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Martino Cattaneo – Simple tricks in sketchy situations

FUCK TOM CRUISE / THAT FOOL BEING STUPID ENOUGH TO TRY AND PLAY THE LAST SAMURAI / FIRST OF AIN’T NO WHITE PERSON A SAMURAI / SECOND ALL IF WE DID HAVE A LAST SAMURAI, IT WOULD BE MARTINO / THE MOTHERFUCKER WILL SNEAK OUT OF THE SHADOWS, CREEP INTO SPOTS / THAT NO NORMAL UNTRAINED HUMAN WOULD EVEN THINK POSSIBLE / HE’S LIKE A SAMURAI NINJA SPIDER-MAN / LOOK AT HIM IN THESE PHOTOS / BOUNCING FROM WALLS TO WALLS / SLICING GRAVITY IN TWO PIECES / THIS KID USES WEED TO REALLY GET HIGH / UNMISTAKEDLY UNMISTAKEABLE, HE IS A HEXAGON RUBIK’S / THE APPROACH AND IMAGINATION OF THIS KID / IS JUST PLAIN GENIUS / HE IS JUST AS LOVELY IN REAL LIFE, AN ABSOLUTE PLEASURE OF A FELLA / TRY TO KEEP YOUR EYE CLOSE ON THIS MARTA OF MARTINO

- Dustin Dollin

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You’re from Lugano, how is it to live and skate there?

We have a skatepark with a bowl, it’s not the best, but there are some things to skate. We are also quite lucky with the weather. During summertime, there might be some little events. A lot of people who work or study in the cities come back and we hit the streets and try to get some stuff. We have a lot of hills actually.

At some point, you lived in Hamburg for a bit. How come?

Six or seven years ago, I took two months off my job and went to do it. It was the end of winter, but I was lucky with the weather – Flora bowl and Wilhelmsburg. I was studying German and taking lessons in the morning, but I ended up just skating.

Martino Portrait Solo Print 9667c Maag

Photo: Alan Maag

You’ve had a lot of different jobs in your life already. What are you doing now?

At the moment, I’m just skating and chilling because I have a wound on my elbow. The swellbow sack got opened up and it’s really slow healing. I usually work for the civil service during wintertime for a couple of months. It’s in a retirement house. Last year, I was in the kitchen. You have to do it for one and a half years, but you can split it up. I’m going to do some more next winter and then that will be it. Before I was working at my uncle’s for a couple of years. He has a beverage service furnishing company, they do bars and restaurants.

So do you get free drinks in all the bars now?

You don’t get any free stuff after you finish working for them. [laughs] My Dad did it for twenty-five plus years. He knows most of the owners in Lugano. When I was a kid, he would say, “You were out skating in the city today, you were here and there.” I’d wonder how he knew where I’d been. “I know a lot of people,” he would say.

"If I see a spot once, I have to come back just to see it again, maybe it will look different"

I read that you wanted to become a silviculturist.

I wanted to do it as my civil service, to see if it is something I would like as a job. They work from spring to fall. You are outside in the forest. I’d rather be there than in an office. I worked as a gardener when I was younger and liked it, but like any job, after some time I got over it. You need to find something you’d do anyway.

How do you make decisions about what to do – gut feeling?

I get interested in stuff, so I try it out and see how it feels. I don’t really jump straight into things. It’s the same as in skateboarding. If I see a spot once, I have to come back just to see it again, maybe it will look different. The approach can be very step-by-step sometimes.

You skate a lot of transition, but in the interview, there’s more street stuff. Why is that?

I have been skating a lot of street lately. It is about who I skate with and what’s out there to skate. I like something challenging. I like narrow curbs to ride. I really like basic stuff. Ollie is my favourite trick. Simple tricks in a sketchy situation.

You’re also good at manuals and you combine them with transition skating. How did you come up with that idea?

I injured my foot and had to get surgery two years ago. While I was doing physiotherapy, I decided I could do manuals going slow. Then a couple of months later, I was skating transition again and it was tough on my foot. I realized I could skate transition without doing airs and impact and do the same manual stuff there.

Martino

Jump on 50-50 drop to manual | Seq: Davy van Laere

How is it to skate a competition like the Park Series?

It’s not so different to other comps, but the practice is pretty gnarly. In Paris, it had been a while since I’d rode a contest. I wasn’t really in the mindset, it was hard to put together a run and get into it. Back in the days, there used to be a lot of comps around Europe. Lately, even if there was a contest, I’m not sure if I would go. The approach is very intense. If I want to go to a competition, it is because my friends are going. Every time I have gone wanting to do well, it doesn’t work like that. I have to not think about it and have fun.

You’re riding for Madness. Can you tell me a bit about the company and how you got on?

Sam Beckett asked me if I wanted some boards and to ride for them. I was hyped. There are some guys I look up to on the team, and I wasn’t getting boards from anyone. It’s a Dwindle company. Bill Weiss and Bod Boyle put together the team and they wanted to support some transition and vert skaters. They started almost two years ago. I’ve been on a trip with them in the summer.

Before Madness, you skated for Witchcraft and Warriors. How was the Warriors time?

It was a fun time. It was the crew from Lugano. We did boards and stuff and filmed a video. I was fourteen when I started traveling with them. We would go to competitions in Italy and to Belgium once a year. Those were my first crazy parties. We were sleeping at the highway gas stations in sleeping bags. There was a bed in the van for three people, and the rest of us would sleep in the grass. Driving from Switzerland to Italy to France and then ending up in Belgium.

