SIMPLY THE BEST
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Arrelle + Borzenko + Oliver + Pace + Rivera + Russell + Turgeon + Wong
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all GROM skateboarding
GromWatch: This issue’s groms to watch: Anthony Arrelle, Paul Borzenko, Jalen Oliver, Liam Pace, Ethan Rivera, Nick Rivera, Luke Russell, Morgan DesjardinsTurgeon, and Rylee Wong
International Watch: Keegan Palmer: Australia’s Keegan Palmer shares some pics and talks about his life as a skater
Gnarly Girls Read about two girls finding their way in the skating community.
Simply the Best: Jagger Eaton He earned the spot on our cover. Catch MV Qualifier: San Diego up with skating It was home to our phenom, Jagger first big contest. Eaton. Check out the pics and see how it all went down.
Skateistan Find out how this amazing organization has brought skateboarding to kids in Afghanistan and Cambodia.
06 DYLAN ROSA 39 WILLIAM WATSON 41 RYE AIRFIELD 56 MAX JENSON SKATES RYE 58 HIPPIE MIKE 75
Insider Report: Rye Airfield Qualifier Take a trip to Rye and get a full recap of our two-day contest.
PUBLISHERS’ NOTE ONE ON ONE ONE ON ONE PARK PROFILE INTERVIEW POINT OF VIEW
Icon: Todd Huber, The Mad Savvy Scientist at Skatelab Don’t miss this exclusive interview with Skatelab’s Todd Huber.
Insight: Heidi Lemmon, Why I Love Competitions Heidi Lemmon is committed to youth skateboarding. Read her take on contests and competitions.
It Starts with a Skateboard Travel to India to see how skateboarding and painting can go hand in hand.
OME TOTALLY AWES RAD
As the year draws to a close, we get an opportunity to reflect and say thank-you.
HANG LO OSE
I like numbers. Numbers allow you to measure things objectively. So as we close off 2013 and prepare for 2014, some numbers come to mind: 1 championship, 2 magazines published, 4 countries, 6 qualifier events, 16 GromWatch profiles, 18 TopGrom titles, 21 sponsors, 52 Grom of the Year (GOTY) submissions from 14 countries, 140 championship invitations, and a few “likes.”
MALTO H OSOI COLE SONG MARIANO
Upon reflection—a good start. We had no clue. Upon reflection, it is safe to say we had no clue what we were getting into. A weekend project? Sure. A hobby? Perhaps. Have some fun? Of course. Take the boys skating to some new parks? Why not? A little over one year ago, we sat down over a cup of coffee and thought “it” might be a good idea. It was not called TopGrom then. The name came later on a trip down to Woodward with the boys. They were tired of us talking and one just said, “Call it TopGrom. Now can we go to sleep?” months later, we have gained some perspective on what “it” is—a contest series, a magazine, an Upon reflection, Twelve annual award, an online retail store, perhaps. But these things are just the “end-products” of what we David and I would aspire to do. TopGrom remains a work in process. The contest experience we seek to create and share— an invitation to a grand international celebration—remains elusive. But, perhaps naively, we still feel it’s agree the most a noble goal. TopGrom magazine is the same—a work in process. Tom Peters, the well-known author the book In Search of Excellence, coined the ethos: “do it, fix it, try it.” That is what we will continue rewarding aspect ofto do. The Grom of the Year Award has exceeded our wildest expectations with videos coming in from around the world—a grand international showcase. For us, TopGrom is a celebration—100% grom of TopGrom is skateboarding, where the youngest are welcomed, those just beginning are encouraged, and the very best the smiles. recognized. Producing a magazine is easy. Aspiring to produce a good skateboard magazine is hard. That’s why I keep a copy of Michael Brooke’s The Ball Bearing and the Beach Ball close at hand. Michael Brooke is the founder and publisher of Concrete Wave magazine and knows a thing or two about skateboarding and magazines. I have read his book at least 20 times and every time I learn something new. Thank-you, Michael, for taking the time to share your insights.
Mark Muller is the guy. Mark is the guy who had the idea to do something new and actually did it. Those people are rare. Whenever I am with Mark, I always introduce him as the original founder of the King of the Groms—the first, largest, and most revered skateboard contest series for groms. I do this to ensure history is not forgotten or rewritten, but celebrated. I remember the first time I met Mark at our Mission Valley qualifier. My son looked at him in awe. This was the person who created something special. My son asked if I could get his autograph on a deck for his wall. I asked Mark, and he replied, “Not right now, I want to go skate with him.” Mark figured it out a long time ago—it’s about them. Thanks, Mark, for reminding us the obvious thing is the most important thing. I can recall the first time I spoke with Heidi Lemmon. David was adamant: “We have to connect with Heidi.” I called and left a message, really just streams of consciousness. What surprised me was she called back. “Hi this is Heidi. You called...tell me more...” I like to sugarcoat things and deliver bad news with a bow. Heidi prefers a sledgehammer. Thirty years in the epicenter of skateboard culture provides that confidence. Our email exchanges are now the stuff of TopGrom lore. What I have grown to admire most are her core values. She has an unwavering commitment to protecting the history of skateboarding. Equally important, she is a fierce guardian of the most vulnerable skateboarding demographic—its future…groms. Thank-you, Heidi, for returning that call. Upon reflection, David and I would agree the most rewarding aspect of TopGrom is the smiles. A podium spot earned, a winning run, a first contest experience, a difficult trick landed with parents watching, an invitation for a magazine profile, a championship invitation, seeing old friends, making a new friend, skating a new park, props from peers and parents, or perhaps a video finally submitted—all of these things help create the conditions to trigger a smile. That is TopGrom “ego” food. Upon reflection, David and I agree—this was a good idea.
Sean Bittle David Palazzese
online shop is now open! 8
7/12/13 8:06 PM
AGE: 13 STANCE: Goofy HOMETOWN: Oakville, Ontario, Canada HOME PARK: CBMK Skate Park SPONSOR: RDS Skate Supply, CBMK ABOUT: Ethan has been shredding the wooden plank since the age of 7. He is part of the new breed of skateboarders who are well-rounded and can skate everything in front of them. This young Red Dragon has spent a lot of time skating with the likes of Jon Cos, Ben Paterson, and Zack Ferguson, so his progression has been fast and furious. Flipping into or out of tricks with ease, hitting the secret vert ramp, or cruising at the local park, his talent and his technical abilities far exceed his age. If you can’t find Ethan in the streets, you’ll find him at Norton Park with his boys Mitch and Quinton. Ethan is always down for shredding and a good high five—so be sure to give him one when you see him!
BACKSIDE FEEBLE GRIND
NOLLIE BACKSIDE HEELFLIP
FIRST BOARD: Mark Appleyard Flip FAVORITE SKATER: Sean Malto FAVORITE SPOT: 3rd Lair, Minnesota FAVORITE TRICK: FS Feeble DREAM TRICK: Backside 270 Lipslide FAVORITE SKATE MOVIE: Pretty Sweet
AGE: 13 STANCE: Regular HOMETOWN: Vaughan, Ontario, Canada HOME PARK: CJ Skateboard Park & School SPONSORS: Evolve Skate Camp FIRST BOARD: David Gonzalez Flip 7.3 FAVORITE SKATER: Chris Cole FAVORITE TRICK: Frontside Hurricane ABOUT: Paul’s introduction to skateboarding began at the age of 4, when his older brother, Vitaliy, gave him a skateboard as a birthday present. At that time, Vitaliy was sponsored by University Skate & Surf Shop in Orlando, Florida. Paul’s career began when he received his first sponsorship, which gave him an opportunity to develop in the skateboard world. Paul is very determined when it comes to learning a new skate trick, and he continues until he becomes consistent. He will move forward in pursuing and advancing his skateboard style, with the goal of evolving into a career in professional skateboarding. Paul likes to travel to various contests around North America and skate!
