Tag Archives: Eric Koston

Ronnie and the 20 Year Itch.

After a solid 20 year run Blind and Ronnie Creager have parted ways. Ronnie is the last link to a time where Blind skateboards was actually a groundbreaking company. Although, Blind should have been dismantled as a company after Mark Gonzales left the brand. All of the key ingredients that separated Blind from other companies were missing. The entire roster from Video Days were gone, they all left after The Gonz split. No Jason Lee, no Rudy Johnson, no Guy, and no Jordan Richter. That Team was so unique and the vibe you got from Video Days was so good, it should have ended there. Nothing against Tim Gavin or Henry Sanchez, Pack of Lies was so good. Brian Lotti was such an innovator and kept that style through all the pressure flip madness. By the time Lavar McBride was on it seemed like Blind was just a completely different company. It might as well been World Industries 2.0 and again, this isn’t a knock against the actual team or the skating. It’s like watching your favorite movie then when the sequel drops, it’s not the original cast and they story is bad. Because the first movie made a lot of money they have to make a sequel. “Conan the Barbarian” is a good example. It was raw, brutal, bloody, violent, and rated R. The sequel was “Conan the Destroyer” and it was awful. Rated PG, soft, weak, and senseless. By making it not so violent and controversial it made more money. Gonz was the Barbarian and anything after was the Destroyer. Literally, think the Reaper character they use.

Mark Gonzales also started ATM Click and was rad. Then he left and they kept it going as just ATM. It wasn’t the same either, $30 boards can be found at Dumiez in every mall across America. The thing with Blind was they always had some of the best guys on the team. I’m friends with guys who rode for Blind and they are still killing it to this day. With Creager, he never stopped innovating or even came close to slowing down. Despite all the team changes, it was always “Yeah but, Creager’s dope.” and he would come through with that smooth style and tech degree from the early 90s. That OG feel that made Blind have some form of roots and a relatable past. That style of skating that reminds you of why people say he should have been on Girl or Chocolate. Style like that doesn’t get old no matter what the current stair count is.

Not every company can be Girl or Chocolate. They seem to have a game plan unlike any other skate company. It must be nice to be Gino, Koston, or Chico and jump in the van to go on tour with a company that turned 20 years old. The same van that has the Trunk Boyz in it. They cared enough to take away Guy’s Pro Model board until he got healthy. Even when times were probably not the best, they didn’t retire Gino for lack of footage. Want to talk about a family vibe? The Crail Camp has it on lock. Steve Caballero has been the face of Powell/Powell & Peralta for three decades. He has riden for them for almost 34 years. Along the way I’m sure he had plenty of offers to leave and he stayed loyal, even when Powell kooked it and took away his Pro Models for a couple of years in the late 90s.

20 years is a long haul in any career. Think of how many 90s pros have disappeared. Sometimes we get comfortable in our position in the work field and change is good. Change usually breeds new life and creativity in people to find something new. Skateboarding is no different. Hopefully Ronnie gets sparked up and drops something heavy on our heads to remind us of why he’s on so many skater’s top 10 lists. That board control, trick selection, and style separates the Kostons, Howards, Daewons, Mullens, and Creagers from the “whoevers”. It always has and it always will. -ERL

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ONEOFUCKINGONE

Natas Kaupas starts a skateboard company. 101 (One O One) and the Team was Kris Markovich, Eric Koston, Adam McNatt, Gino Iannuchi, Jason Dill, Gabriel Rodriguez, and Clyde Singleton. It was the best “World” company and one of the top 5 best of all time. The ads stood out from all the other “buy are stuff” advertisements of the day. There was talk that Natas was starting another company in the late 90s and he was going to call it 102. He could call a company anything and right off the bat it would stand out, especially in these logo driven times. What skateboarding needs is something original, controversial, and stylistic like 101. Glory days……

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Time waits for no man, even in Texas.

A bright future under a cloudy sky. Back tail transfer. ERL

A bright future under a cloudy sky. Back tail transfer. ERL

We all say random stuff when we are young. Normally it’s amongst your friends or family and maybe brought up every couple of years. Then sometimes it’s featured on the World Wide Web and your audience grows by a few million. Recently Austin Gillette said “People want to retire off skateboarding, which is pretty ridiculous.” “Skating ends at 30 or 35, whenever it is and you don’t want to be that jaded old guy that’s trying to stay in it.” “I feel like a lot of people these days are so, they’re really money hungry as far as that goes.” and suggested it wasn’t a bad thing to move on and try something else besides skating. Which it’s not a bad thing to move on if, you are ready and you no longer wish to be a Professional Skateboarder.

