Your 'Nordic Skull' deck has to be one of the most iconic freestyle decks from the 80s. It has an unusually squarish tail and nose compared to other decks from that era. Obviously, it is designed to cater to your style of tricks. I'm sure alot of us would love to hear your story behind this deck.
At the very first when I started riding freestyle my buddy Hazze and I would press our own decks in birch plywood. Those decks were amazing - for about a day. The birch was way too soft, but this allowed us to experiment with different shapes as we made new decks. Then, when I got sponsored by Eurocana I would first cut out a freestyle shape from the Elan bowl decks they carried in their shop in Stockholm. These decks were super stiff. This lead to the development of my first pro model for Eurocana, about 7” x 27” with a squarish tail and slighlty blunted nose . Then, not long after I came to the US in 1980 Stacy Peralta asked me to ride for the Bones Brigade. Super stoked on that and at the beginning Chris Iverson who worked in R&D at Powell Peralta would cut out my shape with the characterisitc tail and nose out of the Ray “Bones” Rodriguez snub nose model, with no concave. About a year or so later when Stacy offered me a model I felt I had the shape just right for me, it was slightly wider and a bit more blunter of a tail and nose than the pro freestyle decks out at the time and we made it a bit longer as well. With the deck shape size being slightly bigger, it felt like some flips and shove-it tricks made the movements of the deck and the entire trick feel and look more dynamic.
You seem to have alot of strong tricks that require good cardio especially during contest runs. How hard was it to sustain this level of skating in the 80s and through the 90s.
I have always been inspired by skaters that skate fast with a flair, whether it was a super fast slalom racer like Fabain Bjornstierna from Sweden or a street skater like Eric Dressen in the US. Other than speed I really wanted my freestyle skating to feel in the sense that the board was an extension of me. When the trick, however difficult they were, felt smooth and natural - that was the holy grail for me in terms of form and style I was after.
And, when it came to contests runs, it was very much driven by the music i really liked. I looked for a song with a good intro, a few highs, a few lows and a cool ending. So I picked songs that I felt was a good fit to my kind of freestyle skating (about 120-125 bpm). I always liked mixing up fluid fast wheelies, shove its and handstands with distinctive hard stationary moves. My favorites to skate to were David Bowie, Depeche Mode, INXS, and the Clash. If I were to pick a song today and outside of the 80’s I would really try a contest run to Moby’s Lift Me Up (2009), that song is absolutely great.
Your runs were also filled with 'risky' technical tricks that must've taken countless hours of intense training. After all these years, what injuries have you sustained? It's time to show us your medals of honor.
In freestyle you are always near the ground so no too many impact injuires on my end, no problems there, but hey i have been lucky, got good back and good knees. And in street I never had the guts to skate rails and that kept me out of a much gnarlier form of skating as it got pretty insane in the early 90’s in terms of risk of injuries.
Run us through your PERFECT setup in the 80s. What gear were you using when you were in your prime? Do you have any freestyle gear hacks you can share with us?
Powell Peralta Welinder deck, Thunder trucks, Powell Peralta Freestyles wheels 55mm 97A. A fairly close to market tailbone on the tail, just slightly shaved to fit to my blunter shape, adding some grip tape on the bottom of the deck ramping it up onto the slanted part of the tailbone. On the nose, I would have a shaved down Tailbone, roughly out-of-the box market size.
To make the top part of the tail last longer, I would drive in 6 flathead wood screws. The only hack would be to add shoe-goo on the tail and noser for contests where the surface was super slippery. Just knowing that the tail and nose would grip better gave me confidence when it was time for crescendo stationary moves like the HS truck varial to pogo.
Rumor has it that you designed the THUNDER freestyle trucks back in the day. How was the feedback on these trucks when they came out and will we see a reissue eventually?
Yes and it had the ring on the hangar where the bushings rest was square to provide a bit more area for your foot on 50/50 moves. Pretty practical, but a small market and soon therafter the stock ran out.