PHOTO: DANIEL “POTATOPLOP” POLICELLI FRONTSIDE BOARD
NICKNAME: “Nicky Lee Die Hard” AGE: 10 STANCE: Goofy HOMETOWN: Studio City, California, USA HOME PARK: Vans SPONSORS: Termite, Dirtbagz DREAM SPONSORS: Pocket Pistols, Independent Trucks, Type-S Wheels, Red Bull ABOUT: Nick has only been skating for a year and a half, but has accomplished quite a lot in that short period of time. All those months ago, his parents drove Nick by a skatepark and, from that day forward, Nick has been living, eating, and dreaming skateboarding! He loves to skate all over southern California with his skate buddies: Taylor Nye, Cooper Burrows, Myles Strampello, Rylan Mancilla, and Kiko Francisco. There are so many good parks, but his favorite ones are Vans, etnies, Venice, Montclair, and Encinitas. Nick and his parents do a lot of traveling and have had many incredible skate adventures out on the road. Hotels, competitions, road trips to new skateparks… the fun never stops. Nick is a great student who loves math and reading and knows that knowledge is power! The entire Rivera family is so happy to be in this wonderful world of skateboarding and feels so grateful to have made many great friends along the way. FIRST BOARD: Val Surf Starter Board FAVORITE SKATERS: Pedro Barros, Charlie Blair FAVORITE TRICK: Backside Ollie NEXT TRICK: Caballerial DREAM TRICK: Ollie North FAVORITE MOVIE: The Man Who Souled the World
LIAM PACE AGE: 13 STANCE: Regular HOMETOWN: Tucson, Arizona, USA SPONSORS: Starr Skates, etnies, Crash Pads, Carver Skateboards ABOUT: Liam has been skating since he was 6 years old and started competing by the time he was 8. His humble nature and drive to progress in his skating have helped him develop into one of the top 13-and-under skaters. One of Liam’s passions is to challenge himself to discover the lines of a new skatepark when traveling to other states. On any given night, you can find him skating the 11.5-foot deep keyhole bowl at his local skatepark in Tucson, Arizona or skating the downtown streets with his friends. As a well-rounded skater, Liam pushes himself to learn new tricks and loves to skate anything he can get his skateboard on—street, transition, vert, mega, or longboarding. FIRST BOARD: Tony Hawk Falcon 3 FAVORITE SKATER: Bob Burnquist FAVORITE TRICK: Mute 540 FAVORITE SPOT: Birdhouse FAVORITE SKATE MOVIE: The Search for Animal Chin NEXT TRICK: Varial Flip Indy DREAM TRICK: Kickflip McTwist
JALEN OLI V E R
AGE: 11 STANCE: Regular HOMETOWN: Middleville, Michigan, USA HOME PARK: Middleville Skate Park SPONSORS: rul9 Apparel, Embassador Skateboards, Ride Nature, Rolloflex Fitness ABOUT: Jalen started skating when he was 2 years old, by skating up and down the driveway. By the age of 4, he was dropping in on mini-ramps. Jalen has played other sports, like ice hockey and baseball, but his true love is skateboarding. He enjoys all forms of skating, but primarily likes street skating. Although he loves learning new tricks and progressing, his favorite thing about skating is all of the friends he has made while competing throughout the United States and Canada. Jalen has also spent time volunteering at a local camp where he taught kids to skate. He especially enjoyed teaching a 7-year-old autistic skater. Jalen’s goal is to be a professional skateboarder, but most importantly, he strives to be a role model to others. FIRST BOARD: Modern Team Shop FAVORITE SKATER: Julian Davidson FAVORITE TRICK: Nollie Heelflip FAVORITE SPOT: Woodward, PA FAVORITE SKATE MOVIE: Pretty Sweet NEXT TRICK: 270 Lipslide DREAM TRICK: Hardflip Back Lipslide
AGE: 13 STANCE: Regular HOMETOWN: Quebec City, Quebec, Canada HOME PARK: Quebec City Skate Plaza SPONSORS: ExoShop, Fallen, Flip Skateboards, Volcom ABOUT: When he was 8 years old, Morgan discovered his passion for skateboarding. Since that day, whenever he has the chance, he is on his board. His first two years of skateboarding focused only on transitions. Now, it is all-around— it’s either a park, bowl, or street…as long as there is a challenge! FIRST BOARD: ExoShop Board 7 ¾ FAVORITE SKATER: Luan Oliveira FAVORITE TRICK: Full Cab Inward Heel FAVORITE SPOT: Quebec City Skate Plaza FAVORITE MOVIE: Extremely Sorry
PHOTOS: STEPHANE ARRELLE FRONTSIDE OLLIE
NICKNAME: Antho AGE: 10 HOMETOWN: St-Mathieu-de-Beloeil, Quebec, Canada SPONSORS: Empire Board Shop, Globe, Red Dragon, ASWM Brand, Centre Distribution, Plan B DREAM SPONSORS: Gatorade ABOUT: Anthony began skating at the age of 6 years old. He travels a lot to practice his sport. While he’s traveling, he likes to learn new tricks from new guys. Anthony is passionate and hopes to go very far in his skateboarding. FIRST BOARD: Mini Series Plan B FAVORITE SKATERS: David Gonzalez and Torey Pudwill FAVORITE TRICK: Frontside Air FAVORITE SPOT: Venice Park, CA NEXT TRICK: Switch Hardflip DREAM TRICK: 360 Flip BS Noseblunt FAVORITE SKATE MOVIE: Lords of Dogtown
AGE: 10 STANCE: Regular HOMETOWN: Vancouver, BC, Canada HOME PARK: Kensington Skatepark SPONSOR: Grubwear DREAM SPONSORS: Bones Wheels, Powell-Peralta ABOUT: Rylee is a full bowl ripper who skates fearlessly in any transition. Taking after his dad, Wee Wong, Rylee can carve fierce lines with plenty of speed. He was named “The King of the Bowls” last August, after competing hard in every contest of the bowl series. (This long-running series of skateboard competitions for all ages is held at the four original Canadian skateparks from Surrey to Whistler. It’s celebrating its 19th year.) Rylee is the youngest person to ever hold this prestigious title. He was born in Vancouver, and has one brother and one sister. And when he isn’t skateboarding, Rylee loves to play video games and practice Kung fu. FIRST BOARD: Dogtown FAVORITE SKATER: Tom Schaar FAVORITE TRICK: Backside Air FAVORITE MOVIE: Cars
PHOTO: MAX O’ROURKE PHOTOGRAPHY
WORDS AND PHOTOS BY HIPPIE MIKE FRONTSIDE 5-0
AGE: 13 STANCE: Goofy HOMETOWN: Dapto, New South Wales, Australia HOME PARK: Monster Skatepark SPONSORS: Type-S Wheels, Theeve Trucks, Stereo Skateboards, TSG International, Disco Bearings, USA SkaterSocks, Monster Skatepark, iSkate ABOUT: Luke just wants to keep on skateboarding, competing, catching up with friends, and, hopefully, turn pro one day. FIRST BOARD: Spiderman Skateboard FAVORITE SKATER: PLG FAVORITE TRICK: 720 FAVORITE SPOT: Woodward DREAM TRICK: Heelflip, Lien Air Rodeo
Australia is world renowned for its rippers and shredders, and groms such as Keegan
no exception. This 10-year-old dynamo hails from the Gold Coast in eastern Australia and brings with him an arsenal of gnarly tricks. Heâ€™s been all over the world and represents some of the better-known companies with his skateboarding. Bringing the thunder from Down Under, Keegan provided TopGrom with some rad photos and spoke about his skating life.
23 PHOTO: CHRIS PALMER
PHOTOS: DAN BOURQUI STALE FISH
Shortly before we closed this issue of TopGrom, Keegan was welcomed to skate and shoot photos at Tony Hawkâ€™s state-ofthe-art Birdhouse
halfpipe, along with fellow ripper Evan Doherty.
