Candidates for the IDF Board Tell AllNote: Zak Maytum, Max Capps, and Tamara Prader were unable to provide their answers The International Downhill Federation (IDF) is the governing body for the World Cup Tour in downhill skateboard and luge racing. To a skateboard or luge racer, winning the World Tour is the highest achievement one can reach. The IDF Board Members are the most influential people to this tour. They have the ability to grow participation, funding, and events. On a global level, their work can make or break the experience of skateboard and luge racers, as well as the experience of their fans. Here’s where you come in; The IDF Board Member elections are upon us! There are 13* candidates running for 7 positions on the board, and elections are this weekend (Friday, Jan.13 – Sunday, Jan.15). All IDF members are eligible to vote through internationaldownhillfederation.com. Please actively participate in the future of skateboard and luge racing by voting for the most qualified candidates. We’ve made it easy for you by asking each candidate to share their platforms on some of the most telling topics. Below are our questions and their responses. MEMBERS: Vote here now! What are your top accomplishments that qualify you for the IDF Board? Maga McWhinnie: Current IDF Board Member and one of only two candidates with previous experience on the IDF Board.
- Learning to solo run an IDF WQS event and work the Timing System at Laguna Downhill. This is extremely important as no other IDF Board candidate has experience working the Timing System.
- Helped with communication and organization of South America and Asia IDF events (including NZ and Australia). Focus on broadcasting up-to-date race info at these events to help grow our sports, media, and sponsorships.
- Focused on creating media exposure and networking for the female racing community that didn’t previously exist. Women should be equally promoted and recognized because women are inspired by more women, and IDF needs to support this. Would also love to work in projects that financially supported skilled riders from poor countries.
- Contributed to the creation of the ‘Masters’ Category in IDF racing, which is a huge achievement that needed to happen.
Carl Sambrano: Earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Commerce with a major in Marketing and Advertising. Creator of Luzon Skateboard Racing; includes 18 races in two years with a minimum of four divisions per race. Organized the first IDF race to be held in the Philippines; Karena Sa Lumban, 2016 WQS. Travis Davenport: Organized the 2014 Push Culture Cup by combining 7 US races into one points’ series tour. Co-organized a few of the PC Cup races from the ground up. Produced Push Culture News for several years and developed relationships with most NorAm event organizers; also has experience working and participating in many NorAm races. Marco Vidales: Worked with IDF the past three years as an IDF representative in several races and attended board meetings. World Cup organizer, Festival de la Bajada. Created the Colombian Longboarding Cup with five Colombian races in a year. Has a Business Management degree and a Master’s in Risk Management. Max Vickers: Interned for IDF in 2016; attending weekly meetings and gaining understanding of the organization and managing the World Cup circuit. Raced IDF in eight different countries; gaining understanding of what comprises a well run event both for the racer and organizer. Currently Studying Entrepreneurship and Corporate Innovation with a co-major in Technology Management; gaining understanding of how to strategically grow an organization and utilize it’s technology. Billy Meiners: Downhill racer for over 10 years. Organized two sanctioned skateboard events spanning seven years. Currently working in the longboard industry for Landyachtz longboards. Mike Girard: Founded, organized, and funded Central Mass Skate Festival for seven years; included 4 venues, 400 competitors, 20 sponsors, and 35 staff members in 2017. Founded and organized the Burke Mountain Freeride; 100% funded through registration and crowdfunding, where riders safely ran 37 runs in two days on one of the most challenging tracks. Only 2017 NorAm IDF World Cup event organizer, with the 2017 Killington WC; previously spent multiple years co-producing Killington Downhill Throwdown. Federico Barboni: Federazione Italiana Sport Rotellisti (FISR) Italian Championship Coordinator and National Representative for Downhill Skateboarding since 2012. Race organizer since 2007; organized Verdicchio WQS, Poggio-Q, and Marche on Speed. Streetluger since 2000, downhill skateboarder since 2007, 2012 Italian Downhill Skateboard Champion. Matheus Felicio: Race organizer for seven years; Organized Mega Grand Prix WC spanning four years. Four years experience running businesses in the skateboard industry. Has a large team of employees, consultants, mentors, and partners who will be advising and helping if elected to the IDF Board. Rachel Bruskoff: Downhill Skateboard racer for three years; earning a top ranking the past two years. Gained a giant network of contacts from all over the globe; that network will forever expand with my travels, stoke, and perseverance. Gained insight on the many ways events have been run and what works and what needs improvement through travels. What will you do to grow IDF racer participation in both in open and subcategories: Travis Davenport: Well that’s a catch 22 because what we need is outside industry sponsorships. In order to get that, we need big numbers of spectators, participants, and following; and in order to get that, we need big outside industry sponsorships. At the moment, and for the most part, the burden of financing events falls on the racers via entry fees. The main barrier for IDF participation is money for travel, gear, and entry fees. The best thing that could be done to increase participation is to alleviate this through gaining corporate sponsorships. It’s a slow process, but we are honestly still a very young sport and an even younger organization – but we’re growing, and we have strong leadership and will get there. I believe we will figure this out and have generation after generation of new downhill racers with access to safe, closed-road races. Marco Vidales:
- Dividing riders in Professional Class and Amateur Class. We had this experience in Colombia when we divided the riders in Professional and Amateur Class: many riders don’t have the expertise to level up to professional riders and are demotivated by this because their advancement in the race is practically null. Professional riders will race against true competitors and the risk if getting taken out by a rider without the best skills will be reduced.
