Mark Gonzales is in a world all his own, and he’s been there for the past thirty years. Trying to anticipate, or even keep up with his next move is next to impossible. His unpredictability has made him an enigma—a continuous story unraveling, one that we’ve become fascinated with. Coming up with a superlative to describe Mark is difficult; there’s no parallel in the world of skateboarding, and finding a comparison in any other sport is equally as impossible. But, if Olga Korbut and Bobby Fischer ever had a love child, and that child was raised by Muhammad Ali, then given life and art lessons by Pablo Picasso, you might be getting close—just maybe. He’s without doubt the greatest skateboarder that’s ever lived, and the most influential by a mile. Fifteen years on adidas, and a lifetime’s contribution to skateboarding, it’s The Gonz.


What adidas shoes do you wear?
What is free is good.

What is it you like in a skate shoe?
Soft leather is the best cave.

Do you stick with the same shoe or will you change it?
I normally skate on impulse, so whatever I am in is good.

Cup or vulc?
I think I like vulc.

Are colors important?
Yes red is my favorite color, but I try to avoid it.

How long will a pair of shoes last you?
I normally will thrash a shoe out in about a week from jumping around. And I don't normally have a board, so I just go off in whatever I have around.

What size board, wheels, and trucks do you ride?
I ride whatever.

What made you decide to make the change and live in Europe?
I like Napoleon, and Florence is home to the greatest art. I love to be around people, so wherever I am at is good.

Is there anything you miss about American culture?

What is the biggest difference between life in Europe and America?
People in America like to classify.

Can you speak French fluently now?
Not really.

Have you always been nomadic?
Kind of, I like muff.

In your Transworld Spotlight, you mentioned that you have a high pain threshold, how much has that helped you as a skateboarder, does anything scare you?
Ear noise. Sucks when the big people play with sound. They can throw you off your board by a sound rather than by a speed bump on the road. Military intelligence is no joke. Don't f--- with the masters.

What's the longest you’ve spent learning a trick?
Time is for people that are bored.

Is there any trick that you couldn't learn?
540’s and 900’s.

What has been the highlight of your fifteen years on adidas?
Chilling beside Martina Hingis, and Muhammad Ali’s daughter, and Paul McCartney’s daughter, Stella McCartney, at the adidas convention. At our team get-together in Florida, I had Mic-E Reyes as my chaperone, he posed with a pic of Muhammad Ali—I knew better, he is too great a man to have a pic with scum like me.

Do you still write poetry?
Yes, all the time. The latest is “drop dead i ain’t black ’n RED.”

Is everything art?
No, religion is more than art, but the two are constantly mixed up.

Is there anything that cannot be art?
Yes, bulldozers.

What's left to do on a skateboard?

If you had an unlimited budget, what would you build?
A tramp!

Three people to take on a dream session, who are the three and where would you go?
I'm dead stale.

When you were skating in the 80s and for Blind, did you think that what you were doing would have such an influence on modern skateboarding?
I wanted to work with my big brother doing construction—at the time I felt old, but had a young chick.


There’s only one way to really appreciate the skateboarding of Dennis Busenitz, and that’s to witness it firsthand. If you’re lucky enough to see him at any of his contest appearances or even at a demo, you’ll get to catch a glimpse of what makes him stand out. He’s a skater who goes against the grain, never following the lines of others, whether he’s hitting every obstacle a distinctive way at a contest, or blazing through the streets of San Francisco. Impossible to catch in still photography and a nightmare for any videographer to follow, Dennis Busenitz is refreshingly unpredictable in the occasionally predictable world of skateboarding.


What shoes have you been wearing?
My new shoe, the ADV, it’s a whole new design. Basically it’s a whole new shoe. It skates like a vulcanized shoe but it’s not, it’s a cup sole. It looks like a vulcanized shoe too, it has that edge, but it doesn’t blow out as quickly as a vulc. It has some funky features that are technologically advanced.

With your shoes, do you prefer cup or vulc?
I go back and forth—I really like the vulc, but my feet always start hurting, so I’ll go back to cup, and then I want to start skating vulcanized again.

Are colors that important to you?
Yeah, I can’t really do wild colors—it has to be kind of boring. Red shoes are about as crazy as I get.

What setup are you riding?
I ride an 8.25” board, I usually don’t ride my own model. Right now I’m riding Justin Brock’s board. I never change the shape, I ride the B-151, whatever that means. It’s a medium concave, too much concave is just too crazy, and if it’s too flat, it just goes soggy— so I try to get something right in between. I ride 52mm Spitfires and Hi 147 Thunders.

How about any quirks you have when setting up a board?
I can’t put my griptape over my hardware—some people do that. When I’m tightening my bolts, I always crisscross over and never go in a circle. I have this idea that it helps keep the trucks straight. It may just be a bunch of baloney, but I do it anyway.

When did you first meet Mark Gonzales?
I first met Mark in Atlanta on my first Real trip. He came out there to film for Real To Reel. He was fun, just playing all the time—he’s real childlike, and that is fun to be around.

What has Mark’s contribution been to the world of skateboarding?
You could write a book about it. He’s made skateboarding more like an art form than a sport by keeping it creative and by bringing in things other than pure performance, like style.

Why is your first signature shoe based on a soccer shoe?
When I was a kid I played a lot of soccer and wore the Copa Mundial. I always liked how they felt—your foot is always snug in the shoe, and it never slides from side to side. I also really like the simple look of it, that’s why I used the shoe. The fact that it’s adidas certainly helped out too—we already had the original.

And that shoe has turned out to be a modern classic. Did you consider how well it would be received when you were designing it?
I was really surprised with the success of it. I was nervous coming out with a shoe and really nervous about the design of it. If it flops, it just sucks for everybody. I guess it was different from other skate shoes, but it all worked out in the end.

Does money factor in to how you choose what contests you’ll enter?
No, it’s not really about the money ’cause I don’t do Street League, and that’s where all the money is. The whole vibe of a contest is important to me—how it’s run, good or bad. A lot of times it can be the course—it can be really fun, or not, and that will make or break a contest for me. Sometimes the contests that don’t have the most money are the most fun. Tampa doesn’t have much money compared to the others, and it’s usually the funnest. What really counts is a contest made for skaters, not a contest made for mass appeal. All the contests are doing a much better job than they used to—if you look at the X Games, it’s way better now than when skaters shared it with Rollerbladers and BMXers. It’s just a lot better now.

It seems contest organizers are going out of their way to make the skaters happy.
Yeah, but you can never make all the skaters happy. Most of the time, they don’t even know what they want.

Would you go into Street League if you were asked?
No, I just don’t like the focus on one obstacle at a time. I know they incorporated lines into it this year, but the whole setup is to hit obstacle A, B, and C, so the whole setup stems creativity—you can only hit the obstacles the way they are intended to be hit.

Street League is kind of the opposite of what your skating is, isn’t it?
Yeah, I’d like to think so, but I don’t consider myself a whacky skater, or someone who can’t skate stuff the way other people skate it. To me, it’s most interesting when there’s different ways of coming at it. Street League is made for the cameramen and TV—they can’t miss anything.

How much does your perspective on work change when you have kids?
You definitely change. One thing that changes is your view of your skateboarding career. Before, if the whole thing flops, it’s no big deal, you can be a hobo. With children you have a responsibility to provide—that’s a lot of weight on skating, and that’s one thing that’s really changed for me.

You seem like a pretty relaxed dad—you take the kids everywhere.
I try to take them everywhere I can, and I try to keep them involved in my life as much as I can and hope that they enjoy it.

Is there any city in the world like San Francisco to skate? What makes it special to you?
It is a unique city. It’s not just how you can skate the city, I like living here for a lot of other reasons. I like the size of it and the fact that you can ride your bike to anywhere in town, it’s not a very spread out city. The weather is good, it’s not uptight like a lot of other places—it’s a little hippyish. We’re world champions in baseball right now, which is pretty cool. I don’t watch it but it’s exciting, the whole city’s going nuts. There’s a lot of excitement everywhere, it’s getting everyone together for the right reasons, and I’m stoked about that.

What’s your plan for the next year?
More skateboarding.


Silas Baxter-Neal has a near perfect resumé for a professional skateboarder: countless covers, quality video parts, TWS rookie of the year, Thrasher’s coveted SOTY award, these achievements have set this now seasoned pro apart. The latest feather in his cap is a much-anticipated part in TWS’s new video Perpetual Motion, out early this spring. It drops the same time as Silas’s new signature series clothing line on adidas, which represents Silas perfectly—a synthesis of classic outdoor clothing and the everyday apparel that Silas skates in.


What shoe have you been wearing?
I’m wearing my second shoe, the Silas II right now. It’s just a clean basic shoe. Before that I was wearing my first shoe—I try and switch it up every now and again. I wore the Campus for a long time. I was wearing the Skate for a while too.

