When passion for something is so big it clears all obstacles, find ways and persists, then it lasts. In our sport it is not easy for the passion to last; our sport is rough, difficult, dangerous, costly, but there are with us some people who have persisted so long that they have become recognizable to all – famous. Their faces have graced all the biggest IRF events. They are excellent examples to the rest of us, that if we have the passion and perseverance, we too can enjoy this sport for a very long time and may also one day be famous! We talk to one such a person – Roberto Schifferle of the Italian Open Men’s team.
Zambezi, Orange, Pacuare, Gauley, Futaleufu, Soca, Noce, Dora baltea, Save…. and many more rivers are already on Roberto Schifferl’s list so far. He started rafting in 1995, before that he paddled kayaks on the river Isarco, his home river, when he was 15.
“I was 33 when I started with rafting as a racing sport. And I also founded a rafting company with my wife Karin.” – says Roberto, explaining to us how it all began with sport rafting. – “I started on the Vipiteno River, Isarco. In this sport I like the friendships, new rivers, getting a lot of experience and winning.” – And he has won many medals during his fantastic career. – “I have had no break. I participated at the World Championships from 1996, European Championships from 2000. I and my team are Italian champions continuously since 1996, that is 17 Italian Champions medals. I have won so many medals that I can’t mention all of them. You can see this on our home page.“ With such an amazing career behind you already and with you about to participate in the 2015 WRC in Indonesia, this deserves a special mention and to be recorded as part of the IRF’s history.
But tell me Roberto, how do you manage it all? – “Although I’m very proud and dedicated to our training my priorities are first family then my job and then paddling and training.”
Tell us what the first major IRF competition’s were like? What has changed? “At the beginning of the rafting sport competitions the rivers were extreme and teams were not so well prepared. There were also very few women’s teams and no youth teams. The athletes were nearly all rafting guides. And the championships were only for R6 Raft and no R4 Raft.
Then there were more races and more divisions, more women’s teams and youth teams, R6 plus R4 and more artificial canals. The rivers became easier and technical and the teams became better. Now it is not so easy to win a medal. You need very good preparation, good team members, a good day and a little bit of luck. Training and preparation now is far more professional. You have to paddle a lot on flat water and that’s not a nice thing when you are a rafter.” – That’s the truth. :) –
What is your vision of the future then? – “My vision for the future is that I don’t believe rafting will become an Olympic sport. That it remains like it is now. Number of competitors will increase especially the youth.” – And one of those youths, which is also fascinating in your case, is your son. – “My son Amadeus has been with me at several World Championships and European Championships. The most beautiful moment was in 2010 at the European Championship, R4, in Italy on the river Noce where we won together a gold medal in the Downriver. It was my best win and standing with him on the podium at the medal ceremony with our anthem playing was great. Now he has an injury to his shoulder and so must take a break.” – A pity. We wish him a fast recovery.
It is so great that such a rich history continues through to the present. Another reason for our conversation is that you depart soon for the WRC R6 in Indonesia. Roberto, introduce us to the Italian team.
“The team that won the Italian championship was: Roberto Schifferle – 53 years old, Thomas Waldner – 39 years old, Alex Zanella – 20 years old, Patrick Agostini – 20 years old, Michael Zanella – 16 years old, Mark Mair – 18 years old.
And for the World Championship it will be: Roberto Schifferle, Thomas Waldner, Alex Zanella, Patrick Agostini, Enrico Gheno, Riccardo Privato, Mattia Fellini”
“Our training plan for a week is:
- 1–2 x rafting
- 1-2 x kayaking
- 1-2 x biking
- 1-2 x gym
At the beginning there was more power paddling now we work more on teamwork and focus more on harmony. The guiding is more teamwork not like guiding with tourists. With my experience it’s clearer and you don’t get so nervous during the competition. With experience and feeling you move the raft more easily and quicker with speed.”
The WRC is the last competition of the season for the Europeans, with that ends a long 2015 season. Are you planning to see or do anything in Indonesia afterwards? “I haven’t planned anything for after WRC. I’m focused on the races, but I think my wife Karin is planning something after WRC, not in Indonesia. :) “
We leave you now Roberto, getting ready for another adventure in your life. It has been an honour and a pleasure to do this interview with you. Thank you!
I admire Robert’s accomplishments. Perhaps, out of them all, I most admire that he has had the opportunity to race with his son. But behind each of his successes is the support of his family, especially his wife, so we thank her for her support and allowing us to hang out with Roberto in Indonesia. ;)