Parisian flatland rider Matthias Dandois took an unconventional approach in his preparation for the Flatland World Championships in Cologne, Germany. The Frenchman borrowed from other genres to take the win and push his riding into a new street-based direction.
We spoke to Matthias after his latest triumph.
You’ve just been crowned world champion, how does it feel?
It feels amazing to have won. I am really surprised as I haven’t been riding flatland at all recently. I have been riding only street for the last six months. I didn’t practice flatland at all before I came here. I just went straight to the contest and I was lucky enough to win, so I’m pretty stoked.
Why have you been riding so much street?
I’ve been riding flatland for 11 years now and I needed a new challenge. There is a new street spot in Paris that Red Bull built for me and I’ve been riding that with my friends and other street riders. I’ve been riding street so much that I haven’t been practising flatland at all, but it went well today.
Did street riding influence your flatland runs in the contest?
Definitely. I did a lot of street-inspired stuff between flatland combos, like barspins and a half-cab tailwhip landing pegs 180.
Do you think the street influence has improved your flatland rides – and does it help win contests?
When it comes to contests the judges look for something creative. I just tried to put together a run that the other riders don’t do. Strangely, not practising really helped and there was no pressure to win.
In the past, how much would you practice for one contest?
I used to practice certain combos and do them five times in a row, which take hours and hours. It's so boring doing that. It's not freestyle. When you practice like that you go into the contest with a lot of pressure and think to yourself: "I’ve been working so hard for this contest I have to do well." But this time I didn’t do that. I had no pressure.
How does your past as a flatland rider influence your street riding and vice versa?
They influence each other. I try to mix street and flatland together. It's really fun taking elements of street riding and putting them into a flatland run. A lot of flatland riders are beginning to take inspiration from street riding – and, in return, flatland influences street riding. For instance, you'll see a lot of street riders who do nose manuals and whip lashes.
I remember Canadian flatlander Andrew Faris started doing flatland-inspired stuff in street a number of years ago. Do you take any influence from him or any other riders?
There are some other flatland riders who combined flatland and street long before me – riders like Andrew and Chad Degroot. I didn’t invent anything. Street riding is getting so technical and flatland is getting closer to street riding. I think there’s going to be a bigger overlap between the two styles of riding in the years to come. It is the future for flatland.