1.) Let's start off with how you started skateboarding and what was freestyle like in the 70s compared to today. Equipment, skaters and tricks.
1971 - 9 years old - I was a tag along with my older brothers David & Rene who were on Excalibur skateboard team and already competing. I would ride with them from sun up to sun down in the summer and go with them to competitions and then decided I also wanted to get into that. 70's era with the birth of the urethane wheels - made skateboarding super popular. Alot of people ask us now why we would ride such small boards back in the day -- the reason is because most of the trucks we rode were actually roller skate sized trucks. This era was one of the most exciting eras of skateboarding ever with all the groundbreaking developements in all areas of skateboarding - gear and disciplines. As far as freestyle advancements, early on wheelies and handstand type tricks were the main things we used to practice - basic footwork, walk the dogs, etc. As equipment advanced, freestyle innovation was going crazy. Some of note for me were seeing Curt Lindgren when he did some of the first kickflips and Bob Jarvis spinning about 15 one-foot tail 360's. At my first competiton in the boy's division (about 12 years old) - Steve Shipp gorilla-gripped onto a table top and then 360'd off of it - leaving me to wonder - "how am I going to beat that?" he he! All the things we went through with gear and riding techniques - benefits all of the young guys skating today.
I was 15 when I became the Guinness World Champion for 360's - winning the official Guinness event which was televised on ABC - David Frost Presents in 1978. I was riding for Powerflex at that time and then moved on to the Hobie Pro Team. Later that summer, I won Oceanside National Chamionships and Hobie honored me with a signature 360 wheel. Everything was going great - I was also on the Pepsi Team doing tons of demos all over Southern California - and riding alot of pools and parks. The skateboarding scene was doomed though - with everyone suing everybody - parks were closed and jackhammered, all the big skateboard companies went out of business - and things were basically over for the 70's era. So my prime was cut short and I'll never really know how good I could have been - I was 16 years old when the scene went dark.
Sponsors & Equip: I started out on Rincon, then Powerflex, then Hobie & Pepsi. We would skate at least 4 hours per day. My equipment - of course Powerflex custom freestyle boards, then on Hobie I was riding Skitch Hitchcock rocker foamcore boards. Trucks - Tracker, Lazer, Bennett. Wheels - custom Powerflex freestyle wheels, Hobie Freestyle Wheels, custom Mini-Claws and Spinners.
Yes - passion. We've always loved freestyle here at Sk8Kings and that is the original reason we started our company back in 1998. Our first run of decks - my 360 King model - were hand-painted by me and Maria in our backyard. We've always taken pride in "Made in America" cuz I'm an old school guy from the hotbed of Orange County - so many legendary companies were based here and some of the best skaters of all time are from here. We never started our business thinking we were gonna get rich off skateboarding ... but we've done enough to pay our bills and keep going doing what we love. I still have a day job in construction and lots of nights & weekends working for Sk8Kings. We're very happy to see freestyle on the slow but steady rise again - you can see it in the talent.
4.) Ok, your fans will kill me if I dont discuss your 360s. It is a thing of beauty but at the same time, packs a punch harder than when Hulk Hogan slammed Andre the Giant in WrestleMania 3. Firstly, when did you discover your love of spinning and how did you come to develop and perfect this discipline? Do you have any tips for us? Give us some tips for...
a) people starting out (1-3 spins)
b) average skaters (10 spins)
c) advance (30+ spins)
At the Hang Ten International - I could do about 4 360's. I met Bob Jarvis - the first 360 King - who was hitting about 15 one-foot tail. Once I saw him spinning, I thought that was the most exciting thing I saw all day at the event - and knew that was what I wanted to set my focus on - learning to spin like him. I was very blessed to have my best friend John Strazazich (who could spin quite a lot too) as my training partner. We had some great spots for spinning and would session often. My brothers would also count me when we were practicing freestyle so I could know what my numbers were which was very important to me. Tips - long wheelies - rolling and static - work great to build the muscles needed to steady yourself while spinning. Practice your whip on the flat ground without a skateboard so you can get the feel of how hard you can throw your arms. For newbies and everyone else - warm up with your 360's and do control spins where you learn to relax and just try to coast. From there start throwing harder and harder to max out for the day and you will continually increase your numbers the more you practice.
I'm not a fan of hand-picked music. Alot of the music I've heard on people's runs is not so good - in my opinion. It's worse to have to hear it over and over as they have their next runs. I think there should just be a dj playing upbeat techno or something like that -- or maybe no music at all. One guy skating to Helen Reddy (or something lame like that) just puts a stamp on the event - not cool - stay away street skaters. Also, freestyle should be trying to merge - or have different divisions- with the longboard scene. They are already doing freestyle but they call it dancing. Longboard freestyle division could make the scene double overnight and open more doors. Tom Sims and the Sims Team, Bruce Walker, the Brewer guys, Bob Jarvis - some of the best longboard freestylers in the 70's ... why hasn't the modern freestyle community embraced this concept?