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Second FISE Montpellier for me, I couldn’t wait fo it from last year, finally the time has come.
We left Padua around 11 pm with nine/ten hours of travel ahead of us. The idea was to drive in shifts, but since Tommaso Carraro was unable to rest the entire crossing falls on me.
80s hits in the stereo we leave behind the padanian storms and in Liguria we finally see a beautiful cloud-free sky, a good omen considering that we expect a week outdoors and last year the weather had ruined our party.
The highway from Genoa to Nice exhausts me, I don’t even remember how I arrived in Aix en Provence where I finally saw the sun and I revived the others to help me stay awake, the last 80km towards Montpellier never ended.
We entered the house around 8 and found that it was practically an oven, perhaps warmer than the 28th outside, the air conditioner did not improve the thing … Giovanni Peterle, roller rider leaved his bag and immediately ran to Spine Ramp practice while Carraro and I tried to rest a few hours … to no avail. At 12 we give up and head to Rive du Lez, where the festival takes place, trying to lose as less as possible of the shows!
In the Scooter PRO semi-final my good friend and world champion Dante Hutchinson crashed on both runs and remains out of the qualified, luckily for him one of the riders is injured and he is fished-out at the last moment, so he will participate in the final and show everyone how much is lit!
We walk between break crews and roller qualifiers and various amateur contests, spending time waiting for the event that I see as the highlight of this year, BMX Dirt! Returning to the fise after seven years of absence, this year forced the Mtb to step aside but certainly with the show offered no one regret the absence of anything or anyone.
The location, a little outside Montpellier, ensures a fantastic sunset behind the jumps and when we arrive the clearing is already occupied by thousands of people ready to enjoy the show.
My English friend and real war machine Kanye Mitchell this time sa jimself in real peril, shortly after getting his hands on the best trick (Frontflip tailwhip) indeed he takes a big blow on the second jump, breaking his sternum, his collarbone and bruising his lung, had it not been for the helmet it could have gone even worse, for a moment my heart stopped.
When I saw him raise two fingers to the sky while they were taking him away in an ambulance, however, I realized that Kanye will recover also from this blow and as usual will come back stronger than before.
With these images in my head I am still looking for the media park entrance, walking a quarter of an hour to find it.
When I succeed I saw Jaie Thoohey getting ready for his run and so I scrambled to place myself with my fisheye on the last jump, where I hope with all my heart that he will attempt his bike-flip, a trick I dream of photographing for almost two years. Jaie does not disappoint me, he land it at the first try and I take home the first of the dream photos I had in my drawer. I received the compliments for the shot by Jaie himself, an honor given the number of photos that a Nitro Circus athlete like him sees during a year!
I needed tjia to get the ugly incident of Kanye out of my head, now I’m ready to enjoy the wonderful runs of the various PRO: Drew Besanzon, Declan Brooks Tom Van Den Bogaard, Kevin Peraza and what will prove to be the winner Pat Casey, who with a perfect run place himself ahead of Leandro “Overall” Moreira and Jaie Toohey who shows he can do more than just the Bike-flip. But anyone who had won that night remains a detail for those like us who got on the tram that was returning to the city with a thousand other people, with vuvuzela stadium songs and general delirium. The results were not important, what was perceived was how Montpellier had rejoined the Dirt Jumping, I doubt they will be able to exclude it from future editions!
On Friday I felt the tiredness accumulated the previous day, but Fise has not respite, the events follow one another without pause. I literally run from one park to another, ignoring the level but trying to shots all the friends I have here in Montpellier, I followed Betassa to the qualifications of Spine Ramp BMX where he closed a nice run and above all he shows off his style, then a sprint to see Giovanni Peterle for Roller Amateur practices, then another trip to park street, where it’s the round of BMX Street with Tommaso Carraro.
Even if he doesn’t feel at his best he takes the opportunity to become familiar with the new park and the new material (this year the park was in a new recyclable concrete)
Suddenly Giovanni calls us into a frenzy, we don’t even understand what he wants to tell us, with difficulty we understand that the scooter rail contest is about to start. Organized on a rail that goes down the bank of the river, 5m and 50 ° degrees of inclination, it even seems absurd that someone can ride it.
Riders start “easy” with double pegs and some lipslides, before raising the level and starting with frontside lipslide to backside lipslide. The competition then ignites, in search of the best trick, since only that will be awarded! Nick tedrick wins with FS Lip-bar-BS Lip, followed by Bouzid Maxime with FS lip tailwhip BS Lip, closed a little dirty. The crowd cling up the trees is in a frenzy, as is Tommaso Carraro, who does not like the scooter (or so he said). I take a nice sequence home, even if it doesn’t do justice to the rail that was really absurd!