What’s the difference between the first and second shoe? What did you learn in that process of creating them?
The first one was a shoe that I really wanted—I didn’t consider a whole lot else other than I wanted to make a shoe. I went for a look that I really liked at the time, and actually still like a lot. It was a reflection of a shoe called the Marathon, which I was into when I was growing up, it’s a good-looking shoe. It was made to look like a trail, hiking, running shoe with a lot of panels and fancy details on it. The second shoe is more like a skate shoe, something that has a classic skate look. It’s as simple as possible on the toe, not a lot of paneling. There are a few things here and there just to make it unique, it’s a cup sole, but I went for vulcanized wrap. I like the feel it gives when you do flip tricks. It looks like a vulcanized shoe, but it’s a vulc/cup hybrid.

Are you fussy about what colors you wear?
For the most part I like blacks and grays. I try and venture out of my comfort level and wear some brighter colors, but it doesn’t last for long. I’ll always go back to the same colors—I wore the burgundy color for a while. I like my shoes to look clean and simple, the black and white is just really hard to beat.

Do you go back and forth between cup and vulc much?
adidas soles are so flexible—you get a lot of movement that other vulcs give you on the adidas cup soles. I like that extra bit of padding that a cup sole gives you, I like my feet not to hurt all the time—I never wore slippers, and I can’t wear the super thin vulc shoe. Their cup soles are better than anything out there, and I’m not saying that just ’cause I ride for them.

Where do you think shoe design is heading?
You go into a skateshop and seventy percent of the shoes on the wall look the same. I’d like to see skate shoes broaden a little and start to look different. The whole tech thing is done with. I’d like to see better materials—if you want to get technical then it needs to be with better suede, rubbers, and soles. People know what they like as far as skate shoes goes, we just need to make what’s already there better. Like how adidas has better flexible soles, it’s not unattainable; we just gotta make it work right.

Is shoe design something you think about all the time, or just when you design a shoe?
Just when I design a shoe—I wild out on ideas now and again, but in reality it never turns out the way I wanted it to. I don’t have the eye and the mind for the shoe design stuff. I’ll leave that up to the professionals. I’ll try and give my input when I can, but I’m not a shoe designer at heart.

What size board do you ride?
I ride an 8.0”, but it fluctuates a lot, sometimes a little smaller or bigger. I mix it up, but I always end up going back to a similar shape. Sometimes I’ll order a range of boards and ride all of them. I like concave and how it feels, but try not to analyze it too much, because when you don’t have it, it kind of throws you off.

Are you as flexible with your trucks as you are with your boards?
I ride Krux and just put them on—I don’t tighten them or loosen them, I just start skating them. If one day they feel tight, I’ll loosen them or vice versa. Krux bushings are really good.

What size wheels do you usually ride?
Depending where I’m at, anywhere between 51 and 52mm.

Do you have any quirks when putting a board together?
I put a board together when I really need to, or when I’m getting sick of the one I’m riding. I try not to be too picky about any of that stuff ’cause I feel that if you get into the routine of always having to have the right board, the right shape, the right concave, it messes you up if you are in a place where you can’t get it. There’s always something to stress about, and if you’re not too picky, it’s another thing you don’t have to worry about.

Are graphics important to you?
I’ll ride any board but I like cool graphics. That’s the reason I change my shape a lot, I choose a board by the graphic.

Being a part of adidas means you are one of the few teams that get to skate with Mark Gonzales, is that something you appreciate?
It’s definitely something I appreciate and notice. When I first got on adidas, Mark didn’t go on many trips. It wasn’t ’til our San Francisco trip that I spent some time around him. When you see him skate, it’s awesome. It depends what kind of mood he’s in, too. Sometimes he just charges it, which is amazing to see, other times he just jokes around and has fun. All the stuff is pretty inspiring and fun to watch. He has such a strong personality and character, it’s hard not to pay attention and watch him.

What has Mark’s contribution to skateboarding been?
It’s changed a lot over the years, and I wasn’t around at the time of Video Days, but from what I can tell, back then he was all over the place and his skateboarding was his medium in a lot of ways. He was just trying to be himself, and because of that he ended up creating a lot of tricks and his own style. Through time, he’s shown us that there isn’t a right way or wrong way to do things—you can go your own way and still be an innovator. You don’t have to follow any steps to be the best. You can be weird, invent new tricks, and still lead—he’s shown us that there are no set ways to do anything. Now he’s a big character in skateboarding, and that’s what makes it special. You can tell a lot about people the way they ride a skateboard, and you can pretty much see how Mark is as a person the way he rides his.

What did you do with the money you made from Real Street?
I invested it in a fund that will eventually help my kid go through college. It was unexpected money, and I did think about buying a boat, but now if everything else fails, at least my kid can do something down the road.

How is life as a father going?
It’s a great gift that’s been difficult and rewarding all in the same breath. There’s a lot more you have to deal with at any given moment, but it feels good watching your kid grow and it feels good to be responsible for somebody. As a skateboarder, it’s made me value my time a lot more and organize it better. If I go on a skate trip I have to make it worthwhile. I can’t go on a trip to hang out at the bar and get a couple of tricks here and there. Sometimes it feels like you have two lives, when you’re at home you’re the responsible Dad, but when you’re on a skate trip you’re not responsible for anything.

What made you decide to do a Transworld part this year?
I’d been asked before to do one, and I really wanted to, but I always felt that I had so much on my plate that I couldn’t dedicate a whole lot of time to it. This time when I got asked, I really didn’t have a whole lot going on. It seemed that if I put it off, I wouldn’t have the opportunity again. I’ve been feeling good and my body has been healthy, so it just felt like the right time to do it. I was lucky enough to be asked again.

Watching you skate, it seems that you are comfortable on a lot of different terrain, why is that?
It’s a combination of a lot of things—growing up in Eugene, there aren’t a lot of spots, so you just have to skate whatever you can. Being a hungry kid, I tried a trick on everything that I saw. That helped me get a broad ability level. When I was fifteen, they started building a bunch of parks. I have a hyperactive personality that comes out more in my skating than anything else. I’m always looking at the landscape around me.

Can you talk about the double rail that you just filmed on?
It’s near my house and it’s something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while. At first I thought you could just gap to the second rail, then I thought it might be possible to grind and grind, kind of as a joke. Then the more I drove past it, the more I thought it was possible, I couldn’t get it out of my head. When Jon Holland [Transworld videographer] was here, I went and try it, to see how it felt, and it ended up working out.

If you were in the wilderness alone, could you survive?
For a limited amount of time, it depends on the place. I know how to make shelter, make fire, get water, and hunt a little bit. But to spend more time, like a year, I don’t think I could do that. To get enough nutrition is hard. I hope one day to be able to do that.

Could you live in Japan?
I’ve thought about that a lot over the last seven weeks of being out there—maybe. I couldn’t live in Tokyo, but maybe outside of the cities, I’d have to learn the language. I don’t think you could live in Japan and be a professional skateboarder. Maybe when I’m older, I’d like my kid to live there for a while, I think it would be good for him to be immersed in that culture, it’s really different from the United States.

Have you ever fallen into a skateboarding trend?
Not consciously, but I must have—that’s what makes it progress. You see what other people are doing and you try to imitate it. I guess that’s what a trend is. I look at what I used to wear when I was fifteen compared to now, it’s just being a reflection of what you see.

What’s the inspiration behind your new clothing line with adidas?
As an adult I want clothes that I can wear, stuff that fits my personality, that I can wear when I’m not skating, whether it be going hiking or doing whatever. The idea is good clothing with good quality materials and a good fit. It’s not extravagant, it’s simple clothing done well.

What does adidas look for in the team?
It’s not a normal team, and it isn’t full of a certain type of skater. They look at personality and how you handle yourself and skate. There’s a large level of creativity within the team and we only do two trips a year, so we may not see each other for six months of the year. You need to able to hang out, get along, and skate a lot. We do the videos and shoot the ads, so we need people who are down to skate everything—adidas has a good mix of that—people who love to skate.

I wasn’t going to ask you this. But after just being in Portland, I feel I have to. Is Portlandia a spoof, or is it really like that?
It’s an exaggerated version of the truth. Portland is a unique place, and it takes a certain type of person to live here. People who live here want a good life, and they get into their little niches. They have their ping-pong league or pool league; they spend a lot of time at the bar, and eat out a lot. If you open a vegan tattoo shop here, there will be people who will go and get a vegan tattoo. If you opened a coffee shop that had two types of beans and was six dollars a cup, people would go there and try it. The bars and coffee shops have a lot to do with the weather—it’s an easy thing to do. The food is really good up here—if it’s a really crappy day out, a hearty meal is something to look forward to.

What are your plans for the next year?
Try and finish my Transworld part. I just did this Tokyo night part, which was awesome. I keep on telling my wife that I’m going to mellow out and spend some more time at home, but that never really seems to happen.


