You may or may not know him, but Lorenzo Guslandi for sure have already made a name for himself in freestyle slalom community. He quickly climbed to the top in WSSA men ranking and currently occupies third place. His recent victory in Namwon Korea Open 2017 proved that he is solid contender to go for the first place. Below interview was written within a time frame of a month, as both I and Lorenzo were rather busy. We started this before he went to Korea and in the meantime he managed to fly there and score top place in battle men. Not only that – he has done it with custom Tau boot with 3x84mm wheel setup, which is rather surprising in style where roughly 99% of skaters use four wheeled, rockered setups. But Lorenzo already knew he can trust his skates – he has placed 1st in classic competition on his home turf, Italy, only few weeks earlier. In this piece we are discussing his views on skating, his plans, along with tackling his partnership with Powerslide.
Enjoy the review. Lorenzo Guslandi is not only a great skater, but very interesting and humble person!
Kamil: Hello Lorenzo. Thank you for accepting invitation for this interview. Let us start with basics – please introduce yourself, tell our readers something more about you.
Lorenzo: Hi, I’m Lorenzo Guslandi, and I’m 19 years old. I’m also a diabetic guy and I’m skating since I was 7!
I spend as much time as I can on skates – training, improving my slalom skills. Because I simply love to skate! During winter I usually train 2 hours per day because I have to study, so I have less time to practice. But during summer time, when I am free from my studies, I train around 4-5h daily. Besides skating part of my life I currently attend Design University, because I love drawing and art as much as skating.
Kamil: Huh, that was very broad response. Actually, you are training less than I’ve expected!
I thought that to get to your level of finesse on blades it is necessary to spend at least 4-5h daily, no matter what time of the year. So, question for you – have you always done 2h per day, 4-5h during summer or were you spending more time on skates at the beginning?
Lorenzo: When I was still a beginner, I was not skating everyday, like I am doing now (including birthday, xmas, new year’s eve…). But in year 2013, I’ve started to feel a purpose in skating “world”, I wanted people to remember me and my skating, to make history of this sport. So I’ve started skating “for serious” and loving it more and more, trying to be the best version of myself, every day.
Of course, even when I was younger, I had the same problem with time for training. However, what is really important for me, is that, every night after skating session, I spend time before going to bed, watching videos of other skaters (especially Chinese ones because I love their style) and also videos of myself, filmed while I was training. That way, I’m able to understand, what mistakes I’ve made and what and how to improve …so this is like training behind the training, visualizing what to do better during next session.
Kamil: Yeah, watching how other people skate really does put a lot of ideas in to the mind… you have mentioned Chinese skaters. Do you have any favorite ones, maybe there is someone that is in particular very inspiring for you?
Lorenzo: Of course I have! I love Zhang Hao’s skating, his style and his cool moves and I also love Sufei Gian’s lightness, while she is skating. When I was younger, they were my idols. Nowadays, I still like their slalom style a lot and they still inspire me in my skating, but I find my idols in basketball players and their mindset to the game.
Kamil: Basketball?! Well, that is unexpected, I must admit. For sure this sport is fantastic to watch, dynamic and fun to play (unlike football haha) however, taking inspiration from team-play sport while in freestyle slalom it’s just you, skates and the cones… rather unusual. Anyway, do you follow Italian league (I’m sure there is one) or are you watching NBA?
Lorenzo: Hahaha, I think this is because before skating, I was playing basketball. But then I’ve stopped practicing it, to skate.
I follow NBA games, especially via Instagram and YouTube. Anyway, of course basketball is a team-play sport, while skating is an individual sport. But at the same time, I think it is important to have a club, have other skaters to train with – because they can help, push and support me, also during competitions and I can do the same for them.
Kamil: Yup, completely agree. By organizing with others, training and competing together, everyone is making progress and growing faster. Are you a part of „serious” inline skating club with all these things like coaches, own place to train, management team etc. or do you have more loose group of friends?
Lorenzo: Yes! In Italy there are a lot of teams with coaches and their own places for training. Especially in north Italy, and I am part of one of the best clubs. But sometimes, we have fun training with skaters from other teams and I love when we do it, because even though we are from different clubs, we share our love for skating.
Kamil: Seems nice. Over here in Poland we have skating clubs, but for the most part they are focused around inline speed skating. Freestyle slalom is not so organized. Do you have any advice for people who think about starting up their own club/team?
Lorenzo: I think the most important thing is to believe in success. Of course, at the beginning it is more difficult but over time, if you keep believing in the progress, it will pay off.
Kamil: Okay, let’s talk about something else. You have mentioned that you are diabetic – I knew that before and I know that you are wearing an insulin pump, even while skating. I know other people with such sickness and many of them are afraid of doing sports. But well, you are not afraid it seems. Have you ever felt that diabetes was preventing you from skating to the extent you would like to?
