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Villa Rebuilt

Andre Villa - Taking Off (c) D. Kolodin - redbullxfighters.com

LAST YEAR ANDRE VILLA HAD, BY HIS OWN ADMISSION, “A TERRIBLE SEASON”. BUT
A WINTER SPENT IN THE US HAS MADE HIM A “TOTALLY DIFFERENT RIDER”. SO MUCH SO THAT HE’S NOW LEADING THE RED BULL X-FIGHTERS WORLD TOUR. HE EXPLAINS HOW IT ALL CAME ABOUT…


There’s been a major turnaround in fortunes for you recently. Last year you finished the tour 10th overall with a best finish of sixth and suddenly this year you win your first event in Mexico and finish third in Mexico to lead the World Tour. How’d that happen?
I’ve been working really hard. In January and February I went to America. I rented a house there and I think everything eventually came together in the US. Actually, I bought a motocross bike and rode a lot more motocross than freestyle. After the freestyle year it was so much more fun to ride motocross, on the big courses. I think that gave me a lot of motivation. I always knew that there’s really no reason I can’t win the series. I work harder than most guys and I think I have enough talent to go to the top.

Was riding all that motocross a physical break from FMX as well as a mental change of pace?
Yeah, you need that physical break. Freestyle is pretty much 12 months of the year if you want it. You need to say no to the competitions sometimes and do something else. You need to recharge your batteries. Doing the motocross was great. It felt like time off and
I had a lot of fun with that. Just kind of getting back to the roots of why I’m doing this. Also freestyle comes from the US and going there was really important for me, It helped a lot.
One of the main reasons to go there is that it is such a good sponsorship base. Some of the big guys like Nate (Adams) are able to choose what they want to do because they have a good sponsor base. The difficulty for other guys is that you have to do a lot of events to keep it all going and you don’t perform at your best. But hopefully that will change.

But you still live in Europe, right?
Yeah, I still live in Spain. Most of the freestyle events are still in Europe, so I keep a base here. That way I don’t have to deal with the jetlag too much. But Temecula is a wonderful place to go and work and I think in the next
off-season I will try to go there again.

It looks like it worked. You blitzed the Mexico round. In the run-up to the season could you have imagined that result?
I honestly didn’t expect the qualifying gap in Mexico to be as big as it was. I can’t really account for it, except to say that I watched the other runs and when I went out, I just went for it. I think I had a lot of aggression and tried to play into what the judging factors would be.
I think I just had a lot of good energy.

Did you take the new judging criteria into account when planning your runs?
I don’t know if I’m tailoring the runs to the new judging. But what I think the new rules do is give the riders more freedom to add some personal style to runs. I think that’s helped me a bit. I wouldn’t say that I’ve actively changed anything to adapt to the new system. In fact, I don’t think the system gives me any really great advantages over anyone else. The rules are good though and it’s a testament to the time and money Red Bull have put into the series. It’s better and we have to be thankful for that.
Honestly, I think it’s just that I feel I am a completely different rider than last year. Before Mexico I think I would have been very happy with top three, that would have been a good result. To win it though was fantastic.

Immediately after that win you told a TV interviewer that you thought Egypt would not be good for you at all, yet you finished second. What was that about?
I did think that Egypt wouldn’t suit me. It was a small ramp-to-ramp course and that’s not something I normally like, so I wasn’t too confident. But a couple of days after winning in Mexico I sort of revised that opinion. I sat myself down and just thought ‘we’ll, why not?’
I hadn’t expected the result in Mexico but I rode really well there. Why should Moscow be any different? I would have been happy with fifth in Moscow but I think I went with a good attitude and I finished second. Pretty good!

Was it all down to positive attitude or were there other factors?
It’s a combination of things really. You need good time on the bike, the weather needs to be right, you need those few practice sessions beforehand to give you the confidence. There’s no great secret. Honestly, I think I’m at the stage now where I know my shit. It just comes to down to putting that into practice, seeing how the others do and believing in yourself. Maybe that was where it was different in the past, I possibly didn’t believe that I could do that. Now I do.
So, it’s an all new Andre Villa we’re seeing on tour this year I just feel like I don’t have to prove anything any more. I’ve now been pro for 10 years and I know what I can do. I just don’t feel the pressure on myself anymore. There’s still some nerves when you ride out in front of a big crowd, but in terms of tricks and what I can
do, I don’t feel I have to prove anything at all.

Does that attitude to pressure change, though, when you’re leading the series?
Maybe now I’ll have to go a bit defensive instead of attacking all the time. But in the end the key is that I’m not that bothered about the result, not as much as I used to be. I try not to think about what other people will say about me. It’s not laziness though! I do still have to work very hard but it’s just about getting rid of the pressure from yourself. Ultimately, I think it’s just down to being really happy at the moment. Everything seems to be coming together for me. I totally appreciate being in this sport and what it’s given me.

So what are you hoping for in Red Square?
I heard that it’s going to be a big course and for me, after Giza, that’s great. Giza was great but it was quite a small course, which I find hard. For me, FMX is about big courses, big jumps and technical obstacles.
I think there’s a lot of guys out there who are going to be looking for some payback! It will be a hard battle, particularly against guys like Nate and Maddo. But I’ll go for it. I’ll be out there, always pointing at top spot!

ANDRE VILLA

Spanish Flier: Though born in Lillehammer, Norway, Andre lives in Torrevieja Spain,
where he built an FMX park. He divides his time between there and Temecula, California

Snow stormer: He was also once a semi-pro freestyle skier
In the genes: Both Andre’s father and uncle were Norwegian national MotoX champions

Quote
“I feel like I don’t have anything to prove anymore... i know what i can do”
 

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