Ioana’s future plans are bold and one of them being the European Championships in Romania in 2023. We spoke with her and found out more about everything she has been able to do so far and how she sees the future of skateboarding in Romania.
How did surfing turn from a hobby into a task to grow the sport in Romania as well?
I’ve been surfing for 10 years. I discovered it in the United States, where I went to study. I was looking for a place to exercise and relax after school, and so I discovered a surfing park right next door. So I started. There was no such thing in our country at that time. There was only the option of going by boat in Snagov. I really enjoyed it and kept investing in this cable skating system.
When I returned to the country, the first such park, on two poles, Zumbaala Wake Park, was opened in Mogoșoaia. Hence, this sport began to develop because we were gathering the community there and trying to bring as many children as possible, to teach them to ride the ropes. In 2017, we also had our first 5 pole surfing park, A2, near Bucharest, in Soarelui Autostrada. Once we had a cable on five poles, the sport evolved further because, compared to a cable on two poles, where you can give a man, at 10-20 minute intervals, on a five pole cable, I can give six people at the same time. Also in 2017, I went to the first competition, in Austria, that’s when the idea of creating a union came to me because it bothered me that the word “unknown” was written next to my name instead of the name of the country, because Romania did not have an official and internationally recognized affiliation.
So, did you get down to business and start the federation in Romania as well?
The moment in Austria encouraged me to start the steps. But when I saw how cumbersome the actual incorporation procedures were, I left it alone. Instead, we created the Romanian Snowboarding Association, to which we belong in the International Federation, and in this way we began to lobby for the country and future athletes from Romania. But the pandemic was the moment I started working on the union. If I was still stuck at home, I said it was a good time to prepare the documents for the facility. I’ve been working on this goal for a good few months. It took me about three months to write all the papers, all the applications, translate the international regulations and much more. In the end, I had a foundation file of about 300 pages. (laughs) It was a huge thing. I submitted it to the Ministry of Sports, they called me, and after the three demonstrations in front of the committee of inspectors, representatives of the ministry and the incorporation procedures in court, we finally had the federation.
What is your strategy with establishing the union that you are president of?
1st International Competition, 1st National Championship, 1st International Training Course for Romanian Referees. So far we have accredited five Romanian referees internationally and had our first international competition in Sibiu. While the judging cycle was in progress, I saw news on Facebook about the opening of the pool at Binder Lake, in Sibiu. When I saw what was there, I said, “We should go see what’s going on and meet the Lady Mayor.” On June 1, the Lake Bender complex opened, on June 4 I saw the news on Facebook, and in a few days I was in Sibiu and met with the mayor, Astrid Fodor.
My thought was to do a maximum three-star competition, as I imagined Binder’s terms for such a competition. The number of stars in the competition also tells you what kind of participants you will be attending, because in each such competition, the number of stars also indicates the maximum number of points an athlete can get, and the ultimate goal of the best of them is to collect the number of points needed to participate in the world championship. For example, the European Championship has five stars and six stars in the World Championships. In Binder, after seeing the venue and reception conditions, I realized we could organize a four star competition. That’s why we’ve been able to bring some of the best riders in the world here. In addition, the prizes were generous: first place – 1000 euros, second place – 700 euros, third place – 500 euros for males and females.
From the founding of the Federation to the first international four-star competition, not long passed. Everything went like clockwork…
That’s what I was talking about with the international referees I brought to Sibiu, that there is no such precedent in the history of the IWWF. A newly created union that in the same year managed to organize a four-star competition.
What do the contest participants think?
They were happy! As an athlete, I know exactly what an athlete needs in a mindfulness competition. It needs several areas: hydration, healthy nutrition, physiotherapy, heating. All these things you meet less often at international competitions. But I wanted the athletes to have everything they needed for the perfect competition. With the help of our sponsors, we have been able to offer all of this to them so that they can feel good about being athletes in the field and that they are respected. I really loved that they enjoyed all of this.
The Polish team, for example, when they got to Bender, went directly to the warm-up area, where they warmed up for an hour before entering the water. Then, in physical therapy, the day before the competition, there was a queue of 15 athletes of different contracts. They were handled by Marcel Profresco, one of our top sports physiotherapists, who volunteered for this competition. The next day, all the athletes who passed his hand competed smoothly and with full energy.
After the World Championships in Argentina (2019), this year she will participate in the World Championships in Thailand in October. are you ready?
Yes, I can’t wait to go! The tournament will take place at the end of October and I hope to have two more players with me who will participate in the “Men’s Open” category. I would like to go together, to be a delegation from Romania. I hope they answer in the affirmative!