in the grass at the top of the hill.

      Jacko ... no caption required

      Part Two - the opposite of lucky is... Well... the Van died... fuck.... We got to Susten Pass yesterday arvo, got 3 runs in then called it a day as the sun was setting and got a feed. In the morning we had the biggest fail ever... went to start the van, but it wouldn't start, and the battery light came on. Crap, we drained the battery. Next thing we thought of was to jump start the van, so we rolled it down this little pathway which was quite steep, but with no luck. So we tried again, and rolled it down further, still no luck. Got to the point where there was no road left and we had to call for help. Patrick went up to the road and tried to flag down a van as big as ours with a diesel engine to possibly give us a jump start. However it didn't take long to realise the chances of that happening are slim to none, so he went to the nearest emergency phone to call for a tow and fix. He came back and told us it would be at least half an hour, so I grabbed my board and hitched up to the top to take a run while we were waiting. By the time I got back down, the van was back up from the trail and working again, but something smelt REALLY bad. Turns out we were using the wrong key, which is why it wouldn't start. While I was out skating they eventually figured it out and got it started, but because the hill was so steep and there was no where to turn around, they had to reverse it up. With so much weight in the van, it totally killed the clutch. It was burnt and I could smell it from at least 50m away. So we got back on the road, then BAM a storm hits, no more skating... We decided to head to the next pass, but the clutch was hurting, badly. We got stuck in traffic and with a lot of stop-starting, the clutch in the van just totally died. As soon as we got past the traffic the clutch had failed and struggled to get us into gear. We altered our route and started heading to the nearest garage. As soon as we got there, and dropped gear to pull into the garage, BAM! the clutch blew... lucky for us we were all ready at the garage, as it started to piss down again. So right now the situation is we are holed up in a hotel somewhere near one of the sickest roads in Switzerland, but with no transport to get us there. Should have used the right key! The van will be fixed tomorrow afternoon and we will head on to Padova, which cuts short our tour of the Swiss Alps. At least I get to sleep in a bed tonight! cheers Jacko [Hop's notes] Epic Alp's tour stories brought to you by Orangatang Wheels and Sector 9 Downhill Division.