TG: What’s your favorite place that you’ve ever gone skating? KP: Probably Combi Bowl. TG: Where’s that bowl in the pictures of you with the full pipe? KP: Oh, that’s Elanora. TG: Is that near where you live? KP: Yeah, about twenty minutes. TG: Nice—that looks like a fun park. KP: Yeah, it’s really fun.
TG: Those guys rip. So you’ve skated with them? KP: Yep.
TG: Do you have any favorite pro skaters? KP: Yeah, Pedro [Barros]. TG: Have you been working on any new tricks? KP: I’ve been working on 720s and Indy 5s. TG: Do you have any advice for younger skaters? KP: Keep going at it ’cause it’s fun and when you get better, you can take it far.
TG: What are they like? KP: They’re fun. They do some gnarly tricks. PHOTO: CHRIS PALMER
PHOTO: CHRIS PALMER
PHOTO: DAN BOURQUI 540
TopGrom: What is your current skate setup? Keegan Palmer: 7.75” Pocket Pistols deck with Mob Griptape, Type-S 60mm wheels, Independent trucks, and I’ve got all my other sponsors’ stickers on my board.
TG: Have you ever heard of Hoon Skateboards? Did you see the video they came out with? I think they’re from Australia. KP: Yeah, I saw some of it in real life.
TG: So who are your sponsors? KP: Hurley, 187, Pocket Pistols, Nike SB, Oakley, and Stacey Surfboards. TG: Wow, that’s a lengthy list. Have you skated with anyone on the Pocket Pistols team? KP: Yeah, I’ve skated with CJ Collins, Toby, Shane Sullivan, Jimmy, and Pedro.
TG: How did you get into skating? KP: I always watched videos, and all my neighborhood friends are skateboarders. I just kinda joined in. Started bombing hills.
TG: What do you do besides skateboarding? KP: I like to surf, and I’m in homeschool.
TG: What do you like best about competitions? KP: “Versing” my friends.
TG: If you could skate anywhere in the world that you haven’t already, where would you go? KP: Woodward!
RISING ABOVE KeEganPalmer
WORDS BY: ERIC SANTOS
27 PHOTOS: AZAD SELLARS
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Kickflips, pop shuvs, varials, and riding fakie al are not the typic phrases you in expect to hear a conversation ls. between two gir
daily dialogue But it’s part of the Bein, 13, and between sisters Aliya . They are definitely Savannah Bein, 15 ey’re more loyal not ordinary girls. Th their nails. to their boards than
In grade 5, Savannah started skateboarding with CJ’s Skateboard Park and School in Toronto, Ontario. She later got her sister involved at the park, as well. While girls who skate aren’t unheard of, it’s much more common to see a boy on a board. Despite the statistics, the sisters are still eager to learn and grow in the sport. “It’s not really weird being some of the only girls [at the skatepark],” says Savannah. “The guys are pretty encouraging because they don’t usually see many girls in the park.” But she adds: “It’d be nice to see more girls. But it’s a sport that you get hurt a lot in. And you need to believe in yourself and be self-motivated to do a trick. If you bail, you may get hurt.”
Savannah broke her arm three years ago. She has learned the dangers of skateboarding, but has not given up on the sport whatsoever. “To any girls [who] just started or are considering skating, [my advice would be:] don’t be intimidated by everyone else because, aside from all the stereotypes, everyone is happy to see girls skate and will be willing to help.” Aliya started skating when she was in grade four. She loves seeing new girls at the park, even if they just want to give it a try. “In the past, some younger girls have walked in [to the park] looking scared. [When they see] me skating, they become happy that there’s another girl to skate with. That’s how I started—there
was another girl who would help me, and she still helps me today.” Aliya has a growing passion for the sport, and she’s determined to improve. “I think sometimes it’s hard being one of the few girls that skate because all the guys can do amazing tricks and then I’m there trying to do stuff… It makes me
look bad. I keep going because it’s very fun, and I want to keep going until I get very good—so I’m as good as the guys!” Skateboarding often has a reputation of being a rough, aggressive sport. That may be one of the reasons why it’s male-dominated. On television, there seems to be a slim
S L R I G Y GNARL WORDS BY SIERRA BEIN PHOTOS BY ULF BEIN
GNARLY GIRLS amount of girls who compete, and well-known competitions are mainly focused around the men in the sport. But the female skate community is definitely growing, and women skateboarders are becoming more common in skateparks. Skating at CJ’s has given Savannah and Aliya a chance to challenge the stereotypes placed on the skate community. They are both examples of skateboarding being a positive influence on young girls today. They not only keep fit doing the sport, but they also have gained lots of self-confidence and personal growth through learning how to break barriers in the field.
Although the girls have a great time skating, it is not just tricks and fun. These two ladies are also using skateboarding to help other kids. They teach skate classes to kids with autism, Asperger syndrome, and cancer. And last summer, they volunteered at a deaf skate camp for four days in Muskoka, Ontario. The girls continue to try and get other girls involved in skateboarding, and they encourage the younger siblings of current skaters to join their all-girls skate class—all while enjoying their time at the park. They’re definitely making a difference in their community. You could say they’re on a roll! a1
Mission Valley Qualifier San Diego, CA | August 3 2013
WORDS: NICKY YOUNG PHOTOS: DAN BOURQUI
Welcome to Southern California—or San Diego, to be more specific. It’s here that skateboarding crawled out of the ocean from the surfing community and became a fundamental part of local culture. And it shows. In many a minivan, the skate mom has come to replace the soccer mom. It’s the only place on Earth where you’re guaranteed to see 6-foot 540s in a 13-and-under skateboarding contest. So, naturally, this was where we chose to hold our first big contest. Running a contest featuring 45 kids and two days of street, mini-ramp, and pool skating was slightly on the ambitious side, to say the least. But thanks to a crew who had at least 70 years of combined experience, the whole weekend went off without a hitch. The cherry on top came in the form of the first boxes of our premier issue. They showed up just in the nick of time, as the contest drew to a close. And they were gone as fast as they appeared!
1. Asher Bradshaw 2. Myles Strampello 3. Cooper Burrows 4. Shea Burrows 5. Cory Juneau 6. Cash Money Kenton 7. Nate Vernia 8. Tate Carew 9. Randy Al Pappa 10. Cooper Burrows
1. Logan Cogswell 2. Brighton Zeuner 3. Rylan Mancilla 4. Dylan Sullivan 5. Jesse Bittle 6. Joshua Forsberg 7. Klara and Annika Vrklan 8. Ben Ruef 9. Unidentified groms and Renee Bottger 10. Matthew Wilcox 11. Liam Pace
ripper from North Berwick, Maine. He busts fat 180s and will attack any spot you lay in front of him. Kickflips go down on the daily with Dylan, and he pulls everything on a regular-sized board. There’s no “micro-model” under this kid’s feet. TopGrom spent a day with Dylan on the streets of Dover, New Hampshire, as well as at the city’s outdoor park and Red Alert Skateboard Shop.
e Termite T e Taylor Ny
w “Camo et the ne
PHOTO: GABE RIVERA
like a d e r h s d k an
ebo t a k s te
TG: What pros do you like at the moment? Who’s really shining through? DR: I like Sean Malto. TG: What are you riding for a board? What’s your setup? DR: I’m riding a Real Skateboard, Ace Trucks, Red Alert Skate Shop Wheels, and Reds Bearings. And Mob Grip.
TG: What’s your dream session? Who would you want to skate with? DR: Figs [Justin Figueroa] and Chris Haslam. TG: Have you ever seen Almost Cheese and Crackers? DR: Yes! I love that video. TG: What got you into skateboarding? DR: My brother Ryan skated, and he got into it because my other brother, Todd, started skating. I said: “I’m probably just gonna do this for a day, and I ended up doing it every day!” TG: What do you do when you’re trying to get a trick and it’s not happening? DR: Well, if it takes a long time, I’ll take a break, a sip of water, and just think in my head about landing it. Then I just try it again.
