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Olympic Skateboarding: It’s A Thing Now

August 26th, 2016   
Only three weeks after the official inclusion of Skateboarding, as a sport, into the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games, there has been a lot of talk, with love and with hate, about the decision.
We wanted to share the the view of our editor, Keegan Guizard, on the topic. So we’re sharing his own words direct from his own blog:
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On August 3rd, 2016, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) made the very public announcement that skateboarding, along with surfing, sport climbing, karate and softball/baseball, will be official Olympic sports in the 2020 Summer Olympic games in Tokyo. The mainstream world, right along with the mainstream media, received this news with a smile and many congratulations to hobbyists of each of these “sports.” But in the case of at least one of those new Olympic sports, participants did not feel 100% positive about the inclusion. Coming from the skateboarders’ area of interest, many skaters in the US (and internationally) didn’t have the greatest attitude toward the new sport becoming “Olympic” in stature.
Many purists of the skateboarding world, a.k.a. real “core” skaters, feel strongly that skateboarding is something for skaters, by skaters and not for the masses. Skateboarding is one thing (and sometimes the only thing) that remains sacred for many skaters around the world, especially those that began doing it before it rose to mass appeal and popularity through media and entertainment. Skateboarding, historically has been dirty, risky and too vulgar for the neighbor’s kids, so to speak. But over the last 20+ years, skateboarding has become more commercialized and, therefore, accessible to many many more humans, especially in America.
The popular rise of skateboarding to the public has been a slow and inconsistent path, but it is now, more than ever, exposed (in certain contexts) to the greater population. The introduction of Street League was in 2010, and it has now become a staple amongst many skaters to follow and fanaticize. Contest prize purses have swelled, interested corporate sponsors have become more plentiful and fame of certain pro skaters in the mainstream has become commonplace.
US “core” skateboarders are frustrated by this, because they feel that they would be skateboarding whether or not it was popular. And many times they’re completely right. Skateboarding is hot right now, but there is a close community of skateboarders that will continue to love skateboarding every day, for better or for worse, until they die. And those are the people that feel embarrassed and sickened by the presence of “posers” and fair-weather fans that don’t truly understand the culture. In addition to the insincere skaters, the large companies pumping money into skateboarding right now may very well back out at its peak, when kids move on to the next “Xtreme Sport” or favorite past-time.
Skating the streets of Queens, NY, only for the sake of skating. Photo: Matt Miller

Skating the streets of Queens, NY, only for the sake of skating. Photo: Matt Miller

I think any thoughtful and open-minded person could sympathize and understand why a skater might feel this way. Especially someone who’s put decades of their life and life’s work into the thing we call skateboarding. There are a lot of things happening behind the scenes – attending city hall meetings to get skateparks built, going to court for skateboarding tickets, building backyard halfpipes and crowd-funding DIY concrete spots in illegal places. Real skateboarding includes all of those things and always has.

Now, in 2016, Skateboarding is an Olympic sport, whether us skaters like it or not. Many skateboarders are indifferent. Yet there are also arguments by skaters in favor of Olympic Skateboarding.
Skateboarding’s inclusion in the Olympic Games is not the first time it has been commercialized on a world stage, however this is the largest thus far… Street League and the X Games have already brought skateboarding to American television screens and the forefront of Instagram and other social media channels. It has been done before. But this time, skateboarding can be broadcasted to the world at large, to those that never have been introduced to skateboarding, and even to those that do not have the means to skate. The Olympics, with the right guidance from the IOC, the ISF (International Skateboarding Federation) and the FIRS (Fédération Internationale Roller Sports), will show skateboarding in its truest form through competition. But there’s a big “if” there.
For competition skaters, this would mean greater stakes, bigger rewards and faster evolution of skating talent worldwide. The progression will be unprecedented, and the ability to make a living for the best of the best will be better than ever. For those that reject “contest skating,” big corporate-sponsored skateboarding and everything involved in said realm of the “sport,” it’s widely thought to be a different story.
Luan Oliveira does a 360 flip at a Street League contest. Photo: FoxSports.com