Again in motion towards the BMX Freestyle park where Alessandro Barbero has the qualifications, his is a good run even if, due to an error in the finale he does not reach the results of Hiroshima and remains out of the final, it must be said however that Ale remains one of the darlings of the public, for him the cheer is at the levels that will be felt only in the final, a pity! I take this opportunity to have a chat with Federico Ventura, manager of the national BMX team and let me get known to some of the institutional figures and place the photo that will be used on the Federation website.
Last stop the final of Scooter Pro for Dante, who as usual does his great run and perhaps spends even more energy to gassing his friends, especially the very young Esteban Clot, a 14-year-old Frenchman who, driven by the crowd, closes a dream run, worthy of the best in the world. In the end Dante manages to take home a third place of all respect, always with a smile on his face …think that if it hadn’t been for the repechage we would have lost the show!
It’s always nice to see how in the scooter, more than in all other sports, boys are all very close and true friends, it doesn’t even seem like a competition.
We drag ourselves home to rest a while and as good Italians we scrape off 500g of pasta with ragù before collapsing on the respective beds.
Saturday is qualifying day, for everyone, Tommaso on Street, Giovanni in Roller and Gabriele Pala, Francesco Mongillo and Emmanuel Betassa in BMX Park, it will be a bit of a mess for me.
Gabriele begins, unfortunately I lose the run for a few minutes, I will have time to make up because he qualifies very well for the semi-finals of the late afternoon, then Tommaso in Street Amateur, where he manages to place 16 out of over 60 riders. During the qualifications they said they would qualify in 16 but then checking on the site he found out that only the first twelve riders are identified as qualified, a disappointment for Tommaso who is at the end of his strength, practically not sleeping for two whole days! Finally Mongi and Ema who with Gabriele close the trio of madmen. All in the semifinals!
I then take time to refresh myself before devoting time to Giovanni, who stands out for the excellent run that takes him up to 3rd place, for him tomorrow there will be a finals! I liked very much to see how Giovanni’s work and well-established goals led to a great result and have the satisfaction of see his work paid off, he almost didn’t believe it.
But Saturday was especially the day of the Spine Ramp BMX PRO Final, an event that we had been waiting with trepidation since last year, given that it had been canceled due to rain.
To say that he did not disappoint us is an understatement, perhaps the most beautiful show of the Fise, it was a delirium of absurd tricks and festive atmosphere. The atmosphere infects us and we decide to go out and celebrate a bit too, the Final of Giovanni will start at 3 pm, so there will be time to rest. We took a trip to the center of Montpellier, invaded by people, improvised jams and parties everywhere, and found a rail that Giovanni absolutely wants to do, in contempt of the danger of getting injured before the final … the only problem was the wax! We asked anyone who passed by and when we were about to lose hope, one of the participants in the scooter rail contest, limping and crutches in hand, joined us. He got the wax and with that Giovanni closed that rail, giving me a photo street in Montpellier, that has become a tradition. Giovanni, as a souvenir, kept a small piece of wax to take home with him.
On Sunday, with the monstrous return hovering over the heads, we leave the house with separate targets, Carraro to enjoy the BMX PARK PRO finals and me to follow the rollers Final to cheer on our friend.
Anyway first stop is the BMX park where I follow the Italian boys semifinals which turned out as scheduled, all three reached the final, a good sign for their growth! A quick pause to see the female Flatland finals and then again in park for the first PRO heat, the only one I will be able to follow … Giovanni is already warming up for his competition.
Going to him we discover with Tommaso that he was actually qualified, as they had announced, the first 16 were qualified for the final. Unfortunately for him, however, the final took place in the morning and therefore he lost this opportunity. It could only have happen to him and no one else, he will have to wait until next year to improve his fifth place of last year.
Giovanni strangely today does not run as good as yesterday and slips from 3rd to 7th place, but he is still happy with the performance, he has already said that he will train all year to return in 2020 and take the 1st place home. It is useless for me to rattle off all the results of the other events, they are of public domain and as usual I am much more eager to convey to you the atmosphere that riders and media breathe behind the scenes of this fantastic event, where you should have 8 eyes to enjoy the whole show.
By now it’s over, we sling in the car for our ten hours of driving home, luckily the first leg will be driven by Carraro because I’m exhausted, even if I wish Fise had continued for another week! I only wait for next year, rest assured that we will be back, now the Fise is a fixed appointment and as they always say here “the best freestyle event in the World”.
In 2020 come with us and you will realize it!