TopGrom: So Dylan, how long have you been skateboarding? Dylan Rosa: I’ve been skating for three years. TG: Where do you usually skate? DR: Usually at this basketball court. We have rails, a couple boxes, stuff like that.
PHOTOS AND WORDS BY: ERIC SANTOS
Dylan Rosa is a ten-year-old
ONE ON ONE
TG: Do you like skating in contests? DR: Yeah, I’ve been in a couple of contests. TG: What’s the best thing about skateboarding? TG: That kickflip you did in the photo was awesome. How did that feel? DR: It felt pretty nice. TG: I bet. If you could go skate one place in the world, where would it be? DR: Probably Hollywood. TG: For the streets? DR: Yeah.
DR: I love landing new tricks really clean. Whenever I try something new and land it, it feels really nice. That’s what I love about skating.
It’s not every day that you see someone as young as William Watson going so huge on a skateboard. TopGrom met up with the 6 ½-year-old at Rye Airfield, which boasts a 14-foot vert ramp. It is massive in person. But Will stepped to it like it was no big deal and skated the heck out of it.
TG: Where do you like to skate the most? WW: Rye Airfield! TG: What’s your current board setup? WW: Real deck 7.2”, Rictas, Bones Swiss Ceramics, and Khiro Bushings. TG: Who are your favorite pro skaters? WW: Well, my favorite-favorite is Nora Vasconcellos. TG: If you could skate anywhere in the world, where would you go? WW: Where I’ve really been wanting to go for a long time is Bob Burnquist’s Mega Ramp or his vert ramp.
TG: What do you do when you’re not skateboarding? WW: I read Magic Treehouse books. I just finished #13, ‘Vacation Under the Volcano,’ when they were in ancient Rome and Mount Vesuvius erupted.
PHOTOS AND WORDS BY: ERIC SANTOS
TG: Do you like skating competitions? WW: Yes!
TG: Why? WW: Because I like the people watching me. I just feel comfortable. TG: What is it about skateboarding that you think is cool? WW: The air on the vert ramp I really like. The feeling of when I fall and get right up. I feel like a big kid. I feel just great skating, getting up into the air. I’m like a bird when I’m up there.
TopGrom: Where do you live? William Watson: I live in Peabody, Massachusetts.
ONE ON ONE
On vert, he’s got tricks like frontside and backside grinds and airs. And he’s going for huge ollies to fakies. Will has an extensive bag of tricks up his sleeve. He destroys transitions of all sizes. This little guy loves to skate everything, and his future looks bright.
TG: Who are your sponsors? WW: My sponsors are Bamboozle, Khiro, and Bern.
TG: Do you have any shout-outs? WW: Well, I really like Nora Vasconcellos. She was one of my first skateboarding friends. I met her maybe the first time I ever came here [to Rye Airfield]. I also like Rey Tapley. He actually taught me nosegrab blunt to fakies.
Jagger Eaton is a force to be reckoned with
in the skating world.
As one of just a handful of skateboarders to be invited to all four stops of the Global X Games in Brazil, Spain, Germany, and Los Angeles, Jagger got a world of new spots under his belt in 2013.
JAGGER EaTOn 42
SIMPLY THE BEST WORDS: ERIC SANTOS
PHOTO: AARON GOURE
A few months after X Games, he was off to South Africa, where he landed a “Best Trick” win at the Kimberley Diamond Cup. In between all the skating last year, Jagger managed to work on his very own guest character for Rob Dyrdek’s “Wild Grinder’s” cartoon, which you can catch in Season 2. This AM dominates and is ready to take on any challenge! As the new year rolls around, we sat down with Jagger to talk about his life on and off the board.
TopGrom: How old are you now, and how long have you been skateboarding? Jagger Eaton: I am 12 years old, going into my seventh amazing year of skateboarding. TG: Your dad got you into skating and he runs a skateboard program. What’s it called and what’s it all about? JE: Yeah. My dad built my brother, Jett, and I a ramp when we were little and that’s how we found skateboarding. Our family has a skatepark here in Arizona called KTR. It’s a really fun place. TG: KTR has a whole gymnastics facility. How much gymnastics do you do and how does that fit into your training? JE: I really don’t do any gymnastics. But I do play on the trampolines a lot with my friends.
PHOTO: COURTESY MONSTER CABLE
He continued to reign supreme later that same year when he put together a flawless final run at the Tampa AM—the most elite AM street competition in the industry.
He may have been the youngest guy in the contest, but that didn’t stop Jagger from landing a spot on the podium. He placed 3rd in a field of about 200 skaters from around the globe.
PHOTO: COURTESY MONSTER CABLE JETT AND JAGGER
Jagger’s talents nabbed him a Guinness world record after he became the youngest-ever X Games competitor in the summer of 2012. And he proved he meant business when he qualified for the finals in “Big Air Skateboard,” beating out competitors twice his age.
PHOTO: COURTESY MONSTER CABLE “BIG AIR SKATEBOARD” GLOBAL X GAMES LOS ANGELES
At 12 years old, he can do it all—street, vert, mega ramp, and park. You could say he was born to skate. Jagger’s family has owned a skatepark for seven years, and he got his start on a board at four years old, skating alongside his older brother, Jett.
TG: From what we’ve seen in your videos, you rip on all types of terrain. If you had to choose one thing to skate forever—be it street, bowl, mega, or anything else—what would it be? Could you choose only one? JE: That’s a tough one. Skating is a lot like music to me. I like all different kinds depending on how I feel that day. I could never choose just one. TG: Of all the places you’ve skated, where has been the most fun for you?
PHOTO: COURTESY MONSTER CABLE
JAGGER ESIMPLY aTOn THE BEST
PHOTOS: COURTESY KIDS THAT RIP @ KTR
PHOTO: KAM KRIGEL
“Don’t die… that ramp is super gnar.”
JE: Barcelona was super sick. Mega in Germany was cool ’cause it was on water. I love The Berrics and Venice when I’m in LA. KTR is pretty awesome, too. TG: You’re currently the youngest X Games competitor ever. How does it feel to compete with older skaters? JE: It’s always good to skate with bros who are better and more experienced. You just have to keep it light and fun. TG: We’ve seen footage of you 360 flipping over a mega ramp. You also huck backflips and do tricks switchstance. That’s ridiculous. How do you get yourself to do that
kind of stuff? JE: Thanks. I don’t know… I guess just a lot of practice at it.
was crazy! I won best trick in the mega comp and was 15th in the pro street comp.
TG: Got any advice for kids who would like to try skating mega ramps? JE: Don’t die… that ramp is super gnar. Woodward East Mega 2.0 is the best way to get a start.
TG: How do you get your skateboard media fix? Do you read magazines, Internet, videos? Play any video games? Do you keep up with what’s happening in the skate world? JE: I’m always on Berrics, Hellaclips, KTR YouTube, Thrasher. Yeah, I love seeing all the progression going on around the world.
TG: How was your trip to South Africa for the Kimberley Diamond Cup? JE: Best trip ever. The contest was really fun. The people were super nice. My dad, brother, and I jumped off the highest bungee jump in the world, played with lions, and did a great white shark cage dive—that
TG: What kind of graphics do you like on your skateboard? JE: DC, Plan B, Bones, Independent, and Red Bull.
TG: Have you skated any DIY parks? JE: Yeah, Washington Street and Channel Street.
TG: Do you have any tricks that you’re working on? JE: Working really hard on my switch stuff now.
TG: What do you feel has been your greatest accomplishment? JE: I was really stoked on my 3rd place finish at Tampa [in 2012].
TG: Do you listen to a lot of music? Got any favorites? Does it differ if you’re on a board or just hanging out? JE: When I skate it’s mostly rap or rock. When I’m chillin’, I like Mumford, Zeppelin, classic rock.
