TAPES-UP: Quiet man Kildemand making plenty of noise
HE MAY be a man of few words, but Peter Kildemand has done all his talking on the track after making the jump from a virtual unknown to the verge of the speedway elite in just four short years.
Prior to joining the Robins for the 2012 season the unassuming Dane had enjoyed two decent seasons with Workington in the Premier League, as well as a very brief affiliation with Elite League Coventry and a long association with boyhood club Fjelsted in his homeland, which proved to be the foundations of what has turned out to be a career destined for the top.
In his first year at Blunsdon the youngster from Odense quickly captured the imagination of the Wiltshire crowd with his entertaining riding style and all-action approach, bursting from reserve to heat leader as the Robins won the league for the first time in 45 years.
He has continued to make quick progress into the lucrative and ultra-competitive Polish Ekstraliga and towards the Grand Prix series and a possible World Cup appearance ever since but, had Kildemand been born a few years earlier, we may not have been treated to his spectacular, sometimes gravity defying, displays at all.
The 24-year-old essentially got into speedway by accident while his brothers Henrik and Jesper were busy with the Kildemand boys’ father Hans chasing a career in karting, learning his trade alongside friend Nicki Barrett who rode for Berwick in the Premier League last season.
Fortunately for the speedway community both Henrik and Jesper eventually gave up karting, allowing the Kildemands’ focus to be heavily directed in Peter’s direction, helping him develop a riding style which has entertained thousands of fans across the continent.
“I’ve been riding bikes since I was able to walk really, that’s what we did, but how I got into speedway was actually a pretty funny story,” he said.
“My two big brothers were doing go-karting to a pretty high level so my dad didn’t really have time to go out with me, because you have to be 10-years-old to do go-karting, so he bought me a speedway bike because one of my dad’s friends had a son my age and said I could go out and ride with him. He bought me a speedway bike when I was six and I went with him every week and started racing.
“My brothers quit go-karting when I was 15-years-old and my dad started coming with me again. It wasn’t that he wasn’t interested, it was that he simply couldn’t be in two places at once. From then that’s how it got going for me.
“Speedway was always just my hobby, it still is, but more so back then. I was doing a qualification in car mechanics and riding in Denmark but when I finished that, Workington called me up and I thought I’d try it. It went okay, I enjoyed it and that is how I am here now.”
And what of Kildemand’s thrilling style on the bike, which often appears to be putting the burger van on turn two at Blunsdon in danger and hundreds of hearts in mouths as he rides just inches from the fence?
“That’s developed a bit over time but it was always by style to be honest, I like to ride the bike hard and I hope people enjoy watching me,” he said.
“It’s just how I do things because it feels right for me. I know sometimes I can go very wide and maybe some people worry but I like to give it everything I have.
“In the last two years, since I’ve joined Swindon, things have gone really quickly and it’s really helped me improve because I love the track here and the club too. I still need to take things slowly and take it step by step.
“I’ve done Poland for a couple of years now and done the first division for two years to feel nice and comfortable and now I am doing my first year in the top division which is really good.
“I need to take it step by step because you don’t get anything from stepping up and being knocked back down again. I need to be patient and get it right.”
Kildemand’s success now sees him ride in four countries every single week during the season, as well as individual events throughout the year, meaning he has little time for his family at home or girlfriend Tina.
While those of us on the outside looking in may think waking up in a different country every day is a perfect way to see the world, talking to any speedway rider will quickly throw that idea out your head. The reality is a schedule tough on mind, body and bank balance and, while Kildemand insisted there is nothing he would rather do than ride his bike for a living, he knows the lifestyle he leads is tough on him and his loved ones.
“It’s always really hard, it’s good when you’re going good but really hard when you’re going bad,” he said.
“Sometimes you can have seven days in a row or something like that and it’s really tiring, especially all the travelling. It’s the most fun thing in the world to ride a bike for your job, I think anyway, but my girlfriend and my family say ‘you’re never home and we never see you,’ but it’s what I do.
“I see my girlfriend when I can but when I’m busy it’s hard. I try to see her when I ride in Denmark and she knew all about it before we were together so she’s okay with it. She must be because we have been together for a year and a half.”
Speedway riders of Kildemand’s quality do sometimes enjoy some down time during the season, but the Rob ins number one would much rather keep himself busy than catch up on sleep or relax at home.
“I like to hang out with my friends and I always like to be doing something,” he said. “I’m not one of those people who like being at home, doing nothing.
“If I have a spare couple of hours then I might take the mountain bike out, go for a run or play squash. Maybe even take the jet ski out if I really fancy something exciting.
“I always have to be doing something active because being busy takes your mind off things.”
And what is the next target for Kildemand?
“It’s all going okay for me at the moment and I’ve been going well so far so I have to keep the good work up and see what’s going on,” he said.
“I have goals for myself and that of course means the World Cup which would be brilliant to be a part of.
“At the moment I think it’s a possibility but then the season is long and we’ll have to see what happens. I can’t really see too many Danes in front of me but obviously there will be Nicki (Pedersen) Kenneth (Bjerre) and Niels (Iversen). They still need two more guys and I think I should be one of them.
“I’ve been in the GP Challenge before and I would like to think I can be there again and then see what happens, but I would love to ride in the GP one day.
“Being Danish champion would be pretty cool too.”