Gabe Holm Interview / BSB 2009
ben price, boston, boston street battle, bsb, gabe holm, interview, john horak, john williams
Chances are if you've seen anything about New England skating in the past 5 years, Gabe's had a part in it. He puts out videos (knowing full well he'll probably end up in debt) just to promote the scene. He organizes some of the most fun and creative contests in the area.
Chances are if you've seen anything about New England skating in the past 5 years, Gabe's had a part in it. He puts out videos (knowing full well he'll probably end up in debt) just to promote the scene. He organizes some of the most fun and creative contests in the area. And now he's on path to becoming an amazing photographer. But that dedication alone isn't even what blows my fucking mind. Its the fact that, even while doing all these things, Gabe STILL manages to be one of the top 5 most talented and creative skaters in New England. No single person has immersed themselves in skating like Gabe, and everyone 100 miles north and south of Boston owes him a Heineken, a handshake or a hand job. I'd stick with the Heineken. THANKS BUDDY!
- Intro by John WilliamsYears skating & age?
I’m 25 years old and I’ve been skating for 12 yearsHow’d you start?
I played hockey for a number of years and got some rollerblades that I brought on a family trip to Germany when I was 13. There I was infatuated with the street culture: river surfing, crazy street performers and aggressive inline skating. I saw it for the first time at the Cologne Cathedral. It was 98 and a demo was going on with salmon cones and skaters grinding and stair riding a double set. I had never seen anything like it. It was different than skateboarding and I was hooked. When I came back to the states the MTV sports and music festival was airing and rollerblading was in it. Arlo Eisenberg, Louie Zamora , and Chacki Ito became my idols. TV exposure is good!Favorite skates (ever)?
Anyone who makes skating look good… and fun! That’s the hardest part about rollerblading. Favorite 3 skaters (ever)?
That’s really tough. I guess I’d Haffey, Farmer, and Broscow. They have held it down since I started, pushed the limits and are still on top today. # Broken bones?
I’ve broken a few bones over the years. Nothing major just some fingers and my right wrist but I have a lot of badass scars that I’m not proud of.# Profile sections?
I’ve had clips in a bunch of random videos and full profiles in While You Were Sleeping, Minnesnowta, and Urban Playground.# Videos made?
Four full-length skate videos that got duplicated as well as a lot of online projects. The most recent being Its About Time which was released this year and you can check that out at www.masterblader.wordpress.com Sponsors (ever)?
Reality Clothing, Ante-Bellium, Con-Artist Brand, Mark Ecko, and Skatepile.com# Contest placings?
I skated contests more when I was younger and did well at a few of them. 2nd at an ASA am qualifier 2002, 2nd at the Montreal Classic qualifier 2005, 1st Rhode Island Street 2001, 2nd Laced in R.I. 2006, 3rd Laced in R.I. 2008.Park or street?
When I started I would only skate street no matter how cold it was outside. Over the years I got into park more. Now that I’m older and find it harder to find time to skate I prefer skating park but still enjoy street. Major in college, career goals?
I’m currently at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth finishing up my BFA in fine art photography. I hope to continue school and get my MFA then teach somewhere at the college level while continuing to produce my own work and keeping involved with skating. Links to:
Oh No Sir:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgKxc9IJIwk
Links to favorite video sections (like recommended viewing)
Chris Haffey: Drip Drophttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1w6bcfVnAU
Black Bandit Box Edit:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4LzLq1aoVs
Years in existence?
This year will be the 5th BSBHow’d it start?
Hakeem Jimoh and Brian Lewis started the Boston Street Battle in 2005. That year they held two BSB contests over the summer. I started Skate the Hate in 2006. Then also picked up BSB in 2007 and joined forces with the Roll Series to get more events going in the northeast. In 2008, the Boston Street Battle served as the Roll Series North America Finals. Highlights (for you)
The first year was great because of the enormous turnout and it was the first event brought Boston together in a number of years. All of them have been exciting though. How it’s judged?
We’ve used set volunteer judges as well as voting ballets that were handed out to the crowd. With only a couple judges last year and an all day contest it was tough to determine the top 10 places and I felt the format had to be reworked to help with judging. For example Franco Cammayo skated consistently but ended up getting 3rd because he was out stunted at the end of the day. It should be a lot clearer with the new spot battle format this year. What prizes have been awarded?
A cash purse is raised from the entrance fee and prizes donated from the sponsors go to a variety of awards throughout the day as well as a product toss. In the past we’ve given cash out to at least the top 5 skaters as well as product. How many skaters have participated?
We usually have around 30 people who enter BSB and a lot of spectators, groupies, and bystanders. Links to BSB edits.
Comp 1- 1st Place: Brandon Ford
Comp 2- 1st Place: Jeff Dalnas
1st Place: Taylor Green
1st Place: Andy LeitermannFishbrainInterviewPeople say skating is about a lot of different things – having fun, pushing yourself, style, hanging out with friends. What is skating about for you? What makes it good? What’s it good for?
Skating is about all those things for me as well as a good way to keep active and in shape. Who did you jock when you were young? How hard did you jock them?
I looked up to a lot of skaters when I was younger, especially Jon Elliot, Franky Morales, Vinny Minton. Pat Lennon and Jon Julio. I dug their skating and wanted to be able to skate like them. If you could change anything in skating, what would it be?
Television exposure… I wish we had it. There is definitely room for us. Skating is more refined than ever as far as diversity of styles and tricks. People haven’t witnessed it done right because it’s not on TV and when see it in person they respect it. I think this is the main reason its respected in other countries and not the in the states.Do you think skating should sell out? Do you think it’s going to be big & popular again anytime soon?
