I wanted to get your take on this. I grew up playing hockey and I remember our travel team playing a tournament in Montreal. We got smoked and on the way back the coach was like, "Oh, by the way, those kids were a level lower than you.” Real salt in the wounds type shit.
Anyway, you think of hockey and how it’s played and part of the culture in Canada. It’s almost an analogy for skateboarding in the US or historically, California. Obviously, that’s changed, but I think it’s interesting that the industry never shifted. You have huge brands out of Europe or the UK, but that never happened in Canada and the path to be pro has always been that you come to California to prove yourself. Dime is changing that of course, and there’s always been a rich skate culture in Canada, but I’m curious about your take and experience.
I like this. To bring it back to the hockey analogy. I never thought of it that way until you brought it up. Growing up in Canada, you’re always thinking, ‘Aw man if we just lived in California we’d be skating all year round.’ Right? In every neighborhood east of British Columbia, there are outdoor hockey rinks for most of the year. In that same sense, there’s an obvious advantage in being able to participate in something more often.
And where are the scouts going to be? They’re not at some rink in Orange County looking for the next Mario Lemieux or whatever.
No, and they're not going to be in Ottawa in the dead of winter looking for the next big skater. As a kid growing up in Ottawa, I would walk to the local rink and play hockey every night that I could during the winter because it was available to me. It’s a cool observation.
So when you got into skating, how’d you deal with the harsh weather? For me growing up in New England, you pretty much knew when the first real snow fell in early November it was a wrap until March, so you had to find a parking garage, especially as a kid with no way to get to an indoor park… and there weren’t many of those anyway.
Yeah, it wasn’t much different for me in Ottawa. There's definitely a lot of parking garages. To be honest, there wasn't a lot of skating in the winter for me. You’d fill your time occasionally in the parking garages. Eventually, there were some indoor parks in Ottawa that came and went. I think there was one that was called Capital that was around maybe for two or three years. That was pretty awesome to have because it was something that the owners would let you kind of escape when it closed and skate without pads. Montreal always had something going on.
There was a park called the Taj Mahal that was a two-hour drive from Ottawa. We’d day trip a few times a winter. This was me juggling school and sports and whatnot as a teenager. As far as being pro in Canada, what I’ve done or what Wade (DesArmo) did isn’t totally the same as say, Mark Appleyard or T.J. Rogers or Ryan Decenzo—going down and living in the States and making a name for yourself. I guess it’s less important now because everyone sees everything on the internet.
For me personally, establishing myself in the States over the last decade, but always living here serves as an advantage because I’m representing brands in a place that isn’t always served by America. It’s helpful to have someone local representing your brands, not just locally, but on an international scale as well. If I lived in Los Angeles this entire time, I might not have the same career. Who knows, right?
Do you like that Vancouver isn’t a skate tourist destination like Barcelona? You know, fewer people coming through to prove themselves on spots, etc.? I think about what it’s like being pro in New York City and having to go through a mental list of every trick that’s been done on a spot before you even think to film or take a photo.
To be fair, Vancouver has had well-established pros and spots for decades and there were the Slam City Jam contests, so people have always been coming through. But you’re right, people aren’t saving up money to live here for months like Barcy. But as far as tricks, I feel like the younger generation doesn’t really care what’s been done before at a spot. They don’t think of it in the same way.
For me, I don't really want to do the same thing as someone else and I don't want to do something worse. I'm trying to progress to a certain extent. So with limited spots, and over the years, so many good skaters skating them, it does get tough trying to one-up yourself and others constantly. I see younger skaters not really giving a shit and that makes me feel a number of different ways. On one hand, I’m like, ‘Do whatever you want’ but on the other, I think, ‘You just filmed a backside flip down those stairs that someone switch flipped 15 years ago.’
Building off that, I wanted to ask about your approach to skating. It’s really progressive and I assume that gets harder as you get older. You essentially chose a harder path, is that fair?
I mean, I'm not jumping down 15 stairs anymore, but I can still jump down some stairs. And over the last several years, I'm like, you know, I feel like I'm progressing and ledge skating more than I was before. Whether it’s manuals or ledges, you can learn other stuff that helps you progress. It seems to be more where you’re at, where you’re body is at. You have to adjust, but you can always find ways to challenge yourself.
It seems like taking care of your body is the key. If you weren’t concerned about progression, you might not be thinking about diet or wellness. It’s like, ‘Fuck it, I can pound some beers and do some slappys, whatever!’
Totally. And you can see that. It's pretty obvious what people are taking an active role in their health. The difference is glaring. Look at (Andrew) Reynolds. He’s probably the main example people bring up. And obviously P-Rod (Paul Rodriguez) and his comeback. I've seen some of the workouts he does and the amount of time and effort that he puts into getting himself back in shape is just inspirational.
It’s almost underrated. What he’s doing at 36-years-old. And if he can maintain that? It almost opens up a different career arc. It’s not just good for “his age,” it’s just great footage.
I mean, it's almost inevitable that somebody is going to say that, “Oh, it's really good for your age" or “Oh, that's really good for a girl or whatever," but I think those attitudes are changing a bit. But sometimes it is true. I have some buddies Rene and Randy who are in their 40s who skate the plaza a lot and seeing them switch flip or nollie back heel… it’s just awesome. When they were learning how to skate, a lot of people in their generation didn’t even skate switch and they’re switch flipping onto this manual pad.
Do you feel like you’ve reached a point where you’re really content with your career in skateboarding?
Definitely. I kind of wish I could do it all over again, to be honest. Not that I didn't have fun but I just look back on traveling—the balance of having a really good time partying and having to go to events, but also skate and film. It’s super fun, but when you take that to an extreme, it’s really hard on your body. But you can get away with it when you’re younger. Nowadays, it’s so much more fun to travel because I’m not really drinking and smoking like that—I do both just not on that level. You wake up earlier, you feel better, you do more with your day and you feel steady. You aren’t coping with the ups and downs of scraping yourself out of bed, hungover, knowing you need a few beers, or else you’re not moving. Sure, I’d do it differently, but I’m not one of those guys who's diehard about “No regrets!”
Oh yeah, anyone who claims that has the most regrets. Speaking of pounding beers, you’ve mentioned before that you used to have a bunch of beers during a session and I know that’s not uncommon, but it still blows my mind that people can skate that well buzzed or even blackout. What’s the drunkest part you’ve filmed?
That’s the weird thing about those Supra trips. We were constantly going on tours and putting out tour videos, so I didn’t really have an actual part during that time.
They eventually put out an accumulation of all my footage from years of traveling on tour, so yeah, that would be the one. I don't think I really skated at all on trips because I was more occupied preoccupied with "enjoying myself," I guess, air quotes on that. But then I think about it, and look at the footage and I feel like I generally looked ok even though there are tricks where I’m not even sure how many beers I drank that day.
It worked out, but at the same time, I would have been so much more productive if I wasn’t drinking like that. I’d end up having my go-to tricks and just sticking to my mold… applying those tricks everywhere we’d go. Yoga really helped with my body mobility, but also, just not drinking and not having that extra inflammation and having all your joints sore, you're able to think outside the box a bit and try different tricks that you wouldn't normally try. Sometimes I wouldn’t have much faith that I’d land a trick, but your body feels good enough that you’re willing to throw it out there.