Lucas Puig might just be living the perfect dream, controlling his skateboarding career on his own terms and surrounding himself with the things he treasures the most—family and friends. In these days of viral videos, it’s possible to have a career anywhere. As long as you are producing footage and being seen, the rest will take care of itself. While he’s been on Cliché since he was just a kid, it was his part in Fully Flared that really elevated Lucas to new heights, and ultimately launched his career on the world stage. One of the newer members to the adidas global team, this loveable French rogue is as gifted as they come.


What shoes have you been wearing?
I’ve been skating every day in my shoe. When I’m not skating I wear the new Rod Laver.

Did your shoe come out the way you thought it would?
Yeah, it’s never going to be one hundred percent what you want, but it came out really good. Before that I was riding the Skate, which was really good for feeling the board but it was hurting my feet. I wanted something in between, a shoe that gives you a good feeling with your board and doesn’t hurt your feet.

Are you fussy about colors?
I like the black ones a lot, but I’ll also wear the light grey, and the white ones are really fresh.

How long will a pair of shoes last you?
If I skate every day, they’ll last about tens days which is a lot. The first two days I’ll break it in and then for the next eight days they’re perfect. Right now I’ve been skating the same shoe every day for a month, but it’s cold so I’m only skating for one or two hours.

Where do you see skate shoe design going in the future?
It will go to bigger shoes; they can’t go smaller because it’s so hard on your feet. It could go more technical like sport shoes, that will be better for us ’cause it will be way better for our feet.

Your shoe doesn’t really look that technical but it is, right?
Yeah, it’s a cup sole but it’s lighter than any vulcanized shoe on the market, they used the same technology that Lionel Messi has in his football shoes. The material is light but really strong so it never puffs out.

Is shoe design something you think about a lot?
I’m always wondering whether I should change this or that. Should it be cup or vulc? I always want to try and make it better.

What setup are you riding these days?
I used to ride an 8.0”, then 8.1”, now I ride an 8.2” and I’m having some big drama. Do I ride 8.1” or 8.2”? Should I ride 51mm wheels or 52 or 49? Every setup, I’m changing something to find the perfect one. I don’t like too much concave or my nose and tail too steep. I rode an 8.0” on the Gypsy Tour, and Jeremie Daclin gave me a board that I set up, I was like, “Damn this board is really weird,” then Jeremie told me it was an 8.25”, I didn’t realize it for two hours.

Being a part of adidas means you are one of the few teams that get to skate with Mark Gonzales, is that something you think about?
Yeah, for sure I appreciate it, it’s such a blessing just to be able to see him skate. Every spot we go to is so much fun, he talks to every kid, he’ll try and make the day bigger, he’s just a legend. Last time in New York he was playing a game of S.K.A.T.E. with Chewy and Chewy did a switch tre. Mark was all, “What, you think I can’t do a switch 360 flip?” He did it first try. It was the gnarliest thing I’ve seen in the last five years. Everyone was shocked, I don’t know how he did it. It was gnarly.

What has Mark’s contribution to the world of skateboarding been?
He was one of the first to do real street skating: lines, nollies, switch, he showed everyone what skateboarding should be. Not doing the hardest tricks but doing them right in good lines. If you watch his part in Video Days that to me is exactly what skateboarding is about. He does a ledge trick, a second trick, then a manual trick—we’re still doing the same things twenty years on. He brought street skating and he brought style, he’s the best.

What did adidas mean to you, growing up in France?
For me, adidas was always at the top in anything that they did. In ’98 when the French team won the World Cup, adidas sponsored them. I remember watching all the interviews with the players like Zinedine Zidane, they were always super polite and always had a big smile. They’ve always had the right people, so to me it means a lot.

Why haven’t you left Toulouse?
My family is here and all my friends are here. I always believed in the city and thought skateboarding could grow here. Seven years ago we didn’t have a nice skatepark with good kids, it’s changed a lot. People come through here a lot on tour now, they just built a new pool with proper coping, they’re going to build a street park and all the kids are super psyched. For me it’s worth staying here, I’m not depressed on my board thinking about getting out. It’s okay to have a bad day. When I go on tour now, or over to Lyon, I really appreciate it.

Can you maintain the life of a pro skater in Toulouse?
Just ’cause I’m at home in Toulouse doesn’t mean that I’m not skating. I am skating and I’m not wasting my time. I skate every day with my friends—whoever is not working, we go skate. If it’s someone’s day off then they’re hyped. I don’t play games of S.K.A.T.E. with great skaters every day, but I think that’s too much—when it’s too much, people are over it. I’m not the best skater, there are so many people killing it who are one hundred percent motivated and super hungry—I’m just not like that. I don’t want to be in front of the camera all the time, I just want to skate.

Yeah, it’s not like when the cameras are out on a trip you don’t know when to go. You’re not shy.
Before I was. But now I’m like, even if my English is terrible I’m gonna try and make it work—before I was like, what am I going to do? And what am I going to say? But it’s only a question about skateboarding, it’s not history or geography. It’s what I know, it’s not school, it’s fun.

Can you explain what happened when you went to adidas HQ to design your shoe?
Yeah that was gnarly, I went to the head quarters and didn’t know what to expect, Jascha Muller [adidas sports marketing] just told me that we were going to go through some old shoes with the designers. We walked the Wall of Fame, which had all the famous adidas athletes on it. At the end of the wall, Jascha told us we were going to a special room. It was a secret room with a huge concrete revolving door that a security guard came and opened for us. It was like something from a movie—inside was the real history of adidas. I was like, “Oh my god, this is for me? Okay no big deal.” I sat on the couch and looked at old shoes, about ten pairs—the shoes were all cracked and I was like, “I like this, I like this, and I like this,” then Danny Kinley [adidas product designer] would draw it and ask, “Like this?” then I’d say, “More like this.” I didn’t think about it too much, I just wanted to do it one hundred percent, and it worked out good.

How did you feel when you had your name on an adidas shoe?
It puts pressure on me, but it’s good pressure, you can either take it in a good way or a bad way and I take it in a good way. I like my name on a shoe, I’m skating and chillin’. When you are pro, you want to be the best you can be. You always want to be on the up and be on point.

What are the biggest differences between the French and American skateboard scene?
The US scene is pretty big; in France no one takes it seriously, even if people have been skating before they always make a joke about it, “How old are you? You still skating? Damn, what’s wrong with you?” This is really common, it’s not like they think skating can be a job.

You’re really involved in your local scene; tell us about the spot you recently built.
We wanted to have a good place to skate, so we found a piece of unused land, got everyone hyped and built a spot there. Last Saturday there were forty kids there. Now it’s a skatepark pretty much.

You seem like you’re not like the average French person, is that true?
No, I am. I travel more. But the French have small minds, they hate London and the English, people who don’t travel don’t see very far. Just ’cause they don’t know about it they think it’s bad. French people complain a lot, this everyone knows. I complain, but when you are with skaters for two weeks and you see them not complain once, I think, “Wow, I’m still a Frenchman.”

What characteristics make you French?
I saw on the TV that we are one of the worst tourists. In France, the food is so good, and food is an important part of your vacation, so we complain a lot. I don’t know if Americans can tell the difference between French, German, Italian, or Spanish food. Me? I can tell.

And what are your plans for the next year?
Finish the Cliché video, I want a legit part in that. I want a full part but it’s been hard with all the traveling.


Some of the greatest Brazilian sporting exports have not only been in soccer, along with the Samba boys Brazil has been churning out great skateboarders for all most two decades. On the top of that list is Rodrigo Teixeira, one of the fledglings in a modern generation of street skateboarding who helped define what we’ve become today. Easy going with one of the smoothest styles in the game, TX is the newest addition to the adidas Skateboarding Global Team.


What shoes have you been wearing?
Since I’ve been on the team I’ve pretty much only been wearing the Busenitz Pro, it’s a good looking shoe with a cup sole and is inspired by a soccer shoe. I’ve skated the Ronan a little bit too. The cup sole seems to keep its shape a lot longer, it always has the same feeling where as the vulc seems to melt down, but I like vulcanized too. The only color shoe I won’t wear is white.

How long will a pair last you?
If I’m skating every day they’ll last about a week, that’s why the Busenitz Pro is good cause it will hold together for a long time, even when you wear it out it’ll still look like bling.

Where is the future of shoe design heading?
It’s all going back to the early 90s, the future is going back.

Being on adidas you get to skate with Mark Gonzales, is that something you’ve thought about or appreciate?
He’s like a myth that you only got to see in videos or hear stories about. I’d only got to skate with him twice before I was on adidas—once in Tampa and once when I was on and éS trip in New York. I was with Bobby Worrest at the Brooklyn Banks and Mark showed up with a cruiser board, he came over and talked to us and we kicked it. Being with him in Madrid was sick, he’s like an older man in a kid’s body. In three day’s I felt like I saw a lot of him, which was tight.