I feel like street skaters can just go to one city and have spots there for days, but on a trip with transition skaters, you have to move from city to city.

If you are going to skate transition, you go to skateparks. In a lot of places, you have skateparks which aren’t far from each other, like on our Israel trip. They have a lot of really good parks. That was around October – with Rune Glifberg, Sam Beckett, Tom Schaar, Chris Gregson.

Martino Cattaneo Fakie Ollie Fr Nosegrind Adobe RGB 8417 2c Davy van Laere

Fakie ollie frontside nosegrind | Photo: Davy van Laere

How is it to skate with guys like that?

It’s fun and challenging. They are quite inspiring. I want to see them do airs. I want to see a lot of that.

Let’s talk about stuff other than skateboarding. You lead a very healthy and aware life. You’re vegan, for example.

I pretty much just eat plants now. I don’t want to support any of the meat or dairy industry. It got me into cooking. I don’t drink sodas or stuff like that. The thing that made the most difference was cutting out dairy. I was allergic to pollen and had asthma, and cutting dairy helped me with that – but I don’t want to go too crazy. Sometimes I eat some vegan junk food. I really like cooking and simple food. I don’t like sugar anymore either. Iced tea doesn’t feel like liquid, it feels thick in my mouth. I read the ingredients of most of what I buy. Even bread, which is meant to have three or four ingredients, has a list of ingredients. I don’t buy anything that I don’t need. I have a leather belt, but I have had it for ten years maybe. I got it at a second-hand shop for free, but if I bought a belt now, it wouldn’t be leather. A lot of clothes and shoes are made using animal products. This might be something I’ll look into in the future. You have to look up a lot of things if you are dedicated to veganism. Some wines and beers might not be vegan, because they might filter it with some animal product.

You also have a big interest in nature. What do you find there?

There are a lot of plants that have beneficial qualities. Plants are food for me. I have always tried to learn things about food, how to grow it, but I live in a flat and don’t have space to grow. I would like to learn to grow stuff some day. I really like chestnuts. We also have good mushrooms around here.

Also psychedelic ones?

I don’t have any knowledge about the psychedelic mushrooms. [laughs]

MARTINO CATTANEO OLLIE UP BOARD YANK IN FINALc Ponsero

Olie up yank in | Photo: Fabien Ponsero

Is it true that you like to walk barefoot a lot and even train your toes to get stronger, so you have a better board feeling?

I had a foot injury and there are so many little bones and muscles in the foot. It was a tricky recovery. The muscles in your feet are like the ones in your hand. You barely notice them and you can’t really train them while wearing shoes. I did toe exercises, and now I have a flat bar and I balance on it. It spreads your toes out and you activate all of the muscles in your feet. The stronger your feet are, the better you skate. My balance since then has been different. We are supposed to use our feet bare. I like skating barefoot a bit.

I just saw Grosso’s Loveletters where they’re mentioning that Steve Schneer was the king of barefoot skating.

Steve Schneer was pretty much insane at skating barefoot – naked and barefoot Ho-Ho plants.

"My grandmother said that the lady told her there were some demons in me"

I thought you might know him cause you also dig a lot of old videos, right?

I’m a fan of footage from those older years. Skating was so different and there’s a lot of stuff you don’t really see now. My favorite era would be early 2000s, that’s when I started skating. It was the first impression I had of skateboarding. At the time, skateboarding evolved a lot from the ‘90s to early ‘00s. I wish there were backyard ramps now. It would be sick if there was a big vert scene.

I read somewhere that your favorite parts are from Mike Frazier, Lee Yankou, and Seimi Miyahara. Especially that you chose Seimi surprised me.

He put out a part a few years ago and there was a lot of stuff you’re not supposed to do. Lipsliding a ledge and popping out a big kickflip over a bar, I had not seen anything like that before. I like everything pretty much. Switch flips and things I can’t do, but it’s fun to watch that. There is so much stuff in skateboarding now.

MARTINO CATTANEO SLAPPY 5050 BS BIGSPIN IN FINALc Ponsero

Slappy 50-50 backside bigspin into bank | Photo: Fabien Ponsero

I feel like you can see your interest in different kinds of skating in your own skating. To finish this interview, I heard a crazy story about you breaking your leg some years ago, where a bone went out of your leg and back in and then a healer helped you. What was happening there?

That’s two different stories. I twisted my ankle really bad on a Bulgaria trip. The bone popped out and back in. It was dislocated and gave me a cut. They put five stitches in. That was pretty gnarly because I didn’t get any antibiotics when I was in Bulgaria. So by the time I got back to Switzerland for surgery, I had an infection. The other one with the medium was when I cold burnt my fingers and it was so insanely painful. The nerves in your fingers are very sensitive. I was in so much pain for the first days, I couldn’t close the zip of my hoodie, I couldn’t touch anything. A few days passed. I called my grandmother and she told me there are some people who take away pain from burns. In French, it’s called “the secret”. It’s some sort of spiritual thing. It didn’t really seem like a treat, but I tried it and it helped with the pain. I don’t know if it was that or the normal healing process, but there was barely any pain the next day.

What treatment was it?

I had to call a woman on the phone and she asked me a few questions. I don’t really know what it was, but they still do this spiritual pain medicine in the French part of Switzerland. In the end, my grandmother said that the lady told her there were some demons in me. It was funny to hear that from my grandmother.

Martino Tree Bash Nollie To Fakie Winterthurc Clavadetscher

Tree bash to fakie | Photo: Roy Clavadetscher

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