This year the World Championships will be held in the Netherlands, in Heerde and Arnhem. In our series #Worlds2018 we will talk to skaters from all over the world and find out who they are, if they’re gonna make it to Worlds and what skatinglife is like in their own country.
In the first edition: Elton the Souza from France and Haila Brunet from Cuba.
Pictures: Hidde Muije and Elton de Souza
Everyone who follows Elton on social media has seen pictures made all over the world. So first we asked him about his travels. Elton: “I started to travel in 2015, I went to Ecuador and Colombia, because I knew skaters there. In 2016 I went to Colombia again for a month and in 2017 I went to New Zealand and Cuba, then I met my girlfriend in Cuba, so I went back to Cuba four times now.”
Is there a lot of skating in Cuba? “Not a lot, but there is a group of skaters that train everyday, it’s the Cuban selection. The Cuban Federation pays them a bit to skate, very little, but Cuba has a different system than Europe. They can study and skate. They train everyday and I could skate with them. There were good conditions for me to skate.”
You are already a good skater, does it help you to train with them? “They have a good level too, one of the skaters got a medal in the Pan American Games. The best skaters are good, then there are 5 or 6 skaters, 16 or 17 years old, they are good too. So I can train with them very well. Actually I would win the race, but for training it’s good.”
Are there skaters from Cuba going to Worlds? “The thing is, they are good, but people don’t know that they are good, because they cannot really go outside of the country to compete. They just go to Colombia and Mexico to train and skate some races sometimes. They cannot go to Worlds, they don’t have money for that. So now I’m trying to help the best skaters to go out of the country. They have a good life but they need to get outside the country to compete and get better.”
He started with his girlfriend Haila Brunet, who is with him now. They have been at all the European Cups so far, Trois Pistes, Lagos, Geisingen, Groß-Gerau and now Heerde. It’s not easy to do that, it’s a real organization to go to all those countries.
Was it difficult for Haila to get a Visa? “Yes it was difficult, Cuba would only let her go if it was with the Cuban selection so the coach had to come too.” The coach is actually a former skater, he was at the Worlds in 1998. Unfortunately he could not participate in the revival race in Groß-Gerau because his skates didn’t arrive in time.”
Are you going back to Cuba? “Right now I’m very focussed on the Worlds here, it’s in less than two months so everything is for that. After that I will go back to Cuba again.”
Elton might go to Canada first for a week to do a trainingcamp. This year he went to Taiwan and Indonesia.
“I’m trying to travel the world and share my skills.”
He likes to make videos of his travels, and post them on his YouTube channel “I do a lot of things, training a lot, traveling, it’s not easy to train and travel, because you’re tired of the travel. I want to do more videos but then I cannot train.”
How does Haila like Europe? “She likes it a lot because of the competition and the level of the skaters here. She feels in her environment here. She likes the nature in Europe too, it’s different from Cuba.”
I don’t really know a lot about Cuba, so Elton tells more about the country. “It’s an island, so you have to most wonderfull beaches in the world with white sand and blue seas. It’s like a postcard. The inland has a lot of mountains and vegetation. It’s really beautiful, also the cities. They have old cars, from the ‘50’s and ‘60’s. That’s very strange at first and it feels very different from the rest of the world. I have seen a lot of countries, but it feels different in Cuba because people don’t have any stress.”
Do the people who live there also like it? “It depends, they really like the culture, but there is a lot of poverty, it’s a hard life. But in a way the system is good, you have good points and bad points. Some people like it, some people want to go out.”
Back to skating… Is Haila going to compete in the Worlds this year? “No. This year she will go to the Central American Games (barranquilla2018) it’s a really important championship this year for the Cuban federation. And then she has the qualification for the Pan American Games. But next year we will try to qualify for worlds in Barcelona. This is the first time she’s been outside the country and she got a silver medal in the 100 meter in Portugal (Lagos).”
And what about himself, will we see him back in Heerde in July? “I don’t know yet, the trials in France are not yet done, it will be very hard. But I guess I will make it, I’m working on it now and I did selection in 2011, 2014-2016. I’m training to become a World Champion.”
Worlds will be held from 1-3 july on the track in Heerde and from 5-8 july in Arnhem on the road.
Do you want to know more about Worlds? Check wkinlineskaten.nl (website also in English) and check out our Teams section on the website.