Why has Mark been so influential?
He’s just been himself and always skates like he could care less. He’s been around for a long time and always has the same vibe like he’s having fun getting crazy.

Where do you call home, Brazil or California?
I call Brazil home because Costa Mesa doesn’t feel like home, it’s a place I stay from time to time, I have a bunch of Brazilian homies here and it’s really laid back, so when I get back to Costa Mesa after travelling it’s relaxing time. Until I go on a skate mission again.

How did that Brazilian community in Costa Mesa start?
It was about a decade ago, a lot of the companies that we used to ride for were in this area, there used to be a bunch of good spots here to, and us Brazilian’s are kinda like rice—we like to stick together. We always had riders on Sole Tech and Volcom, so we would skate the parks together. It all made sense. But now we’re all moving to Long Beach. I’m putting all my stuff into storage for two months while I’m in Barcelona then moving to there.

Brazil is going through a lot of changes right now, what are some that you’ve seen?
With the World Cup coming they’re cleaning up the city (São Paulo). There’s more cops on the streets, I just saw this story online saying that the only thing that could bring life back to the plaza’s downtown is skateboarding, they’re getting together with the local skaters and trying to fix them up—they’re cleaning it all up for the Olympics and the World Cup. Skateboarding’s really big in Brazil and they’re fixing a lot of the plazas up.

What does hosting the World Cup mean to Brazil?
I can’t really explain what it means; since I was a little kid and a real soccer fan, even if you’re not a fan and it’s the World Cup, you become a soccer fan. I don’t know what the experience is going to be like; we’re all just waiting. I’m gonna go to it for sure—we’re gonna try and do a trip around it.

What did adidas mean to you growing up?
It’s kinda crazy because I got sponsored when I was really young so I didn’t get to wear a lot of different shoes, but my first ever ad in a magazine I was rocking adidas. I’ve always liked classics, adidas has good looking shoes and I’ve always liked what they were about, it’s always had more of an international feel. Over the past few years it always caught my attention because it’s really been focused on street skating and a natural vibe, just skaters skating.

How did you get on adidas?
When éS went under adidas was down to give me shoes while I needed them. I came back from a trip and there was a big box of Busenitz’s waiting for me but I couldn’t rock them cause I still had a contract with éS, but I put the shoes on every day and thought how good it was gonna be. As soon as my contract was up in December I started wearing the shoes and really paying attention to the program, it made sense. These are the shoes I like, the program is tight, it has an international feeling that I think I really fit into. So I’m gonna try and do what I gotta do to get on—so I just started repping the shoes, and for a few months I couldn’t get got on, adidas wanted to but at the time they couldn’t. Then I met Jascha Muller and I opened up to him. He said he had my back, he couldn’t promise but he would try and get me on. The next thing I know I’m on.

It seemed that it was a real natural fit with you on the team. Madrid was your first trip but it was like you’ve been on a for while.
I think so too, maybe it was natural, it’s something that I really wanted. I believe it was the best fit for me.

Why have you never entered contests?
It’s not a good feeling for me, I’d do it if my sponsors wanted me to but if they don’t want me to I’d rather travel, film and skate new spots because that’s the feeling that keeps me going. Even if I’m hurt, I always try to land a new trick even if it’s just to revert, that’s the feeling I’m gonna get to make me skate more and more. If you can make a living the way you like, why go the other way. If it’s not working out, then maybe I’ll have to do some contests. I don’t think skateboarding was ever meant to be judged. There’s no goal, it’s not like soccer where it doesn’t matter how you score. A goal is a goal no matter how you do it, if it's beautiful then all the better. It’s not that way in skateboarding, two people can do the same trick and it’s always going to be different.

Can you explain what the passion for soccer is like in Brazil?
I’ve only gone once to a game in Europe and I’ve seen a lot of games at home with friends, but there’s different ways of being a fan. There are some fans in Brazil where that’s their life, they don’t care about anything else, they just work to follow the team and be a soldier of the team—I don’t really see that anywhere else. In Brazil they give up their life for the team, their life is being a soccer fan.

Who’s gonna win the World Cup?
Brazil. I will be there, even if adidas doesn’t make a trip, we’ll make a trip.


Anyone wondering how Pete Eldridge got his raw power may find a clue in the following interview. He cut his teeth on the streets of Philadelphia playing catch-up with Ricky Oyola. This foundation laid in the early ’90s, in one of skateboarding’s most influential cities, no less, has stood him in good stead. That no-frills East Coast style is still very much apparent today, even though he now calls the West Coast home and has just joined the ranks of France’s Cliché. It’s obvious Pete is comfortable anywhere he goes.


What shoe are you wearing these days?
I’ve been skating in the adi-Ease. They are thin, low profile and super grippy, it’s just a good looking shoe.

Do you stick with the same shoe, or do you chop and change?
I switch it up here and there.

Do you skate cup or a vulc sole?
I used to skate cup, but then I got into the vulcs. The adi-Ease is a vulc, so I’ve been skating that a bunch. I’ve been skating in Lucas and Dennis’ shoe as well.

Are colorways important to you?
I don’t really trip on that stuff—if they look good, they look good.

Would you say shoe design is going more toward classic or tech?
It’s more of a classic look, but built with better technology.

What’s the benefit of new technology?
They are comfy and they look good.

What setup do you ride?
I ride an 8.0” to an 8.1”, a little bit longer wheelbase. I like the flatter boards because you don’t have to try as hard to pop it. I ride the 8.0” Thunder Lows. I try to ride them as long as I can.

Being with the adidas team, you get to skate with Mark Gonzales. Is that something you ever think about?
Oh yeah, it’s amazing every time. He’s a legend. He’s always super positive, and he’s always having fun. It’s super cool kickin’ it with him.

When did you first meet him?
I met him in San Francisco. A bunch of people were skating this warehouse. It was so long ago, maybe back in the Stereo days. I remember he had on these jeans that he had drawn all over. It was a new clothing thing he’d done for a Japanese company. I was like, “Those are the coolest pants ever.” They had curse words all over them. I didn’t know what to expect of Mark. Watching videos from way back in the day, you hear stories about him, and then when you meet him, it’s just awesome. I’d heard he was kind of crazy, but he’s just a regular guy.

Are there any moments riding with Mark in the past that stick out for you?
I don’t know. He doesn’t seem that crazy to me. He just does funny stuff. We were on a trip in Melbourne, Australia, and I woke up real early, jet-lagged. I went to get coffee, and I heard a skateboard. I looked over, and it’s Gonz, pushing as fast as he can down the street mongo. An hour later, I see him skate back, and he stops and powerslides into a car. He said, “There’s a sick vert ramp down the street.” He was skating vert at like, seven-thirty in the morning! In New York a couple months ago, he and Chewy were messing around, playing a game of S.K.A.T.E. Chewy tried to switch tre, and Mark was like, “I got this.” He got on Chewy’s board and did switch tre perfectly.

What it is about Mark that makes him so influential?
The best thing about skateboarding is that you can do your own thing, and Mark’s been really good at that. He has always been about doing what he wants to do—he doesn’t have to look a certain way, or do a certain trick. He’s never tried to please anybody, he’s like, “Oh, I’m not supposed to push mongo? Well, I’m gonna do it twice as much now.”

A couple of years ago you were living in Denver but now you’re in San Diego. How did you end up out West?
I just decided, “Screw it.” I packed my truck up, and drove out to Cali. That was pretty much it. I used to stay here all the time, filming, doing video parts because it was closer to drive here from Denver than to the East Coast.

How has it been riding for Cliché?
It’s awesome.

How did that happen?
Back when I was on Bootleg, I helped Oliver Barton move to Barcelona, and we kicked it in Lyon with the Cliché guys for a while. Years later, Oli mentioned they were down for me, and thought that we could make something happen.

What’s the difference between riding for a French company and an American one?
They have their style—it’s kinda laid-back.

What was it like spending the summer in Lyon?
The city vibe is really cool. There are a lot of spots—you’ve got Hotel de Ville, which is kind of like the meeting zone, and then there are spots out from there.

What about French culture?
It’s not that different, just a lot of bread and cheese.

Back in the States, do you think the East Coast/West Coast beef is fabricated?
I think that’s just fabricated. Personally, I never had any problems.

Growing up in Philly in the early ’90s, skating must have been a lot more raw back then. Is it different from how it is today?
Well, skateboarding is completely different now. People see it and know what it is now. Back then it was just catching on, and the kids were just punk kids. A lot of kids now are doing it for a reason—to get sponsored—not just because they like it. And parents are pushing them to do it, to make money.

Did you like it better back then?
I like it, period. I take it for what it is. I still like going skating with my friends. That’s the cool part about it. And being able to travel, see different countries, hang out with different people. Even before I was sponsored, I had friends all over the place. You might barely know somebody but because you skate, you hang out, and then you have friends to stay with all over the place. And it’s so diverse—people listen to different kinds of music, but they can still kick it.

