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The Eternal Racer: An Interview With Brazilian Legend Douglas Dalua

Years ago I was a team manger for Rayne Longboards and had the very great honor to work with riders like Kevin Reimer, Brianne Davies, Patrick Switzer and of course, Douglas Dalua. For a time, Rayne was one of the winningest brands in racing and it was often more a question of which Rayne riders would podium, not if. [Feel free to debate it! I haven’t made Rayne in years.] Douglas was the first rider outside Europe or North America to win a World Championship, once held a the Guinness Record for Speed and nearly had his downhill documentary make its way onto Netflix. Getting to collaborate with Dalua was fun and exciting, but I am going to be honest [sorry buddy], dude can be intense! Skateboarding is not a hobby, or a job, or sport to him, it is part of who he is. He is a professional and as he puts it, an Eternal Racer. Out of the hundreds of competing pro riders I have connected with over the years, he remains one of the most dedicated and passionate. I understand his intensity and have a lot of respect for it because it comes with a lot of heart and we always had fun. I kind of wish a few more “professionals” took their talent and their opportunity as whole heartedly as Dalua.

While we have seen a bit less of the Brazilian legend around the competitive circuit lately, he’s definitely not gone, just busy taking care of business, being a dad, getting stronger, and stoking his fires. If you look, you will not only find his regular updates from life and skating, but I also believe you’ll see some of his legacy. This year, 3 Brazilians sit atop the IDF points race and compete for 1st overall as the tour goes back to South America. These riders are completely deserving of their success and respect, killing it on their own and I mean to take nothing away from their individual success. But, in my opinion, Dalua was one of the early Brazilians to attack the world of racing outside Brazil and he helped expose the talent and power of Brazillian racers, pushing them to the forefront of the scene.

I had the opportunity to catch up with Douglas Dalua the other day and I am stoked to share a brief interview with you.

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Hey Dalua! Long time man. Lets give everyone the basics – name, age, home town, where you living?

Hey, bro! Yes, it’s been a long time but the friendship remains the same! My name is Douglas Dalua Silva, I am 33 years old, I live in Novo Hamburgo, state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.

Douglas Dalua. Jon Huey Photo

Douglas Dalua. Jon Huey Photo

You have been a professional a long time, making your life in downhill, how long have you been skating?

hahaha, I think ever since I was born, skating is my eternal life, but I’m a real skateboarder since I was 17 years old.

Can you tell me 3 of your favourite memories from over the years?

That’s easy… The first contest I won in Teutonia 2004, my first sushi in Vancouver in 2009 and my first time at Maryhill Festival also in 2009, there is no way for me to forget those.

Festival of Speed 2009 on an Evo. Photo jacked from Silverfish archives.

Festival of Speed 2009 on an Evo, Bears and Orangatang. Photo jacked from Silverfish archives.

What are you doing now? We haven’t seen you up North or in Canada for a while?

I’m working hard to live, I have an online skate shop in Brazil now and it demands me a lot of time. In addition to being a rider, I need to be a businessman too. Life is crazy but it’s perfect!

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D1D Skateshop ad from Facebook.

You’ve had a bunch of injuries over the yeas, can you list all your injuries? Are you healthy now?

They’re a lot, hahahha… I’ve had 16 surgeries total, 9 on both knees, 3 on the Achilles tendon, 2 more for fractures and some more… It’s crazy, bro. I currently weigh 13 kilos less than when we met the last time, I’m exactly 90 kilos now, stronger, healthier and more focused.

If there is anything I have learned, it is that you always get up stronger. It’s pretty remarkable.

The feature documentary Dalua Downhill was a big production. It got lots of exposure and almost made it on Netflix?! So close right? Where can we watch it online right now? Is it anywhere? iTunes?

No, unfortunately not. It won’t be there anymore, the producer withdrew the airing. I did not make a single $1 with this and nowadays Dalua Downhill is past. I put a lot of time and heart into it, like many things in skateboarding, but you move on and I have new goals.

Very unfortunate, it remains one of the You’re always putting out media. Working on any film projects now? Or mostly raw runs?

Yes, mostly on my fan page on Facebook. I have 33k people who follow and believe in me there, it motivates me a lot to make my home movies. But I have a project that is still a secret … If it turns out good, it will be something 1000x better than Dalua Downhill, believe me!

Photo Mikel Echegaray Diez

Photo Mikel Echegaray Diez

You always have a secret project, it’s the only thing that isn’t a secret sometimes! ha ha

Are you still racing IDF or just taking a break or?

Unfortunately, I am taking a break because I do not have the conditions I need to run the circuit. But I am still competing! I’ve had an incredible season beginning in NZ and AUS, today I am still the 14th in the world and the tour is coming to South America now, so it’s not so bad.

I think many people forget [ignore] that Brazil is one of the largest countries in the world – and Skateboarding [sports] is a very big part of the culture. What is the race scene like in Brazil? You have a lot of riders in Brazil and a lot of events there right?

In a point, Canada is much like Brazil, with very good riders and many unknown, but incredibly talented, fast riders. In the Brazilian community, there are races every week somewhere around the country and lots of local events too. There are many riders with lots of talent. The problem is that it’s a country that has basically no real recognition from the core industry itself, and the best riders often cannot afford to leave their homes frequent enough to get anywhere. I want to change that.

Douglas Dalua was the first World Champion to come from outside North America or Europe.

Douglas Dalua was the first World Champion to come from outside North America or Europe.