Lorenzo: First of all, of course skating while being diabetic is not that easy, because I usually have to keep control over it, especially during competition. When I have low sugar level, I feel without energy, so it is harder to skate, so I have to stop for a while and take some sugar. Instead, during competition, because of the adrenaline, I can have a higher sugar level and it is sometimes hard to make it a bit lower. There is a resistance of the sugar level in blood to go lower because of adrenaline, but despite this, problems like that can be solved. I really feel my diabetes made me the skater I am now and I love to push myself more and more, even when I am totally tired! And a cool things is to be a testimony, to show that even a diabetic guy can practice sport and go for incredible things with it, as I am currently trying to show to a young diabetic and celiac (like me, I am celiac too) girl that started skating about a year ago.
Kamil: Yeah, I was wondering about the part regarding having to keep correct glucose level during activity… thanks for answering that question! It’s great to see that with enough willpower, it is possible to overcome such obstacles. That’s the spirit! And it have not prevented you from climbing to top and becoming one of most talented freestyle skaters ever. Speaking of which – what was your first victory in official competition? And how many times since then were you standing on podium?
Lorenzo: I still remember my first victory, it was in 2007 in a competition in my city (Monza) – it was a speed slalom competition. I’ve got the first place, ex aequo with another skater (Roberto Rosato) from south Italy. I remember that after this victory, I saw the photo of myself standing on the podium in the local newspaper!
I was so excited about it and still have that newspaper. After that, I have been standing on the podium many times, in national and international competitions, but the most important one has been Shanghai Slalom Open 2013, it totally changed my mind.
Seeing for the first time Chinese skaters, with my own eyes, skating with them, made me want to be better than I was. In that competition I’ve got 1st place in speed slalom and 4th in freestyle slalom and I was so happy about it.
But the two best moments about results were:
First: when in 2014 I’ve reached for the first time to the final battle slalom at the world championship, after a really hard semifinal, in which I’ve really had fought hard.
Second: when I won the world pair slalom championship with Valerio Degli Agostini!
Kamil: Quite the record. Let’s hope you will make many more victories! I know that recently you have competed on 3 wheeled Tau skates and won the competition – that’s a quite big deal, as you are the first skater in history who took first place in freestyle slalom on something different than four wheeled „banana” rocker. I knew that Powerslide is trying to adapt 3×3 skates in to slalom, that’s their marketing push, but let’s be honest – I was not quite sure if that’s good idea, at the beginning. It turned out that, yes, you can compete and win on such setup. Could you tell us more? What exact setup do you use and is it much different to four wheeled rockered one, or have it impacted your way of skating in any way, positively or negatively? Or maybe number of wheels under your feet doesn’t matter at all?
Lorenzo: The first time I’ve tried 3 wheels, I wasn’t sure it was going to be that good for slalom! I had feeling that it could be better than 4 wheels for wheeling tricks, but at first the footwork was much harder.
During the testing meeting with Powerslide team in Warsaw, I’ve tried Tau skates on a lot of 3 wheels frames variations, and there, I fell in love with it! After many hours of skating and testing, I’ve understood that 3 wheels are the future!
But the setup at that time wasn’t the best. So, with a huge collaboration with Powerslide, we modified the Tau boot to make the padding stronger and we made a shorted frame called KATANA, so now the skates are truly ready for the competition!
The new boot gives me much more lateral support while I am skating and with the shorter 225mm frame with 3x84mm wheels, I can manage my footwork free-flowing and I feel my wheeling tricks just great! I can control wheeling tricks much better on 3 wheels than on 4! And on 21-23 April I am ready to show off that 3 wheels can really work for freestyle slalom, in Namwon Korea open. (Lorenzo actually managed to do this!)
Kamil: Could you tell us about the setup you are using right now? As far as I know 225mm frame is very unusual length. I have tried 220mm one during Warsaw meeting (1st one in December 2015, you weren’t there then) – does additional 5mm truly make difference for you? And why have you decided to settle with 84mm wheels? I remember that initially you were testing Taus with 3x90mm setup. Why have you switched to 84mm wheels?
Lorenzo: When I was in Warsaw in December 2016 for the testing weekend with Powerslide I’ve skated and tested a lot of TAU setup options with 3x90mm wheels and 230mm frames.
I was feeling that 3 wheels and the frame were awesome for the heel tricks, but the frame was too long for the toe wheeling tricks!
So I’ve tried to understand and imagine, what could be the best frame’s length for 3 wheels in freestyle slalom. So, in Warsaw, while I was explaining my feedback about 3 wheels in slalom to Juergen, I’ve pointed that the frame of 230mm was too long, and the best could be 225mm one in which the heel stays in the same position, but the toe becomes shorter!
So after the meeting, I’ve came back home full of power for the 3 wheels for freestyle slalom! I was so happy about the change and I couldn’t wait to get the new Tau boot + 225 frame after my feedbacks in Warsaw.
In the week following Warsaw meeting I’ve only used 90mm wheels, much like during initial tests, but training after training, I’ve started to understand that while 90mm was giving me some benefits for tricks, such wheel was too big and sometimes harder to manage my footwork on.
