The Future is Now
There is a fine line between arrogance and self-confidence, and the all-time greats of our sport have always been skilled at staying on the right side. After all, it takes a lot of belief in one’s abilities for a skater to confidently approach a handrail with a huge drop on one side or charge at a gap that is the equivalent to jumping over a sizable bungalow house. The skater must truly believe they are going to land the trick they are attempting if it is ever going to work – otherwise they are simply sacrificing their bodies with nothing but reckless abandon and capricious youth on their side.
Maxime Genoud is a perfect example of a blader that is capable of treading this line. I discovered this after meeting him for the first time at Winterclash 2012. He approached the Wheel Scene booth at the tradeshow and introduced himself. The young blader was softly spoken, polite and had a welcoming smile on his face. However, after the amateur qualifiers, I saw him again upstairs during the video premier of The Breakfast Club and there was a notable difference in him. I asked him how he got on and he simply replied: “I think I qualified first”. Out of context, these could sound like the words of a cocky teenager who thinks a little too highly of himself, but the way Genoud said it, with such deadpan conviction, as if it was not merely his opinion but already a widely-known fact, made me believe him even though I hadn’t seen any of the heats. Sure enough, Genoud had qualified first and he went on to win the amateur event by out-classing the rest of the competition.
“The atmosphere at the ‘clash was amazing and winning was the best that I could hope for,” says Genoud when asked if he was surprised that he took first place. “I knew that it would be possible but I wasn’t sure, even after the finals.”
The past year has seen a serious rise in the profile of the young Swiss blader. He has produced regular online edits that display his ability to skate park and street with the same high level of skill and his joint online section with Winterclash 2011 AM winner Anthony Pottier was an impressive watch considering the duo filmed the entire thing in just one week. He has also been collecting sponsors with rapid succession and boasts six endorsement deals with Rollerblade, Fenfanix, Urban Kreation, HS36 Skatepark, Rolling Rock and Mood – not bad for someone who has only been blading for eight years.
Genoud first discovered rollerblading after witnessing the annual inline extravaganza that is International Roller Contest Lausanne, specifically the infamous downhill event that sees hundreds of skaters take to the streets of the country’s fifth largest city to makes use of the concrete slopes, with many adorned in fancy dress and carrying torches. After seeing such a spectacle, it was only a matter of time before Genoud strapped on a pair of blades to see what all the fuss was about.
“I spent all of my childhood in Lausanne and every year I was able to see the IRCL downhill from my balcony,” he says. “It interested me a lot, so my dad took me to the competition to have a look. In 2002, for my 11th birthday, my dad bought me the Salomon ST60 skates. I went to the skate park one day and saw Diego Luppi. He took me under his wing and I’ve never stopped skating with him.”
The 19-year-old has been rolling hard ever since and making quite an impression on the European rollerblading scene due to his raw street skating talents and consistent competition performances. The Lausanne native is currently dividing his time between blading and studying photography at CEPV, a local high school that specialises in the arts. Do his parents worry that his passion for rollerblading and regular globe-trotting antics will impede his studies? More importantly, does his father regret getting him those first pair of rollerblades? “My parents are still pushing me a lot,” responds Genoud.”My dad is happy that I can split my time between my studies and rollerblading.”
Striking a balance between rollerblading and school may become harder for the blading prodigy as the year progresses, with planned appearances on the Balkan Tour and several European blading competitions scheduled for later in the year. However, he is most excited about attending the annual event that is held in his home city, the LSBC in Lausanne, mainly due to the fact that he gets to spend time with all of his close friends. When asked about the local scene, Genoud says: “Lausanne has a huge blader family! There are a lot of bladers, but some of them should be better known, like Diego Luppi and Geoffroy Dubreuil.”
Despite the fact that his local scene is flourishing, he is the first to admit that it is not as vibrant as it was in the nineties when the Lausanne rollerblading competition was one of the most highly anticipated events in the international rollerblading calendar. However, Genoud is happy to wait for the sport’s return to mainstream acceptance. He just wishes that one of the newer action sports would take blading’s place on the cultural scrapheap.
“I think that the past few years have been quite hard for our sport, but a lot of motivated people are trying to bring it on top again. When kids become bored with those stupid scoters, the world will be a much nicer place to live for bladers.”
In addition to attending various events and hoping to capitalise on his impressive performance at Winterclash, Genoud will also be filming a section for close friend Geoffroy Debreuil’s forthcoming blading video, T.O.E., which he advises is “gonna be sick”. Considering how accurate he has been with his predictions so far this year, it would be foolish to doubt him. While on the topic of blading DVDs, Genoud offers his views on his favourite release from the last twelve months, Jonas Hansson’s Traitement.
“It’s not about, ‘Here we are, we are the best, we’ve got swag!’ When I saw it I just suddenly wanted to go out and skate around. I think those kinds of videos are way better than oversaturated videos with sunburns every 20 seconds.”
Genoud is not entirely sure what he wants to do once he finishes high school. In fact, he has no idea at all. The only thing he is certain about is that he wants to see as much of the world as possible and take some beautiful photographs along the way. In his words: “I don’t have plans for the moment, only ideas.” Fortunately for him, that is how most great adventures begin.
Words: David McNamara Photos: Arthur O’maleh, Julien Pousaz, David Morra, Claudio Bohli and Pierrick Dind
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