It’s already sold out and I don’t think it should again. The core skater owned companies that are forming now is what our industry needed. It’s important to support these companies so that we do grow. I’ve also seen a lot of new skaters lately, which is great, and a sign that things will get better with time. You’ve been skating a long time, through a lot of pain, a lot of friends who have quit, and through a lot of brokenness (both physical and financial). What has kept you going?
There are many things that have been frustrating over the years. Not having someone to skate with, injuries, and all the money I’ve spent on skate projects with little return. In the end it’s always been a learning experience. It can be easy to resent rollerblading but more fun to just appreciate it. The fact that I enjoy skating is what has keeps me going. I need to skate and I’m actually I’m actually more irritable if I don’t get to skate at least a little bit once a week. Who is the biggest lost talent you know (someone who has quit or just disappeared)? How do you think skating could retain good people better?
Artie Pimentel. He was way ahead of his time on both street and park. Maybe if there was more money available we could retain good talent better. Most sponsored skaters I knew disappeared to find real jobs but it seems like a lot of those old school guys are starting to skate again, which is nice to see. What’s the most fulfilling thing you’ve done with skating?
Skating around 2003-2005 I was really on top of my own game and skating my best consistently. I find organizing events fulfilling in different ways… they keep me involved and bring people who don’t usually skate with one another together, which is great. Is it hard for you to take off skates and film? Why and how do you get yourself to do it?
Sometimes it’s hard when I’d rather skate, yet I’ll do it to get a clip. If its something I really want to shot or I’m hurt and can’t skate I don’t mind at all. Dedicating my entire last summer to make a complete skate video was tough but I’m glad I completed the project. You’ve done a lot in skating - big stunts and creative tricks, park and street, traveling all over and staying local in the New England boonies, throwing contests & making videos, skating for yourself and for sponsors. What’re you up to – what’re you digging right now and what’re you trying to get done?
Right now I’m trying to make money as a freelance photographer, going to school full and skating whenever I can. Mainly about the BSB & contests.First I want to know why you think competitions should even exist. How do competitions help skating?
Competitions bring skaters, friends and their family together. They push peoples limits, and expose skating to people who don’t skate. All of this is positive for the rollerblade scene. Do they create superstars?
No but they can help. You can win money and prizes at contests but they are mostly for street cred. If your committed, naturally talented and a dedicated skater its possible to become a superstar with time. Do they guide a scene?
They bring the rollerblading community together and expose skating to people who don’t skate, so in a way yes. Do they really push skating levels?
Contests absolutely push skating levels. People vibe off of each other and I’ve seen people skate their best at contests around here. It’s a great thing to witness. What kind of role do you think competitiveness should play in skating? What kind of role do you think it does play?
Competitiveness is good if you’re skating for yourself because it gets you to push personal limits. Trying to skate against someone to prove your better should never be an objective. Stay humble. You’ve been into seriously burly stunts and I know you also have a lot of respect for creative, small, technical tricks. Do you think there’s space for both in contests? If so, how?
Burly stunts are good because on rollerblades you can do stuff that would be impossible for a biker or skateboarder to do and I think we should show people that. At a contest there should be space for both big tricks and creative small tech tricks. A well-rounded superstar skater should be doing all of that. What’s the hardest part of putting a comp like this together?
The hardest part is actually just the work of pulling everything together and promoting takes a lot of time too but I try to do the best I can with that. Keeping the contest moving the day of can be a bit stressful but exciting at the same time. Bs BackslideHas getting sponsors been hard?
Most of the current sponsors have been supporting the contest since 2007 so not really. Both Aggressive Mall and Print Brigade have been extremely supportive.
Do you think skate shops & companies have an obligation to help events like the BSB?
There’s no obligation but it’s a great way for companies to give back to skating and receive advertising in exchange. It shows people that their company is one that cares about skating and supports our scene. Winning something cool at a contest gives a skater regardless of age motivation to stay involved and keep skating.
Have you tried getting outside corporate sponsorships? If so, how has it gone; if not, what are your thoughts on that?
I haven’t tried or proposed sponsorships to any corporations but it could be a good way to raise money for the purse as well as bring more attention to the event. You did your part to try to help the Roll Series survive. What was your ultimate opinion of what happened with that? Do you think skating needs that sort of superstructure?
I believe that structure is essential to making rollerblading look legit to non-rollerbladers. The Roll Series was a great idea and I think its good that World Rolling Series is taking over the job because it’s backed directly by the core companies in our industry. How often does getting someone to produce an official contest edit work out? Whose job is that anyway?
I try to find someone to produce an edit of every event I host. An official edit documents the day for everyone involved and shows what went down to the people who couldn’t make it. This is a perfect job for the upcoming skate cinematographer who enjoys filming and editing and wants to showcase their work to the masses. What matters for a successful contest (in terms of judges, judging criteria dates, timing, types of spots, distances between spots, publicity, and anything else you wouldn’t ordinarily think of)?
A successful contest happens with good attendance, which happens with proper publicity. A variety of spots that are relatively close to each other and not a bust are what I look for the Boston Street Battle. Judging can always be controversial and it’s important that its not biased. Pitch the 2009 Boston Street Battle.
In 2009, the BSB is an end of the year street skating event. The last big session to get your street tricks in before everyone starts skating indoor parks. It’s spot battle format so instead of having to skate every spot you can sit one out if you want. There will be cash money for the winners as well as prizes for the top 3 skaters at each spot. Other awards throughout the day include best trick(s), a “grom” 17 and under award, an old man 30+ award, best line, product toss and giveaways where deserved.
The Boston Street Battle is always on real street and rugged. I see people skate harder at BSB then they do all year. With the variety of tricks and spots you could literally make a whole video or TV show at the event.
Interview conducted by Ben Price
Photos by John Williams and John Horak
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