TG: There are a lot of really gnarly skateboarders out there. Do you have any favorites? Who inspires you to skate? JE: Colin McKay and Dway have always been at the top of my list. I love Hatchell, Louie, Curren, Evan, Manny, Shecks, Nyjah. I could go on and on…
TG: What do you do when you’re not skating? JE: I love to snowboard in the winter, wakeboard in the summer, and golf all year round. a1
Seven years ago, an organization called Skateistan began using skateboards to empower young kids in war-torn countries. Its impact on these youth and their lives has been extraordinary. Alix Buck is a member of the Skateistan team and is based in Cambodia. She spoke with TopGrom about the organization, its dedicated work, and what the future holds for this groundbreaking program. TopGrom: Can you tell our readers a bit about your organization? Alix Buck: Skateistan is a non-profit organization that provides skateboarding and educational programming to youth in Afghanistan and Cambodia. We use skateboarding as a tool for empowering youth, to create new opportunities and the potential for change. TG: Where did this idea come from? Why skateboarding? AB: Skateistan started in 2007 when the founder, Oliver Percovich, was in Kabul, Afghanistan. As soon as he dropped his board, he was surrounded by children of all ages who wanted to try skateboarding. He realized that skateboarding had huge potential to reach Afghan youth, especially girls, who were not often allowed to play many other sports.
Skateistan Rocks Changing the Worldâ€Ś One Skateboard at a Time ALL PHOTOS COURTESY SKATEISTAN
opportunity to play sports or be active. Any sport that is already well-known is already thought of as a sport for boys only. Because skateboarding is so unknown in these places, Skateistan is able to ensure that girls are involved from the very beginning. We can present it as an activity for girls and boys. Skateboarding is also incredibly accessible to people with
disabilities—anyone with a body can move around on a skateboard. There are tons of videos of incredible disabled skaters from all over the world available online, including one of our Skateistan staff member named Bilal. But really, skateboarding is simply ‘the hook’ for engaging with hard-to-reach young people. I mean, wouldn’t you want to get
involved? Skateistan reaches growing numbers of marginalized [or powerless] youth through skateboarding, and then we can provide them with new opportunities in cross-cultural interaction, education, and personal empowerment programs.
TG: Can the success Skateistan has experienced in Afghanistan and Cambodia be replicated in other countries? AB: I think so. Cambodia was the first expansion after Afghanistan, and it has been fantastic. I believe that skateboarding has enormous potential to reach youth all over the world. TG: What are the ages of the kids who take part in the skateboarding program at Skateistan?
Skateboarding was viewed as more of a game than a sport, and so it was more culturally acceptable for them to skate than to do other activities, like bicycle riding.
After some time, Ollie started to think bigger. By bringing more boards back to Kabul and establishing an indoor skateboarding venue, the program would be able to teach many more youth and also provide older girls with a private place to skateboard. On October 29, 2009, Skateistan built its first skatepark and educational facility. Since then, the program has taken off. We now have three project locations—two in Afghanistan and one in Cambodia. We believe
that Afghanistan now has the highest percentage of female skateboarders of any country in the world—about 45%.
AB: Skateistan students are between 5 and 18 years old. We also have a youth leadership program for staff and volunteers who are older than 18.
TG: What were the factors that led to skateboarding becoming a successful “vehicle” for social change? AB: I think the fact that skateboarding is so accessible to girls in countries like Afghanistan and Cambodia is one of the biggest successes. Young girls in these countries typically have very little
Oliver Percovich visited Afghanistan in 2007. When he saw how kids reacted to his skateboard, he knew he was on to something. And so Skateistan was born.
TG: How do the kids usually react when they try skateboarding for the first few times? AB: Pretty much the same as they do in North America—they are usually stoked! Many youth have never even seen a skateboard before, let alone had the chance to use one. Some students are a little bit shy at first, but usually as soon as they get the chance to try skateboarding, they can’t get enough of it. TG: Can you describe a typical day at a Skateistan skatepark?
TG: How many kids participate in the program? AB: There are about 600 students a week at our two sites in Afghanistan, and about 150 in Cambodia. And 45% of our students are girls! TG: Could you speak a bit about what life is like for the youth who are part of your project? And what challenges they face? AB: Skateistan’s participants come from all of Cambodia and Afghanistan’s diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, and include female students, hundreds of street-working children, and youth with disabilities. Since Skateistan began in 2007, we’ve found that youth of all ethnicities, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds love to skateboard. Because our students are so diverse, it is difficult to describe specific challenges faced by individual students. The main challenge that Skateistan aims to address is a lack of sport and educational opportunities.
AB: Generally there are two 2-hour sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Sometimes there are also outreach sessions, and between classes we have workshops with staff. In Afghanistan, there are also Backto-School [education-based] classes every day. TG: What is a typical lesson like for the kids? AB: Classes consist of one hour of skateboarding instruction, followed by one hour of art-based education. These educational classes can cover a diverse range of topics: from environmental conservation to healthy eating to geography and mapping. In Afghanistan, there are separate classes for boys and girls. In Cambodia, they are sometimes mixed. TG: Do you see a difference in the way these kids approach riding a skateboard as opposed to kids in other places around the world? Are they doing the same kinds of tricks? AB: Kids in Afghanistan and Cambodia generally seem to have much less fear than those in other places around the world. They aren’t afraid to try new tricks and just go for it, even as beginners. As far as tricks go, they are doing some of the same kinds of tricks,
but a lot of very unique tricks, as well. I think because there isn’t much exposure to the outside skateboarding world, there is so much more potential for creativity. They create their own tricks. Some kids are doing Rodney Mullen style old-school stuff, others are skating transition, and some are doing things that are completely new. It is really interesting to see.
TG: What would you say are the benefits of bringing skateboarding to the youth in these areas? AB: I think skateboarding can have huge benefits for youth anywhere in the world, but this is especially true in places like Afghanistan and Cambodia, where there are so few opportunities for youth—especially girls and the disabled—to be physically active. Skateboarding is a great physical activity, but I think it’s really special because it encourages creative thought, a new use of space, and working together. In countries where the education system is focused so much on memorization instead of critical thinking, this is an awesome way for kids to learn and engage with each other. Also, skateboarding levels the playing field. It doesn’t matter what your background is, how much money you have, or anything like that. When you are skateboarding, it’s just about having fun with your friends. TG: Can you share any particular story about the impact that Skateistan has had on a child? AB: There is a really popular video on our Vimeo channel about a 14-year-old female student in Kabul named Hanifa. She is one of the best skateboarders in Afghanistan. Since first joining the Skateistan program in 2010, she has gone from selling tea in a local park to joining Skateistan’s staff in Kabul as a skateboard instructor. She regularly teaches skateboard classes and takes part in weekly staff development training
sessions. Hanifa has also enrolled in Skateistan’s Back-to-School program, which will help her catch up on her studies and return to public school with her peers. She is an incredible role model for all the young girls at Skateistan.
tries to address this problem.
TG: Did you ever imagine that Skateistan would turn into the organization that it has become? AB: I don’t think anyone ever expected that Skateistan would be where it is now. The amount of support from the local and international communities has been phenomenal and has really helped the organization to grow in such a positive direction. TG: What’s next for Skateistan?
You can watch her video at: https://vimeo.com/69235117
TG: Could you explain a bit about the “Back-to-School” program? AB: It is an accelerated learning program that prepares out-ofschool youth to enroll for the first time, or re-enroll, in the public school system. During each fourmonth semester, experienced teachers guide students through a study of one grade of public school curriculum, preparing them for government standardized exams. Once they’ve completed two to three semesters in the program, Skateistan enrolls the student into a government-operated school, usually entering the third or fourth grade.
AB: We hope to keep growing, improving our programs, and reaching more kids every year. Our long-term vision is to change the lives of hundreds of thousands of youth. That is what we are aiming towards in the future. We want to stay sustainable, keep our programming high quality, and spread the shred. a1
TG: Why was it important for this program to become a part of the Skateistan mission?
