Richard Zelinka: I'll ride my way to the top again
Traveling to the US to ride scooters was a dream coming true for Richard Zelinka. The Czech SkatePro team rider was at the top of his game killing every competition he attended. But a nasty slam set his career on hold. We talked to one of Europe’s most talented riders about his recovery and plans for the future.
It’s a late night in San Diego, Richard Zelinka has just arrived from Atascadero, California. Together with fellow District team rider Chris Farris and Robby Mier, he's aiming for a late night session. All the local skate parks are closed, so the three guys agree to hit a nearby street spot - a schoolyard, where Richard finds the perfect spot, a long kink rail that is sprawling down a ten-stair gap.
“I had a gut feeling saying “don’t do it”, but it looked really sick, so I locked on to the rail the wrong way and I landed on my leg. As soon as I touched the ground I instantly knew that my right leg was f#@*!d up, I could just feel it”, he says.
Richard’s assumption turns out to be correct, an X-ray reveals that his right leg is broken. The result: A canceled US tour, no promo for his signature District deck, and eight metal screws in his leg.
A long way back
Fast forward three months to May 2018. Richard Zelinka is arriving at FISE Montpellier, his first competition since the accident. It has taken a lot of rehabilitation, running and riding to get to this point.
But FISE Montpellier didn’t go as he planned. After being delayed at the airport, Richard had very little time to practice at the skatepark, so he didn’t do well in the park competition. Next up was the spine ramp competition, which he won last year. The pressure was on for the young rider.
“I was nervous if I could live up to my result from last year. I hurt myself during the practice, and I slipped off the deck in the first run, so I thought to myself - in the next run I’ll give it all that I got. I started with a flip, but my injured leg slipped down and twisted, it was so bad, it hurt even more than when I broke it, I couldn't walk or stand on it”, says Richard.
Scootering is my life
X-rays showed that Richard’s leg wasn’t broken, only sprained. The doctors told him that the leg would heal in two weeks, but speaking with him three weeks after, he is still in pain, especially while stepping on an uneven surface.
So why doesn’t he stop riding? According to Richard, the answer is simple:
“Riding scooters is not a sport to me, it’s a way of life. Sure, I’m in a pretty rough place right now but my supporters and the people who like to see me ride motivate me to keep on going. I’m motivated to get back in shape and smash all the competitions again, more than ever before”, he says and continues.
“The accident taught me to listen to my gut feeling. When I broke my leg in the US, I had a feeling that I shouldn't ride that rail, so I got scared and didn’t go for the trick 100 percent, this is the reason I got injured. When I choose to do a certain trick or ride a spot nowadays, I always go all in. If I feel that I can't do that, I simply don’t ride”, he says.
I’ll be back
When it comes to a comeback, Richard Zelinka means business. This summer he’s attending as many competitions as possible, in spite of the problems with his leg.
“I’ve just attended the Nimes Blunt Bowl contest, and now I’m off to a big air contest in Norway. I’m also going to Imagin Extreme Barcelona, but not to compete in the world championship, because I was out with an injury during the qualification. I’m invited to the best trick competition, which I won last year. But I’m also looking forward to seeing all my friends from around the world ”, he says.
So what’s Richard’s hope for the future? The answer is clear:
“I’m going to drag my ass out there, get back in shape, and I hope that I come back even stronger than before. My goal is to win the street, park and the bowl competition at ScootFest 2018.”