Q&A with Yann

 

Can you tell us more about your spell in the Mariani team from 2003 to 2005?

It’s been an incredible journey. Davide gave me a go at the world level when I was not performing on the international scene. The step up to Senior had been challenging for me after some decent junior years. I learned pretty much everything about international racing throughout my stay with the team, alongside extremely experienced skaters such as Stefano Galliazzo and Patrizio Triberio. The first year has been challenging, with a lot to discover and some misfortune. A big crash in Engadin, in which I broke both ankles, kept me on the sidelines for the remainder of the season. What could have been the end of the story was the very beginning. I had time to reshuffle my approach to skating in all ways, and the next two seasons proved to be way better. Not only did I managed to win multiple national titles against a super-strong field, but I also clinched two individual European championships,  a medal at Worlds, and I was finally a real asset to the team for marathon races. On a sporting side, the learning curve had been steep, but he ended on a high.

After three seasons with the team, the cycle came to an end, mostly because I was still not up to Davide’s requirement trackside. I was not retained for the 2006 season, and it was quite a blow for me. All in all, I must say that Davide was right once again since it pushed me to do more. I became a World Champion that very same year, and Davide played a significant role in it.

 

You left the team, but your collaboration with Davide would last for years. How did it happen?

Indeed, although I left the team, the bond with Davide was solid. Not only did I grew up as a skater, but I also did a lot as a human being, and that was priceless. Besides that, I loved his boots and wanted to keep on using them. For some years, the collaboration was kind of « on hold » as I had to respect contractual agreements. We kept working together in some ways but not on the same terms. In late 2007, Davide nudged me a call to let me know he was working on an extremely innovative concept. That concept was the DOGMA! I became one of the test skaters, and the success came right away. A few months later, I became World Champion in Gigon – Spain, clinching the first World Title on a Dogma boot. Nobody really knew what that boot was, but everybody knew that it was impressive. That very particular was extreme: no padding, too stiff shell…

Up until the end of my career, we kept working together in a more or less close manner, depending on each other commitment, and Davide proved to be a great partner. When I decided to stop for good at the end of 2014, we called each other to talk about the good old days, and an idea arose. We thought it would be nice to go full circle and do some different races under the Mariani banner together to finish that business remarkably. We built a 6-month project together with Christophe Audoire, which included some World Inline Cup Stages. Both funded the project, which proved to be a fantastic epilog to my career. I managed to win a World Inline Cup stage in Incheon – Korea, and some other top 5, which considering the circumstances, was unexpected. I will never be grateful enough to both Davide and Christophe for giving me a shot at it.

 

And so, since you stopped skating, how did the collaboration keep going?

After that 6-month « challenge,» I was hired by Tecnica Group in Italy to take over the Rollerblade brand’s product-marketing management. Since Davide was a supplier of Rollerblade (he still is, by the way), we joined forces once again and worked on some great projects also. At the time, Davide gave us a significant hand in engineering the Endurace and E2 marathon skates. After four years at Tecnica, I decided to go for a new challenge and left the company for the cycling industry. A year ago or so, I decided it was time to get back to my homeland in France. And guess what? Once again, Davide called me! He asked me if I would be keen to rejoin the crew, and of course, I said YES! Since mid-2020, we are reunited, working on all the Mariani brand aspects together.
I have to say that for me, it is a great honor!

Long live our collaboration…

Highlights

 

 

🥇 4x World Champion

🥇 1x World Games Champion

🥇 4x World Inline Cup Overall Winner

🥇 16x European Champion

🥇 36x National Champion

Davide's point

 

Your collaboration is such a long-lasting one; can you tell us how it has begun?

The idea made its way in my mind at the race held a week before the 2020 World Championships in Ostende – Belgium. After seeing Yan attending that event, I felt that he had some dormant talent. He was racing his own way (maybe not the most efficient), and I thought it would make sense to give him a go. Moreover, Yann was sleeping in a tent right by the track and lost his wallet. His dad, Mariani distributor for France at the time, called me so that I could lend him money. On the phone I told him: Gilbert, what do you think if I take him on the team for next year? And here we go.

 

In 2003, Yann joined the team, in which he would stay for 3 seasons. How did it unfold?

I think that after that 3 years cycle, we both needed to get away from each other to understand that we actually needed each other. I can precisely remember Yann’s first-ever World Inline Cup victory in Saint-Moritz: Even if he was not part of the team any longer, I was happy to see him clinching the victory was racing on his own. I felt proud to be the one that discovered that raw talent and that was enough for me.

 

20 years on, you still work together. What makes the relationship that strong?

We have a strong bond because we always put mutual growth first, rather than having a partnership based on results and medals. 20 years of collaboration, failures, successes, and respect help understand each other and not sink.

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