I recently had the privilege to interview YuLin Olliver from Street League Skateboarding for a piece I was working on at NJ.com. Since my daughter loves skateboarding, I thought I'd have her come up with some questions to ask. The interview was so cool, I thought I'd post it in its entirety here. Enjoy!
1. Do I have to wear my pads all the time? How about my helmet?
YuLin: I find that you fall when you least expect it, and when you are starting to get tired. I would recommend wearing all your pads and especially your helmet whenever you are skateboarding. Professional vert skaters always wear their pads and helmets. Vert is where you skate on a huge half pipe. Vert skaters and street skaters often times are very good at skating bowls and pools too. Here are some videos and photos of pro skater 16 year old Allysha Bergado, at one point she was the youngest X Games athlete in history. Street skating pros tend to not wear pads or helmets, yet they have been skateboarding and falling for so long that they have learned how to fall and roll away safely.
Chrissie: I recommend pads and a helmet when you first begin skating ramps.
Clayton: I suggest maybe wearing pads until you reach a certain level of comfortability and confidence. It's hard to say someone should stop wearing helmets/pads. Just more a matter of preference.
2. What is the best trick to try for my first one?
YuLin: The ollie is the beginning of everything. I'd recommend ollie-ing off curbs and over cracks in the road. Then getting kick turns in both directions and being able to skate fakie.
Chrissie: Ollie or shuv-it.
Clayton: I recommend trying to learn how to ollie first. The ollie is the root for almost every other trick and it's what you used to get into grinds. Then maybe learn 180's and kick flips/heel flips. Once you get those kind of tricks down then things really start to take off and you get a better understanding on how the board works and you can learn to combine tricks and come up with variations. I.E. 180 + Kickflip = 180 flip.
3. How old were you when you started skateboarding? Did you ever get hurt?
YuLin: This is not going make much sense for you but, I started skateboarding when I was 25 years old. After I became a snowboarder. I just really missed snowboarding during the summer so with skateboarding, I can skate ANYWHERE. I love going fast and carving and skating snake runs. And no need to pay for an expensive ticket to a ski resort. Yes I broke my left ankle once (spiral fracture of the left fibula) when I was learning to drop in on a mini ramp a snowboarding/skateboarding camp in Mount Hood, Oregon. But I went to the doctors, they put a plate in there and it didn't really even hurt. Now my ankle is even stronger than it ever was before. I had them take the plate out after a year and I worked out in the gym and at home a lot right after the injury, stretched and swam every day, so that I was skateboarding and snowboarding again in just a few months. Then I went back and learned how to drop in for real this time. I had great friends to help me learn, so I haven't gotten injured since that time.
Chrissie: 8 years old. Bumps and bruises come with the territory of the sport, but my only serious injury has been a sprained ankle.
Clayton: I started skating when I was 14. I've broken a few bones over the years and have had other numerous injuries. Just comes with the learning process!
4. When it gets cold, can I still skate on the street if there’s ice on it?
YuLin: I wouldn't unless you wanted skateboarding to be even unpredictable and even more difficult than it might already be. Skateboard wheels are made to go forward and backwards. If you skate on ice, the physics go out the window and now your board (and you) can go any which way so that would be difficult and unpredictable. Plus keep it FUN! That's the point right? Keep it as FUN as possible for as LONG as possible. And if you get injured, you can not have fun skateboarding if you have to nurse a broken something for 6 weeks.
Chrissie: I wouldn't. The wetness from the ice can make your griptape not grip as well, rust your bearings, and over time warp your deck.
Clayton: You can still skate when it gets cold. However, the ground always seems a little harder and it just takes a little longer to warm up. I recommend indoor skateparks if you have any near by. I don't recommend skating on ice, thats actually one of the ways I have broken my arm!
5. How do I become a professional skateboarder?
YuLin: There is no secret formula but like with any sport or endeavor, it takes being the best at what you do and not being prone to injury. Some people are amazing athletes but are injured all the time. Some people are talented but don't know how to work with their sponsors. Not only must you love skateboarding and skate every chance you get while keeping it fun, you need to film and skate contests to show your soon-to-be sponsors what you would bring to them if they hired you/sponsored you. It always helps if you are the type of person that other kids can relate to, that aspect helps the sponsors. Be the best, be happy, be accessible to your sponsors and commit to your dream no matter what gets in your way.
Chrissie: Skate every chance you get! Begin entering competitions, even at a beginner level. Once you are good enough, film yourself doing your best tricks and send it off to skate companies to get sponsorships.
Clayton: Please let me know if you figure out the answer to this one as well. I'm still working on it! But the best way I'm sure is to just keep pushing yourself and trying to progress on a daily basis, stay motivated for the right reasons.