My name is Antoine Carlotti and I’m going to tell you how I lived one of the best moments of my life, KnK 2020, and winning the No Paws Down race.
KnK, the event with the best vibe
2020 was not easy for everyone, I was lucky because for the third time, I was able to attend KnK Longboard Camp. This event has been one of my favourites since I first went there in 2018. We always have an awesome time on the Bear Guts, as the road is really wide and not too fast. It’s the best spot for pack runs.
In 2020 I wanted to help the organization. My idea was to sneak in some random runs and film the riders. I wanted to film especially less experienced riders (like Dominik Schenk XD) to show everyone that KnK is not only a spot for the stand-up race, it is also a great road to practice your slides.
So during the whole week, instead of practicing for the race, I was skating in random packs with a GoPro stick in my hands. I have to say that it was a lot of fun filming Antonio Hoempler while he was sit-longboarding was pretty sketchy tho. I also had a blast filming seagull runs with Felix Begaud as we skate really well together.
If I talk about my experience at KnK I have to talk about our extreme evening activities organised in collaboration with Tristan Fort: Washing Machspin, Table sliding on fire, Giant swing/tent destroying, River Diving, and of course Dancing. We had a lot of fun…
No Paws Down racing day
Saturday it’s Race Day! My goal, making it to final after putting my puck down before semis 2 years in a row.
I don’t know if people notice but I stress a lot before the race, especially at KnK because I care a lot about the No Paws Down. But this time I tried to get mentally prepared, I spent a lot of time listening to Menelik Rimondi’s mp3 and I focused on my breathing.
I knew the road perfectly and my wheels were prepared. My plan was skating a set of used Powell Peralta 75mm Red till semis and a set with the skin on in case I make it to final. These wheels felt perfect without the skin and fresh they were really scary to stand up but I was way faster with them.
For the No Paws Down it’s all about finding the balance between being fast and being safe, unlike the other races you’re not allowed to do any mistake!
Ready, Set… Go!
So we are waiting for the announcement of the first runs, I wanted to race everyone but Ambroise Trauet, and of course, for the second run, i’m with him. I absolutely love skating with Ambroise but he had trained for the whole week and he really wanted to win, so I was really scared to meet him in the second run.
Without actually saying it we started to race the other riders but we didn’t care about who was first or second between us, as I said the No Paws Down is all about being as safe as possible.
Like that we both made it to final for the first time in our life, I was already super happy with my performance but the toughest part was coming. After a small pit stop to put on my wheels with skin, I stepped on the start line where I was surrounded by Patrick Switzer, the legend, and my buddies Ambroise Trauet and Carlos Alvarez.
At that moment, we were pretty much alone at the top of the hill as everyone is in corner 8 to watch the final, and I can tell you that it is stressful! I don’t know why, but after I heard « Riders Ready » I can’t really remember how I felt, I was just extremely concentrated.
And here we go, I remember pushing really hard but keeping some energy for the 18 remaining corners. I pushed second and I was really close to Patrick, I did not want to try anything crazy in corner 1 as it is pretty fast and my wheels were really grippy. Ambroise and Carlos were like 10 meters behind me and I was waiting for the right moment to pass Patrick. I knew that after corner 3 there is a pretty long straight, so I tried to be as clean and fast as possible in that corner.
It worked, I was catching up to him and I passed him between corner 3 and corner 4! So I was leading the race and now Patrick was the one putting pressure on me. At that moment I got an idea, I wanted him to think that it was gonna be easy to pass me in the last corners, so I touched my legs to show him that they were already tired (which they were a little bit ^^)
After that I just kept pushing, skating at like 85% to stay safe and keep my hands off the ground, Patrick was around 8 meters behind and I did not know where Ambroise and Carlos were as I was too focus.
We arrived in corner 8 where all my buddies were watching, and where my best friend Adrien Vuvan was filming me instead of Patrick for the first time in his life (as he is a huge fan of him). I went straight into my squat slide aiming at the money line and dabbing for Adrien’s video.
At the end of the corner, I heard a puck noise and I just couldn’t believe it, I turned back to see what Patrick was doing and he seemed to be racing as hard as possible. So I figure that he didn’t paws down and that he was going to try anything to pass me.
From corner 8 to the end I can tell you that Patrick was crazy fast, he was catching up to me. I never felt so much pressure during a race, but oddly it didn’t felt like I was fighting for the win, I wasn’t aware of that.
We arrived in the last straight after corner 17, the last one of the race, Patrick was 4 meters behind me and he had more exit speed than I did, so he was slowly catching up to me in that pretty flat last section. I started pumping and then tucked as hard as I could to stay in front.
I crossed the finish line just in front of him, I glanced at my pucks to make sure the tape was clean and I screamed, that was it, my dream came true! Patrick hugged me and told me that I had already won after corner 8 as he put his puck down there… He explained to me that he wanted to push me till the end to see if I could handle it- what a genius XD
Carlos and Ambroise told me that unfortunately, their pucks had touched the ground before corner 8, I was sad for Ambroise who definitely deserved to be on that podium…
I won the No Paws Down!
As we waited for the buses to go down, I received more hugs than I ever had in my entire life, I could see my homies being so proud of me which is such an incredible feeling.
The first thing I did on the bus, I called Rachel Pericard, my girlfriend, she was so proud of me and I was so stoked to announce it to her, then Brandon DesJarlais called me after I told him that I was not going to skate in women’s underwear this year and that I had won the f****** No Paws Down.
Once at the top of the hill, I didn’t have any second for myself, I had to film some runs for Red Bull before the end of the day. We were filming with the 3 meter GoPro pole, so even these runs were pretty stressful, but it was a lot of fun!
After these two runs I was finally free, but to be honest, my brain didn’t had the time to process all of this. Amelie Castain drove us to the river, we chilled there and I thought «I have to win again next year! »
The podium was something I’ll always remember, it was the night of my birthday, I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end my 18, even if I wished Rachel was there. Everyone started to sing the birthday song while I was stepping on the highest step of the No Paws Down podium!
They gave me that Slivo bottle and as I was probably the rider that drunk the least of the event I handed it to my buddy Clement Blondeau so that he could honor it.
This is how my dream became an unforgettable memory! I have trained a lot at the Trocadero in Paris this winter, so I will do everything I can to win again in 2021 but my main goal is to feel like every run is the best one of my life, like I always did.
Thanks to all of you for the support through your awesome messages, shoutout to my sponsors Moonshine MFG, Powell Peralta, Aera Trucks, RipTide Sports and FORT for keeping rolling using the best gear ever! And thank you skateboarding for this awesome community.