Luan Oliveira does a 360 flip at a Street League contest. Photo: FoxSports.com

For everyone on the other side, the street skaters, the core purists of skateboarding: 1. Skateboarding will not change for them. If anything, those that are full-time training for the biggest contests won’t be focused on filming video parts any longer, leaving the landscape more open and creative for others to do their own thing. 2. Skateboarding will be more respected (in general) worldwide and will probably result in more people being cool with us skating spots at/near their homes and places of businesses. There will be less hassles of skating street, which has already begun from pure public opinion and modern architects designing skate-friendly obstacles. 3. There will be more places built for skaters to skate. The boom of modern skate plazas will continue, as more and more public officials will likely envision a future for skateboarders in their cities & towns.

Sure, there will always be a push back from core skaters when you bring up competition at all. And sure, there will always be classic kooks who will never understand or truly try to understand skateboarding from our perspective. But such is the world we live in. In the end, more money will come into skateboarding, and along with the money will come endless criticism from the passionate gatekeepers of our skateboarding culture. But if those seeking a rewarding skateboarding career are being paid fairly to represent (insert here) brand, is there anything really wrong with this picture?
Skateboarding is one thing that brings people together. We can go anywhere in the world, language barrier irrelevant, and go skating with fellow skateboarders that will look out for us. Skateboarding is one of few true unifiers. It is powerful, and it’s here to stay. Don’t let the kooks break it apart. Those looking to make a buck in our industry aren’t going away; we can’t make them. So let’s make the best of it and stick together in this turbulent landscape. Brazilian, American, Australian, Canadian or otherwise, we are all skaters, and we make of it what we want. Nationality aside, we are all skateboarders. Skateboarding will be present at the Olympics. Will we abandon it, for the fakes to try and replicate? Or will we come together and show the world why skateboarding is the sickest..?
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What do YOU think about Olympic Skateboarding? Or even skating in general?
Let us know in the comments and share!

Dew Tour visits Long Beach

July 27th, 2016   
Mountain Dew has long been the ringmaster of all Dew Tour events, reaching as far as Portland, New York City, Vegas and San Francisco. Each city has inspired that contest’s terrain, unique to its own spirit. And this past weekend, Dew Tour took its traveling event to one of the United States’ true epicenters of skateboarding: Long Beach, CA.
The sun was out and raining UV rays for the crowd. The temperatures were hot, but the caliber of skating was making the event even hotter. From our long-time favorite pros like Theotis Beasley and Billy Marks to young guns like Louie Lopez and Tre Williams, the rosters were stacked and ready to fire. The summer heat of Southern California wasn’t enough to stop any of them. The first day of competition invited eighteen of the world’s most talented skaters to compete at the fabricated courses in the parking lot of the Long Beach Convention Center and Aquarium. The second day consisted of Dew Tour’s first ever pro team competition.
The calm before the storm at Dew Tour Long Beach

The calm before the storm at Dew Tour Long Beach

The most unique aspect of the weekend’s contests was the multi-faceted concentration of skateboarding required for a great all-around performance and a high-placing contest finish. There were four separate and very distinct courses set up for the riders: “Tech,” “Bowl,” “Rails” and “Gaps.” The Tech Course consisted of myriad boxes, ledges, step-ups, flat rails, and manual pads, each with their own shape, dimensions and angles. The course was well-designed and suggested lots of ways to hit them in lines. In the team challenge, TJ Rogers represented bLind Skateboards in the best way possible to bring them the Tech section win going forward.
The Bowl Course consisted of one square bowl with the west-side wall jutting in a bit, the east-side wall hosting an 8-foot-tall extension with deathbox and the northside wall with a steep tombstone extension. The transition looked fast but mellow enough to really unleash a full bag of tricks. Team-wise, Curren Caples took the top spot in the Bowl section for Flip Skateboards to put his team in a better position for the Rails section up next.
The Dew Tour’s Rails Course was one for the books! With A-frame rails, rainbow rails, long flat rails and standard hand rails, there were options for every grind and slide variation you could think of. With no advantage to any one rider, the Rails section was completely annihilated by each and every selected Rails section rider. When the teams took the courses, Micky Papa killed it for bLind Skateboards to pull in the Rails section top spot and secure a 1st place overall standing headed into the final section.
The last section of the contest was the Gaps section. Understandably, the final course to be skated, the gaps are the bangers of skateboarding. They provide the most “oooh”s and “ahhh”s of any other section, especially for the non-skaters in the crowd. Everyone can relate to hucking it and making the board spin, so the Gaps course took the hammers to the end of each day. Plan B SkateboardsChris Joslin stomped the most and best tricks in the final section to se

The bLind squad, accepting their 1st Place Team Challenge finish!