Back in the early nineties, a lot of skaters wore adidas even though they weren’t really skate shoes. Why was that?
They were just cool looking shoes—the Campus, the Shelltoe. And it took longer to rip through the Shelltoe than a pair of suede shoes. I think my mom had something to do with that.

Growing up in Philly, who did you skate with, and who did you look up to?
The Sub Zero video came out, and that was just mind-blowing—Sergie, Ricky, all those dudes. I started going to the city when I was thirteen, skating Love, seeing those guys and hanging out at Sub Zero. Ricky would come by to set up a board, and he’d ask us if we wanted to go skate. Being little kids, he’d say to us, “Try and keep up.” He’d kick off down Fifth Street, and I’d be a block behind him, wondering which way he was going. He’d cut through the park, ollie over the fountain, backtrack another block to hit the hospital bump. Then he’d cut back over, kickflipping manholes, and that was his normal skate to Love. It was amazing watching Rick doing his thing.

Those early years in Philadelphia had an influence on skateboarding style throughout the world—a lot of lines, a real solid type of skateboarding, which was less technical and more about powering through how rough it can be out there.
Yeah, we didn’t have the time to be at a spot for like four hours, because security guards and cops were constantly chasing us out. We didn’t have schoolyards that you could skate all day on a Saturday and Sunday. And there were no skateparks.

Did you have a route you’d take around the city?
When I was really little, I’d follow Ricky to Love. Then I started to find my different ways to go—fun bumps, a big curb cut on one street, cut over to a ledge that was good on another street, looking for which streets were smooth and any new spots. Then I’d meet up with Kerry Getz and Kevin Taylor at the shop.

Can you speak French yet?
No, my French is not so good. I try, but you don’t want me to try and then butcher their language.


Living a migratory life, Benny Fairfax has spent the last couple years flying from London to Los Angeles and back, in search of dry pavement, sunny sky, and the best of both worlds. Easy on the eye, and with a real smooth style all his own, Benny brings quintessential British variety to all the trips. There’s a sense of ease that comes with his laid-back personality, and it makes him an obvious choice to add to any skate adventure. Always down to hit the road and be part of all the shenanigans involved, he’s traveled extensively in search of spots all over the globe. Before this interview, he’d already been living out of a bag for three months— and you sense he wouldn’t want it any other way.


What shoes have you been wearing?
Mostly the Busenitz Pro. Before, I was skating in the vulcanized adi-Ease a lot, and they were beginning to hurt my feet if I landed primo or jumped down gaps. The Busenitz Pro’s are perfectly in between. They’re thin enough to where you can feel your board, but they also have enough cushioning to prevent heel bruises and hurting the bottom of your feet. I’m still up in the air over cup or vulc—most cup soles I don’t like but the Busenitz’s are perfect. Until something else comes along I’ll stick with the Busenitz. I’m not really fussy about colors, I’ve skated Dennis’ shoe in so many different colorways and they’re all sick.

Where do you see shoe design heading?
The classics have been around for so long, they’re always going to be here, you can’t get rid of them. All the tech stuff to me is just gimmicks, maybe it’s for the kids. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

What setup are you riding?
I chop and change a lot between an 8.0” and 8.125”. I like the concave to be somewhere in the middle. I ride Theeve trucks—I got sent a pair of those titanium trucks and lost them so I just ride the regular trucks—they’re amazing, really good trucks. I just started riding for Picture wheels. I haven’t really got any quirks when I set my board up, the only thing I do is put my bolts on diagonally.

Being a part of adidas means you are one of the few teams that get to skate with Mark Gonzales. Is that something you’ve ever thought about?
It stokes me out every single time that I see him, he’s a legend, and it’s unbelievable.

When did you first meet Mark?
I actually met him at Generation 97 in London, I was just this little grommet and stole some wristbands and went up to him and shook his hand. I also got a sticker off Bob Burnquist, and Geoff Rowley let me have a go on his board.

What’s one the funniest things you’ve seen him do?
Probably him skating a demo in Melbourne, Australia with his girlfriend on his shoulders, he was pulling all these ballerina moves. She had this really short orange dress on that was blowing in the wind—the crowd was just loving it.

What has Mark’s contribution been to the world of skateboarding?
In my eyes, he invented the way people skate today. He made people realize that there were things you could do on a skateboard that they thought weren’t possible before. The Gonz Gap at EMB, the double kink rail in Venice Beach that he boardslid, the Meanwhile Gap in West London, the two banks that he ollied—nobody had a clue that you could do that—it was just insane. The 180 fakie 50-50 at the Shell Center, nobody was doing anything like that, he was the first to get gnarly.

So what have you been up to lately?
I’ve just been traveling a lot; it feels like I’ve been living out of a bag for the last year. I’m not really calling anywhere home right now. I was in Barcelona for the last five weeks, before that I was in London. I was skating with Tom Penny in Barcelona, which was amazing.

Is Barcelona still the spot in Europe, or is it played out?
Man, there’s still so much there to skate—it’s still the place but it’s not as popular as it used to be.

What country are you in now?
I’m in Thailand having a little holiday on my way to Queensland, Australia to meet up with Brophy and go on some skate missions. We’re going to New Zealand on a trip with Slam and a bunch of Australian rippers—Jake Duncombe, Chima Fergusson, and Sammy Winter. Then we’re going on a camping skate trip to Western Australia to Perth. I’m waiting for my new work visa for the States—if it all goes to plan, I’ll be back in the States around February or March.

Is Los Angeles where you’d like to call home?
I’m happiest having the best of both worlds—I like California in the wintertime and Europe in the summertime. I couldn’t live in the States without going back to London in the summer. I miss the English sense of humor and my friends and family. But there are lots of skate spots in California, the skateparks are amazing, the weather’s amazing, the variety of food is amazing.

Where’s your favorite place you’ve been to on the adidas trips?
I really liked Greece ’cause it had some great spots, the ground was really good, lots of marble everywhere. Australia was amazing and so was Montreal.

Is there anywhere else you’d like to travel to?
I’d like to travel more in Asia—looks like there’s a lot of good stuff out there. I’d like to go to South America too. I love looking at photos from down there; it looks rugged and really colorful.

Being on adidas, do you get to see any Chelsea games?
Yeah, I’ve been to a couple. We also got to see a European Championship game too, France against Romania. We get some perks for sure.

What did adidas mean to you growing up?
It was all about the tracksuit, everyone had the three-stripe tracksuit, all the footy gear. Then when I started skating, it was all about the Shelltoe after seeing all the US skaters wear them. It’s always just been there—it’s such a massive brand and everyone knows what it is.


Nestor Judkins is one of those unique skateboarders who is comfortable on his skateboard and in his surroundings, no matter where that may be. Schooled by some of the best in the business including Santa Cruz and enjoi, it was his rookie part in Transworld’s Hallelujah that put him well and truly on the skateboarding map. He has a smooth, clean style and is never afraid to jump into whatever skate session is going on. This once nomadic couch surfer is now calling New York City home.


What shoes have you been wearing?
The adi-Ease—I’ve been wearing them since they came out. They’re really thin and have a really good sole. It’s the thinnest model adidas makes, but they’re not too thin—it’s a good vulcanized sole and they look really nice. I like the black and white ones the most. I’ll wear whatever color, but I prefer a white sole and white stripes. I pretty much stay with the same model. I was wearing the Skate, but when the adi-Ease came out, I switched. I can’t go back and forth, you get used to how a shoe feels.

What direction do you think the future of shoe design is going in?
Everything was so hi-tech for so long, and now they’re classic—everyone likes a classic. It’s smart, what adidas is doing right now, making shoes tech on the inside but real classic on the outside.

What setup do you ride?
I ride a 7.9” board, I’ve been using that same shape for years—same shoes, same shape. Not too much concave. I like a flat board, almost symmetrical on the nose and the tail—wide tail, wide nose, just a solid board. Riding my own pro model was weird at first, but I guess I’ve gotten used to it. I do prefer riding other graphics, but it really doesn’t matter to me. I have old-ass bushings and cups so that the trucks can be sloppy and wobbly. I ride Krux 4.0s, wide and high. I put the nut on so it’s barely threaded and superglue it on. If I didn’t superglue them on, they would fall off. I do get wheel bite but I don’t jump down big sets of stairs. I deal with it, and skate on my toes. You can put wax in your wheel wells to prevent wheel bite. If my board shoots out, it will snake on its own. I also use three bolts on the front and back trucks.

Being a part of adidas means you are one of the few teams that gets to skate with Mark Gonzales. Is that something you think about?
I have thought about it, and it’s special—we’re really lucky that we get to see him twice a year. We get to do that for two weeks, and it’s just like a normal skate trip. It’s fun to see how he skates still. He has fun and he skates hard. I didn’t realize, but he doesn’t really go on any other trips.

