PHOTOGRAPHY BY FELIPE ZAMBARDINO
There has been a noticeable rise of inline skating talent from South America within the last few years and one of the brightest stars to emerge is Brazil’s Rafael Gonçalves. Raf has acquired a massive social media following all due to his steady posting of innovative technical switchups, imaginative trick selection and effortless style. When we discussed who we wanted to highlight this year, Rafael was at the very top of my list. If there ever is an individual that deserves further recognition within our industry because of their incredible work ethic, personal drive and charisma, it is certainly Raf. So listen to what he had to say about his skating roots and what he has in store for the future.
Thank you Rafael for taking the time to speak with us! To start things off, can you give us a little background information about where you are from and what got you started into skating initially?
First of all, thanks you very much for the opportunity, I am very happy to be here telling a little bit of my history in rollerblading. I started rollerblading around the year (2005) right here, where I am currently living in Barueri- São Paulo Brazil. I started with my childhood friends, we always used to get together to do some activity whatever it is lol.
On a certain day a friend of mine had won a pair of skates in a sticker album. With that he always shared his skates between us. Over time he left his skates with me. After that I started getting more and more into skating and it didn’t take long for me to go to a skate park around here. When I officially started to skate around here I had the opportunity to meet and grow up with great skaters, who were already professionals at the time. With that it wasn’t so complicated to develop my skating around here. I have always had excellent people on my side to help me. I usually say that I was a very lucky person to have grown up here.
Was there a very large skating scene in Brazil when you first started?
Yes, absolutely! In the year I started skating there were a lot of people skating around here, it was a great period. There were a lot of people skating. It was really cool.
When you first started skating, who were the skaters that influenced you?
I started skating at a very young age, my first contact with skates was nine years old. Throughout all these years many people have influenced me in some way. It’s so difficult for me to say names, because so many people have helped me in some way.
I know you are back from being on the injured list for a little bit. Can you explain what you were doing that led to you getting hurt?
Yes! I had an ankle sprain last month, it left me a while without skating. That was terrible! It happened here in São Paulo, I was in a super fun session here, when suddenly I fell, falling onto my foot. At first, I thought I thought it was broken, but it was just a sprain. Saved!
Were you doing any specific workouts or stretches to rehabilitate it?
Yes, I did a lot of physical therapy around here. I am already 100% recovered now. I am ready for new adventures!
You have been one of the most notable riders for Razors in South America but you recently decided to step down from the team. Can you explain what led you to that decision?
I spent an excellent three years skating for Razors skates, around here. But earlier this year I decided to follow new challenges here as a personal choice. I still have an excellent relationship with Sunshine. I believe that we will continue to work together.
Your skating is extremely technical and progressive. Which skaters have influenced your personal style and helped your progression?
Thank you for the compliments, bud! I’m so happy that you like my skating style. Well as I have said in a previous response, over the years I have been influenced by many people over here. In Brazil there are excellent skaters I have always had great references to follow including Fabio Enes, Felipe Zambardino, Daciel Jesus, Fabiola da Silva, Kalleo Hipolito. They are some of the most well-known figures around here. They have always been a mirror for many people it was no different for me!
The skating scene in South America seems to be stronger than it ever has been. What do you think has been the cause for the sudden rise in blading’s popularity down there?
Yes, there really are a lot of people on skates around here, not only aggressive inline but skates in general. It is fashionable to skate around here! I believe that this is the result of hard work, that great professionals have been doing here. With that new skaters are appearing here, also people who skated before are getting excited again. This is really cool to witness.
Your blading skills are undeniably incredible but I rarely see you participate in competitions. Do you prefer to film skating sections as opposed to competing against others?
Yes, dude! Nowadays I’m not going to competitions anymore. But I spent a lot of time competing here in Brazil. To get to a professional category here, I remember that I spent six, seven years competing in the amateur category. This was one of the best phases of my life, where I was really able to develop my skating… the dream of reaching a professional category always motivated me. Nowadays I have other goals but I always go to some competition when I can!
Do you have any plans for skating related trips in 2020?
I would like to visit all of Brazil this year, but I’m still thinking of how can I do this. I think about a return to Barcelona. I think this will be the most likely.
Besides skating often, what else do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time I study languages, geography and politics. I like that! It is a passion that I have to study languages, there is no reason why exactly. This passion for languages matured during the tours I did in my life. It is really cool! I can communicate in Portuguese , Spanish, and a little English. I can understand some others more.
That is awesome! Have you ever thought about making geography or topography a profession?
That would require a lot of calculations and I am bad at that. (Laughs) Geography is another parallel passion that I have, but I’m still very young, I have a lot to learn in this life. I don’t know how to tell you exactly what career I’m going to follow now since things tend to change very quickly bud, I live one day at a time ! So I’m going on with life here I am currently very happy here in Brazil with my family. I have some plans back to record some edits in the future as soon as everything is under control again. I’m excited for this to happen as soon as possible.
We really appreciate you taking the time to speak with us. Do you have any friends or family that you would like to thank for their support?
Yes, first I would like to thank you Kevin for the opportunity. Also I would like to thank Felipe Zambardino, Kaia Malaghini, for helping me make the material for this interview. My family for believing in me always. Also to my sponsors who support me Go Roller, Ground Control Frames, Tru Apparel, Fast Foot, Latino Underground and everyone who is reading this!
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