The bLind squad, accepting their 1st Place Team Challenge finish!

cure a Gaps course win for his team.

When the long days were done and the crowds had been pleased, the Awards Ceremonies were the only things left for the crowds to witness. And the glory was there for the individual winners and Team Challenge winners alike. Coming in the top three spots for individual competitors were Ryan Decenzo (3rd), Louie Lopez (2nd), and Ryan Sheckler (1st). Congrats to Ryan on his 16th Dew Tour win at Dew Tour’s first ever contest in Long Beach! On the second competition day of Dew Tour, the Team Challenges proved bLind Skateboards to be the ultimate victors. Big ups to the bLind guys and all of their hard work!
So much entertainment for one weekend! After all the ups and down, the makes and the slams, Dew Tour in Long Beach is a wrap! The first Long Beach tour stop winners are history, and the tricks are now mere footage. It’s special that Dew Tour decided to make its presence known in Long Beach, one of the hottest hotbeds in skateboarding. We’re grateful for an amazing event, and we hope to see you all out there next year!

Long Beach Agenda Show

July 13th, 2016   
And so it was time. That time of year, for Agenda in June. Long Beach, California had drawn people from far and wide within the skateboarding industry. Shop owners, sales reps, brand managers, and pro skaters alike. The Long Beach Convention Center housed the trade show, but skateboarding and other lifestyles held the vibes together.

Agenda – June 2016

Skateboarding isn’t the only activity that fuels the brands at this trade show, but skaters definitely make the show what it is. Industry vets, interns and road reps all came together to stay in touch, open new accounts, reveal new product lines, and just hang out! Always a blast to get together with skate-minded folk, Agenda makes the time for everyone to convene.

Jamie’s Leap of Faith

Most of our favorite brands were there and showing off future product. Many of the brands we carry were hanging out, and we were stoked to say “hi.” Pizza Skateboards had a popular spot, Dwindle Dist. had a cool booth (complete with insert-face-here image of the Leap of Faith), and Surplus Distribution was repping Mystery and LE!
The after-parties and free goodies didn’t hurt ;), but we we’re just stoked to be around skating and skaters in Southern California.
Can’t wait ’til the next one in January!

7th Annual “Skate For A Cause”

June 20th, 2016   
On May 7th, we were excited to attend the 7th Annual Skate For A Cause event, put on by the winner of this year’s Eric Stricker Memorial Award, the Sheckler Foundation. Ryan Sheckler, Gretchen Sheckler-Hachee, and all of the staff at the foundation do so much to grow and build their mission. Hats off!
The big event, skate contest(s), races and tent festival included, was held at the Etnies Skatepark of Lake Forest. The skies were dark with rain clouds to the north and northeast but beautiful, blue and sunny to the south. The park managed to stay dry for the entire length of the day, so we were in for a real treat! Young and old(er), short and tall, big and small; everyone was out to rip or watch the rippage, and there was a little something for everyone. Whether you came to watch the Legends shred the pool or the new blood skate the big stairs & rail, you were not to be disappointed.
The day started at 10 am. The gates opened to the carnival village (we like to call it “tent city”), and practice for the bowl competition was LIVE. From 11:30-11:50am, The Adaptive Actions Sports crew put on an awesome demo for the crowd! Whether on a board, bike or wheelchair, these guys & girls were so impressive, we can’t wait til the next one!
Founder of Adaptive Action Sports, Oscar Loreto, kickflips for the crowd.

Founder of Adaptive Action Sports, Oscar Loreto, kickflips for the crowd.

