Every so often you meet a person that has so much charisma, talent, and enthusiasm that they etch themselves into your mind. About a year ago, Norco’s Team Manager received an email from a fellow in Croatia introducing himself as “the Croatian Sensation”.
He said he was sponsored by Vans and Red Bull for ‘Freeride Mountain Bike’ and was looking to for a bicycle sponsor. He had attached a couple of well chosen pics and some local press clippings to support his claims. The shots were cool but beyond that, even in his email, you could tell that this guy had something special.
As you can imagine, Norco was so impressed that they decided to sign him to the 2007 Norco Factory Team. We tracked down Mislav, to discover a little bit more about ‘the Croatian Sensation’.
nsmb – Vitals
Mislav – I just turned 22, born in Zagreb Croatia, riding 6 years (four in trials, and two freeride).
nsmb – What was your first two wheeler like?
Mislav – Hmm. . .my first two-wheeler was a 2nd hand really small bike that was my sisters. It was actually a baby-sized cruiser. . .20″ wheels.
nsmb – Who was the person who got you into mountain biking?
Mislav – My uncle was one of the best Track racers in the former Yugoslavia, and my dad made it a habit for our whole family (me, my sister, and mother) to all ride together around some parks. . .maybe bicycles are in my blood *grins*. But it was boring to ride straight beside by parents on the path, so I had to go off road.
CLICK IMAGE TO WATCH MISLAV’S DEMO VIDEO
Photo ~ Tomislav Moze
nsmb – How did it go down?
Mislav – I was riding my bicycle like every other kid, until one day when I saw some guy riding trials on some ice cubes on EUROSPORT. So I decided to try the same but without ice cubes. After a while I become a good trials rider, so I started doing trials demos & shows all over Croatia to get some exposure. After that, I started to ride some street and now, after few years, here I am. . .
nsmb – What was it that lit your fire?
MM – I think freedom. . . just that feeling of riding whenever and wherever. In the beginning, I didn’t realize that, but now that you’ve got me thinking about it, Yes, it’s true!
nsmb – Were you into sports in high school? What did you do?
MM – I was always in some sports. In high school I was already into mountain biking but I also did a lot of other sports. 6 years of gymnastics training helped me to well do at whichever sport that I tried. I had great results from tennis, soccer, basketball, to judo, Thailand boxing, and diving. Beside that, I was always skateboarding, inline skating, or break-dancing!
Even though I tried a lot of sports, I think the need to feel free is what made me stay in MTB!
nsmb -How did you get tangled up with Norco?
MM – I bought a Norco 125 and I was getting better so I started doing a few competitions, getting pictures in magazines, and even riding for a TV series. I was getting great exposure and PR, but I needed parts and bikes. So, I put together a portfolio and send to Norco. They said they liked it and said that I should continue hard work and send them updates. After a while, it paid off!
nsmb -Which bike lights you up most right now and why?
MM – The FourX is a great bike! It makes you go big. It’s the perfect slopestyle machine!
Oh, and if you want to learn to fly, grab a GD!
nsmb – How do people react when you tell them you are a sponsored bike rider?
MM – Actually, in Croatia being a sponsored rider is really rare, so people are surprised to hear it. They are very happy to hear that and they all wish me luck and say, “Yeah, go for it!”
nsmb – What was the best thing you learned on your bike in the last year?
MM – How to get injured! ha ha
nsmb – Injured? What happened?
MM – I torn my ACL while training/riding DH in Australia for this season!
nsmb – What sort of training do you do off your bike to help your riding performance?
MM – Beside riding my bike I was running a little bit, but now because of my knee, I am more focused on riding road and some cross-country. I also work out at the gym and swim now and then. (As well, for recovering from a broken hand – powerball rocks!)
nsmb – What do you think about the way mountain biking is evolving? Going in the right direction?
MM – I think that mountain biking has gone crazy in the last few years! The tricks and jumps are getting similar to Freestyle MX. Slopestyle brought a new dimension, and it maybe the first thing that will put us in the X-Games. I’m not sure if it’s the right way. I think it is but it is getting dangerous – It’s scary!
nsmb – What vehicle do you use to haul your bikes around?
MM – Unfortunately, I don’t have one yet!
nsmb – Last book you read?
MM – How To Think Like Einstein by: Scott Thorpe
nsmb – Movie you saw?
MM – Smoking Aces
nsmb – CD/MP3 you picked up?
MM – Hmm. . .I don’t have a CD player because I have an iPod.
Last one that I downloaded?
I have to check it out, hold on. . .
It’s the Terminator theme! ‘I’ll Be Back’ motivation! ha ha
nsmb – You have a Sunday off – no riding. How would you like to fill it?
MM – Digging or having fun! Always fun!!!
nsmb – What living person would you most like to sit down and have dinner with?
MM – Travis Pastrana
nsmb – Anyone you’d like to shout out to?
MM – I would like to thank everybody that has helped me to follow my dreams!