When did you first meet Mark?
A few years ago, on an adidas shoot in San Francisco. I was pretty awestruck. He skated a couple of days. He usually skates a lot more with us now than he used to. Before he would be with us a couple of days, now he’s on the whole trip. Over the years we’ve become friends. He’s just been inspiring, inside and outside of skateboarding. He enjoys himself and doesn’t worry too much.

What’s one of the wildest things you’ve seen him do?
He needs to look out for traffic, he doesn’t look out for cars, so you’ve gotta keep an eye on him.

Have you seen Mark ride a lot of different setups?
I haven’t seen him ride a longboard, it seems crazy but he’s been skateboarding for so long. I’ve seen him on old-school boards and ripping—skating vert on an old-school board! He’ll skate anyone’s board. He’ll be like, “I don’t like my board, let me try your board.” Which is nice to see. We were talking earlier about the setup being so specific, but it doesn’t need to be that specific, you can skate on anything if you really want to. I saw him do a switch tre flip on Chewy’s board in New York. First try.

How about Mark skating weird obstacles?
I saw him skate an eleven-stair handrail a few months ago. That was pretty nuts, especially when you think that he’s in his early forties. He feeble grinded it on one of those longer boards.

What has Mark’s contribution been to skateboarding, over the span of his career to date?
His contribution has been street skating in its purest sense. I still watch his old video parts from the ’80s, and even back then it’s pure street skating. It’s just the way he skates that’s been so inspiring over the years.

What is it about New York that made you want to live there?
I wanted a change and to try something new. I like living in cities, where things are close to each other. I like the way the skating is out here. It’s night and day from California. Over here the weather is something that you have to get used to—in California it’s so mellow. You not only have to know spots, you have to know when you can skate them—you have to pay attention. I skate more here than I’ve ever skated anywhere else. You’re on your board all the time, but if you want to get a trick at a spot, then that takes a little more time. It adds to the sense of accomplishment.

Explain to anyone who might not know what the Tiltmode Army is.
It’s a crew of guys from San Jose who make the best videos. There are some really talented people in there, and great skaters like Marc Johnson. There are also people like Matt Eversole who have a lot of great ideas. They made these videos without any pretention, it just happened. They had a lot of random footage of skating and funny stuff, which helped make this cool scene.

How would one become a member of the Tiltmode Army?
It’s not an official club, but it has been around forever. You gotta skate, but there are people in it that don’t skate. Skating helps ’cause it’s an easy way to meet people. You gotta live in the area. So if you live in downtown San Jose and skate with these guys then you’re a member.

Are you still shooting photos?
Yeah, and I’m still using film. I shoot 400 ASA, and I like the way that looks. One of the main things that I like about it is the anticipation of getting a roll back and seeing your photos later. It’s also the limitation of it. With digital, I’d shoot way too much and wouldn’t care about looking at them, I’m not very good with computers. I like how film looks, and I can get my hands on the prints.

Is there anywhere left you want to travel to?
Yeah, but they may not be good for skateboarding. I want to go to India, and I really want to go to all the old Soviet states, like Azerbaijan and Georgia, some interesting places.

You’ve become good friends with Mark Gonzales, describe how that happened.
I had met him a couple of times before, then on that trip to London, I went a week early to just skate, thinking I’d be there on my own. I walk into the hotel lobby and hear, “Hey,” and it’s Mark. So we just hung out and skated together for a week, it was fun. We just got along and we’ve been friends since.

What’s your plan for the next year?
We’re doing some enjoi videos. It’s hard to make videos these days, so we’re doing these quarterly videos. I got a part I’m working on for September, so I’m going to be pretty busy with that. I’ll be in New York for as long as I can be. I’ll just go wherever I can and keep skating.


Mark Suciu arrived in 2012 from out of the blue. Even though one of NorCal’s best kept secrets had been causing a stir with those in the know, it wasn’t until his Cross Continental part dropped like a bombshell that the rest of us got to see what the fuss was about. A viral sensation, the part has over six hundred thousand views and counting. Appealing in its simplicity, it’s something you can watch over and over again without it getting old. There are no gimmicks attached to Mark’s skating, it’s based on clean progression with a hint of past classics. The newest addition to the adidas team is a good shout for Am of the Year. The future is indeed bright.


What shoes have you been wearing since you got on with adidas?
I’ve been wearing the Ronan, I like the cup sole, it’s good for jumping down stuff, and it doesn’t hinder performance. I can skate whatever I want, whenever I want. I just can’t jump down anything in a vulcanized shoe.

Are you fussy about colorways?
I usually wear all black, but if there’s a good colorway, I’ll definitely skate it.

How long will a pair of shoes usually last you?
I try to wear a pair of shoes for as long as I can. The last pair I had lasted for about three weeks.

Do you see the future of shoe design being driven by technology or the consumer?
I see the skaters driving it, so whatever the skaters want, that will be the main focus. But I can’t see skaters having a lot of new needs. When there’s a new material or new technology, it’s good to check it out, but I don’t see us needing more than what we already have.

Could we say the same about skateboards?
Yeah definitely, but that’s not to say that we shouldn’t always try to look for new things to make it better. But what we have now has a real solid foundation to it.

What boards do you ride?
Right now I’m riding an 8.0”—I like a lot of concave and a lot of pop. I feel I can lock my feet into the board with a lot of concave. It makes it snug on your board. Habitat has this one shape, and they can put any graphic on it, which is pretty awesome. I ride 147 Thunders, so it fits just perfect—the highs, so I can get a little more leverage for a little more pop, less wheel bite as well. I set up a new pair of trucks every four or five months and try to keep the same bushings.

Are you fussy about setting up new boards?
People are usually waiting on me when I’m setting up a board, so I try and get it done as quickly as possible.

Being on adidas, you get to skate with Mark Gonzales, is that something you’ve ever thought about?
There are a lot of legends on the whole team, and Mark just adds to that. When you think, “Oh, I’m about to go and have a session with Mark Gonzales,” that’s pretty overwhelming. This guy has had so much influence on everyone over the years. In the past ten years that I’ve been watching skate videos, he’s just done so much creative stuff. He jokes around all the time, so you get this vibe that you are going to have the best session with him—he’s always messing around. I got to skate with him once in New York, and that’s pretty much how it was. He was giving us T-shirts that he’d made. He was all, “Wear this shirt and do this stance and let me get a photo.” Doing those crazy little walking steps that he does, it was definitely good times.

Were you nervous when you first met him?
I don’t think I was—I was meeting everyone else for the first time, and I had it in my head, “You’re about to meet people you’ve looked up to for a while.” I kind of put myself in autopilot knowing that in a couple of hours I’d be skating with them, then I can get to form ideas about who they are. Mark was really busy when we met. I just said, “What’s up?”—but once we went skating, it was a bit different. I was definitely a bit starstruck skating with him, but I also felt really comfortable because of his attitude.

The common consensus is that Mark Gonzales is the most influential skater of all time, do you agree with that?
I don’t know if I can make the most accurate judgment because I wasn’t around when he was changing it. In that recent Transworld interview he was talking about how he wants to find new movement, how he’s putting so much of himself into his skating, I feel like his contribution has been to skateboarding’s soul. Being an individual and realizing that whoever you are you can contribute to skateboarding. He’s been motivational in the way people look at skateboarding, and opened up a lot of people to it.

You must have had a bunch of offers on the table, what made you choose adidas?
I had a conversation with myself at age thirteen, looking out for exactly what I wanted to do. There were a lot of people telling me to do this and that—you should ride for these or those shoes. I just tried to keep it true to what I always wanted to do, and that was to definitely ride for adidas. There was a straight two years when I only wore adidas, and it was always a dream of mine. Once I made that choice, adidas was the only company that inspired me and I really wanted to work with.

What was it about the brand that made you want to wear adidas?
The first impression you get with adidas is always the three stripes, so you can tell at first glance what they are. Then you get an idea of how widespread it is. I really like their art direction and where they were going with the skaters that they put on the team. Once you see everyone wearing adidas, it gets you psyched. Even when I would wear them around school and I’d see someone wearing adidas soccer shoes, it would get me psyched ’cause it would get me thinking about skating. It’s classic.

I know you really like East Coast skating, and you’re in Philadelphia right now. What is it about the East Coast that appeals to you?
It’s the aesthetics of it. I spent a lot of time fantasizing about being able to go to Love Park in the early millennium or late ’90s—that would have been an amazing time—just having all those spots. A lot of the old spots you can’t really skate anymore, but there are spots down the street and the only difference is the history. I feel at home in San Jose—I can skate whatever I want, but it just doesn’t have the same impact. Out here you can take any spot, film a trick on it, and it’s gold.

In the past year you’ve been traveling constantly. What do you get from traveling that you can’t get from anything else?
I used to think that if you’re constantly traveling then you’re always putting your life on hold. But if you’re always traveling and experiencing new things, you can do more with your life—you meet new people, it really broadens your horizons. Not everyone is into skating—one day you won’t only be into skating, so there’s no telling what you will be able to accomplish in the future.