At noon, the TRANSWORLD Legends Bowl Contest officially started, and the next hour was full of great skating from our favorites, including Christian Hosoi, Jim Gray, Eddie Reategui, and more. The dark gray bowl at the skatepark (the one with four pockets and stairs in the shallow) was the one selected for the contest, & it got absolutely obliterated! So much fun to watch.

Not too long after the Legends wrapped up (Congrats to the crowd favorite, Hosoi, for winning!), the Lume Cube-sponsored Skater Cross contest got going! It’s not very often that you see a contest like this. Skater Cross is just like Snow Cross for snowboarders in the Olympics, if you’re familiar with that. There are cones set all around a flow course for skaters to race to and within. There’s a one-on-one format that makes sure it stays exciting for all spectators. And people aren’t afraid to get a bit physical with each other. So you can imagine the entertainment of one-on-one real-time racing over concrete humps, corners and obstacles. With opportunity for “slam-of-the-day.” it was hyped up! Congrats to Daniel Vargas for walking away with the Skater Cross win for that day.

Chris Joslin's frontside heelflip in the Red Bull Tech Center contest

Chris Joslin’s frontside heelflip in the Red Bull Tech Center contest

The more traditional contests followed, including the Red Bull Tech Center Best Trick, Oakley Tranny Best Trick, and  Tilly’s Stairs Hubbas Rails Best Trick. The Red Bull-sponsored Best Trick contest entailed a bump to barrier from a large bank in the street course and the bump to rail in the park. So many came out to shred on the course! Some highlights came from Greg Lutzka, Alex Midler, Kane Sheckler, and Kurtis Colamonico. Big ups to Lutzka for taking it home with a few sick backside nosebluntslide variations and then some!
The transition best trick contest was a fun one to watch, with Daniel Vargas and Nora Vasconcellos, Dave Bachinsky, Charlie Blair, and others competing. Oakley fronted some cash to sponsor and everyone showed us their best stuff on the two main quarterpipes in the street course. Charlie ultimately brought it home with a massive frontside flip, blunt kickflip to fakie, backside 360 nosegrab, and many others. Congrats Charlie boy!

The ender for the day, was as usual, the “techgnar” section with the 11 stair, round rail, square rail, and hubba. Although all the action was going down on the stairs and rails, it was one for the books, for sure! Sierra Fellers, Chris Cole, Chris Joslin, Tre Williams and Tony Tave were some of the names

Kevin Romar nollie heelflips in the Tilly's Best Trick contest.

Kevin Romar nollie heelflips in the Tilly’s Best Trick contest.

throwing themselves down the gap. Each person had a mission on a trick or a few, and it was gnarly to see what they all had in store for the crowd. Some highlights included switch backside heelflip and switch frontside bigspin heelflip from Chris Joslin, nollie boardslide and switch heelflip from Sierra Fellers, and switch frontside kickflip and japan air from Chris Cole. But don’t talk our word for it! Check out the coverage below for yourself… Much love to Joslin for taking home first!

Following the big gap finale, the crowd watched as awards (big checks!) were given to the winners and participants from the entire day. The excitement on the faces of everyone present was truly special. A huge part of the greater skate community came out, and the fulfilling feeling of positive impact was palpable. You could feel it in interactions with everyone, and you could see it in their faces and body language. The awards were handed out, and all was good. But even more, the raffles tickets were called, and all the kids got hooked up!
We’ll have the figures on how much money they raised soon enough. But we can tell you from a first-person experience that the Sheckler Foundation does good work, at least through their Skate For A Cause event in Lake Forest.
Stoked for the stoke. Can’t wait till next year’s Skate For A Cause!