AB: Once a child is out of school in Afghanistan, it is nearly impossible for them to re-enter the school system because they cannot pass the entrance exams. The longer they are out of school, the further behind they fall. Back-to-School
WILLIAM WATSON - NOSEGRAB BLUNT-FAKIE
INSIDER TOPGROM REPORT
WORDS AND PHOTOS BY: ERIC SANTOS
GROMS TAKE FLIGHT AT RYE AIRFIELD
At 50,000 square feet, Rye Airfield is the largest indoor park in New England. It’s packed with terrain of all sizes and styles, including: three concrete bowls, a big street section, micro- and mini-ramps, a flow section, and a unique wooden bowl. Located in Rye, New Hampshire, the park also boasts a regulation-sized vert ramp. For our contest, we focused on the wooden bowl, micro-ramps, and of course, streetstyle. Lovingly referred to as the Clover Bowl by locals, the wooden bowl at Rye stands 6 feet tall with an 8-foot escalator to corner pocket extension. It has two large, wide sections and a tighter section across from a really fun hip. It’s a blast to ride and an obvious choice for an event. Following a good pre-comp mop, the groms started to practice, getting their tricks dialed to do them on the clock. There I saw the other members of the crew for the first time. I was so stoked to see what they were doing—skating alongside the groms! If there’s one way to level with kids who skate and really get their attention, it’s by skating with them.
VERY fast fakie carving leading up to a full-cab kickturn in the corner of the extension. Nick Rose blasted huge airs over the larger hips, and Ben Ruef raised the roof with big backside airs on the extension. Tate Kokubo went the stylish-and-dangerous route with precarious backside bonelesses on the extension, smooth rock ’n’ rolls, and big frontside airs.
First up on the second day’s agenda was micro, and, at 3 feet tall, the ramp was mini-sized compared to some of the competitors. Rye’s micro section consists of a mini-ramp opening to an area of smaller street-oriented obstacles. Groms were called to the bottom of Everyone threw down some tech the bowl for a discussion. They were moves, but what really stood out reminded that the qualifier is for fun was when Josh Dirksen and that the skaters sitting next taildropped five feet into a bank to them will be some of the best ramp, and Ben Ruef bomb dropped friends they will make. over the commentator. After an Sportsmanship and respect having intermission, it was time for Street. been encouraged, the event started with the 7-and-under division. William Watson awed the crowd and judges with a full bag of tricks and
of S M O R G P O T D: L E I F R I A E Y R er - Will Morton
7 & Und Ben Ruef 8 - 10 yrs o Tate Kokub 11 - 13 yrs -
NICK ROSE - OLLIE
CARLOS FAGUNDES - BS AIR
Rye devotes a decent portion of its 50,000 square feet to the street section, and these kids didn’t hesitate to tear every part of it to shreds. This, of course, meant I would need to run after these dudes if we didn’t want to miss a shot. Needless to say I got my workout for the day. Ben Ruef pulled some craziness over the death gap, and Will Morton did a gnarly switch drop off a tall ledge. The thing was as tall as him! Everything wrapped up with a great awards ceremony with lots of smiles. Big thanks to Beau at Rye Airfield for hooking us up! www.ryeairfield.com
TATE KOKUBO - FS AIR
COOPER WHITTIER - LIPSLIDE
Max Jenson is a local hero at Rye. At just 15, with recently acquired AM status, Max is sponsored by Pioneers Board Shop, Rye Airfield, and 187 Pads. We could list all of his contest results—and there are a lot!—but the fact that he placed third in the Free Flow Dew Tour says more than we ever could. The most intriguing thing about Max, though, might be the fact that he’s a two-sport athlete. He’s as comfortable on the snow as he is on the ramp. Max can skate so when he talks, we listen. TopGrom asked Max to take us on a tour of Rye. He served up the inside scoop on what groms need to watch out for in a contest setting like TopGrom @ Rye. Street: Max: Time is your enemy here since the course is
so big. You will need to think about a couple of tight lines that use obstacles you feel real comfortable on. Remember we are looking for consistency. It will be almost impossible to use the entire course in 60 secs, let alone 40. Pick your spot and kill it.
Mini-ramp: Max: The 3-foot is a breeze and a great place to bring out your bangers. But be careful, it’s narrow. Things get a bit more interesting with our 6 ft. mini. It is fast and tight.
Clover Bowl Max: Besides the vert ramp, the clover is my spot.
The mistake some groms make is they treat the clover like a mini ramp—back and forth. It’s not. Skating a bowl is all about flow. Every line is different. Be creative and try to use the entire bowl. If you have what it takes, the hip is just the spot to separate yourself from the pack. I’m looking for creativity.
Finally: Max: As a TopGrom judge, I’m always
looking for bangers and confidence on a board. I’m also looking for who’s having fun. Contests come and go, but having fun while you skate will stay with you a lifetime.
www.ryeairfield.com 1-(603) 964-2800 57
THE MAX JENSON INTERVIEW
TG: Where do you skate when you’re out there? MJ: A lot of Vans’ [Skatepark] Combi, down in Encinitas, Claremont, etc. TG: Do you have any shout-outs to people who’ve helped you along the way? MJ: Older people I skate with here [at Rye Airfield] like: Nolan [Munroe] and Zac [Rose]. Especially Zac. I skate with him a lot. He pushes me. TG: Alright, that about does it. Thanks man! MJ: No problem!
WORDS AND PHOTOS: ERIC SANTOS
“It feels r eally coo l to land trick for a the first time.” He’s got varials on vert.
Imagine living close to a gigantic indoor skatepark that you get to skate all the time. Max Jenson is living the dream in New Hampshire and as an avid local at Rye Airfield, he destroys transition with reckless abandon. I’ve skated with this dude for years and he’s getting better and better every time I see him. While huge airs and technical tricks are a big part of Max’s skating, he’s able to transfer his skill to streetstyle seamlessly. Being the nice and humble guy that he is, he agreed to skate the park, shoot some photos, and fill you in on what he’s all about.
TopGrom: What’s your favorite part about skateboarding? Max Jenson: Probably the adrenaline of learning new tricks. It feels really cool to land a trick for the first time. TG: What’s your current setup? MJ: I’m skating a Powell board with Bones Wheels and Venture Trucks, Bones Bearings, Jessup Griptape, and Shorty’s screws.
TG: If you could skate one place in the world, where would you go? MJ: Probably SMP Park in Shanghai, China. TG: Do you like competition skating? MJ: Yeah, I like contests. I feel like it helps me land stuff first try and kinda just go for it.
Tailslide on an obtuse A-frame ledge.
TG: Do you have any advice for younger skaters? MJ: Just to kinda let it flow. Don’t get too worked up about your tricks. They’ll come naturally.
TG: Have you been working on any new tricks? MJ: Yeah, Stale 5s and kickflip mutes and stuff.
TG: Who do you look up to as a skater and why? MJ: Bucky Lasek and PLG. Bucky has all the technical stuff like fakie to fakie 5s and Boneless 5s, heelflip front 3s, and stuff like that. And then PLG just goes really big and has really smooth style. Alex Perelson, too.
TG: What’s your favorite place that you have skated? MJ: Bucky’s Bowl. It’s really big and really fun. Flows nicely.
TG: You go out to California a lot, huh? MJ: Yeah, quite a bit.
TG: Favorite thing at Rye Airfield? MJ: The Clover Bowl and the vert ramp. They’re both just absolutely perfect.
bout a p u d e k r o oo w “...don’t get t turally.” a n e m o c l ’l hey your tricks, t Backside disaster up on the extention
Huber, The Mad Savvy + Todd Scientist at Skatelab ICON
Todd Huber is the owner of Skatelab, the iconic skatepark in Southern California.
pros who got their start at Skatelab years ago continue to drop in on a regular basis. TopGrom caught up with Todd to talk about his park and the reasons for its continuing success.