Did you make a conscious decision to choose skateboarding over college?
When I was really young, I said I didn’t want to go to college because I thought skateboarding was the sickest—it seemed to offer a lot more. I didn’t understand much about skateboarding or college back then. I got accepted at USC Fullerton, but I just stayed up north and skated. Shortly after I graduated, I got really hurt. Right then I decided I would go back to school in order to try and appreciate everything. I’m going back in the fall of 2013 to study literature.

You’re not going to follow in the footsteps of your Dad? He has an interesting story, right?
My dad grew up in Romania and studied really hard to get out of there. At first he was studying ways to make blind people see, and that’s when he discovered autofocus. He had this mechanism that would stimulate certain electrodes in the brain. They found out that the brain was like a map and certain electrodes would stimulate it a certain way. It would stimulate it just enough for them to get a field of vision. But because your brain is mobile they couldn’t get a mechanism to stay in place, so they gave up. But my dad realized a camera has the same way of creating a field of vision, and it’s a solid object. He got a function running in a computer so that once it got to the highest number of dots, it would stop, and that was autofocus.

Did your Dad make any money off it?
He didn’t make any money at all—he was working for the university at the time and was being funded by them, so all the money in the patent went back to the university. Also, at the time, he never thought anyone would have a use for it. Sometimes when you’re so advanced, you don’t understand how advanced you are.

What are your plans for the next year?
There’s a Habitat video I’m working on. There’s a welcome part for adidas that’s coming along pretty well. I’m going to India in February—that’s a really big thing for me. I’ve got friends who’ve been there—they were telling me how our culture works in lines—lines when we go to the grocery store, lines when we drive. In India there’s no such thing as a line—it’s crazy to think of a culture so different from ours, but I’m really excited to see what it’s all about.


There’s a long list of East Coast skaters known for their power on the streets—must be something in the water helping them produce that kind of pop. That magic is in abundance within the new generation coming out of the East Coast. Leading the charge are skaters like Jake Donnelly, whose upbringing in the woods of Angola, New York, may be as far removed from your average skater as anyone could imagine. With spots limited, the focus on precise tricks has paid a high dividend for Jake, who’s proving once again that you can make it no matter where you come from.


What shoes have you been wearing?
I’ve been wearing the Seeley, they’re not too thin and not too thick, kind of right in between and they’re vulcanized. I don’t like the feel of the cup.

What’s going to happen in the future of shoe design?
I like the way it is right now, way more than what it used to be. I don’t know where it might be going.

What setup are you riding?
8.25”—it’s got concave but it’s also a little flatter—it’s pretty normal. I ride Hi 147 Thunders and 52mm Spitfires. Everything is pretty normal. I leave out one bolt in the front truck and I don’t poke a hole in it, that’s the only weird thing I do.

Being a part of adidas means you are one of the few teams that get to skate with Mark Gonzales, is that something you think about?
Yeah, I do think about it and I really appreciate it. He’s done everything there is to do for skateboarding. It’s pretty insane, especially when I get to see him in other countries. He’s been to so many places—he’s a good guide.

When did you first meet him?
In San Francisco, he was super cool and really energetic.

What has been Mark’s contribution to skateboarding?
He’s the Godfather of it.

Super storm Sandy just went through New York, are you guys okay?
We’re still getting the wrath of the hurricane right now. It’s been raining for a week. When it was really coming through, we didn’t get it like New York City. It caused damage, but not much, some flooding. In New York, it really messed things up.

What’s your hometown, Angola, like?
A lot of people hunt because there’s a lot of property. We catch small game like rabbit, squirrels, pheasant, and turkey. I hunt white-tailed deer. If it’s bow season, I’ll hunt with a bow and arrow, or a twelve-gauge shotgun for deer. We used to hunt and fish all the time while growing up so I got raised into it. We skin it and then butcher it— the meat out of the deer makes good jerky. We have horses that we ride sometimes, and also some four-wheelers and dirt bikes. My dad runs the place. When I was younger, he broke his neck working, so he has a settlement. Now he’s a stay-at-home dad—he runs the house and does some side work. He’s an awesome guy.

How does that compare to the scene in Buffalo?
The scene in Buffalo has actually been going really good. It’s grown a lot, especially since we got the skateshop six years ago. It’s called Sunday—there’s kids coming up out of everywhere and skating really good, which is really cool to see. We just got a skate plaza finalized. The shop has a big mini-ramp in a warehouse, which is pretty sweet.

Is that where you skate when it gets cold?
We used to have a TF through the shop, we all put some money in, but that’s gone now. Right now we’re looking at a new warehouse to build some stuff in for the winter, which will be heated, but I’ll be more out in LA and SF.

What’s the difference between the East Coast and West Coast?
I don’t know, besides the weather and the spots. The West Coast can be too cool all the time… but so can the East Coast. They’re both the same in different ways—they’re both awesome.

Of all the places you’ve been on adidas trips, what’s been your favorite so far?
Probably Australia. I’ve been there a couple of times, and it’s been fun as hell every time. We stayed in Bondi Beach, which was really cool. When we were done skating, we’d just kick it at the beach. Greece was really awesome—the skate spots were pretty crazy, but really cool. We ended up getting a lot of stuff on that trip.

What have you got planned for the next year?
Keep traveling, keep healthy, and keep skating as hard as I can.


Lem moved from Thailand to Germany at a young age. He’s now part of a new generation of European skateboarders giving the rest of the world a run for its money. At home on the streets of Stuttgart, he’s the one skater that always brings a good time to each session. Not one to take himself too seriously, Lem is nearing veteran status and refuses to grow up, which is a good thing. There’s a feeling that the best is yet to come from Lem, especially after his move to French board company Cliché—a perfect fit for one of the best skateboarders Germany has ever produced.


What shoes do you wear?
I like skating the adi-Ease, but I’m looking forward to skating the Busenitz ADV and the Busenitz Vulc—they look really good. I like tight shoes, I don’t like puffy shoes. I always stick with one typical style, and that’s currently the adi-Ease—it’s a grippy shoe and feels good on the board. I’m into simple colors—not too crazy—a shoe that has one or two colors.

Where do you think shoe design is going— more tech, or classic?
Shoe design will stay classic for the most part. There will always be people who will do tech shoes, and I’m down to try them out, but right now classic shoes work better for me.

What setup are you riding?
I ride a J.B. Gillet Cliché 7.9”. I like medium concave. I feel like the more concave you have, the more board control you have to ollie. And if you have too much concave, you can’t flick it that well. I usually stick with the same board, but I’ve been trying out some new shapes, because I wouldn’t say I’ve found my shape yet. I ride Thunder trucks and 52mm wheels, and I mess around with my trucks a lot—they’re always crooked for some reason. My board never goes straight—maybe it’s the way I skate.

So do you have any quirks when you set up a board?
Every time I set up my board, I do it the same way. When I grip my board, I put the line from the edge of the sheet down one side, always on the right side, and I cut it in one go. It saves time. I always set up my back trucks first, and then put on my front trucks. I set up a board every one or two weeks, depending on how much I skate.

Being a part of adidas means you are one of the few teams that get to skate with Mark Gonzales. Is that something you think about?
I thought about it the first time I met him, when I didn’t know him personally. I don’t want to lie about it, I was kind of nervous, because he has this personality and he’s older, so you want to have respect. I still appreciate it to this day, but I appreciated it in a certain way back then. Now I feel like it’s going skating with another homey, except he’s Mark Gonzales.

What were your first impressions of him?
It was in Paris, on my very first adidas catalog shoot. I didn’t see him that much. He skated with us, and at night he did his own thing. I was scared to be around him, because you don’t know what he’s going to do—he always has this look like he has a big plan in his mind, but you can’t tell what it is. It seems like he has a lot of fun to this day.

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve seen him do?
He tried to film a clip in Australia using his MacBook, and he had it with him the whole time. He was trying to film with his webcam.

How would you say Mark Gonzales has contributed to skateboarding?
He’s changed skateboarding, especially street skating. Mark made people think about skating in a different way—that they can do their own thing, not what everyone else does or what the trend is.

Do you have any of his art?
Yes, actually, he asked me what I wanted him to draw and I said I wanted a girl and boobs, so that’s what he drew for me.

Do you consider yourself German or Thai?
A little bit of both. My family is Thai, but when I introduce myself, I say I’m German. I feel German because I grew up here.

Is Stuttgart one of Europe’s best-kept skateboarding secrets?
Stuttgart is really good for skating, but it’s not a secret anymore. It’s a really small city—you can walk from one side of town to the other. You don’t need a car. There are a lot of skaters here, and they’re all friendly. The party scene is quite good.

It seems the move to Cliché was perfect for you.
Yeah, it was perfect for me, especially the team. I knew some of them before I got on Cliché. The Bon Appetit video was one of my favorites, and it had a big influence on my skating. Also, I’m someone who likes to be at home, so being on Cliché, I don’t have to live in the States. I realized I didn’t want to be an LA kid.