Thrasher Magazine’s Bust or Bail: Cinco de Slammo

May 10th, 2016   
Rolling up to that thing… Wow. We’re talking about the double set. Approaching the four-flat-four is intimidating. But the triple set usually draws an immediate reaction of “No, Hell No.” Jeremy Wray set a precedent in skateboarding history in the 1990s by ollying the triple set (four-flat-four-flat-four) outside at the San Diego Sports Arena. The footage is timeless and, at the time, was incredible for many. Jeremy did something that almost everyone considered impossible. Even he has admitted in interviews that he didn’t think it was possible for a long, long time.
Let’s skip ahead a couple of decades to Cinco de Mayo, 2016. Thrasher and the boys made the trek south to SD, CA and set up a permit to own the San Diego Sports Arena triple set for one day. It would be a free for all. It would be gnarly. It would be Thrasher’s. It would be “Cinco de Slammo.”
Courtesy of Keegan Guizard

Courtesy of Keegan Guizard

When we arrived, the crowd was already thick and the energy already rowdy. We were minutes late, but the skaters had already started hucking themselves down the double set. Cyril Jackson, Ryan Decenzo, Billy Marks… It seemed like every type of skater that would hit a big set was there to hit this one. Skating the double set, all sorts of tricks were going down. Switch tre, double flip, nollie tre, fake heel, the list goes on and on… And the slams were definitely present. No big gap session goes without some falling. Skaters young and old, short and tall, were eating shit for the viewing pleasure of the greater San Diego skate community. And, dare we say, it was LIT.
After a while , we were all reminded that the session happening was only a preview and a warm-up for the monster gap of the triple set. The behemoth is intimidating at first sight. There’s no doubt of that to anyone. But the fear that it brings to each skater is backed up by the simple fact that no one had done anything other than an ollie over it. That day – May 5th, 2016 – there was a roll-in ramp, a camera crew, and crowd full of fans, so you know it was on and our favorites were gonna go big.
The anticipation built more and more until finally, Phelps sent it off. With several words, many profane and a few indecipherable, the event crew removed the barrier from the bottom of the triple set, and It was off to the races for all the homies. It took a good amount of time for the first person to roll away from an ollie. Daniel Cutcliffe pulled the first ollie, and the floodgates opened with that. Backside 180 (CJ), frontside 180 (Sandoval), tre flip (Joslin), and so many more… Ryan Decenzo nailed the first kickflip down that thing. They kept coming, and it was hard to believe that people were one-upping each other over and over on this thing.
In true Thrasher form, the local news guy (Fox 5) who tried to barge the event for his own coverage was kicked out. Verbally harassed, he began to walk away slowly, but that wasn’t enough for Phelper, Nasty Neckface, and all the others. Tony Vitello had the camera guy against the wall, really getting him out and away from the event when Chris Joslin blasted (and landed) a backside bigspin down the triple set. The roaring support of kicking out the unwelcome news man doubled up with the raw yells of stoke for the trick, and the whole place was going off! the excitement grew as people continued to land tricks down the triple. New blood, Enzo Cautela, launched a successful hardlfip. But the ultimate trick: although it wasn’t the last one of the day, Tommy Sandoval, local to SD, lifer, tried & true skateboarder, landed a perfect frontside flip down the stair set. I would say it was a fairy tale moment, but that wouldn’t be very “Skate & Destroy” of me. Rather, it was a core skater lifetime achievement. That heavy space in time when Tommy got emotional was significant to skateboarding in San Diego as a whole. He’s worked hard for the duration of his career, not always getting the clean breaks he needs. But he showed us on Cinco de Slammo that he’s still got the heart, still got the balls, still got the skills, to show up and buck up for all of skateboarding.
Cheers, skateboarding. Cheers to you Tommy Gunz. And cheers to you Thrasher for putting on an unforgettable event.

LA Local Premiere: LYSSOPHOBIA

April 22nd, 2016   
When we first arrived, light was barely present, and everyone was content in the shadows. There was the essence of a party in the air but an even heavier feeling of anticipation. When I first heard about the premiere, it was from an employee at Transworld Skateboarding. I knew, based on that recommendation, that it was a solid plan to make it out. A night in downtown LA to support local skateboarding and drink some beers with others that share the love of skating: sounds good to me!
The talented boys of LYSSOPHOBIA.

The talented boys of LYSSOPHOBIA.

