He has been the revelation of FISE 2019, entering the pro final at the age of 15; a year later, Esteban Clot returns and he sounds even more mature, with refreshing confidence and ever-growing popularity on social media. Over 40K subscribers who gather every day at 6:30 pm for his ritual post, and all came together when it was time to vote for his E-FISE video. After he landed in the first place of the qualifiers, we talked with him from a distance, to discuss this very, very special year.
Hey Esteban, could you introduce yourself for those who don’t know you yet?
Hi everyone, I’m Esteban Clot, 15 years old. I’ve been riding for five years now. I started in my village of Saint Peray (Ardèche, France) where there was a very small skatepark, and as time went by I went to bigger parks.
Is the Rough Rider club your local spot these days?
Yes, it’s the skatepark which allows me to train for big competitions, it’s a great structure and I invite everyone to check it out because it’s well worth it.
It is notably thanks to a public fundraiser that this fantastic spot was made possible, isn’t it? I imagine you were part of the effort?Yes, the skatepark didn’t appear without help, there was the opportunity to give money for those who wanted it, which I certainly did because it’s crazy to create a spot like that, I am really grateful to them because without them, my level wouldn’t have developed as much, and I hope to continue to progress there for a long time to come.
Did you have a mentor, someone with more experience who took you under their wing?
I wouldn’t say that there was anyone in particular who took me under their wing, but my parents play this role in lots of ways because they try to follow me as much as they can and I thank them for that. There are also often pro riders who give me nice advice whenever I need it.
Last year you absolutely thrilled the crowd at FISE, in what state of mind did you come at that time?
The year before I had placed second in the junior/amateur category for riders under 14, and since then I had started to compete locally in the pro events, but that did not always come with good results. So I came to FISE humbly, not especially more confident or anything. I went there telling myself that I had to see what I was capable of, that I had to push my limits, that I had to try to give the best of myself without expecting anything.
And then you made it to the pro finals! Tell us a little bit about this overdose of emotion at the end of your run?
This year there were more and more pros from everywhere, and when I saw the level during the qualifications I told myself that it was impossible, even my parents told me it was going to be very complicated. Looking at the standings that night, I saw that I finished fifth out of 80, it was unbelievable, I was totally overwhelmed. Same thing in the semi-final where I managed to qualify. When I ended my second run in the final, there was a lot of emotion, it’s true. It had been a lot, pushing my abilities for a whole week… I was creating my little personal feats at every round, it was crazy. In the finals, I told myself that I had to give it my all, there were all the cameras and everything. The first run didn’t go so well, which gave me extra pressure, and then it was all a mental game. The second run went well. In the end, it was such a relief, an uncontrollable emotion, and I dream of reliving this kind of moment.
Something strong happened with the audience at that time, didn’t it?
I thank them so much, it was such a fire atmosphere, and I often think back on it. For sure I will never forget that moment. It made me develop my vision of my sport even further, it confirmed to me how much I love doing it. I can’t wait to do the next edition, this time for real.
In retrospect it was also very nice to see Dante (Hutchinson) congratulate you like that, wasn’t it?Dante is one of my favorite riders, he’s a star in the scooter world, I was always a fan. And the fact that he came to to congratulate me gave even more flavor and happiness to these finals.
In just three years, you have become one of the best riders on the planet, tell us a little bit about what it costs to reach such a high level?To succeed in this sport, as in others, you need a solid dose of mental strength because in this sport, there are days when things just don’t work, when you feel like you’re not up to the task and that’s when you have to keep going. When everything is going well, we think it’s all good and easy, but it’s truly during the difficult times that you can see those who do it out of passion and not out of ambition or anything like that.
With these first good results in pro competitions, come the first cash prizes too. What about the financial aspect that allows us to develop in our sports, to travel and attend international competitions, to take trips to progress faster… Basically, tell us how you think money helps to actually focus on your sport?
It’s true that you can earn money at competitions, but if I had to be independent, live on my own and pay rent, it would simply be impossible to depend only on prize money because you never know what kind of results you’re going to get. Moreover, as I am not yet 16 years old, I cannot be paid yet, but I hope to be paid afterward if I do a good job. With social media, you can also earn some money, through product placements or by creating your brand. But it’s still very limited compared to skateboarding or BMX where there is more budget, with brands like Nike SB or Vans. I would like to get sponsored by brands such as these because it brings serenity, and as they say, though money can’t buy happiness, it surely contributes to it.
How has the Covid-19 pandemic impacted your practice and progression?
It has indeed been a real problem, not just for me but for everyone. I’m lucky enough to have a backyard with a trampoline, so I made a scoot’ trampoline to practice the basics, but it’s not the same thing at all. It wasn’t easy to share varied content on social media either. Clearly, the lockdown put a lot of things on hold, especially at the competition level; and I, as a competitor, it blocked me out quite a bit. I hope I don’t have to go through that again.
In addition to the E-FISE, FISE also launched the FISE Fundraiser to order to support more riders than usual, an extension of the prize money in a way, what do you think of the initiative?
I think it’s very good because I don’t earn money yet and I still live with my parents, it’s not a problem for me but for the other pros who are more independent, Covid has been a real issue because there are a lot of brands that have simply stopped paying them, so I think it’s a great initiative.
Do you still find time to focus on school, despite all the solicitations and sponsor activations that I imagine you are often offered?
It’s the most important thing for me and my parents, they want me to continue my studies fully, at least until I graduate from high school because it’s very important, you never know how things can evolve, especially in this kind of extreme sport.
Thank you for inviting me to do this interview, and see you all very soon!