Do you think it’s possible to be a professional skateboarder and not live in the States?
I think it’s easier to be pro in Europe—skateboarding isn’t illegal here. You can still go street skating without getting a ticket. But at some point, every pro skater that wants to make it really big has to go to the States. Look at Bastien, he’s back, and that’s because he’s back in the States. He could kill everything in Europe, but he still won’t be in Street League if he’s not in the States. So it depends how you see yourself as a skater.

What projects are you working on right now?
I’m filming for the Cliché video. It’s coming out March 2013.

Okay, football. How good are you on PlayStation FIFA?
I would say I’m pretty good. I beat all my friends.

And what team do you play?
I’ve been playing Real Madrid because they have a really good team. Or Chelsea.

Do you think Germany will win a major tournament in your lifetime?
For sure. I say they’ll win the next World Cup, the next European Cup, and then the World Cup after that—the triple.

And if Germany and Thailand were in a World Cup final match, who would you be supporting?
I would actually support Thailand, because it would be the greatest thing in the history of Thailand if they were to win, and I would want to be a part of that.

What’s it like being on the team with a lot of Americans? Does anything get lost in translation?
Americans have a different sense of humor. They laugh about anything. Compare that to when I tell Jascha Muller [adidas sports marketing] a stupid joke, he just looks at me, like, “Shut up.” But the others would laugh. Americans have a better sense of humor. Germans are quite serious.

Who do you room with on a trip?
I room with Lucas. We always think the same—whenever he gets hungry, I get hungry.


Vince del Valle sees everything a little differently. More than comfortable skating on all types of terrain, from sculptures to drainage ditches, he simply isn’t content with what regular sidewalks have to offer. His skating, much like his spot selection, is also a far cry from the conventional—loose, fast, and with personal style that’s easy on the eye—there’s nothing but fun on the agenda. Vince recently moved back to his hometown in Washington from Southern California for a change in the seasons and the challenges of new skate spots.


What shoes are you wearing right now?
I usually wear the adi-Ease, I really like how thin they are. They remind me of a slip-on. If I’m skating a vulc shoe, I’m fine wearing any kind of vulc. I feel closer to the ground in a vulc. I like darker colors.

What setup do you ride?
I ride an 8.0”. I don’t like much concave, a little flat. All the eights are the same size from Black Label. I ride Independent 139s and keep the bushings stock. I usually take off the bottom washer ’cause I like my trucks really loose. I ride 54mm OJs. I’m not picky about griptape or stickers, I’ll just set it up.

Being on the adidas team, you get to skate with Mark Gonzales, is that something that you think about?
Definitely, I always think about it and everyone asks me, “What’s it like skating with the Gonz?” The only thing you can really say is that it’s fun. It’s not weird or anything like that, he’s just a cool guy. The funny thing is that he makes it more fun when he’s there.

What’s it like being on trips with him?
It’s cool, I think he likes me—we just go skate and have fun, hang out in the morning and grab coffee. He’s just a pretty chill guy.

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve seen him do?
It’s always pretty exciting when he starts skating in traffic and getting close to moving cars—definitely interesting. One time he ran up and tackled me when I was running for a soccer ball. That freaked me out, ’cause I never thought I’d get tackled by the Gonz. We were racing down this hill to get a ball before it went in the ocean, and he runs down the hill, grabs me by my waist, spins me three-sixty, and slams me to the ground.

What has Mark’s contribution been to skateboarding in general?
He’s been skateboarding for a long time and he really seems to inspire people with his style of skating and his choice of tricks. He’s got something about him that people really like.

What has Washington got up there that California doesn’t have?
Fresh air, weather—up here it’s seasonal. California feels the same all year round, except when it gets cold and the fog rolls in.

So what’s the skate scene like?
It’s good. There are a lot of people up here skating, more than enough, to where you don’t know everybody. People are good too. There are definitely some great skateboarders up here. They just get stuck with the weather and can only skate half the year a lot and the other half just a little bit. Everybody skates with their friends, so when you’re younger it’s difficult to meet people. But as you get older you’ll meet someone at the park and just go skate with them. It just builds after that. Some skaters ride for a shop, some don’t ride for anyone because they just like to skate.

Is there good stuff to skate?
Yeah, there are a lot of good spots, and there are a lot of different spots, which are nothing like what you have in California. Everything up here is really rough and weathered. People are getting really good at making spots and making things skateable. People are filming, but way less than they are in California. They don’t have all the latest equipment, and there are only four guys filming that I can think of, so it’s a lot different. But if you have your crew, then you’re good to go.

Do you ever build stuff to ride?
Before I was just skating, I was fixing houses with my Dad, so I’m more than willing to help people. I’ve built mini-ramps for people.

Out of all the places you’ve been on adidas trips, where has been your favorite?
Asia is always fun—we’ve been to China and Japan, and it’s always a good time. I like how much stuff there is to skate in China—it just seems like it’s endless. The spot book is like a thousand pages long. Nothing is skate stopped.

Who do you room with on a trip?
It depends; they’ll mix us up. Lately, it’s been Jake Donnelly. I’ve roomed with Lem a lot, Benny and Chewy.

What’s your plan for the next year?
I want to heal from this sprained ankle, and then my year is going to begin. I’m gonna get right back at it, film as much as I can and work hard.



When was the first time that you saw/heard about skateboarding?
It was on a TV commercial really back in the days. I was like 8 or 9 years old, so that was around 1986. I just saw a guy skating for 2 seconds and I was like, ‘I want one of those things!’ and then everything started.

Who inspired you?
There are a lot of skaters that inspired me. Mostly the ones from the past like Natas Kaupas, Ray Barbee, The Gonz, Frankie Hill.... the ones that I grew up watching.

When was the first time that you skated Sants and how did it feel?
I can't remember exactly when was it, but some of my homies were already skating there. The spot was perfect at that time, you had anything you want to skate; ledges, many pads, stairs, perfect flat was a dream spot!

Is it true that you're part of the first generation to skate there?
I think I'm more on the second generation that skates there, or maybe between the first and the second one.

Can you describe Barcelona in a sentence...?
You can have fun here but you can loose your mind as well!

You’ve been part of the adidas crew since the outset of adidas skateboarding back in 2006 and on the international team since 2007. How does it feel to have been there at the beginning and what are your feelings 7 years on?
Adidas it's an amazing company, I'm so hyped to be a part of it! Best shoes, best team and best vibe in the game. No bullshit, only pure skateboarding! I like how they do things and how they choose people for the team.

Can you describe your International teammates in one or two words?
Chewy Cannon (UK) – Blood
Klaus Bohms (Brazil) - Good person
Günes Özdogan (Sweden) - ak-47
Dennis Durrant (Australia) - Natural born killer
Kevin Lowry (Canada) - Coffee lover
Petr Horvat (Cz) - Style

Who do you spend the most time with from the adidas team? Can you describe them?
I spend a lot of time with Günes and Rodrigo TX when they come to Barcelona. Both are super good people and funny at the same time, and of course they kill it!! They're sick skaters!!
But I love to hang out with anyone from the team.

How was the trip to Madrid with the whole crew?
A big crew is always kind of difficult to handle though the team gets along really well together and adapts to any inconvenience as the rain we had. It was funny jumping into a bus and move around with all the heads avoiding rain on our way to sunny Murcia and skating good spots.

What is it about San Francisco that made you go over there for the very first time?
I ride for Western and FTC and I have a lot of friends over there, so I have the perfect excuse to go there again and again. I just love that city, it use to be the skate Mecca and pretty much all the videos that I grow up watching were filmed there.

What is your favourite spot in SF?
Back in the days, Pier 7, Union Square and the Embarcadero. Nowadays any good downhill or just cruising around downtown and hitting different spots.

How did it all come about with FTC and Western Edition?
I had some guest tricks on Lee Smith's part on the FTC video and after that I was kind of part of the FTC family. Years later, I felt that I need to make a change with my board sponsor and Western Edition was the company that I always wanted to skate for, so I talked with Kent, Ando and Ian and they put me on.

Who designed the Western Edition artwork that is now on the Ronan?
His name is Ian Jonhson; he's an amazing artist and a really cool guy. He designs everything for Western Edition and also does amazing paintings.

How does it feel to have your name and face on a shoe?
I have no words for this, it's simply amazing!!

Why Ronans?
After skating on many different models I just stuck to the one I felt most confy with. I skated lots of Ronans because the front toe part is perfect for kickflips and any kind of flatland tricks. The outsole is a bit thicker than vulcs and reinforced in the heel so it's perfect for my abused feet, though the board feel is incredibly similar. Pig skin upper was my choice for its durability and versatility plus the classic black and white combo and the thin gum sole detail makes it a shoe wearable a thousand times on a row. Ad in the mix my face board graphic from Western Edition and that's it.

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