Lyssophobia (that’s defined: the fear of going insane) was an appropriate title for this video, as it was absolutely bonkers. I mean, we recognized a few of the names on the list of talent, including Welcome Skateboards-repping Daniel Vargas and rail chomper Dylan Witkin. But we weren’t anticipating the kind of street skate destruction that came through those reels of film (or from that .mp4) onto the screen. The video could not have disappointed anyone with any expectations. The skating was well-rounded, the music was unexpected, and the clips were well-edited to the tracks. There wasn’t a moment in the video when we felt bored, although there were a few “WTF” moments, which we’re not complaining about.
As we all know, “sometimes skateboarding involves not skating,” so the video premiere isn’t just about the video itself. The premiere is a metaphor for the congregation of skate scenes in each and every community. It’s a time and place for skaters to rejoice the lifestyle and praise their local heroes. And most of all, its a time to get silly with your bros and girls over a few (…okay, many) drinks. Thanks to Lagunitas Brewing Co. for sponsoring and providing the booze for all of us skate rats and beautiful ladies. It was much appreciated and used responsibly, for the most part.
The premiere is less of an excuse to party and more of a cause for celebration. Skaters like to party, just like normal people like to party. Some skater DON’T party, just like some people don’t party. The premiere of a full-length skate video is an occasion afforded by the hard work of a select group of guys. It’s a reason to revel with and recognize those that have been working hard at their craft. It’s the best time to come together and keep skateboarding alive and well!
Check out the video for yourself! Pick up a copy here, check Transworld’s website for individual parts, or see the teaser below. But whatever you do, always remember to support your OWN local skate scene by showing love to the local skaters, the local shop, the local park, and all things that keep YOUR scene alive.
Skate and appreciate. Help us grow.

KOTR Goes To VICELAND

April 15th, 2016   
For years, Thrasher Magazine has been organizing and documenting their King Of The Road series. What started in the early 2000s, took a brief hiatus and continued in the late 2000s, has become a staple in skateboarding media.
King Of The Road (KOTR) is not just another video series. It’s not just another tour. It’s not just another challenge. It is one of the most highly anticipated video series in the context of one of the gnarliest tours chock full of challenges for some of the best skateboarders on the planet to conquer.
KOTR has effectively encapsulated all aspects of street skateboarding and road life as a skater. From the city-specific challenges to the weird and wonderful, each challenge represents something in skateboarding, silly, gnarly, and everything in between.
It was a couple months ago that we started asking ourselves, “What happened to KOTR 2015? Is the content being published?” Sure enough, the footage was captured but never released. … Yet. It was recently unveiled that 2015’s King Of The Road would be shown in a brand new format. VICE’s new channel, “VICELAND,” which features new and edgy programming, is premiering Thrasher’s King Of The Road over the course of a season of twelve hour-long episodes.
Many forgot that it was never aired, but some were chomping at the bit for their KOTR fix. Our thoughts on the new collaboration were as follows:
First off, in the interest of VICELAND, it’s crucial to recruit outside programming to truly create a diverse line-up. King Of The Road is exactly the kind of thing you won’t find anywhere else. So Cheers to VICE and Hell Yeah for VICELAND.
King Of The Road, Baby!

King Of The Road, Baby!

Thrasher is a unique brand that sells apparel but is and always has been a media company. As the longest-running skateboarding magazine that has never changed ownership, it’s important for them to stay relevant in the context of today’s media landscape. VICE has built a cult following among the fringe of skateboarding culture, all things “hipster,” and is the perfect platform for partnership.
It’s a little bit of a bummer that to watch King of the Road, you have to have access to the VICELAND channel. Sorry Thrasher, but we know that there will be a lot of skaters not paying for VICELAND that won’t ever see King of the Road because of this. It’s a solid move, but it brings about an exclusivity that is a bit contrary to the spirit of skateboarding. It’s a pain for us skaters who don’t own TVs, but it also makes for unique content that isn’t available everywhere.
The amount of video prepared to fill out twelve hour-long episodes is bonkers! With the help of VICE cameras and staff, the full show will give a much deeper look in to the van life, piss bottles and all. However, we’ll see if the additional camera crew creates a less-than-desirable effect on the quality of the tour (spots busted, makeouts diverted, etc.).
All in all, we’re pretty stoked on the Thrasher x VICE action coming soon (April 28th). There will be setbacks involved, but with those also come huge benefits from partnering with VICE.
If anything, VICELAND just got cooler. Let’s see how it goes, boys. Do whatever it takes to see the show: get a bootleg plug-in for VICELAND, make friends with someone who has it, or get a job at VICE… No matter how you do it, be sure to check it out & let us know what you think!