- Freeriding in events is also a way, not everyone wants to compete, some people just want to skate and we must provide that too.
Max Vickers: I believe there are two primary parts to growing the racer participation for IDF sanctioned events. Having better promotion of the events across our channels and working with organizers to better the promotion across their own networks are both important in spreading the word on these events and increasing attendance. Billy Meiners: Accessibility (I think) is the main thing to focus on if we want to keep participation high. There is a pretty awesome World Tour lined up for this year, but many people can’t afford to travel to all those destinations. Having smaller race circuits (North America, Europe, Asia, etc…) will give people more motivation to travel within their region to participate in events. I think it’d be good to focus on developing those smaller circuits to help bolster the World Tour. Mike Girard: I believe the key to growing participation is to offer a higher quality, better value event. For a few years, organizers have charged excessively high entry fees while offering little additional value to their cookie-cutter formats at events that were often run slowly, with insufficient staff, and roughshod organization. I think the IDF is in a position to encourage more accessible entry fees with more robust, enjoyable, tightly- and safely-organized events that leave all racers satisfied. Although they are not “organizers,” the IDF can predicate certain expectations from every World Cup event. This would also involve a commitment to running reliable timing equipment. Over 7 years running and growing Central Mass Skate Festival, I’ve learned a lot of methods and networks to reach out to as many people as possible, all ages, talent levels, and genders, and I have managed to pull attendees from 25 different U.S. states, 4 different Canadian provinces and countries around the world. I would use these same marketing skills to reach as many potential racers as possible. Federico Barboni: I would like the races to become more fair for the different kinds of riders that attend IDF events; as we still don’t have proper structure in each nation that could filter the top athletes by national leagues. The problem of having an “all-together-solution” includes two sides:1. Pro riders2. Riders not completely or not at all supported by sponsorsFrom this scenario comes the idea of grouping the riders by rankings to make the competition more fair throughout the different levels. The growth of a proper structure on each nation would do this grouping even before the race, but as we still are not organized enough in each nation it’s nearly impossible to make it happen right now. Adding to this topic, I see that there’s still a lot of work to do in each nation for the recognition of downhill skateboarding, and I hope that other people around (old) like me will “wake up,” and understand that there’s the need of doing something on their own nation too grow the scene; Just like someone did in the past to let us grow worldwide. It’s a “give something back” in which I always trust. Matheus Felicio: Every business, profit or nonprofit, has to be aligned with the customer; in our case the riders. One of my main goals is to bring the riders closer to IDF through communication. I want to talk to each and every one of them and get to know their opinion about everything. When the customer is heard, he will be much more involved with the organization. After that’s done I’ll get all their answers organized and check what is relevant. Once that work is done, IDF will have riders that really stand for the organization. That way, the number of riders in our rankings will grow organically. Rachel Bruskoff: I feel strongly that the IDF needs to step up their reach with media and sponsors. We need to expand to a more vast audience and encourage them to come out to events. We can do this through videos, live feeds, social media, and word of mouth. There is also a chance to grow participation by offering more options for riding; including freerides and clinics. These kinds of events can become apart of the scene to help get newer people on the hills and feeling confident to race down them. Maga McWhinnie: That would happen with more exposure from events (live broadcast, constant media), making events with no issues (organization, safety, and technical), better prices and more recognition to racers who are putting their lives on the line for these races, and that could only happen with bigger sponsors. Skateboard companies are not enough. To chase bigger sponsorships, you need to reach bigger masses. Racing needs to develop into a more exciting spectator sport; not just one day or a half day of excitement for spectators online and on-site. It needs to be at least two… so, how do we create that? Something needs to evolve in our old racing system…. Maybe a different format? pro/amateur categories? Also, we need to keep on focusing on the Continental circuits; the best timing, the best events, the best order, searching for more venues and events, and hopefully reaching a point where each continental champion can also receive a prize and/or more recognition. Carl Sambrano: One of the hype that surrounds a race, both for riders and supporters, is knowing who will be racing. With the current scenario, majority of the races have riders registering during the event. Some form of incentive should be given to those registering before a given date. This will be the additional hype that will move riders to register early. It also helps the organizers have a good idea of the number of riders. Also for registration rates, a group registration of five racers should be given an incentive. What will you do to grow IDF public awareness and increase the number of race spectators? Mike Girard: I would take advantage of my social media and general marketing experience to expand the IDF’s voice and maximize the audience of any IDF-sanctioned event. As a 6-year Ambassador for Loaded Boards & Orangatang Wheels, I