INterview #15 - Marek Doniec

1. Younger generation may not know you, so could you introduce yourself? Who is Mark Doniec?

I have been a pro skier for 5 years now, currently I work with Salomon, Dragon, Dakine and GoPro yet before that I was heavily involved with rollerblading, though I`m still a blader, and always will consider myself as one. I don`t skate that much anymore, but my pair of skates are always there with me during travels.

2. Right now, we can say that your are a pro Freestyle skier right? What does it mean?

More or less it means that thanks to Salmon and few other companies I can make a living and travel all over the world only by riding freestyle skis.

3. Due to focuses on rollerblading, let’s go back a little bit to the times when you were still an active blader. How did it you get into aggressive inline, and what was the key factor that had made you to put on a pair of skates?

The best thing was (and still is) the opportunity  to explore an urban architecture  - just searching new spots together with friends.

4. I guess everyone who have been blading for more than 5 years will be colligate you with massive gaps and stylish jumps. There wasn’t any really good parks or facilities  in Poland back in the day where people could learn such stuff. Where did you practice?

I learnt most of them on the street spots first and then at the poor, local skate parks around Silesia area that was popping out.

5. What are your best memories from that times, when you didn’t think about free skis? Maybe some trick that you were happy with?

I will never forget the big comps from that times, especially Lurys Cups – friends form all over the country, great vibe and parties  - a time to remember!

6. As a professional skier do you follow the rollerblading media. Do you still have a favorite rollerblader. What can you say about the polish scene in general? Do you respect somebody from our country because of his skating?

Yes! I`m always up-to-date and I`m happy that our sport has evolved so much. Style and approach has changed a lot – now I`m looking at thing differently. The individual styles are so distinguished now, people use the spots in a complete new way, also the level of medias – films and edits have so high standards right now. I respect the Hive crew – Mateusz Kowalski is really into something and we have lot in common (right now I`m collecting clips for my street – ski edit so you will see what I`m talking about).

It`s hard not to mention Piotrek Combrzyński  - a true international level, or still my all-time favorite – Chester (Tomasz Piekarski). All this years on the top al the time! High five for Adam Żurawiecki and his PopAcid project. In general I’m admiring the huge distinction through out polish  inline scene and that’s what is should be all about!

7. Last question about rollerblading – do you still enjoy to blade? Is there any chance that Marek Doniec will compete in some event of 2011?

As I said before I have always my pair with me and usually after skis I`m chilling at some local skateparks whenever I am. I`m still juiced to do it and it`s a great training before skis. This year was rather tough – I was exhausted after three long and very active seasons (each of them is about 200 days) so I didn`t rollerblade during the summer but I`m planning to get back this year and film sme god stuff!

8. You have probably talked abort it many times but let us know how did it started with freeski?

It`s simple. I was always fascinated with huge airs and great Speer. I couldn`t skate during winter since at that times we didn`t have an indoor facility so I gave a shot to pair of snowblades and changed it later for freeskis.

9. As far a I know you are one of the most recognized polish freeskier. Thanks to your sponsors you have visited many parts of the world. How did you started your professional ski career and who was your first main sponsor?

My first main sponsor who I work with till now was Salomon. Six years ago some guy called me and asked me if I want to skate for them (I was skating for Roces at that time). I said OK but only if they will hook me up with the stuff for skis too – they agreed. It started from that and lasts till today, with one small difference – I got support direct from France.

10. Some people link you to rollerblading, some link you with freeski – but always when your name is called I think airs and gaps. Grinding or jibbing Marek is rare. Why is that?

That`s a good question. I don`t know to be honest. It`s just grinding or jibbing has never give me so much entertainment as flying through massive gaps so I didn`t feel like get deep into “Jib” thing. Although during this season I got some nice street clips, which includes plenty of technical tricks! More like slides than jibs but you may be surprised!

11. It seems that more and more rollerbladers want to check their skills on skis. Is that true that experience gained through years of rollerblading can help with reaching the good level on free skis?

Well it helps in air and with landings, but it bothers when jumping into obstacles and during the ride itself – because the  technique is different. But it helps in general!

