Posts Tagged ‘Roller Horror’

Meet Sabatino Aracu, Boss Of All Skateboarding Bosses

March 3, 2019

Within the warehouses clapped together in that storied, swampy section of eastern Tampa, none appeared more powerful on this Tampa Pro weekend than sportpantsed ghetto birder Aurelien Giraud, a young French Plan B rider and Red Bull sipper of some description, positively soaring over would-be competitors en route to an obvious Best Trick crown and sceptre. Aurelien ‘Girbaud’ Giraud only is beginning to pen his own tale, to be told in ultra 4K, homie phone vids and promotional materials for his sponsors; it shall be cradled in digital video and still imagery and the occasional Q&A text companion.

Yet talents like Aurelien Giraud, immense and highflying as they may be, come and go. For nigh 20 years the Tampa contest and its drainage-ditch accoutrements have been governed by SPoT impresario Brian Shaefer. Since 2015, SPoT’s career-making Tampa events have shifted under the contesturial auspices of Street League Skateboarding, managed by former extreme sporting FuelTV media figure CJ Olivares. Street League itself since last year has been in thrall to World Skate, a global governing body created through the IOC-officiated shotgun marriage of the International Roller Sports Federation and the International Skateboarding Federation, where gymnastics camping mogul Gary Ream oversees skateboarding content. Above him — holding in his hands the global fate of skateboarding — sits, in a worldly Italian’s repose, Sabatino Aracua, CEO of World Skate.

64-year-old Sabatino Aracu rose to rollersports power thanks to a canny combo of political pragmatism and raw wit. In 2004, the former rollerskating athlete and Italian lawmaker saw his moment: the International Roller Sports Federation, entering its eighth decade and shut out of recognition as an Olympic sport, faced a schism over recognizing the rollerbladers of Spain’s Catalonia province as a separate nation. Sabatino Aracu vociferously argued against recognizing the Catalans, warning such a bold maneuver could torpedo rollersporting’s Olympic dreams. His predecessor stepped down over the debate, and Sabatino Aracu ascended to his first of four terms as the organization’s president; in his 2017 election, none opposed him.

Another brass ring was furiously rollerskated after and grabbed in the late 1990s, when skateboarding, roller sports’ comparatively scrappy stepchild which remained unrefined through choreographed dance routines, had drawn the Olympic Argus’ wandering eye. Here, the FIRS flexed its decades of familiarity with Olympic rules, asserting itself the official governing body of skateboarding. Sabatino Aracu, in a 2016 interview with ‘I, Skateboard’ dance abstractionist Dave Carnie, presents himself as a uniter of multi-wheeled disciplines, forging a kind of bureaucratic harmony wherein skateboarding will provide a camera-ready vehicle for rollersports’ final triumph over the Olympic cold shoulder — pushing, together, past provincial turf battles and fun-poking novelty t-shirts (on the skateboarders’ side at least):

“Concerning the relationship between skateboarders and rollerbladers,” President Aracu replied, “I honestly do not understand, and I do not see a reason for such a riff: Everyone has its own culture and its own uniqueness. As multidisciplinary International Federation, for years we have managed different disciplines without disagreements simply because we guarantee and respect culture, autonomy, and individuality of each discipline. The role of a manager transcends the specific technical skills inside the international federations.”

As skateboarding preps for its global internet streaming debut next year, Sabatino Aracu remains singular as its planetary controlling persona. His steely eyes and shining pate call to mind the futuristic empire-building of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, the intergalactic masculinity of Captain Jean Luc Picard, the cerebral superpowers of Professor Charles Xavier. As a onetime competitive rollerskater he is intimately familiar with speeds that would make even the most iron-willed GX1000er drag his foot. He doubtless knows bearing-greasing secrets long ago handed down by the gods of yore and, when the chips are down, can be counted upon to don chainmail, hoist a helberd and raise aloud the battle cry in the face of overwhelming odds and an army of the living dead.

Could Sabatino Aracu’s yearslong rule and erudite quotations argue for or against presidential term limits for World Skate? Could enforced, compulsory participation in choreographed skate routines such as this help skateboarding heal the divisions and fragmentation wrought by the Instagram age? Are competitive speed rollerbladers and rollerdancing pros distraught at the prospect of their comparatively underground subcultures being coopted by skateboarding’s mainstream-and-malls set for an Olympic gold grab?