- Tes Sewell, Action Sports
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Andre Villa, known for his buttery-smooth style and huge trick extension, came oh-so-close to nabbing the 2010 Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour title. Leading the tour for the first five rounds before heading into the season finale in Rome, Italy, Villa had his first would-be title in his hands, but after throwing a dead sailor in a head-to-head matchup with Egypt winner Adam Jones diminished his title hopes, allowing 2009 champ Nate Adams to win the title for a second year in a row.
Coming into the 2011 series more prepared than the last after spending the winter in Southern Calif., Villa took to the opener in Dubai last month with victory on his mind. After winning the previous day's qualifier and making it to the finals, Villa made another uncharacteristic mistake, giving Dany Torres the edge he needed to take the first win of the season.
Villa was content with his second place finish in Dubai given the circumstances, but vows to take what he learned and give Torres a go come May 28th in Brazil.
ESPN.com: So what happened at Red Bull X-Fighters Dubai? Why do you think you placed second instead of actually winning?
Andre Villa: I'm actually super-happy with the result and I am pleased with how it went in Dubai. Going into the final I think I had like four minutes from my semifinal run to my final run. I should probably have prepared myself a little bit better and checked the information on how much time I had in between. So for me to memorize the next run was pretty short time. What happened out on the track was that at one point I took a right instead of a left (laughs). Yeah, So I had to improvise and that messed up my run. If you remember I didn't do the one-handed nine o'clock over the transfer jump -- that went out of my run and I messed up on a seat grab flip and improvised with a can can landing.
So I'm fine with getting second because I did make mistakes, but I know where those mistakes are so I know what to work with. It would be a different situation if I rode the best I could and got second, but now I am planning to be better.
The last three rounds now feature different time limits for each one. How has that effected your strategy?
Yeah, that 75 second run, that's really, really short and is going to be an advantage for people with huge tricks like 360's or something really extraordinary. This is maybe not my strong side, so I knew that I had to give it all in those 75 seconds and that was against Bilko who really rode awesome. So I raised the intensity of my riding and my semifinal run was my best run of the night. I'm still not sure if I am going to memorize two runs for the semifinal and the final, but I need to have my list completely ready after my semifinal run, get it in my hand and start memorizing as fast as possible.
You ended last year just missing the victory. You were the bridesmaid. So how frustrating was it to be in second place in Dubai?
No, that was not frustrating at all. I was super pumped because the riding was really, really good. I would say any of the top eight riders could have won that contest, but it came down to the least errors and mistakes. I'm proud of what I did in Dubai, because I spent a lot of time in America and rode a lot of motocross and freestyle, but I didn't feel really sharp for Dubai. There was some stuff I would have liked to clean up before I went there, but I showed up and tried to do the best I could with what I had. All that motocross riding really paid back to me you know, because they had those sand berms that were really loose there. To be honest to you, I'm almost glad I didn't win because now the finger is on Dany!
You know Dany well; do you think he deserved that win?
Yeah, yeah. Dany rode awesome. He definitely deserved to win. He came up with new stuff. He was consistent and didn't do many mistakes. He's a badass dirt bike rider. I grew up with this kid and knew him from 14,15 years old on a 250 when he barely reached down to the pegs. I knew that guy was going to be really good. He beat me in Dubai and he is probably going to beat me again and hopefully I beat him too.
Do you think he's good enough to win the X-Fighters title?
Oh, he's a contender for sure. Last year in the beginning of the season he had some injuries, missed Egypt, through the season he got better and better and then in Rome he won. So I have always reckoned Dany Torres as a contender.
Do you think your plan of spending the winter in California was a smart move for you, riding wise?
Yeah, it was a really smart move for me. First of all, having the opportunity to ride a lot of motocross and then go to the hills and ride some freestyle as well. But it's about having a good time on the bike and just really enjoying it, you know? Now the season has started and it's pretty intense to the end of December. Freestyle came from California and America rules dirt bike riding -- that's why they have the biggest tracks and there is money in it. Hanging out with Nate and Maddo and Twitch and Faisst is just a really great time, but it also helped keep me focused.
Are you going back to California this year or will you be staying in Spain?
Oh, Spain for sure. That joy and positive energy helped me go into that first contest, but when I got done with the contest I got my new set up here in Spain. I'm building a pool in my garden and I have my riding compound here, so I can kind of start fresh on the training and riding with my friends here. I like to change the air. If I stay more than three months at one place I start to get bored.
Is there anything you do in your off-the-bike training that is different from the other guys?
Yes. I don't know the program for all the riders, but I would definitely say that I am one of the more serious guys when it comes to physical fitness and nutrition. I probably would not be like that if it was not for my personal trainer, Errol Francis. He's a former world champion in kickboxing and he's my mentor. I work out with him two or three days a week and we talk a lot. He has been a champion and he has been up there. He knows what it's like to be on top, knows all the bulls--t, so I get a lot of good words from him. If I'm really down he brings me up and if I am too excited and maybe push it too hard, he will hold me down. He's a really good guy to have by my side.
So where do you think you might get your first victory this year?
Well, right now I have Brazil in my head. I've been to Brazil twice and the audience there is really great. I really feed from the audience there. You see a country like this where there sort of isn't a middle class. When I go to countries like this I like to see other things than just the rich side of it. Seeing the ghetto and the poor people just makes me think. It really woke me up when I went to Brazil in 2008 for the first time. So right now I am focused on Brazil and I really want to win there because I understand how much the people appreciate what we do. So, let's try Brazil first!
Andre Villa is off to a good start for the 2011 Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour.