Part 5: Eddy Matzger Interview ...
In Which the Skate Legend Talks About ...
Robert: You are well known for making frequent breakaways during races. Could you talk a little about your race strategy?
Eddy: It really boils down to this: You have paid money for a plane ticket, and you have traveled half way around the country or the world. So it really doesn't make any sense to sit around and wait until the last 200 meters before you start a sprint. I probably could be good at that if that's what I wanted. But it just doesn't make sense.
Besides, I love to gamble -- not in Las Vegas, but when I'm skating. That's what makes it fun. So no matter how far I am from the finish line -- or how close! -- I'm always trying to make things happen. That's my nature. I like to be a protagonist in the race, not a wheel-sucker [a skater who stays at the back of the pack].
I'm like that even when I'm training. When a bicyclist tries to blow by me, I'll play games with him. I love that stuff!
Robert: When you make a break during a race, what are you drawing on?
Eddy: Up until that point, I've been conserving energy. I've been skating with my forearms on my thighs as much as possible and pushing with my arms. So when I make a break, I'm drawing on my strength.
Robert: Do you have a favorite race distance?
Eddy: Not really. I like all the distances.
It used to be that 10 K was the favorite distance for inline races. It was a standard distance for running races, and everyone considered it the longest distance that skaters could accomplish. But then people realized that 10 K was too short unless the skaters went all out for the whole race.
The marathon, on the other hand, is almost the perfect distance. It's an hour of redline skating, as fast as you can go. And if it's European-style, then people are attacking [breaking away from the pack] all the time, which makes it very exciting.
The marathon is still a little short. But I love it!
Of course, I also love the longer races, like the Athens to Atlanta [an 87-mile ultra marathon]. The longer races are natural for me because -- shoot!-- I got my early training chasing the bicycle team around town. And the average training ride for them was 40 to 50 miles.
Robert: You seem to be in your element at the Athens to Atlanta, which you've won eight times now. Is it one of your favorite races?
Eddy: Well, the reason I go back to it every year is because it is a tough race. Sometimes I don't do so well, so I have to go back and conquer my demons. And then other years, it's so fun it's like skating on cake. And so I go back to get that good feeling.
Robert: I noticed that you didn't skate in the Inline World Championships a few months ago in Italy. Do you ever skate in the Worlds?
Eddy: No. I never have. One of the reasons is that to get ready for them, you have to train in smelly indoor rinks, and then you have to qualify for regionals and go to regionals, and qualify for
Copyright © 2006 by Robert Burnson
nationals and go to nationals, and finally qualify for Worlds. ... I have just never wanted to put that in my schedule.
There was one year when I was encouraged to try out for the team. But there was a whole lot of politics involved, and I didn't want to get involved in that. I just skate for fun.
Another thing about the World Championships is that the people involved need to clean up their act. Every year, you hear stories about how racers are grabbing other racers, and officials are looking the other way. ... And then there are the accusations about doping. ... It's just no fun when it gets to all that.
Unfortunately, inline racing does not police itself enough. When it's cleaned up, then maybe it can become an Olympic sport. But now the behavior of people leaves so much to be desired. I can't tell you how many times I've had races ruined by people giving me an elbow to the face or a hand to the hip disguised as an arm swing.
Competing should really be a more honorable thing.
Although I don't compete in the Worlds, I do compete in Inline World Cup races [like the NorthShore Inline Marathon]. And there you have the best skaters in the world at every race. So each race is a world championship.
I like races with lots of good international competition. The more the better, always!
I've heard that next year there will be a 100 kilometer World Cup circuit with six to eight races. I would like to see that: 100 K is the classic distance.