This 30,000-square-foot facility is the destination to skate in the area. That’s probably because Todd’s passion for skateboarding has helped create an energy and atmosphere in the park that is unmistakable. Those who skate here are a dedicated bunch. Even
TG: We saw that Justin Bieber was at Skatelab recently. Does he skate there often? TH: I think that was his first visit. He said he was going to come after we closed, but just showed up about 8 p.m. on a Thursday night. We were all impressed with his skills. We expected less, but he can skate.
TopGrom: Hi Todd. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Todd Huber: I appreciate you reaching out to us.
TG: When and why did you start Skatelab? TH: We started Skatelab in 1997 because at that time there was no place to skate. Everywhere we skated, someone was mad at us or making us leave. TG: Who came up with the name “Skatelab”? TH: In early 1996, we had a meeting in my garage to form a plan to build an indoor, private skatepark—it was myself, my partner Scott Radinsky, and our former partner Brian Radinsky. All kinds of names were flying around—The Pit, Grand Mal, and Brian came up with “The Dictionary”… because it had everything in it. Anyway, Skatelab was thrown out there by one of us, and it stuck.
TG: Skatelab has become one of the very few successful and iconic parks. Why has Skatelab succeeded when a lot of other parks seem to struggle? TH: I think there are several reasons. Our hashtag is #notlikeotherskateparks because we have our own style or vibe, if you will. So number 1—We are cool to everyone; 2—We don’t yell; 3—We are lifelong skateboarders; 4—The staff here rules and cares about our customers; 5—We are humble and are just like the people who come here to skate; and 6— We have support from the kids who came up from here, like P-Rod, MikeMo, Torey Pudwill, and Tom Schaar. TG: So many amazing skaters, pros, and ams are part of the Skatelab culture. What’s the secret formula? TH: See above! We are cool to
everybody. We are just like the people who come here—we love skateboarding. People can tell if you are not genuine, especially kids.
TG: Skatelab is so much more than a skatepark now. It’s really a “brand.” What do you want people to know and remember about the Skatelab brand? TH: With our brand, we are bringing our style and vibe to those who never get a chance to experience the actual park. TG: What prompted you to introduce a Skatelab apparel line that includes tees and hats? TH: Survival. We wanted to make the skatepark better and continue to change and improve. And we felt we could make that happen if we could get our clothing line to the masses.
TG: Have you ever given thought to opening other Skatelabs—like maybe in Canada. We know a great spot! TH: People ask us that a lot, and we are totally into it. We actually had a second location for about five years that was located in Jacksonville, Florida. But the city opened two free parks near it, so we could no longer compete. It’s hard to compete with no rules and free! TG: Tell us what your typical day is like. Are you hands-on at the park? TH: Yes. I work at the park almost every single day. I usually ride my bicycle to work at about 9 a.m. and stay until about 7 p.m. I work on keeping things nice, fixing the ramps and the park in general. I try to drum up support from the industry and just manage and market the business.
TG: The Skateboard Museum at Skatelab has been open since 1997. Can you tell us how it got started? TH: It started in 1990. I became obsessed with collecting the history and never looked back. TG: What is your favorite item in the museum? TH: My standard answer is the one I most recently acquired, but I really like the older boards from the early 60s. And the pigs [skateboard decks] of the late 70s. TG: Are items donated or do you have to buy them? TH: 95% of the items in the museum I bought using my own personal money. But, on a rare occasion, we get a donation. We always cherish and display the donations. Much respect to anyone who has contributed in any way to help our museum improve and grow.
TG: For you, what are some defining moments in skateboarding history? TH: Kicktails, grip tape, and the urethane wheel. TG: Do you ever get items appraised for their value? If so, what is the most expensive item? TH: Once in a while, some antiques TV show makes a stab at it. And, recently, a show from Canada called Extreme Collectors appraised the whole collection at $550,000. TG: Is everything in the museum on display? Do you have like the best basement in the world?! TH: I have the best garage in the world... I also loan a ton of stuff to other exhibits. I have boards in Germany, Pennsylvania, Toronto, San Diego, and a few other locations. TG: What is the weirdest thing in the museum or to ever be donated?
TH: Jon Comer’s prosthetic leg! TG: Does the museum ever travel? TH: Yes, we try to do as many exhibits as we can. TG: Tell us a bit about the “Big Red” truck? TH: Originally, we wanted to make it so people who may never come here—mostly moms—would see us driving around town and check us out. It has been sitting for a few years, but will be making a comeback in 2014. TG: What’s next for Skatelab? What secret stuff are you working on that you shouldn’t tell us? TH: We are working with a new agency that is known for being the best of the best in the action sports industry. So stay tuned for bigger and better things from us! Seriously. TG: Thanks, Todd. a1
CONTESTS AND COMPETITIONS Heidi Lemmon is a powerhouse in the world of skateboarding.
She’s the executive director of SkatePark Association International, an organization that helps bring skateparks to communities. Her dedication to youth skateboarding and education
has resulted in more than 1,000 skatepark projects becoming a reality. Heidi recently gave TopGrom her thoughts on the importance of skate contests and competitions.
Why I Love Competitions
Obviously, getting skateparks and programming is a big part of why I love competitions, but there are many more reasons to love them:
BY HEIDI LEMMON
I have been producing amateur skateboard competitions for over 15 years, mostly in Los Angeles, but not always. We—myself, team riders, and local skaters— have managed to sneak in a few contests in South America, New York, Canada, Korea, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. Local kids roped me into competitions the first few times, but it was pretty easy to get addicted to contests and jams. In the beginning, we either did them as “bootleg” events [by setting up without permits] or we tagged onto a city fair. We got some much-needed funding from Right Guard, which helped us get parks built. Ball Hitch donated ramps, and we rented a truck and went around to inner city neighborhoods throwing contests and jams on the street. We convinced the city of Los Angeles to recognize the skateboard community, so they eventually funded over 50 school skateboard programs and more than 20 local parks.
Benefit to the Skater
Competitions will make you a better skater. No matter where you place when you first start out, you will improve—and at a faster rate than if you don’t compete. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to skate simply because you love to skate. But competitions help take it to a whole new level. You will develop new skills and push yourself a lot harder than if you are just hanging around a skatepark. You will meet more like-minded skaters and make friends who are not only fun to hang out with, but will push you to be the best you can be.
One of the main benefits of amateur competitions is to develop character, a sense of fair play, and good sportsmanship. Coaches should always encourage the ‘Six Pillars of Character’— trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship. At the amateur level, the focus should be on education. That means teaching
young athletes how to compete, how to progress, how to train, and, most importantly, how to win, lose, and place with style and a good attitude. No one likes a poor loser and no one likes an arrogant winner. Too many parents and sponsors place all their focus on the top three skaters in any event. We need all the skaters to make it a competition, not just the top three. It’s the struggle to move up and be your personal best that builds character.
Spectators and skaters come to competitions to see great skating! It might be one trick or one run, but we always see something that inspires us and brings out the best in us, whether we are spectators or competitors. Skaters are known to cheer on, make noise, and generally go nuts when someone lands that trick that they have been working on. I have never seen a skater turn around and say: “Oh, rats. That just cost me first place.” That feeling might come later, and if it does, you can bet that skater is going to step up his or her game for the next competition. Parents and coaches need to be generous in their praise and supportive of all participants.
Oh boy… this is a can of worms. I hate to say this, but skateboarding is known for a “cowboy” attitude when it comes to judging. It’s not always fair, especially because there are no standards for judges. Almost every competitive skater will be robbed or feel like he’s been robbed at some point. There are some legit reasons for this and some not so legit.
