Fun conversation with Claudio about the longboard scene in Mexico, the upcoming IGSA race in Monterrey, Mexico and wanting to be a lion stuck in a penguins body – Enjoy!
Hi Claudio, where are you from?
Hola Gbemi, I’m from sunny México!
When did you start skating?
Started at the end of 2009 in Guadalajara México.
Is there a crew in Guadalajara?
Yes there is, in fact it’s a huge one, we don’t call it a crew, it’s a big community and it is called Treee Longboarding.
What is a Treee?
In 2009 there were probably 20 or 30 longboarders in the whole city, we all knew each other and I was invited to make a sort of group that would act as an inclusive community rather than an “exclusive crew” it was called Treee, so I built a little website where I started posting photographs and videos, it grew rather rapidly and we started organizing little events and gatherings… just excuses to get together, explore spots and skate. Check out our website at www.treee.mx
Up to 2009, who else was longboarding in Mexico?
Well, when we started we didn’t know anything or anyone. We started the website not knowing anything about the scene outside of Guadalajara, we noticed right away there was another scene in the north of México, in Monterrey, we started sharing photographs and videos and our little community started to grow outside our city.
What is your relationship like with other crews in Mexico?
In general it’s excellent, we all share our photographs and videos, we organize events in many places together and it’s really good, it’s a huge community and we love it, of course we have haters too, but I guess that’s the default position of many and we have learned to live with them haha. I guess it is a necessary evil.
We created Treee as an inclusive community, when someone asks me ”what do we need to do to be part of it” my answer is always “You are if you want” it is as simple as that. Some people spend too much time talking and saying rubbish about others and leaving longboarding for later, we just want to skate and help others to start or learn, the more riders the merrier.
What is the crew in Monterrey called?
The name of the Monterrey crew is Cual Crisis and its managed by Ivan Dimitrov, he’s a very cool guy and fellow longboarder.
Is there a national longboard association in Mexico?
No, not yet, but we’ve been working on it for quite some time now, the bureaucracy here is slightly annoying haha.
What can we expect in the future?
Well having an association would help to regulate the sport and put some order into this longboarding bloom, so the sport will develop properly.
How much growth have you seen since you started Treee in 2009?
Well, I started Treee with Jesus Gonzalez, so I still remember when our facebook page had 2 likes, Jesus and I… Today we have more than 7,000. The attendees to our events come from many places outside of our city and we’ve seen many little scenes being created all over the country, for me this is a very cool thing to watch, I have new friends at the end of every session.
What events have you enjoyed the most in the last 2 years?
That’s a hard one, every event has its own unique thing. Im gonna have to say the 2012 Greenskate, we had over 400 riders, wearing green t-shirts, later on we had a freestyle competition.
The 2011 Sayulita Sessions, the entire Loaded crew came to Sayulita on the pacific coast of México where we spent the morning working with an NGO and the afternoon skating with all of them. Absolutely brilliant. Those are just 2 but I have so many other favorite things about other events.
How did you get the ENTIRE loaded crew?
Yep, the entire Loaded crew, I was able hug Adam Colton… for a while…. a lot. We have a good relationship with them, they’re awesome and they support our events all the time, Kyle Chin and Dustin Hampton have also visited us for other events, they Rock!
What NGO does Treee work with?
The NGO is called EntreAmigos, it is a community center in a small town in the coast of México called San Pancho where I’ve worked for some time, 2 years ago I was asked to give a summer course for the kids, I had many options, photography, video, science and Longboarding! We managed to get around 15 boards and we did it! A week in a beautiful place teaching kids how to Longboard. It was so freaking worth it! Check out EntreAmigos website www.entreamigos.org.mx
The Sayulita Sessions (with Loaded and Orangatang crew) is a combination of community work and longboarding, as good as it can possibly be.
What other events have you enjoyed?
Well, for example, before Christmas, we hosted the “Slowboarding Fest” It was a slide jam, a power slide jam and a Slowboarding competition which consisted in defining a track on a hill, the person who could complete the track in the longest time would have the honour of being the “Slowest Longboarder in México” it turned out to be very damn challenging and we had a great time!
Are there any Mexican board builders?
I know there are guys in Monterrey doing it, I haven’t had the chance to try their boards though.
What are the roles in Treee?
We’re a small group of friends, we get together once a week to discuss what to do next, I guess I’m the only one with a specific role. I’m in charge of the website, social media, photography, videos… and many things. There’s no such thing as an organization chart in Treee, as I mentioned before, it is a community and every member has unique skills we try work with everyone’s ideas and proposals.
I think this free way of doing things has its own beauty. The only thing we’re working on it in terms of making it formal is the association thing.
How was last season for you?
In México we have some rainy days for a 3 or 4 months but it’s always skateable. I can probably answer by saying 2011 was incredible, the community grew exponentially, events were awesome, we represented Mexico for the first time in an IGSA race (Maryhill) the event with Loaded and EntreAmigos. The whole year was very exciting.
You have a Mexican downhill team?
Well we kind of do haha. At the beginning of 2011 four guys showed interest on racing at Maryhill and we supported as much as we could, they worked their asses off, saved money, looked for sponsors and at the end I ended up traveling with them, I had to document it.
You made a film?
I’m not a filmmaker, not at all, I love photography and I love to play with my camera, I guess the natural step forward was to start shooting videos, it’s all very amateur-ish.
Videos are incredibly important for the exposure of the sport and I’m in the middle of a learning process, Loaded has been very supportive, they made me a film and photography ambassador which puts a bit of pressure on my shoulders but at the same time it’s very motivating to keep learning.