Dubbed Rip City For A Reason

April 7th, 2016   
Portland is a hell of a place. Or some would call it “heaven.” As staff writer and skater, I’ve been making recent trips there, but it’s been a destination since before I was alive. The year 1990 supposedly marks the beginning of the Burnside DIY, but it was even before that when Portland, OR started to attract skaters.
Mt. Hood looming behind Portland's skyline. Courtesy of SVP Portland.

Mt. Hood looming behind Portland’s skyline. Courtesy of SVP Portland.

A sort of polar opposite of Los Angeles, climate-wise, Portland offers an entirely different type of skateboarding hub to the global family. While Southern California never sees much rain and serves as what’s commonly considered the street skating capital of the world. The Northwest US receives lots of precipitation and contains some of the most fun concrete skateparks in the world. And the biggest concentration of them… It’s a less obvious mainstay of the worldwide skate scene that has made and maintained its niche in skateboarding and in many people’s minds.
The landscape there is lush, green, and glorious. The people are mellow. The skaters are serious, dedicated, and talented. It’s a great place to be a skater. If you can deal with the wetness and/or skating Burnside. And speaking of Burnside… The crustiest grail you’ll ever find is nestled neatly between a semi-empty truck lot and a brand-new building, right under the infamous Burnside Bridge. From the back wall of the park, you can get a clear view down the north side of the bridge to the incredibly tacky and beautiful “Portland, Oregon!!” sign.
You’ll see things at Burnside you’ll only see at homeless communes. And you’ll see things at Burnside that you’ll only see at the X Games. It depends on the day, but sometimes you’ll see all of it at once. Just turn your head. That place under the bridge is one of the most unique, even amongst its peers. FDR in Philly gets grimy, and the beer flows strong. But it still doesn’t have the same intimacy of Burnside. Washington Street in San Diego is intimidating, and the yells of stoke are long, but they’ll never deal  with weather like the locals of Burnside. Every other skatepark might have a safe place for you to put down your cell phone, and a grill to lay your tongs, but it just never will be Burnside.
Photo from under the Burnside Bridge. From @collegiateskate on Instagram.

Photo from under the Burnside Bridge. From @collegiateskate.

Don’t misconstrue what I’m saying here: Portland isn’t only special because of Burnside. That’s like saying New York City is special solely because of Staten Island (no offense SI homies!). But it is (as a skateboarder) one place that completely encapsulates the raw attitude and a unique experience that reflects the unique and raw experience of Portland, OR. As an outdoors enthusiast, musician, artist, softball leaguer, or a number of other things, Portland is just as rad.
But don’t let the word spread too far… The rent is TOO damn high.

Skateboarding’s Newest “Certi-Fried” Pro

March 30th, 2016   
As skateboarding continues to bring new talent up through the ranks, we continue to see our favorites ascending from flow to pro while others burn out and slowly disappear. It stokes us out to see those that make it to “the top,” convincing us of their bad-assery, clip by clip. There’s a relatively constant (but not consistent) supply of new pros in the game, and one of the most recent is Baker Skateboards’ own Rowan Zorilla.
Rowan's always on the look-out for new spots.

Rowan’s always on the look-out for new spots.

Rowan, although a Southern California native, did not take the traditional route of exposure to success. A skate rat by choice, and a Shep Dawg by nature, he fell into a very unique basket of talent. Raised by the California sun in Vista, RoZo grew up under the influence of many of skateboarding’s elite and most influential. And pushed by a heavy crew of peers, he’s no doubt developed into one of today’s heaviest rippers.
Alongside true killers like Taylor Kirby, Riley Hawk, and Taylor Smith, Rowan showed us his unique style and trick bag while riding with the Shep Dawg crew. At first, his style was an acquired taste; people had never seen someone who skated fast with flailing arms and charging intention as strong as Rowan’s. The Shep Dawgs, without any dispute, became a hot topic and one group that skaters everywhere wanted to see more of. As skater fame came, riders were snatched up by board companies and shoe companies alike. Riley was first, going to Baker. Then, Kirby went to Deathwish, T-Spliff was off to Foundation (and then Mystery), AJ Zavala went to Slave, and others found sponsor homes too. Rowan joined Mr. Hawk at Baker Boys Dist. under Baker Skateboards and never turned back.