• Legit reasons: Several skaters land the same trick. That’s when style comes into play. Who had the best landing? Who had best style? Who skated the best? Whose attitude shone through? Scoring tricks can be tough, and each judge has his or her own personal taste. The top skaters are usually very close in points, and it may come down to attitude or style. It’s always a good idea to accept the judges’ decisions whether you like them or not. Here is a good example: one skater does three 540s back-toback. Everyone will be amazed, impressed, and thrilled, but the judges might call it one trick, not three. Or another example: a skater has huge airs off every hip and out of the bowl, giving a visually impressive run. But the judges may be looking for more tricks, not just big airs.
remember who was cheated. You don’t have to say anything. People will step up for you.
Competitions bring people together. It’s like a family reunion and fun is the #1 goal. It’s great to see everyone and see what new tricks they have learned, see how they are recovering from their injuries, and who they are riding for. These are your peers, friends,
and rivals. And if you stay in skateboarding, you will stay close to these people for a long time. I co-produce the OG Jam series with Jeff Greenwood, and our youngest age division is 30-39. Our oldest rider is 57. Whether these guys are trying to win or just coming to play, they are just like you— they’re all honing their skills, and competitions always bring out the best in them. a1
• Not-so-legit reasons: Judges might miss some tricks because they are not watching. This is why a good announcer is important. And then there’s favoritism. Sadly, some judges know a certain skater is awesome, so when he has a not-so-awesome run, they cover for him. This is not OK. A competition is what you can do, right now, right here. That’s what makes it exciting. Allowing kids to compete in a lower level than they should be in—that’s not fair to anyone, especially the athlete. And favoring riders who ride for sponsors of the contest. This really stinks! At the end of the day, everyone knows who really won, who landed the best tricks, and who had the best runs. Learning to lose is as important as learning to win. I can promise you this, people rarely ever remember who won. But they will
“And they didn’t know what a skateboard was!”
It Starts with a
Skateboard WORDS AND PHOTOS: ULRIKE REINHARD
There are a growing number of skateboard parks in India—both indoor and outdoor. You can find them in cities like Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, and Mumbai, although they are not yet found in rural areas. The great thing to see is that all of these skateparks are working together with schools. In fact, one school in Bangalore will soon include skateboarding in its teaching curriculum. Some may ask: skateboarding as a subject in school? Why not, I would argue. 68
What I have seen in the skateparks, and what I have heard from people running the parks, encourages me to think about combining skateboarding with learning. Here are some of the results we’ve seen when Indian children spend time at skateparks: • Boys and girls over all age groups and social classes are equally happy skating together. Keep in mind that, in India, boys and girls are usually separated because of religion and cast [or their social position in society]. • an increase in manners when dealing with each other • an improved sense of engagement, commitment, and dedication • a beautiful mix of children with various backgrounds coming together • more openness and a willingness to consider new topics
In Bangalore, I met a 13-year-old boy who truly impressed me. For him, the skatepark is life-changing. Instead of hanging out with the wrong crowd and being a big troublemaker for his mother, he is now fully engaged in skateboarding. And trust me, he does it well! He is still refusing to go to school. He dropped out two years ago. But with a pretty clear statement, he told me that he decided to work and earn money to pay for his little brother’s education instead. He feels that his chances of returning to school are gone, and he doesn’t want to join classes with kids who are two years younger than he is. He is a very strong-minded boy, and I could tell he is smart and a good kid. He found self-confidence in the skatepark. It really shaped his personality in a very positive way. I was so amazed to see how he is handling the skateboard after only five months of practicing. I am sure, with or without school, the floor will be his!
All this encouraged me to run a workshop. So, eight weeks ago, we went to Jodhpur, a tiny little village that’s about a three-hour drive from the bustling city of Delhi, to run a three-day painting and skateboarding event.
It was so much fun.
All the pictures you see here were taken there. The area is considered to be one of the poorest in the country. And the kids who go to school in this village—only 30 % probably do—have never ever had lessons in sports or arts.
• There are 100+ ways of learning.
Imagine… they had never painted before! They neither had paper to paint on nor pencils or colors to paint with. And they didn’t know what a skateboard was! So there we were with our painting and skateboarding workshop endeavor. Almost in the middle of nowhere!
The toughest part of the workshop was to find a place where the kids could skate because there are no paved roads in the village and no concrete places around. The only place we could find was a rooftop. But it turned out to be the most wonderful place. Overlooking the entire village, we could see a working camel walking around, buffalos, cows, goats, and plenty of dogs. We used one
part of the roof for painting and the other half for skateboarding. During the entire three days, we had about 100 children visiting us, plus many elders who came by and watched what the children were doing. And they were doing great!
The kids not only painted fantastically—we truly unlocked their creativity!—but they also became pretty confident on the skateboards. So what the workshop showed us was: • Kids do take their chance when they get one!
• Painting and skateboarding go beautifully together. I assume because, in both cases, the kids see and feel the immediate results of what they are doing. • Kids always focus and concentrate if they love what they do. • It’s not all that important that things are done or set up professionally. It’s much more important to just start doing them! And above all: • A “learning” environment matters.
This experiment encouraged us to continue with our workshops, and we are even thinking about building a small skatepark in the village of Jodhpur—with help from near and far.
_________________ Ulrike Reinhard is the founder and editor of we-magazine, which aims to examine how “we” can change the world for the good with the use of the Internet. In all her work, Ulrike tries to empower people and change lives, as well as the world. For more information on the endeavors of we-magazine, including its efforts to build a skatepark in Jodhpur, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org a1
HIPPIE MIKE Learning new things is the key to a successful life. It helps you expand your mind, be creative, and adapt to different situations. It also gives you goals to accomplish and a sense of pride. As you grow and learn, there are so many options and paths you can choose. Don’t be afraid to take the less-traveled paths or the scary ones. Life lessons must be learned and fears can be overcome. So where does skateboarding fit into all of this? Skateboarding is a very unique thing. So unique, in fact, that no one knows how to categorize it. Is it a sport? An activity? A hobby? A pastime? I think skateboarding is a way of life. And it’s a way to learn about life. Anyone can pick up a skateboard and start riding it around. But there
What other sport, activity, hobby, or pastime can you think of that pushes you to use both your mind and body so much? And then add in a piece of wood on four wheels that flips and spins around beneath you as you ride it super-fast over whatever surface you can find. Skateboarders make it look so easy… but how? Because they’ve learned how to do it, and they’ve worked hard for that knowledge. And, along the way, they’re learning about themselves, as well. I’ve been a skateboarder for over 27 years, and I’m a skater for life. I am still out there learning new tricks, but what I have come to be best at is sharing my knowledge with others. I don’t just teach others how to ride a skateboard. I try to teach them how to find their inner selves, figure out what really interests them, set goals, and have the confidence to go after
those goals. I also remind them that sometimes it’s important to relax and just let yourself ride. It’s weird when you think of it— every older skater that you meet is usually super-relaxed and confident in themselves. Plus, they’re often very creative and want more out of life. They’ve learned about life through their skateboard. Skateboarding may be a crazy way to live… but it makes amazing people. Nothing makes me smile more than watching my own son have fun on his board. It’s great how he can just put it on the ground and start riding it with little to no guidance at all. Monkey see. Monkey do. Our only role is to keep him from trying the wrong things too early. We let him enjoy himself and do what he wants to do when he skateboards because that is what life is all about— learning, growing, expanding your mind, being creative, trying new things, and enjoying every minute of it. So remember this: whether it’s soccer, basketball, science, math, art, dance, figure skating, or skateboarding, don’t take it for granted. Understand that every step you take can have an impact on your life. And always share the knowledge you have gained with others. You never know what they may teach you in return.
Never stop learning, and you will always keep growing.
point of view
WORDS AND PHOTOS:
Life Lessons and Your Skateboard
are those who choose to ride it everywhere they go and keep it with them at all times. These people are called skateboarders, and skateboarders are real people. They live in a culture where they take lots of risks and chase a lot of dreams. They set goals for themselves and work their hardest to achieve them, and they spend all day everyday practicing what they know and learning more and more.