So I’ve switched to 84mm and already on the first training I’ve felt the difference! Footwork was better and wheeling tricks stayed the same as on 90mm!
After one month I’ve came back to 90mm, but after few training sessions I’ve understood 84mm was for sure the best size!
Then, around beginning of March, I’ve finally got new Tau boots and 225mm frames.
At the first training it turned out 5mm less on the toe was truly making a big difference! I was able to control toe wheelings much better, and sitting tricks, which I still think that on 230 were fine, felt a bit better. Footwork was now smooth and flowing and heel was still as good as on 230mm frame!
So now my setup totally rocks! Modified TAU boot, with stronger padding, 225mm frame totally shifted to the front and 84mm wheels. But sure, I’ve already gave to Juergen some feedback about few things to change (especially about the boot).
Kamil: I know that you have extensively took part in improving Hardcore Evo boot since at least beginning of 2016. Now, you are helping to improve Tau and make it better for freestyle slalom. Which skate do you actually prefer? And how it feels to have such direct impact on the skates you use? Most skaters do not have the privilege to make such extensive changes to equipment of their choice.
Lorenzo: I love being a part of the process! I am here to improve inline skating and to have a direct impact on the production of the skate.
Of course, it is a privilege to be able to modify the skate as I prefer and in a way I think is better. I am glad to be able to do this and I have to thanks a lot to Powerslide for this possibility!
Currently, I prefer TAU skates because of how they fit, how they support my feet when I am skating and also thanks to the Trinity system which I totally love! Anyway, both skates (Evo and Tau) are great, and with every new version they become even better!
Kamil: Haha, since this conversation stretched out so much, you have managed to go to Korea and back. So tell me, how was Korea? Are you satisfied with your performance? And how it felt to be only one skater competing in freestyle with 3 wheeled setup? I’m sure some people were puzzled why are you use such weird skates.
Lorenzo: Ahhha the time I’ve spent in Korea was awesome and so much fun!
For a long time I wanted to go there, but every time I couldn’t manage to do it. But finally, this year I was able to go!
I’ve competed quite well, especially in battle slalom and yes, everyone was so shocked and at the same times curious about 3 wheels, the Tau skate and the Trinity mounting! And some skaters also tried my skates!
Now, many skaters are writing to me on social media, because they saw some photos and videos from the competition and they saw me on 3 wheels and they want to know how it was, because they would like to try 3 wheels for freestyle slalom too.
Kamil: So, after Korea – what is next in your calendar? Are there any competitions ahead which are especially important to you and to which are you preparing right now?
Lorenzo: Now I am getting ready for a freestyle competition here in Italy and then it’s time to get ready for the most important events!! I will try to take part in all the 3 cones events (I hope will be able to, but it depends on my university exams dates).
So, I will try to be in Paris, Berlin, Shanghai, Moscow, European Championship and the most important one, World Championship in Nanjing!
3 cones evens are the most important because strong skaters are competing in, so it is the time to compare yourself with others and at the same time to understand what to improve in my runs.
And of course it is also time to have fun with other skates from different countries.
Kamil: Okay, I think we have skating covered pretty well – and I wish you luck in upcoming competitions! Changing subject, maybe could you tell us more about your long-term plans, aka „what Lorenzo wants to achieve outside of skating”? Our mutual friend Tomasz joked that you want to become a god haha, is that true?
Well, Tomasz is right!
I like to compete, in everything I do. I work hard to be the best, I want to be the best and this is what is driving me in everything! So whatever I do I want to be the “god” of it.
Anyway, I think skating will always be a part of my life; I cannot imagine a future without it.
But at the same time, I am attending university and learning graphic design, so my future work will be something cool and creative, about art and graphic. Maybe I will be able to connect the sport, skating, with graphic and art.
Kamil: Well, best of luck with that! As this interview comes to an end, please feel free to make any shout-outs, greetings and so on. Or maybe there is something you want to share with rest of inline skating world… your call.
Lorenzo: One thing I’ve forgot to add regarding the previous question, is that one cool thing I would like to achieve is to create a brand connected to my skating, like the Lorenzo Guslandi’s skate and wheels along with a clothes line.
As a shout-out, I could say that skating world changed me and I can only be thankful for that, it made me stronger physically and mentally, it made me able to challenge my limits and break them, it also made me more confident about myself.
I’m also thankful for my success in skating, especially to my family, which has always supported me and understood how much skating was important to me. I also want to thank my team-mates, who supported me during hard times and challenge me to improve my skating!
As last, I can only hope that freestyle skating will become more famous through the years and more kids will start skating, as I once did. I hope they will be able to find the joy and have experiences similar to what I’ve lived thanks to skating.
Kamil: Thank you Lorenzo for this interview. Hopefully we will repeat this after sometime, well, maybe once you’ll climb on top of WSSA for example 😉