Interviewing Mario Cipollini

Comparing beard growth

For me doing interviews is one of the most stressful things I do.  At ROAD Magazine we allocate a good amount of pages for an interview, so when it gets cancelled, we’re looking at a lot of empty pages. My publisher hates that. So you have to coordinate a time or place to either sit down with the athlete or to talk on the phone. That can be an exercise in complete frustration and broken promises. Next, you need to do research on the person and make sure you don’t sound like a complete idiot. Now when you are trying to interview a European there are a completely different set of rules. You never know if that person is going to show up. They sometimes regard (and at times I don’t blame them) journalists as the bottom feeders of the world. So when the good folks at Specialized offered me the opportunity to interview Mario Cipollini I, of course, jumped at the opportunity. But in the back of my mind I thought that this interview may not happen. I had heard that he had been out late the night before, which had me sending up a few silent prayers that he’d show. Sure he was 20 minutes late, but he showed up! Now the next trick was to get him to leave the convention center, walk through the casino and up to our room where we had our photo studio set up. What we’d done was move all the furniture in the living room area of our suite into the bathroom and set up klieg lights and background paper. Perhaps it was because Cipo talked on his cell the whole way up to the room that he didn’t notice the 15 minute walk. I could make the walk from our room to the Interbike convention center in seven minutes, but we were on a slow amble to the room with Cipo.

Mario knows exactly how to pose for these photos. Fashionable attired, he worked the camera, knowing which way to turn his head, where to look and generally looking like a god. Now it was my turn to interview him. Mario’s English is virtually non-existent, so he had a translator with him. Dealing with a translator is usually a bad thing as the athlete will talk for several seconds and the translator will say, “Yes” in response to your question and you know there was more. Luckily, I know this translator from previous trips to Europe and always does he good job, fully explaining Mario’s answers. Mario was quite forthcoming with answers regarding the health of cycling, his best moments in cycling, projects he is involved in, and how he always seems to have the perfect two day growth of beard. It was a short interview due to the fact he had to catch a flight, but I’d say it was one of my top three I’ve done. Look for the complete interview as well as interviews with Kristin Armstrong, David Zabriskie, Christian Vanvelde, and Fred Rodriguez.

As I type this I am at a park in Seattle using the free wi-fi that the park provides. After four days of Vegas, eating crappy food, and walking or standing for hours, I will now be racing at Star Crossed cyclocross this evening. I am going to get my ass handed to me! I’ll let you know how it goes.