have substantial experience producing and sharing media to increase public awareness; I think the IDF would benefit from a dedicated social media campaign. This would include a grassroots strategy for local outreach (to community centers, local businesses, universities, etc.) to increase spectatorship. Billy Meiners: There’s numerous ways to accomplish this and my guess is that the current IDF board is probably brainstorming a few different ideas. I’d be curious to see what they are working on. Media is a pretty easy way to increase public awareness. If the IDF had a plan of action for creating/promoting consistently throughout the year, then I think that would help the public awareness a lot. For increasing the number of spectators, this goes back to accessibility. If people have to drive three hours into the mountains to watch a race, then you can’t expect a lot of people showing up to watch the event. Frederico Barbezio: Since we have different kinds of spectators, we have to market to both the people at the event and on the internet. Because we live in a “social media” age, with a focus on online spectators, there’s many scenarios that can increase viewership. Obviously, the tools are out there and need to be both used, and used properly, but I’m sure some surprises will come out in the next few years with the new team. It’s one of the goals on the wish list. Concerning awareness, I think IDF did a good job in being recognized as the body that sanctions gravity games worldwide, and I hope we will be able to keep and spread more of this status every day. Matheus Felicio: I will continue to work with Mega Grand Prix, aiming for the main television network in Brazil; We made some pretty good advances in 2015 and 2016… Hopefully this year we’ll have many thousands of people watching our race. Rachel Bruskoff: One of my goals is to extend the reach of our exposure. We need to publicize more to local communities where races are being held. We need to get the support of the local communities as well. Some of the largest turnouts I have seen at events, were in the smallest towns, but the event was locally advertised and became an event the locals could not miss. We need to extend our events to more than just skaters. Some places in the world this is easier than others, but I think we need to look into the neighboring communities to help boost the events and spread the word. Also through social media; more race videos, more rider videos, more sharing of media! The more something is out there, the more people have the chance to see it. Maga McWhinnie: See my answer to question number two Carl Sambrano: We should include an IDF guide on how to create hype before a race like placing posters in local establishments, as well as public spaces or community boards. We should also include a letter from the IDF addressed to the local media endorsing the WQS or WC. Once we get new people as spectators, we should service them with stoke. I strongly feel we need a finish line announcer who will let spectators know what’s going on and create hype for the race heats all the way to the finals. It would also be beneficial to spectators if spectator area is suitable for a day of racing and is safe; Maintain hype maximizing potential of the IDF website. Travis Davenport: At all the races I have been a part of, the main thing that can help create an audience is to congregate them in one place. This naturally happens at each hill as the weekends progress. Having foresight to pick that location and install grandstands is key; it keeps people off hay, gives a sense of community, and creates better points of view. You may also think that you need streams and big screens; I’ve produced live streams with multiple camera crews and big screens on courses and while these do obviously do the most for spectator’s experience, and an at home audience, they are so expensive that they are not an option for the most part; certainly not if the event is financed strictly by entree fees. However, That is the goal; Once we get out of that catch 22 I’ve mentioned. For now it’s important to have flyers up in local markets and schools and civic places to simply spread the word. Most people in a town don’t even know that a race is happening. So canvasing is important and simply takes weeks of advanced planning, a printer, and boots on the ground. I’ve always been surprised at how enthusiastic parents of young kids are to come spectate, not involved in racing at all, just excited to have something new in town to take their kids to on the weekend. That demographic is key. We are not going to increase participation by preaching to the choir, so to speak, we need the people who don’t know us, the citizens of the communities that don’t follow our sport. Our best spectator at this point is the first time spectator! Marco Vidales: IDF is a huge content generator and we have only been generating content through the IDF representatives, like me, that travel and report on each race – in a very personal manner with no professional visual support, basically just asking local photographers to share their photos with us, with only giving credit for the photo as a retribution. A whole plan is being actually set up to do this professionally by one person with a clear goal in mind, to grow our awareness and increase or number of riders and spectators. Max Vickers: Through my current volunteer work with the IDF, I have been primarily focusing on establishing a communication plan and working with outside contributors that have knowledgeable communication backgrounds to better define this. Currently, we have a well established strategic plan that will help promote the IDF through various types of networks and media sharing. In addition, we plan to work with organizers to do local press releases with media sources in their area, prior to events, in order to grow downhill skating profile in those areas and hopefully draw more of the public to spectating races when suitable. What will you do to increase the value of IDF and help gain sponsors for IDF races?
