IDF 2017 Election Candidate: Marco Vidales #MarcoOnBoard #IDFDecides
Marco is currently the IDF rep for the continent with the top 3 open riders. He is a stoked IDF volunteer and an organiser of the Festival de la Bajada.
Hello Marco, how are you?
Hello Gbemi, it is a pleasure to meet you, thank you for your stoke and the opportunity to get my ideas out there.
Happy new year?
Happy new year to you too, really excited for 2017. I got to go for holidays with family and friends
Where are you from?
I am from Bogotá, Colombia.
How did you get into skating?
I started skateboarding when I was 10 and have been skating since then. I started longboarding in 2008, when the first longboards made it to Colombia and loved it so much that, when the opportunity came to close down a road, I put all my effort into making it grow, basically to offer safe conditions for riders to race and practice.
How did the opportunity come by?
Manuel Rivera, a close friend of mine, with whom we longboard organised the first Festival de la Bajada back in 2010, I raced and got eliminated in the first round. As this was the first event, it had some organisational problems, so I jumped in to help out with whatever I could. It was a seminal experience that was an epiphany to me and I quickly decided to partner up and make it happen again.
“Every skater has had the dream to live off skating, off what we love, because, more than a sport, more than an art form, it is a way of life.”
The epiphany revealed…?
Almost every skater has had the dream to live off skating, off what we love, because, more than a sport, more than an art form, it is a way of life. But for most of us skating becomes a side dish to your real job. So, when I realized I had the capacity to do something professionally for skating I decided to go for it.
What drove you to put that race on?
I think downhill skateboarding on open roads is extremely dangerous, and the best way for it to grow and evolve is to offer a safe environment for riders to push their limits.
How did you improve the festival in the 2nd year?
After the first Festival I decided to go to BC, Canada in 2011 to race and learn from the events of this mecca of longboarding, and to bring back to Colombia their best practices to make the Festival de la Bajada a world class event. I started working on marketing to get sponsors since all had dropped out after the first one, and also working on making the best experience possible for riders, our main stakeholder.
Did you have fun in Canada?
Lots of fun. It was my first time there and raced for the first time in leathers, got a lot of help from Hugh Johnston, Dillon Stephens and Katie Nielson who had been in the Festival de la Bajada, made it back with both my ankles sprained and a huge smile on my face.
Favourite memories from that visit?
Surviving carnage corner, camping in beautiful BC, and getting to know the incredible people of the longboarding community.
What did you learn from Striker?
I went to Danger Bay, Britannia Classic (Unkle) and Verbon DH (Mischo). I learned from all of them that we had to be absolutely professional to get riders and sponsors to chip in. That passion and dedication is what keeps this alive and that what we are selling is much more than just a race, it’s an experience.
“…passion and dedication is what keeps this alive…”
Isn’t professionalism too serious for the rock n roll world of DH skating?
Even rock n rollers have to be professional, to be good. I think fun and professionalism are not mutually exclusive.
What’s the most important part of the experience?
I think learning about yourself, testing yours limits and sharing with your peers are the core of that experience.
How did Festival De la Bajada benefit from your Canada trip?
We managed to successfully make the event again as an IGSA continental race and continued to become a World Cup for IGSA and then IDF.
What’s the biggest trial you’ve faced, trying to get the community stoked?
Pricing of the events is the most sensitive part, especially when we have to charge in dollars and have strong devaluation of our own currency like in 2015, where for local riders it got 50% more expensive.
What’s the longest running race in South America?
I think Teutonia in Brazil.
Will there ever be a South American DH Federation?
The IDF continental championship fills that gap for now, having a separate federation might disperse our efforts rather than bring them together.
How has your role in the community evolved over the years?
We started doing the events because we wanted to race, organising and racing was a huge and even dangerous undertaking. We started with one event and ended up doing 5 events and the Colombian Longboarding Cup all in one year, all over Colombia. As riders evolved, I became less competitive and my focus went to the organisation of the event. I also got very involved with the IDF since it started and became an IDF representative in some races, and attended the board meetings.