Following his firm placement at Baker, Vans published their first ever full-length skate video, “Propeller.” The video was a huge hit and featured Rowan prominently as an up-and-comer in our world we call skateboarding. We’d all seen some footage of

Covers, baby! Thrasher Magazine - July 2015

Covers, baby! Thrasher Magazine – July 2015

Rowan’s “Propeller” part really showed off a more mature style while revealing this true all-terrain ability on a board. His thorough job of ripping for Vans’ feature film was followed by the Thrasher Magazine cover of his frontside wallride, and the rest is history.

As of March 22nd, 2016, Rowan Zorilla is officially pro for Baker Skateboards! And, of course, Baker released a proper 12-minute edit to show us all. The best part: the video is a Baker team video, with Rowan as the (well-deserving) ender.
Check out the edit for yourself if you haven’t already! It’s worth a watch, and then several more. Rowan also reps Independent, Spitfire, Modus Bearings, Happy Hour Shades, Shake Junt, and Psockadelic. Everybody brings it, and RoZo comes through with proper footage for a “Going Pro” announcement.
Rowan, we’re stoked! Keep ripping, and we’ll keep being stoked. Find his Baker board on the site soon!
Long live the Shep Dawg legacy!

Adidas’ “The Skate” – A Skin Phillips Tribute

March 15th, 2016   
On a comfortable “winter” night in Los Angeles, in the heart of the Fairfax District of West Hollywood, Adidas had a few tricks up their sleeve for a great night – for a great photographer. On February 6th, Adidas Skateboarding partnered with Known Gallery to bring us the US premiere of a new signature shoe – The Skate. Sure, The Skate was fresh, clean, and impressive as a sneaker, but it’s what the shoe represented that we all showed up for.
Skin Phillips is a legendary skateboarding photographer that still spends his time in the streets with the Adidas skate team, getting photos for the biggest magazines and features in skateboarding. Being from a small town in Wales, Skin defines what it means to reach far for what you want. He was in the least likely location for a successful skate photographer to be born from, yet he made it happen for himself. Over decades, he has proved himself as a master of his trade, befriending some of the best skaters in the world and taking the photos that documented some of the best skating that has happened during that time. Yet, more importantly, he has actively become a part of the very fabric that has created professional skateboarding as we now know it.
Skin thanking the crowd in West Hollywood. Photo: Blair Alley

Skin thanking the crowd in West Hollywood. Photo: Blair Alley

When pros from different countries had not ties, when text messages did not exist, when tour dates were announced via flyers in skate shops, Skin was the guy to shoot photos for your skateboarding. He connected so many, performed at the highest level, and made everyone feel comfortable, all qualities of a world-class skateboarding photographer. Knowing all this, it should be no surprise that he’s recognized with his own shoe model, even for a shoe company as established and as revered as Adidas.
With the European ties, classic brand, and heavy line-up in the skate team that Adidas has, it only makes sense that Skin is staff photographer for Adidas Skateboarding. The show at Known Gallery on February 6th matched the influence that he has had over his career, as much as it possibly could have. The walls were covered with Skin’s photography from over the years, from classic lifestyle shots of our favorite skaters to the best skate photos of skaters old and new. There were gift bags for attendees that contained really nice offerings. There were the best people in skateboarding present (this is an understatement). And there were the letters of Skin Phillips’ name, scrawled on the wall behind his own signature shoe. Beers on RVCA, good vibes everywhere, and plenty of photos of Mark Gonzales to please any skate nerd. There was also a hint at SPOILER ALERT Marc Johnson now riding for Adidas Skateboarding…
We’re glad that we got to experience the show in honor of Skin and in the presence of so many legends. We’re stoked for you, Skin. And we’re stoked for YOU, skateboarding.