17-year-old Gabriel Wibmer released Late for School earlier this week and it’s already racked up hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. Here, he chats about the creative process behind the street trials video, how he got into riding, what his goals are for 2020 and, of course, what it’s like to be Fabio Wibmer’s cousin.
Where are you from?
I’m from Austria, more specifically from Kals am Grossglockner, in East Tyrol.
How did you get into mountain biking?
I started riding motocross when I was five years old, but because of limited training options and facilities, I switched to moto trials when I was seven. At 12 years old, trials was a bit slow for me and started feeling a bit boring. I was in Leogang with my parents as the iXS European Downhill Cup was taking place and that was the first time in my life that I saw Downhill. When I saw the riders blasting down the mountain, speeding over roots and rocks, I knew this is something that I wanted to do. The adrenaline rush that you get during a race and that feeling of weightlessness when you’re jumping, those are feelings I can’t live without anymore.
Videos, racing World Cups, school – you’ve got a lot on your plate. What do you enjoy the most?
That’s really hard to say. The variety is what makes everything interesting. What’s most important is that I have fun riding my bike and that I can do what I enjoy doing. But I know that I’ll need to make a decision with regards to my future pretty soon – but I’m not sure what that decision will be yet. But I think that will show itself anyway.
Who do you look up to?
Fabio, my cousin, is, of course, someone that I look up to. Danny MacAskill and Loic Bruni are also two huge inspirations. Watching what they do motivates me to push myself further but also to never give up, even when things aren’t going according to plan.
Speaking of Fabio, he’s a pretty big name in mountain biking. How do you feel about being called Fabio’s cousin?
It’s probably a curse and a blessing at the same time. On the one hand, that connection is not bad, because we’re at home in the same scene and that’s why it’s also a bit positive for me. On the other hand, of course, I want to be called Gabriel Wibmer. I am aware that it takes time.
I do not think about it too much. I create my projects, like videos, according to my own ideas and own vision. At the moment I’m still mostly a student. In which direction I will then develop, that remains to be seen.
Your latest video has been really well-received. What has that been like for you?
So much work went into this video, it’s crazy. It feels good to see that the work paid off. Something like this really motivates me to do something even bigger next time.
How did you come up with the idea? Is it based on true events?
Getting up early is definitely one of my weaknesses, so it gets a little stressful in the mornings. That’s the true event to take from the video. I have to laugh every time I see it. Normally, I remember that it’s Sunday, so I’m not worried about going to school.
Are you a good student? How do you balance school with riding?
Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. I really like learning languages. I like to compare school to sports – when it comes to how much time you need to put in to become better at something. When I’m at school, I don’t worry too much about social media etc. and really focus on school. I don’t miss too many days in winter and I try to do as much work as possible then, because in summer that’s a different story – I don’t have that much time then.
How did this latest video come together?
The first step is to talk about the idea to my cousin Stephan who is my filmer as well – then we turn it into a proper story. Secondly, we look for spots that fit the video. Most of the time, it’s my filmer and I that do this. When we’ve got the story lined up and found the locations, we pack up our stuff and go.
What’s important for you when filming?
There has to be a storyline, that’s important. Even more important is that each video is better than the one that came before. Whether the tricks are bigger, the riding is more extreme or whether it’s more eye-catching, something has to be better.
What was your first season like racing World Cups?
I had a lot of ups and downs. I think my expectations before the season were too high and I put a lot of pressure on myself. Starting in the World Cup in the Junior category at my age was for sure a challenge. My highlight is definitely winning the iXS Rookies Cup at GlemmRide.
What do you want to improve?
There’s always room to improve. I really like using video-analysis. It allows me to see what my position is on the bike and I can immediately see what to change. To improve in Downhill, I make a distinction between training and fun. When I’m training, I need to be fully focused and race against the clock, so to say. That is something completely different to when I’m just having fun, shredding the local park.
What are your goals for 2020?
I’ve got big plans for 2020. I want to get good results at the World Cup and the European Cup. I also really want to get a good result at the World Championships, in Leogang, in early September. But I’ve also planned a few bigger video projects. So stay tuned.