How was the 2016 race?
We took 2016 off due to the bad results we had in 2015.
We only had 50 riders for a World Cup, of whom almost half were backdoor entries. We still owe some money to the IDF and to the Colombian government.
What did you learn from that experience?
We have to offer freeriding at a different cost than racing, in the same event.
How does the event come back from this?
We somehow managed to be the flag bearers of a community, and I feel we just can’t drop the flag and carry on with our lives. I’ve always felt we are some type of catalyst for the community’s stoke to make the events a reality. Coming back is the only way to endure and to get out of the hole.
Do you still find time to skate?
I skate at least once a week
How will you spread stoke this year?
My contribution has transgressed my local scene and I have been working to set up this year’s South American tour that is soon to be announced, bringing new races to the scene and bringing back the Festival de la Bajada. I wish to be elected to the IDF board and, be able to spread the stoke over the South American borders specially to North America, where it is needed most.
“…we are seen as less important than other parts of the world, so being able to make world class venues and have world class athletes is a way to push that …thought away….”
mario gomez picWhat’s special about South American stoke?
It’s like the underdog mentality, South America sadly is filled with underdeveloped countries, and this karma still lags on to us and can be seen in many aspects of our organisations. I think we are seen as less important than other parts of the world, so being able to make world class venues and have world class athletes is a way to push that train of thought away and gives us a sense of fighting for things rather than feeling we deserve them.
With the top 3 open racers from South America, how important is it for your continent to have a voice on the board?
I believe this trend will continue, and I hope someone tries to prove me wrong. Having a representative for the continent on the board is very important because it is the place where all the knowledge and best practices from each part of the world get shared, and we need to be a part of this.
“Having a representative for the continent on the board is very important because it is the place where all the knowledge and best practices from each part of the world get shared, and we need to be a part of this.”
Why did you decide to run?
I love the IDF, the whole concept behind it I think is very well structured which makes it perdurable. I thought a lot about running this time, mainly because I ran last time and saw that the election became more of a Facebook popularity contest than anything else, and I really can’t compete against famous riders. But I think it was a process we had to go through as a young organisation.
Not having any of our founding members run for election worried me, because it showed that they are totally exhausted from giving so much and getting mainly a lot of criticism in return. Of all the candidates I feel I am one of the most experienced in working with the IDF and organising events, no one is indispensable but my contribution will be important to the federation.
“…I feel I am one of the most experienced in working with the IDF and organising events, no one is indispensable but my contribution will be important to the federation.”
If it’s that much of a thankless job, why are you running?
I don’t do it for the recognition, this is a volunteer job and a non for profit one. The IDF is a multinational organisation that has given me the opportunity to travel and learn a lot from others, and has brought up capacities in me I didn’t know I had, I am running because I think it is a great opportunity to grow as a person and as a professional and because I know I can help the IDF and the international downhill skateboarding community much more than what I have been doing it for the last 3 years.
What were your responsibilities as IDF rep for South America?
As an IDF representative in a race our responsibility is first to ensure the event that is joining the IDF is well organised and capable of running a safe and sound event. I personally think of myself of more of a help to the event organisers and riders than a regulator. Helping with promoting the event, rider registration, running and reporting the event. At the event, it is our responsibility to it make a fair race, applying rules and regulations, managing claims, and operating the timing system.
“I am a problem solver, I see problems as opportunities.”
What difference can you make to the IDF?
I am a problem solver, I see problems as opportunities and I think what we have is a huge opportunity to consolidate our federation and to make it so strong that we don’t depend on the knowledge and capacities of our founders, or any one person, although there help will be key
I studied business management and have a masters degree in insurance and risk management, I have been part of several organisations and know how to make decisions and run an organisation.
The IDF has many issues that have to be resolved, a recent enquiry to members showed that marketing and communications is the main concern. IDF is a huge content generator and we have been only generating content through the IDF representatives that travel and report on each race, in a very personal manner, with no professional image support, basically just asking local photographers to share their photos with us, with only giving credit for the photo as a retribution. A whole plan is being actually set up to do this professionally with a clear goal in mind.