What other events did you attend outside mexico?
Maryhill is the only event out of México we’ve attended, but this year 3 of our riders are racing at New York, and Maryhill.
Is there a mexican downhill championship?
Our friend Ivan from Monterrey organised the first Mexican DH race last year, we did pretty well I think, 3rd and 4th places just behind Adam Colton and Dustin Hampton.
This year as part of the IGSA Noram Downhill Series, we will host the first IGSA event in México. Cual Crisis invited us to be part of the organization, big ups for Ivan Dimitrov!
Where/When is this event?
July 6 – 8 Monterreal Longboard Fest – Monterrey México. The track is inside a national park in the middle of the mountains, it’s a very beautiful place. You’re all invited I promise it will be sunny!
You’re also invited to the Eurotour! Do you know any European skaters?
I had brief chats with some of them at Maryhill but I don’t think that counts haha. Ramón Königshausen, Yvon Labarthe… I said “good job” to the beautiful Rebecca Gämperle, not sure if that counts… it does count for me!
Are there many girls there who skate?
Not enough!! Last year with this Longboard Girls Crew phenomena (kudos for those girls) I contacted them to see if it was possible to be part of the movement here in México, very kindly they replied right away so I set up Longboard Girls Crew México but for obvious reasons delegated that task to 3 local girls, they’ve done a great job managing their community.
This Year 2 mexican girls, Rosy Vega and Valeria Figueroa are racing at Maryhill, so stoked about it!
What’s your plan for Treee in the coming years?
Well, I’m not sure, the development of the sport in México has been very organic, it’s hard to predict the direction the whole scene will take, we would like to be part of it and contribute. Personally I want to see more people on Longboards and many many more helmets.
You’ve had trouble with helmet wearing at events?
We don’t allow anyone without a helmet in our events. We’ve had a “Wear a Helmet” campaign running from the beginning of the community, Treee is a forum open to everyone, I will post anyone’s pics or videos but the only condition is to wear helmets. I’m actually quite proud of that initiative, 2 years ago only few would wear a Helmet, today 70% of the riders in the city use them.
What was the campaign?
Treee is a website and it’s open, anyone can publish their photos or vids there, the only rule is to wear helmets and it seems like even the most stubborn riders wanted their pics published ‘cause they all wore helmets… at least for the pics.
Every now and then we post articles about the importance of helmets, some articles are slightly technical in terms of head injuries.
We’re about to release a video about the Glasgow Scale or GSC which is a neurological scale that aims to give a reliable, objective way of recording the conscious state of a person for initial as well as subsequent assessment… don’t you love wikipedia? The point of this video is to explain what to do when someone experiences head trauma.
What inspired you to make this video?
2 of our riders are Medical students and we try to learn from them as much as we can; one day a fellow longboarder suffered a head injury, they were both around and helped him, while they were checking him they mentioned the glasgow scale, later on I asked about it and I thought everybody should know about it.
What other campaigns have you run?
The helmet campaign is the only one that is permanent. We run some others when our country experiences natural disasters, every year we have hurricanes and at least 3 or 4 times per year you’ll find a disaster somewhere so we organise big sessions to collect goods and send them to the affected areas.
We also support an NGO called EntreAmigos (entreamigos.org.mx) which is a community center in a small town in the pacific coast of México, we help them with videos, photography, and once a year we give a Longboarding summer course for the kids. Actually you can see some of the action on the latest Sayulita Sessions video with the Loaded crew. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQ2vsVC5YdI)
Are these your sponsors?
No, I’m not sponsored, I can’t longboard as often as I wish to pursue a sort of sponsorship. I spend half of my time longboarding behind the camera taking pics and shooting videos.
What do you use to capture images?
I have a Canon 40d and a 60d and a small bunch of lenses… Photography is a serious hobby for me, you can check my personal website www.claudiouribe.com
Are there longboard associations in nearby countries?
I know there are big communities in the south of the continent but being so far away from them we only get to know bits and pieces about them through social media. Colombia and Costa Rica are the most active ones I know.
What disciplines of longboarding do people practice there?
The community is huge and there are people doing everything. The dancing / freestyle is huge and probably the most popular, the DH / Freeride is growing fast and at least in my city as people are using the longboard as transport more and more.
What are your plans for next season?
The most immediate plans are the Grand Prix of New York, Maryhill and Monterreal Longboard Fest in México. We hope to keep this community growing and spread the stoke everywhere here in México!
Choose 3 numbers between 1-25
2, 11 and 26.
2 – Would you rather have a hook for a hand or a wheel for a foot ?
Can I have both? sounds very cool… If I had to choose one I’d go for the wheel.
11 – What’s your favourite sandwich filling ?
Chicken Tika Masala FTW.
25- Would you rather be a penguin stuck in a lion’s body, or a lion stuck in a penguin
Can’t be just a regular penguin? Mmm hard one, I think I’d rather be a Lion stuck in a Penguin… A psychologist would say I’m a Passive Aggressive idiot haha.
Thanks a lot for your time bro! Hope to skate with you soon.
Thank you mate, definitely.
Do you have any shout outs or thank yous?
Well I have to say Thanks to Adam Stokowsky and Adam Colton, I can reverse engineer everything to the day I watched the the “Whirling dervish” video back in 2009 that was the beginning of it all and of course all the Loaded / Orangatang crew they’ve been the most influential and inspiring people for me to do what I do.
Everyone in México who’s been trying to develop the sport beyond politics, money or personal interests.
Uff that was my first interview ever, thanks very much Gbemi!