Check In: Marko Grilc, part two

© Giacomo Margutti

Our chat with Grilo goes on, touching on various topics from the Olympics to family and kids.

Last week (if you guys lost the first part of our chat with Grilo, check it out here) we talked about the different points of view one can have on snowboarding: filming, competing, street, backcountry and so on. Throughout all your career, you chose to change the subjects of your interest many times, just not to get bored too much when you were stuck with the same focus for too long. What do you think about those modern gladiators who are the contest riders of our times? And about this whole mad hype about getting to the Olympics?

Marko: I was talking with Chas Guldemond and Peetu Piiroinen a couple of weeks ago, because nowadays there’s this thing going on on Stubai’s glacier, let’s call it an “Olympic camp and training” for all those riders who want to get ready for Sochi 2014. They tried to copy what’s gonna be the Olympic slopestyle course and paste it on the glacier. For example the whole Norwegian team is on there trying to train as much as they can. But I found myself thinking about this insane mental state the majority of the contest riders are into right now, having so much focus and so much attention only to one competition… and all the pressure that lies behind this crazy preparation makes them so much stressed out. I think many riders will try way too much, they will go beyond their “comfort zone”, trying to kill it at the Olympics.

Although I really respect that commitment, at the same time I still think it’s pretty hardcore what’s going on right now.

It’s a part of snowboarding that maybe I’m not into right now, but I definitely respect that and all the dudes they are trying to go for it. Luckily the thing is that it’s just a one-day comp in February, and after than hopefully we’ll be back to normal life. But there are just three spots on the podium, and so many many good riders will be cut out from being on the covers of the main international newspapers and magazines: nobody remembers who got fourth at the Olympics [apart from us Italians: we remember it very well, when Giacomo Kratter got that much debated 4th place at Salt Lake City 2002…]. So I don't really know if all this madness is worth that price of stress and time. 

All my homies are really deep into it right now, but I think that when this is gonna be over they will not compete for three years! I think you can stand that pressure for just a short period of time.

I just hope that Sochi will build a good set up and that’s going to be good for snowboarding: I hope that they will present our sport the right way, as it always should be.

Straight and simple: who’s going to be on the halfpipe’s and slopestyle’s podiums?

Marko: Haha, holy shit! That’s hard. In halfpipe I’d say Shaun is gonna win that one again. He can definitely do a triple in pipe, but I don’t think he’ll be able to pull it off at the Olympics though. I’d say Scotty Lago in third and Ayumu Hirano in second. About the slopestyle’s podium, oh well, that’s even more difficult to say because that discipline is highly unpredictable as way too many good riders will be competing in Sochi. I’d say Staale Sandbech first, Mark McMorris second and Peetu Piiroinen third.

Peetu always seems to be out of the game, and then he always pull it off with the last run. I don’t think that people even have a clue about how talented Peetu is at snowboarding. He is one of the few people who can actually grab a medal in both halfpipe and slopestyle.

Staale’s riding skills are unreal too. As well as all the other Norwegians on that dream team they have right now. Those guys are killing it right now because they are just a bunch of friends who always ride together enjoying the good times. They push each other all the time, and they are just so many… and the youngest guys definitely have some big names they can look up to, like Mikkel Bang and Torstein Horgmo. That’s the secret of why the Norwegians are killing it right now.

About your family situation. Enzo Ferrari, the godfather from Maranello, didn’t like his drivers to be fathers: he used to say that at every single child his drivers had, their speed would have decreased by 10km/h. Since your kid is almost one year old now, have you noticed some changes in your riding?

Marko: Haha, no… I don’t think so… I just noticed other changes in me. Having a kid really opened my eyes to what's important in my life. Before having a child, you have all this time and freedom… then you suddenly don’t have so much free time to spend anywhere else because you always want to stay with him as long as you can and to spend time with your family.

So you just filter all that bullshit from your “previous” life, and you just do what you actually love to do. It’s so sick I really re-discovered how much I appreciate snowboarding!

And I don’t think that having a son made me step off the gas. I’ve always been trying to be safe when I ride, as any person should be no matter sons or daughters. I really love to do snowboarding as much as I can, and my family situation is so awesome right now that I’ll be trying to ride as long as I can.

© Domen Bizjak / Red Bull Content Pool

Back to the Grilosodes: what’s next for this upcoming season?

Marko: This season we planned to go on some really cool trips for the episodes and we’ll try to go ride powder more. And we’ll go to some invitational contests and events. The focus still will be on snowboarding every day and having fun with your homies. And hopefully we’re going to have a pretty cool season again.

Last one. What’s the your secret about being so consistent with sponsorships? You’ve been with Red Bull for 13 years now, and with Burton for 16 years. Nowadays this is not the most common thing. It’s only you, Eero and other few names.

Marko: First of all you need to find the right sponsors. You also need to be a bit lucky because you'd better start off with the best sponsors in the game. But then I also think that it’s actually up to you to keep yourself motivated and to work hard to get them stoked on what you’re doing.

It’s like a family: you really need to build up a good relationship between you as a professional athlete and your sponsors backing you up.

Some riders are changing sponsors too many times, and I don’t know if it’s a matter of being unlucky or just not good at finding the right balance, but with my sponsors I’ve always felt blessed.

When I was 14 years old, I came from Slovenia and I had nothing. Nothing. But I worked hard and earned the respect of my sponsors.

I earned it first, and deserved it then. It’s all about loving what you do in your life, snowboarding, and have a good family relationship with all the people you work with and then your sponsors will always have your back and treat you good. That is the key.