Rodil DeAraujo Jr.
By Rob Brink
ESPN Magazine August 2004
This is the Rodil feature as it appeared in ESPN Magazine followed by the full, unedited interview which eventually got Rodil the boot from his one and only sponsor, Dragon Optical, for not admitting he rode for them. You can also see the EXPN.com version of the article here.
Skate 4 Cash
Skateparks paved with gold. That's what Rodil de Araujo Jr. envisioned in 1995, when the skater first rolled into the U.S. He was one of the hottest street riders in skate-crazed Brazil, and North America promised magazine covers, video roles and a chance to skate for a living.
So what went wrong? Rodil has certainly banked results. Last year he won the Slam City Jam along with the World Street Championships. And he won gold in Street, Park and Street Best Trick at the 2002 X Games.
But magazine covers and video roles have eluded him, as have lucrative endorsements. At the Tampa Pro in March, Rodil skated without any corporate logos. “My sponsors fired me,” the 25-year-old says. "They said I don't get any photos or magazine or video coverage. So I'll skate in a T-shirt, jeans and white shoes, OG-style."
Rodil is a skate outcast not because he wins, but because he looks like he's trying too hard to win. That's not cool in the world of pro skating, where riders enter comps to kick their latest flips and let style flow. Each run is meant to be seen as art for art's sake. Rodil, on the other hand, skates by the numbers, with technically brilliant routines that bore peers and fans. He's Tim Duncan in a sport that wants T-Mac.
Rodil understands his dilemma and says he'd like to find a fix. But that won't be easy, given his need for prize money: "Winning contests, this is how I live, how I make money." He'll be one of the favorites in Park and Street at the '03 X Games.
As for the mag and video swag? Those prizes will continue to go to skaters who care less about the gold.
The following is the unedited Rodil transcript. I had to do this interview through email with a friend of Rodil's translating for me. I like to call this "How to get the boot from the last (and only) sponsor."
Who are your sponsors?
I ride for nobody but myself.
What happened to all your sponsors? You had a long list of them at Tampa Pro contest in March. Did you quit them? Did they drop you?
What happened to my sponsors? Ask them. They all said that since I don't get any photos—no magazine or video coverage, that they were dropping me. That is why I was fired. I now have something to prove.
The long list of sponsors I had in Tampa was all flow product only. I was desperate, but after some thought why am I just getting flow? I was the top ranked skater last year in World Cup rankings. I won three gold medals last year at the X-Games. I won every event I entered, so why should I promote companies who will pay some other guy with zero results, and they expect me to promote their products on TV for free. Come on, that is just not fair. Put it this way, from my heart, I love skateboarding. If no one is going to trust my talent, that's fine. I'll go skate anyway. Yes, I would like to have paid sponsors, but I won't promote anyone for free—not anymore. I'll skate from now on in a white Tee shirt, jeans, and white shoes. OG style.
Are you looking for sponsors?
I know my agent has some interest from a couple companies but until we have an agreement I'll skate in jeans and a plain tee shirt.
Do you live in Brazil or the USA?
Why the choice to stay in Brazil over the US? Couldn't you work on filming and getting coverage/sponsors more if you were in the US?
But who will I film with? Of course I would like to stay in the States, I would like that very much. But it's really hard to go skate by yourself and get photos with good photographers. It's very hard to film by myself. I need some friends to go skate and film with. The only kid I skate with is Pat Chanita, but he travels a lot, doing demos and stuff so most of the time I'm by myself, which isn't a lot of fun and it makes it hard to get any filming done.
What is with all these Brazilian skaters? Does Brazil have labs where they genetically create talented skateboarders? Is it the water down there?
I don't know. It's all about love. We just really love skateboarding. We have to grow up skating with poor products, without sponsors, or without enough money to even buy a soda when we are skating. So when we have a chance to come to America we just try not lose the chance we have in our hands. That is why Brazil seems to have so many good skaters here. We think our dreams come true when we do well here.
How do you feel being part of a country known (in the skate world) for producing amazing skateboarders?
It's normal, I haven't really thought about it.
Do you think American skaters take things like this for granted?
No, I just think it's easier for them to be noticed. They have built-in relationships.
You are competing in the ESPN Globals this year. Who do you think is going to be the toughest street skating pair to beat out of all the competitors?
All the USA guys. Eric Koston, Chris Senn, etc.
Which skater is on your team and how do you feel about him being paired up with you?
Carlos de Andrade and Wagner Ramos is an alternate I think. It's amazing that we are all on the same team. It's like the “Dream Team” of skateboarding, no doubt.
Generally, I think you are known as a “contest skater.” Do you feel parks and contests are your strong point in skating? Was this intentional?