Billy Meiners: Hard to say. Until we get participation and viewership up, I think it’ll be difficult to approach large companies (Red Bull, GoPro, etc…) for sponsorship. Best thing we can do is work within the industry and also help event organizers seek out local sponsors.
Matheus Felicio: My marketing team is already working on a project to gain global IDF sponsorships year round. Once we have it all organized and ready to present, I’ll knock from door to door in the multinationals companies and try to sell it. Meanwhile my team will be aiming for the skateboarding companies around the world. Right now we have people to support us in this matter in Brazil, Canada, USA, Austrália, Italy, France, Japan, and Colombia. Rachel Bruskoff: The goal is to think big and to go outside the general sport. We need to contact companies that can properly support the IDF and get more stoke for the communities, local and worldwide. We need to put out positivity and a good image so that anyone we contact will be nothing but excited to join forces. We need hype, and we can do this by spreading the word about what we do and about each event. This can create a backing that will get more sponsors on board and stoked to support us and continue to provide support. Marco Vidales: My job in Festival de la Bajada was mainly this, for example despite out efforts it was impossible for us to obtain sponsorship from the longboard industry and we had to go to mass consumption brands for support; every country will have its own particular challenges because they are different markets. I think this is a job for the event organizers and not the IDF, I think IDF’s only source of funds has to remain membership fees and race fees, they are the only ones that we have to be accountable to; anything else will compromise our independence and might give way to controversy, corruption and forced decisions like in other international federations like FIFA and FIA.
Maga McWhinnie: It’s not up to us to increase event sponsors, it’s up to the organizers to do it, but we can advise them on how to chase them. I would not just chase Skateboard companies; I would also chase other companies that can benefit from the location, crowd, or anything else related from the event. Enough media before, during, and after the events, creating ways to attract more spectators, and organizing all these with a lot of time ahead.
Max Vickers: Gaining event sponsors falls towards the organizers, as the organizers of the events are responsible for gaining the proper funding (often driven from sponsors) in order to support the event. However, I hope to focus on better promoting the event from when the event is announced, during the event, then after the event through the IDF’s social media platforms in order to better promote the events. This will better publicize the event and in turn hopefully allow the organizers to receive a better response from industry sponsors.
Carl Sambrano: I would discuss adding more spots for the sponsors with the board. A top 10 interview during qualifier is one spot, and an interview with the Champion is another. A weekly or twice a month online show will create additional spots as well as have a stage to do product highlights. The focus would be capitalizing on the wide reach the IDF has; our events happen in a lot of countries, but (at the same time) on the online platform we’ll remain worldwide.