This is something you have always said to me. When we worked together, part of the goal was to help enable talented Brazilian riders to gain support and exposure through our relationship. You original introduced me to Thiago Lessa and Max Ballesteros way back. And thank you, they are incredible people, not just skaters. I don’t know that I would have had the same opportunity to meet and know them if you had not pushed me. They have continued to kill it and will be competing for IDF overall champion.

Will you also travel around South America to race? 

Yes bro, and so many more incredible riders in Brazil. My plan for the remainder of the year is to compete. I’m headed to the Abec 11 race in Costa Rica next and will see form there.

What are some of your favourite events in South America?

As far as South America is concerned, the place is in Argentina, Nogolí in San Luis is paradise!

What were your thoughts when you heard Skateboarding will be in the Olympics? Good, bad, don’t care?

Street skating, I don’t ride it. I think it can be good, but will not affect downhill for now so it’s not anything significant to me.

Photo Mikel Echegaray Diez

Photo Mikel Echegaray Diez

How have the Olympics been for Brazil so far? I saw you with a torch? Did you carry an Olympic torch for Brazil? Any other skateboarders carry the torch for Brazil? Or longboarders maybe I should ask?

The Olympics is something magical, I was impressed with everything I saw here. It is something amazing to see the athletes prepare themselves for four years to run some contests in 0,10 seconds. It’s incredible. I’ve had the opportunity to see the torch, but I did not participate in the organization, the only longboarder who did it was Reine de Oliveira from São Paulo, it must have been an amazing feeling for her.

This year in Brazil, the Olympics feel more like the Hunger Games to me than ever. I visited Brazil 7 or 8 years ago and Rio had a lot of Favela’s and lots of poverty. Have you visited the games at all? What do you think about the games being in Rio and all of the people that don’t have the best opportunities in life being ignored?

The Favelas in Rio continue. The poverty continues. Only the TV did not show it. But Rio is a beautiful town with many beauties and incredible people, I hope that the Olympic Games leave a positive legacy for the city and the country and help improve those conditions.

I am being harsh on Olympics. Every country has issues with the split between the rich and poor. How do you think sports, or skateboarding really, is a positive opportunity for people? How can sports and play and competition be helpful?

You’ve reached a key point for me in this interview. The sport skateboarding is a positive tool for young people, skateboarding transforms lives. Skateboarding has changed my life incredibly. Skateboarding is very strong when it is done the right way. Skateboarding should be in schools, in gym and physical education classes, everywhere. Getting people skating and empowering them is far more important to me than just the participation in Tokyo in 2020.

I am an eternal racer. I will keep going Keep pushing forward. I never want to let an opportunity go by to pass my message to people: skateboarding transforms lives, skateboarding is life! 

How has downhill helped, affected your life, in a positive way?

Buddy, downhill has turned me into an honest man, now I have my house, my family and life thanks to downhill. None of this would be possible without it. My childhood was normal for a boy from Brazil, my mother worked as a seamstress in a factory, working hard to bring food home. Money was tight all the time and I had to start working at 12 years of age. These experiences helped me be a better person, but I drastically changed my life after downhill and it is where I have had the best opportunities in my life… Thanks a lot, downhill!

Photo Mikel Echegaray Diez

Photo Mikel Echegaray Diez

Has it been negative for you at all? Besides injuries?

Nothing, my life is very positive and happy. The injuries are intentional, God wants to put us to test every day, so nothing happens by chance. Getting up, learning, growing stronger is the only answer.

You have been a pro for a very long time? In Brazil you even have a pro shoe right? What is it really like to be sponsored right now? are you getting support from brands? What brands are you ridding right now?

Yes, I still have the Mad Rats sponsorship, and I still have my pro model shoe today. They are the only ones who pay royalties me and help me to live. I have some support to help me: Landyachtz with boards, Ojoom with pucks, MuirSkate Family for life, Ronin Trucks, Hondar Skateboards griptape and bearings, I9 Gym, Marcelo Campos / Roxtec Brazil and my store D1D Skateboard Shop. But I believe that after all I have done in skateboarding, I deserved a little more recognition and respect. I believe that many brands do not like supporting older riders because we have the experience when working with them as well. It’s easy to just push out content from young riders.

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Photo Mikel Echegaray Diez

You’re getting older.. sorry bro.. ha ha.. but it’s true. How are you developing your skills and life to continue to build off all your success on a skateboard? What will Dalua be doing in 3 years, 5, years, 10 years.. still skating? Still working with skate?

Yes I am older, it is the law of life, we all grow old, but I am a very strong rider. I practice twice a day, one of them in the gym. I feed myself very well, and this will give me longevity, hahahha… In 5 years or 10 years? Racing and making my films, I am an eternal racer. I will keep going Keep pushing forward. I never want to let an opportunity go by to pass my message to people: skateboarding transforms lives, skateboarding is life! 

Who should we be watching for downhill? Who are the best young riders in Brazil? The next generation?

I am proud of that because I feel I have a part in it, in building that legacy and I still have work to do. I swear to you it’s hard to list 10 riders with a great future in Brazil because Brazil is a magical country, a brewery of great riders. I hope they never let skateboarding die here. Lets see who wins the IDF for now, these are the champions to watch right now.

Thanks for all your time Dalua! Anything you want to say? Shout outs? Thanks?

I thank you the opportunity, I would like to say once again: thanks to downhill! And I can’t wait to go back to Vancouver to eat sushi and skate the Bps someday soon here bro. Cheers to all! Peace!

Photo Mikel Echegaray Diez

Photo Mikel Echegaray Diez

Check out Douglas Dalua on Facebook here, instagram here, and if you’re in Brazil, check out D1D Skateshop here.

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