Intro: Eddy Matzger Interview

Inline Skate Legend Eddy Matzger talks about his climb from hapless hacker to world-renowned champion

By Robert "Hallucinates Occasionally" Burnson

So I'm sitting in my study, right, minding my own business when I hear this CLUNK! ... CLUNK! ... CLUNK! ... coming from the front of the house. I walk to the front door.

There's a giant standing at the top of the steps, or rather a man who looks like a giant because he is perched atop inline skates with wheels the size of glazed donuts.

Could it be Eddy? ... Heck! Who else could it be! ... Who else could you call for a phone interview, and he says, "Sure, but why don't I just skate over there, and we can do the interview at your house"?

Keep in mind, if you please, that we are not next door neighbors. In fact, we don't even live in the same county! (He lives 30 miles away.) ... Aside from that, we are complete strangers!

"I'll just mapquest it," he says. "What's your address?"

Yeah, who else could it be but Eddy Matzger!

In case you don't follow inline skate racing and don't watch Ripley's Believe It or Not (Eddy has been featured on the show a few times), here's a little about Eddy Matzger.

Eddy is the ...

  • Winner of more than a 100 inline races, including various national championships
  • First person to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro ON SKATES!
  • First person to climb the Great Pyramid at Giza ON SKATES!
  • Only person (crazy enough!) to participate in the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain, ON SKATES.
  • Inline skater who raced the cable car on Ripley's (he won the race)
  • Inline skater who raced a camel (Yes, a camel!) on Ripley's (he lost)
  • Teacher of the popular Eddy Matzger Workshops, held all over the world
  • Most recently, winner (for the sixth time) of the New York 100 K (which he won a few days after winning the National Capital Marathon in Ottawa)

I could go on. But suffice it to say that Eddy Matzger, in the best sense of Walt Whitman's phrase, is an original.

While I plied him with filtered water, he patiently answered questions for a couple of hours. Then we went and skated a scenic trail that overlooks the Carquinez Strait, near where I live.

Skating with Eddy is pretty amazing. He moves with such grace and ease that it is hard to see the components of his technique.

When he's on the street, he commands respect. Drivers keep a respectful distance, even though he doesn't seem to pay them any mind. My guess is that this is due to his large presence. He is muscular and looks tall in his skates (which sport 100 millimeter wheels). But in fact, he's average height. He stands 5-foot-8 in his stocking feet, which probably doesn't happen too often, given his predilection for doing everything ... housework, laundry, even sleeping occasionally ... in his skates.

Parts of the trail we skated were very rough. In fact, I had abandoned the trail years ago after an injury. But the trail led back in the direction of Berkeley, where Eddy lives, so we took it.

I skated with Eddy (slowing him down considerably, no doubt) for some miles. Then I turned around and skated back home.

On the way back, a screw rattled off my skate and left my heel brake dangling. I was a little concerned, given the nasty downhills ahead of me. But then I thought about Eddy and decided it was time to give up the heel brake. Eddy, of course, doesn't use a heel brake, and he had demonstrated the forward T-stop for me on the way out! ... And wasn't it kind of odd? My brake trying to leave me on the way back. It had never done that before!

So I took it off and skated home practicing the forward T-stop on the hills.

The heel brake has not returned to my skate, although I've returned to skate that raggedy trail everyday.

Anyhow, Eddy gave me a great interview. He's got a fantastic story, which would make a great movie and will someday no doubt be the basis for a documentary. (At least, I hope so!)

Anyway, Eddy's also an inspiration. No one better exemplifies Joseph Campbell's advice to "follow your bliss."

So here's the first part of the Eddy Matzger interview.

I'll keep posting more of the interview as I finish with the transcribing.

And thank you, Eddy!

Continued ...

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Copyright © 2006 by Robert Burnson

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