Json Adriani is a man on a mission and he won’t stop until he sees bladers “kill the streets” all over Italy.
One of the main reasons why rollerblading has continued to thrive despite little or no mainstream exposure since its exclusion from the X Games is mainly due to the fact that many skaters have become pro-active about promoting the sport and building national scenes in order to ensure growth. When it comes to the Italian rollerblading community, Json Adriani is doing an incredible job of maintaining interest in the sport and introducing new people into the fold. Along with several of his closest friends, Adriani has established the Italian Rollerblading League, a grass roots organisation that strives to promote the sport at a national level and connect bladers from every part of the country.
“It is a project involving me, Nicola Fiorenza, Pietro Firrincieli and Marco Valere,” he begins. “We would like to create something for the new generation, to connect even more of the local scenes and to motivate all of the young fellas here in Italy to travel, as we were doing eight or nine years ago. I still remember the first time I went to Naples; we were 15 or 16 and the train took 12 hours to get there but it was really cool!”
Adriani observes that there is a steady rise in the number of people taking up the sport in his local area, but he feels that many of the younger generation are missing out on the adventure that street skating provides by going on city-wide expeditions looking for spots and exploring the different ways to approach an obstacle that was not purpose-built for rollerblading.
“Milan is quite good. I mean, we have a lot of skateparks now and in each park you can find two or three rollerbladers, so it is not that bad. I’m trying to bring back skating to the streets in Milan. Most of the bladers love skateparks, which is good, but we need to kill the streets!”
The 26-year-old first encountered rollerblading in 2000 at a local skatepark that he frequented on a skateboard before his passion for eight wheels took hold. “I got into blading because I wanted to drop into a quarter pipe with my skateboard, then a guy told me: “Hey, why don’t you try it before with rollerblades?” I did it and since that moment the love for this game started.”
After 11 years of solid skating, Adriani has become one of the most recognisable figures of the Italian rollerblading scene and has an enviable list of sponsors that include Razors, Jug, Grindhouse and Ground Control. He features in regular online edits at various locations in his home country and appears at many of Europe’s high profile rollerblading events, including annual excursions to Winterclash. His enthusiasm for the sport is infectious and it makes him an incredible ambassador for the sport because every time he skates he looks like he is having the time of his life. He makes an effort to travel to as many competitions as possible, but he advises that he is not particularly interested in the actual event rather than the opportunity it provides to meet up with friends from all over the world.
“I love competitions, not for competing but for the vibe and the atmosphere it brings. I love to skate with a lot of people. I used to skate alone most of the time, so when I’m at a comp I feel really happy even if I don’t really care about the comp itself. I’m not the kind of guy that wants to win. I just want to have a great time with my friends!”
It is surprising that the Milan-based blader finds time to attend any events at all. Many people find it difficult to maintain their blading skills and stay active within the community when the responsibilities of adult life take hold, especially the time-consuming necessity of holding down a steady job in order to ensure financial security. Adriani knows about this more than most, as he is currently holding down two. However, at least he is passionate about both of them – it’s not easy to find employment that actually makes a person want to get up in the morning.
“The first one is as a filmmaker for a communication agency called Sportmaker, which consists of promotional videos and events for brands like Sportiva, Vibram, Mizuno, Casio and New Era. My boss is a really good person, he believes in rollerblading and he would like to bring it to the same media level that it was 15 years ago. The other job that I’m doing is for an office that looks after foreign people. We help them get the right documents, like identification and permits to stay in the country.”
When Adriani is not putting in the hours at either work place, blading, trying to rally the troops with the Italian Rollerblading League or travelling around the world to attend various events, he likes to jump on his bike and explore his local area, which just so happens to be the second largest city in Italy and home to some of the most stunning tourist locations in the world, which provides quite an exceptional view as he cruises around listening to Notorious B.I.G., Justice and Bon Iver on his iPod. Some might say Adriani has an enviable life at the moment, but he seems to be constantly striving for more, especially when it comes to blading. With his infectious character and strength of conviction, you wouldn’t bet against him.
“I would like to see our sport at the level that it deserves,” he says. “I would like to bring rollerblading back to the golden age. I have the chance to do something here in Italy with my friends and I would like to see rollerblading on TV, like the X Games. There’s a lot of work to do but we can do it. We believe in what we are doing, we love this sport. It’s our sport and I’m so proud to be part of it. I hope to skate as much as I can, give motivation as much as I can and travel all over the planet.”
Words: David McNamara Photos: Pietro Firrincieli
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