FIRST OFF, CAN YOU TELL OUR READERS A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF AND HIGHROLLAZ?
I’ve been skating for 15 years and turned pro on vert in 2002. My rookie year in 2003 I finished the year ranked 4th in the World on the Vert pro tour.
I competed in as many vert comps as I could but now that there are so few and all in Europe or Asia so I have been skating more park and street. I’m from Maui, Hawaii and I got tired of having so few people to skate with there and the long travel time so I moved to Woodward, PA 2 years ago.
I started Highrollaz.org in 2004 so vert skaters could have a community to go to. Vert is so spread out over the world that we needed a place for us to network and keep in touch. From there I had the idea to make edits and do a video. We also sell wheels and have made shirts.
VERT ISN’T EXACTLY ACCESSIBLE TO EVERYONE. NOT EVERY TOWN HAS A BIG HALF PIPE. HOW’D YOU GET INTO IT?
I got into it by seeing Chris Edwards in the Hoax. And then later in person, when he came to Hawaii. Back in the mid-90’s vert was a big part of skating. All the top guys skated everything so that’s what got me following their direction. At the time there was a 7′ mini ramp close by that I would skate like a vert. Later they built a vert ramp on Maui and from then on that was my spot. I also skated park and street too, just not nearly as much. One of the biggest challenges with vert skating is having a vert ramp to ride and people to ride with. I was lucky enough that the local park did have a vert, though I never had anyone on blades to ride vert with.
SO THE HIGHROLLAZ DVD DROPPED EARLIER THIS YEAR; WHAT SORT OF RESPONSE HAVE YOU GOTTEN SO FAR?
I’ve been very happy with the response! I didn’t know what to expect as no one has done a vert video so I didn’t know how kids would react to something completely different than anything else, but the response has been very good. This video was very challenging, since all of the pros are so spread out getting footage was really hard. We would only see each other at contests and I couldn’t shoot as I was competing myself. That’s why it took so long to release and I didn’t want to release it until I felt it represented vert skating at its best.
And I think it accomplished that.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT VERT IN OUR INDUSTRY?
BMX and Skateboarding support their vert pros but with the rollerblading industry there’s no vert pros on any pro team, except for Sven but he skates everything. I find it ridiculous, that not one skate company has any vert pro on their official team. Vert demos, and contests can target a completely different crowd than a Bitter Cold or Winter Clash. Don’t get me wrong, because I think what goes down on park and street is incredible! It’s just more technical to understand from an outsider. No matter who you are or what you do seeing Takeshi hit 13′ airs is amazing. Asia X-Games Vert is a live event every year, the only live show that rollerblading has. Probably the most well known rollerblading names to people who aren’t in the sport, are the Yasutokos Brothers and Fabiola. I think Rollerblading lost its momentum right around the time vert wasn’t been pushed by the industry companies.
SKATING VERT IS TRULY CRAZY. FOR ANYONE WHO HASN’T TRIED IT, DOES SOMETHING LIKE VERT WHERE THE STAKES ARE SO HIGH GIVE YOU A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE WHEN YOU SKATE SMALLER THINGS LIKE PARK OR STREET?
The difficult thing about vert is it’s hard to have a chill session like skating mini or a ledge. It’s really hard to compare vert to street or even park. Vert is a different mind set that you have to be in, it’s hard to describe. Skating vert will help your pumping, conditioning and over all confidence with speed. Everyone who skates should at least give skating vert a try and learn the fundamentals of pumping and airing. A huge part of vert is just practicing airs. To take off and land right on the vert is an art form to master. It’s not just doing tricks but doing them high and well enough that you can keep your speed.
THE BOUNDARIES HAVE BEEN PUSHED SO FAR IN VERT NOW… WHO IS CURRENTLY PUSHING THINGS THE FURTHEST AND WHAT ARE SOME OF THE NEW TRICKS ON THE HORIZON?
Of course Eito and Takeshi have pushed vert skating further than anyone has. Marco De Santi and Shane Yost are amazing, too. Marco can double flip in more ways than anyone and Shane can do more different rotations than anyone else. As far as tricks go, the bar has been set so high by those 4 and with contests being less often, it’s hard to imagine new crazy tricks being done. Marco DeSanti could try a triple back flip again and Eito’s Double Flatspin 720 is the most complicated rotation that has been done…
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE OUT OF VERT IN THE FEATURE?
I want to see the industry support vert riders more. I hope to see more contests and more pros transition over to vert and vert pros transitioning to park to help bridge the gap and unite the sport. I would also like to see more pros that can skate everything, I think Sven is one of the best skaters because of this. Julien Cudot is good on vert as well. There was also a time when Haffey, Stockwell and Shima were competing on vert and I thought that was really good to see in our sport, too!
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU?
I’m going to keep skating vert, park and street as I enjoy each in a completely different way. They each have their unique aspect to offer, I like the athleticism on vert, the variety on park and the culture on street. This year I will probably hit up a contest or two on each!
Thanks to everyone who has supported Highrollaz and all the vert riders doing it for the love with or without contests and sponsors. And to Integrated Distribution for getting it out there. Go and pick up a copy of the DVD to support a good cause. And of course check out www.Highrollaz.org