12. Your ‘extreme’ career has lasted quite a few years now. With all this gaps and stunt stuff how is your health? How do you keep fit and what do you do to keep you in good shape?  

Yep, 16 years of blading and 5 years of freeski. I will turn 30 in a three months, but if I won`t catch any injury I will keep doing what I`m doing for few more years easily ( of course if my mind lets me). At this moment after almost one year off I feel really good and I`m ready to start again. My mind needed to recover.

I try to keep fit everyday. Tennis, stretching, massages. I can honestly say that  my physical abilities are in 99% the same as 10 years ago (this 1 % is a result of injuries which as we know are part of the game). Of course I`m not recovering as fast as back in the day, and the falls hurts more than ever but it only keeps me motivated more!

13. Sooner or later everyone set some goals that one wants to achieve, the development of skill is a natural thing. How it is with freeskis, do you still to learn new stuff?

I`m over the fascination of snowparks and big kickers, so I`m more into street, BC and freeride. If jumps it`s only in BC and powder or the really big one kickers (30 m and above) for spring – but they are only closed sessions for invited riders. My last year profile has only 4 clips from snowpark, in this year I`m planning to do not more than 1-2. The rest will be filmed on the streets and backcountry. I can tell that it`s only half of December yet I managed to film more street clips already than the whole last year, I`m so stoked about it!

14. Do you have some favorite spot for freeskis? Has it happened that you were riding a spot with skis that you had previously skated?

My fav spot is definitely Katowice. It seems everything is around when you get little creative. The latest Salomon ad which was published in various magazines around the globe was shot in Katowice!

15. Tell us something abort the freeski scene? How would you compare it to rollerblading scene?

It`s bigger for sure, yet it looks very similar to the early blading scene at the beginning – very chaotic. It slowly starts to find its own way. There are far more $$$ in the industry so it`s natural that it is more show-offs and cool cats. I`m against such behavior and as a Salomon manager I`m trying to direct it differently, I`m happy to have such team riders as Pinky or Szczepan. They are very creative and have superb passion for the sport.

In my opinion the big problem concerning freesking now is FIS. The organization noticed the growing popularity of freesking ( possibility of  quick $$$ and young people for their boring TV broadcasts) and is trying to get their filthy hands on it. They already started to organize the World Cups and World Championships followed by plan to Olympics. Unfortunately most people are in favor of FIS, while I think it will cause more damage than good to our young sport. Yes, there will be sport clubs, kids will have the possibility to train and to travel but in other hand it will force the youngsters to focus only on halfpipe – it will kill the creativity and rebel character of freesking. The same as in snowboard right now, where riders are forbidden to ride on powder or BC because of possible injury. Also let`s not forget that freesking culture grew as a opposition of  such concepts as FIS. Personally I`m against the co-operation with PZN where nobody knows anything about sport, about the style or tricks. For me it`s going way to fast.. we know how it ended with rollerblading. It`s the same situation but rollerbladers survived and freesking will not be so lucky….The will be inhaled by FIS and transformed into another, casual winter sport. For me the extreme sports are the expression of ourselves and not the competition between each other, so for now I am strongly against the freesking in the Olympics!

16. Is there something that you missing in freesking, something that you had in rollerblading?

No, I can say that freesking gave me that I was missing in rollerblading. I can ride on the streets, but also I can go high to the mountains and get face to face with the pure nature. Jump off the cliff, escape the avalanche or just enjoy the stunning view from the top. Rollerblading will not give you`s stricte urban sport so it`s kind of restricted.

17. Paweł Komosa told me something about the film project involving the rollerblading and freesking. Could you elaborate?

I don`t want to spoil the details yet, but  I`m after the preliminary discussions with Beau Cottingon about my trip to California for six weeks to film a rollerblading/freesking flick together with Kaya Turski, Chris Haffey  and Brian Shima! I don`t know how it will turn out but it sounds great! The possibility co-operation with Beau whose productions I admired as a kid is more than incredible! 

18. Any good advice for anyone who want to start freesking or rollerblading?

Just have fun and try to be as creative as possible! Do not copy what you see in other movies!