The First Snowskating World Champion – Luca Dallago
After claiming the Sled Dogs BONEFIGHT title in both the first and second ever world snowskating championships, the affable Austrian is setting his sights on a third successive win with the chance to truly cement his name in winter sports history.
Already a top name in the tight-knit world of downhill skate cross (a fast-growing family including Ice Cross, Inline Alpine, and Snowskating), Luca Dallago, 25, was one of the first on the scene when Sled Dogs Snowskates launched in 2014, with the first BONEFIGHT world championships following in 2015. Despite the competition doubling in size in 2016, featuring hardened competitors from hockey superpowers Canada and Russia, Luca defended his title and proved he had more than just luck on his side.
What makes a champion tick? Where is the line between success and failure? How does a champion block out pressure and achieve focus and clarity? …And how does it feel to be World No. 1 in a cutting-edge sport? Luca Dallago answers these questions and more, exclusively for the Sled Dogs Family Website!
Hello Luca – congratulations on your two successive world championship titles – do you think you can pull off a third?
Yes, I think I can.
What was it that attracted you to this sport?
I started using the snow skates because I thought it would be a great training tool for my ice cross downhill competitions. Once I started, I fell in love more and more with riding down snowy hills because there’s no track I have to follow or designated practice times. It’s the pure riding and pushing the limits that got me hooked. Once the BONEFIGHT races got announced it was a no brainer for me to sign up.
How did it feel when you realised you were world champion in a sport you love? Which race victory felt the best for you?
My favourite victory came last year in Campbelltown in New Brunswick. It was the final race of the season with the longest, most difficult track and the heaviest competition we’ve ever had. I spent two weeks prior to the race there, which was just an all-around great experience for me. The people were great and I’ve had so much fun riding on Sugarloaf Mountain, it was unreal. Especially on the forest trails the locals introduced me to. And to end my time there with a great race securing my second championship was just perfect and I can’t wait to be back!
Winning the world title once is an incredible achievement – holding onto it is even tougher: do you feel a different kind of pressure now? How do you manage that and keep calm and race-focused?
I’ve to admit last year at the final race, I was a little stressed out waiting at the starting gate. The track and the conditions were tough so I started to think a little too much about what could go wrong but I managed to refocus on the fact that this is still fun and I should just enjoy it. And that’s how I want to approach every race next season. I will always want to win it, but there’s no help in worrying that it might not happen.
You are obviously extremely fit – do you think Downhill Skate Cross sports and BONEFIGHT in particular favour a particular body shape and type of fitness, or are there other factors that are more important for being a champion in these sports?
No, I wouldn’t say there’s a particular body type that’s suited best. Developing a good technique is what matters because there are pros and cons to any physical type I think – only fitness doesn’t have a downside.
A lot of the BONEFIGHT athletes know one another from previous tournaments or from Red Bull Crashed Ice or other Skate Cross sports. Do you hang out? Is it like an international community? And where do you draw the line between friend and competitor?
That’s a big plus at the races. You have a lot of people to ride with outside of the competition and just have a good time. It’s always more fun with more skaters on the slope. Even racing in racing I’d say this holds true. Racing three other guys is more exciting than just one and if I end up racing three friends, I’ll still go as hard as I can of course.
As the world No. 1, what do you see as the main difference between snowskating and other downhill winter sports like ski-ing and snowboarding?
Skies and snowboards are much longer to be more stable in turns and over bumps. And that’s exactly why I love riding the sled dogs so much. You don’t have that stability all the time. There’s small features on every slope you don’t experience the same with skis then with sled dogs, especially at the end of the day when a lot of bumps are created on the slope. That’s when the real fun and creativity starts. Another big factor is the change in conditions, if you spend a few days on one slope, it will probably feel different every time. One day it might be super-fast with a lot of grip and you can just rip the turns and the next day could be slower with more bumps to jump and play around with. Sometimes it even changes like that within one slope and there’s always a way to bring the most fun out of the run.
Finally, a question for younger fans thinking of getting into the sport: what advice do you have for beginners and how difficult is it to get into this seriously?
My advice would be to go into it with an open mind. The time you’ll probably be a little tensed up, but that goes away fast. Give it a run or two and you’ll get more comfortable and start to figure out some fun moves and new techniques. There’s no end of ways you can challenge yourself with the snowskates and make the most out of any given slopecondition. The important thing is to just keep playing around with new ideas. And if you like the idea of competing in a BONEFIGHT race, just sign up. It’s another challenge waiting to be conquered.