I don't know, it just happened this way. I can skate anywhere, anytime. Everyone calls me a contest skater, no doubt, but my goal at this moment is get a magazine or video spotlight. I will prove that I can skate anywhere.
Would you ever stop entering contests to get rid of this “image?” Maybe become more of a “street skater?”
No, man, I'll never stop doing contests. This is how I live, how I make money.
Some people view being a “contest skater” as a negative thing. Like, it's easy to just keep entering contests, doing the same runs and the same tricks on the same obstacles. Safe and conservative, and an easy way to make money or get respect. Do you ever feel that people view you this way?
No doubt everyone looks at me as a contest skater, I know, but if some magazine or video calls me for a photo or video shoot, I will die for this opportunity.
Has anyone ever approached you about it or talked shit?
What is funny to me is that to everyone is cool with me. But then my agent Todd calls about nobody in skateboarding having any love for me. So I wonder what is going wrong? People smile to my face and then talk bad behind my back.
Do you think maybe people view you as a “sellout” by entering all the contests? And don't you think a lot of skaters look down on park skating and contests because it is a controlled environment, where it is easy to get the course and obstacles dialed. Everything is usually perfect for skating?
No I don't look at it this way, I proved I can skate on a non-park course when I won the street contest in Philadelphia last year. I competed on real street obstacles, with real street skaters. But nothing changed. If people are saying I can't skate street, take my ass to any handrail or gap—anything. I can skate anything on the street better than any park course. I trust my skating. I have no fear!
Maybe people like you as a person but they don't have a place for your skating on their teams or in their “image?”
Maybe, but skating should not be just about image, it should be about skating and having fun.
Do you think maybe with the success and growth of skateboarding that there are two separate skateboard worlds now? Not that any one is better than the other. But the skateboarding world that has existed for many years I guess the “underground,” and then this new world where X Games, Gravity Games and more corporate contests and big corporations are involved? And you have skaters like Andy Mac, Tony Hawk, you, etc. as a big part of the new skate world? Do you view it like this at all?
I don't know, I don't see two different worlds of skateboarding. What I do see as two different types of skaters: One is like me, the kind nobody knows here in the USA and the other is the kind that everybody knows. So the ones that know everybody get help from each other. That is why I don't have any sponsors.
Andy Mac and Tony Hawk are Americans and it is totally different from me. They are more established, have been skating a lot longer than me, they make way more money and with being more established, comes more respect. I don't even consider being in the same world as those guys. I just meant as far as being known for entering all the big contests and stuff, as opposed to being known as a more “underground” skater.
What is underground? Being a ghetto child, dressing like a homie or punk rock guy? I respect everyone else's style from punk rock to rap style. Any skater from Tony Hawk to Mark Gonzales, from Hosoi to Chad Muska, from Kareem Campbell to Caine Gayle. But I'm just me, I'm not a rapper, I'm not a punk rocker, I'm just me—a skateboarder.
What do you do when you aren't skating? Hobbies? Girlfriend? Wife? Kids?
I like to ride my dirt bikes, doing motocross and training Jiu Jitsu. I do it for fun. I'm not married yet, but I have a girlfriend, Claudia. When I'm in the USA I like to skate with my friend Pat Channita.
What's the worst thing about contests?
Do you think you should have won Tampa Pro this year? Did you feel robbed?
It's all up to the judges. TNT (Tony Trujillo) skates totally different than me. He has is own style, doing old school tricks with some new ones all thrown in with lots of speed. But I skate switch more than anybody else. Put it this way, it's easier for me to do Tony's routine than Tony doing mine. But it's the judge's point of view and I respect that. I didn't feel robbed. It's cool. I will beat him next time (laughing).
So you think you could easily do TNT's contest run? A lot of people probably could I guess. But then it comes down to style and speed and execution I suppose?
I don't want to talk about Tony. He has is own style, and I have mine. Like I said before, it's a judge's decision. He skates faster and has more style than me and I'm more technical. The judges like his run better that day.
Maybe they should have a contest where everyone has to do the same routine, then they could judge it on who looks the best doing certain tricks, or speed or style?
That would be boring.
Do you think if you and Tony had to do the same exact run, you could beat him?
Like I said, Tony has own style and I have mine.
Rodil's 2002 Contest Results
- 2002 World Street Champion
- 2002 North American Street Champion
- 1st place 2002 X-Games - Street
- 1st place 2002 X-Games - Park
- 1st place 2002 X-Games - Best Trick
- 1st place Atlanta Street Games ESPN Invitational
- 1st place Vans Slam City Jam
- 1st place Crail World Cup Brazil
- 4th place Gravity Games