To me our main problem is the amount of riders and races that are dropping out of the IDF, cost I think is one of the biggest barrier for riders, and bad experiences they have had at races. Having separate classes such as a professional and an amateur class in the races apart from the freeriding will make many riders and events to come back.
“Having separate classes such as a professional and an amateur class in the races apart from the free-riding will make many riders and events to come back.”
How would you solve the marketing & attendance problems?
Marketing and communications issues have to be solved by having a proper communications plan, not just IDF representative reports, this is underway with the special knowledge Max Vickers has on this, and the results have to be measurable. For attendance problems, I think opening the doors to more riders, making it more accessible to amateurs and beginners and also making it much more interesting for pros.
What contributions have you made to the community in the last year?
Last year I basically helped with the South American tour, getting in touch with organizers to make their events join the IDF. I also travelled to these races in South America as an IDF representative and managed to successfully recruit Costa Rica into the IDF tour.
Right now, you volunteer your spare time to help the IDF. Is being elected important?
Yes, I volunteer and attend the board meetings, with voice but no vote, so I don’t really have any decision power and I relinquish many of my opinions and my participation is limited. Being elected will make me fully accountable and committed.
“Being elected will make me fully accountable and committed.”
How is this time different from last year’s ‘’popularity contest’’?
It feels different, last time we didn’t even get interviewed, and we didn’t have the issue of our founding members not running, and that has given a strong importance to the decision that we make. 2016 was a challenging year for democracy all around the world because of social media and abstention, I hope we are better than that.
If you’re elected, How would you make sure more people have fun skating hills?
Having two separate classes, an amateur and a professional, this will promote both riders that are not keen on sizing themselves up with professionals and are bored of paying a lot of money for getting eliminated in the first round; and for professionals it will also be better since they will be racing against other skilled professionals avoiding the risk of being taken out by riders that may not have the skill to be as fast as them. We made this separation in Colombia and it worked wonders, our numbers doubled and the amateur class became more competitive that we ever imagined.
Freeriding in the IDF events, many people just want to skate, not compete we must make a space for them in our events, if not in our federation.
“Many people just want to skate, not compete. We must make a space for them in our events.”
Do you have time to make this happen?
Time is our biggest asset, I have the fortune of running my own company which gives me the opportunity to manage my time. I believe it is more of making time for it than having it.
How would you deal with a situation when the timing system, protection and everything that can go wrong at a WC, does?
Preparation is the key, but things can and will go wrong at some point. The timing system is a great tool, although I know how to operate and troubleshoot it, it does not make the race. If there are problems with safety, the reaction has to be more drastic, not an inch can be given in this sense, it is human lives that are at stake. It all depends a lot on the situation but as they say, you have to grab the bull by its horns, and if you are properly prepared you will find a way to solve it.
What do you do when you’re not skating?
I have an insurance broker firm called Conase.
Why should the undecided voter reading this choose Marco?
I have the experience, the knowledge, the capacity and most importantly, the will to help our organisation grow and improve.
If you get elected to the board, who will you choose as president?
We need to know who will be elected first! Choosing a President, I believe has to be correlated somehow to the amount of votes the elected members get, although it will be a board election and we really need somebody that can lead. Koma who I know thinks at least 3 moves ahead has opted for Federico Barboni from Italy and I trust his opinion.
What’s your campaign slogan?
Hadn’t really thought of one, but for me the most important thing is to get people to vote. #KillAbstention! I would say.
Marco, bro. Thanks a lot for your time. It’s been great picking your brain. Good luck this weekend.
Thank you Gbemi for your wonderful interest in sharing the stoke.
Any last words?
Yes I especially want to thank Koma Kino, Colin Beck, Lee Cation, Robbo, Flexter and Manuel Rivera for trusting in me and teaching me. We owe a lot to them for their work and time, and their support is key in this transition.
Check out all the candidates for the coming IDF election. Here: IDF Election Candidates