Frederico Barbezio: I would focus on giving the public an image of a solid and populated structure of racer’s categories, with stable and remarkable competitions around the world. I think without it, IDF could hardly become very desirable for a long term relationship with sponsors. But I feel positive about, it’s just a matter of working more on it. Travis Davenport: We have to continue developing this package of racing, the concept or our sport, into an asset that a company values and wants as a vehicle for their advertising and community involvement. Skateboard brands do not need events for advertisement; there is very little return on investment there. If we expect to grow exponentially, we cannot expect it to happen through the checkbooks of our own hard good brands. It will take time and leadership, both of which we have plenty of, and there will be speed bumps. The last two years we have seen a lull all across the board, but these are just growing pains; we are learning, and our sport has a bright future! It is also my intention to use my company, Push Culture, in a way that will help us achieve the traction we need to grow. My experience building this brand has taught me a lot and aligns with the same goals we have as the IDF. A lifestyle brand growing out of our sport will be key in spreading the word and idea to the masses, generating more awareness, excitement, spectatorship and participation, which will create the numbers to attract something like, KIA, Trojan, Spy, Red Bull, a local bank branch, ski mountain, or grocery chain to sponsor our events, because to them our budgets are chump change. Mike Girard: I would leverage my substantial network within the action sports industry, from existing Central Mass Skate Festival sponsors to all of the brands and representatives that I have gotten to know as a snowboard sales rep. I would also be able to share the methods that I have used successfully to attain and retain sponsorship by providing high-value marketing to companies with a nose for the action sports demographic. In the event of a surplus, where would you allocate the extra funds: Rachel Bruskoff: I think the extra funds can be spread out in multiple ways. Of course, I think it should be brought down to a general and shared thought, over simply my own; as in a vote among the board and/ or within the members. I think funds can be utilized to make sure that event organizers host races up to high standards; safety, sponsorships, media, and proper administration. The funds can also be used to make sure that each event has at least 2 representatives from the IDF to oversee it and make sure that everything runs smoothly; the timing system works, the organization stays strong, and that media is covered well and in the most up-to-date timing. The funds could go towards making the media stronger, offering more coverage on social media outlets, as well as live feeds and making sure every event has coverage of some sort. Maga McWhinnie: More media for all IDF events and/or hiring someone dedicated to it with professional experience. If there was more, I would also invest it on improving/upgrading our hardware and software for our website and events: Timing system, cameras, web developers… If there was still more, I would search for one event to make The Event and use multiple resources to create a massive exposure around the world.. These are just my ideas. but I would debate and search for more ideas and ask the riders and the board to make the best decision. Carl Sambrano: Promotion seems to be the strongest contender – or is the beast that is most hungry. Portable speakers that are loud enough for the starting line gun, and satellite internet connection so the IDF can go live on social media on any given race day. Marco Vidales: The word of the people is law, this question was raised to the members and they decided it should be invested in marketing and communications and it is what has to be done.
Federico Barboni I think, like what happened last year, the inclusion of the members in this decision with a poll will help us understand everybody better, and where to allocate an eventual surplus, because the poll can give us great feedback from the season experiences of the racers.Where I would allocate it: I think it will depend first on the amount of the surplus itself, but I would definitely put it on something that could improve the experience of the riders at the competitions and the sport visibility. Billy Meiners: I think that it should go back to the race organizers to help fund future events. Without races, there’s no race circuit. Mike Girard: The aforementioned marketing and media initiatives would take a moderate budget to execute successfully and push to a broad audience. A surplus would help fund this type of marketing effort and promotion. I think a substantial budget surplus could also be spread to event organizers to help reduce entry fees, as well as providing a fair (but not excessive) season podium purse for the overall top performers. Matheus Felicio:
- Extra equipment for the IDF, so we have zero chance to get caught by a bad surprise in a race
- Training for the race organizers
- A better website
- Social programs
Max Vickers: With the IDF being a democratic organization that is run by its members, it is up to the membership base to vote on where the allocated funds should go. As stated, I hope to focus on the long-term growth of the IDF, and if at the end of the year we find that more support is needed towards event organizers, marketing, prize support, etc. It will be a collaboration between board members to come up with a few viable options, but members will also have the option of choosing their own vote.
Travis Davenport: Marketing for the IDF as a whole. As with any business, a surplus has to go back into building the brand. Unforeseen opportunities or setbacks should have a rainy day fund if needed, but we haven’t and won’t see any significant amount of surplus beyond what could be allocated to promotion of the organization itself. We can take out adds in local magazines or newspapers to raise awareness for a race that has great audience potential, and maybe financing media coverage at a race that has infrastructure to broadcast successfully. IDF is about more than individual races, but its backbone is those races. I would like to see some support of certain events when they pose exceptional opportunities for the pursuit of the goals we share as a whole. There are many ideas for where to spend money, and there will be disagreements, but I think if we have goals that see well past a single year, then the ideas of surplus isn’t quite so controversial because budgets aren’t just for single year operations – they have to be for the long term.