This past decade has shown there is enough room for people to skate professionally as long as they desire. Now there is a fair share of image over talent but, legends are made out of deeds not desire. That being said, there are a number of Pros who returned to the spotlight after their career was cut short by the “90s not cool enough” street movement. Mostly vert skaters which is rad. Seeing Chris Miller, Jeff Grosso, Hosoi, and Duane Peters still killing it is great. Most of these guys never stopped skating after the pay check ended. It didn’t start out as a job after all.

When a job turns into a career you usually want to do your very best. Everyone wants a raise and to move up the best they can in the company. A skater wants to be sponsored so he tries his hardest and gets on flow. After more hard work he makes it on the team as an Am. After representing his sponsor for years and busting his ass, he becomes Pro. He is a professional as he receives a salary for doing his job riding a skateboard the best he can. If he stays healthy and doesn’t let the life style pile him out, who’s to say when it’s time to hang it up?

Certain skaters have that drive and fire to keep killing it regardless of age. Kids had their posters on the wall in the early 90s and they have the same guys now, just 20 years later. Reynolds, Koston, Mariano, Hawk, and Danny Way have that. Not only do they have it but, they still are marketable and skaters buy their products. They still go out and skate on the highest level and they earn it. They don’t rely on what they did 10 years ago and “milk it”. We want to see them succeed because they are apart of our past.

Others made such a memorable impact on us we don’t want them to fade away. Matt Hensley is an obvious choice. He had so much to offer and bailed in the height of his fame. Hensley, the Gonz, Cardiel, and Rick Howard are great examples of us wanting more. It doesn’t matter what they do. Certain styles are timeless and we don’t compare them to what the new generation of skaters are doing. No Rick Howard in the Pretty Sweet video was a huge downer. One line with some block tricks and a few flips and that’s enough to put a smile on our faces.

There is no age limit if you’ve reached a certain level in skating. If you paid your dues and you’re still doing your “job”, who’s to say you’re too old. We all started skating for fun and 99% of the older Pros are still loving what they do. Are you “money hungry” if you are still making a living riding a skateboard into your late 30s or early 40s? It sounds more like living the dream to me. If you have been competing for over two decades why not have aspirations of eventual retirement? The new generation didn’t have to deal with the 90s in all it’s “couch surfing, top ramen, Civics were balling, $1000 first place winning, check bouncing, your knee is blow and it’s over” glory. Hats off to the older generation still fulfilling their dreams and to the young bucks carrying the torch. Austyn crushes it and I hope to see him killing it well into his 40s. -ERL

The Great and Powerful Koz

Eric Koston flew into Portland in a hot air balloon, and preceded to take over Street League. Before disappearing, he struck fear into those asking for handouts. You want courage, a brain, a heart, or to go home? Look online.

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Street League Foz do Iguaçu

My first international flight took me to Foz Do Iguacu Brazil for the first Street League stop of 2013. If you leave for somewhere and if you get there well beyond a day after you left, then you’re pretty far from home. I have never been the biggest fan of flying and I assumed this flight would be my demise. That wasn’t the case and if anything, it prepped my for any future flights. I was ready for Brazil.

Brazil was beautiful. It reminded me a lot of Tennessee in a way. Hot, green, lots of bugs, and friendly people who were hard to understand. For the first time in my life I was a foreigner which was a very odd feeling. I became a master of sign language in a very limited time. Shortly after I arrived it was time to get to work and watch some of the best skateboarders in the world do their thing.  One thing about watching skateboard contests on TV is you really only get to see the dudes who make the cut. Some of the guys that don’t often have some of the best tricks go down during practice. Koston, Dylan Rieder, Austyn Gillette, and Evan Smith crushed Brazil. Collectively they all offered something special and it pays to be at these events to witness it. I’ll always trip out on watching Eric Koston skate. It’s pretty much everything you would want it to be. Koston rules the wasteland!

Once work was done it was time for some night life Brazil style. The tolerance for us filthy Americans was unbelievable. We partied hard and acted the fool to the point where we should have gotten kicked out of the country. In the end, we tore apart anything resembling a patience factor and was asked to leave the local bowling alley by the police. My summer has started a season early and next up is Barcelona Spain. Here are a few photos and facts from the trip. -ERL

1. Put Cory Kennedy and Grant Taylor in a room together and it’s a fire and gasoline mixture of entertainment.

2. Lacy Baker is better than your average home town hero, she rules.

3. Evan Smith skated unlike anyone else. Way too much creatively and control for one guy.

4. Austyn Gillette makes skateboarding look like a gift.

5. Matt Miller’s POP for President. (not his dad)

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Dallas Sunset.

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Delirium and night fall.

Nice digs.

Nice digs, welcome to Brazil.

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Brazilian Pro Model. Circuit Wheels?

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For their rainy season, it was real hot.

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Still want to tell me how rough you got it?

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Cory Kennedy & Grant Taylor were out for blood all week.

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CK Face Tatter.

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If you sold shade in Brazil you’d be made in it.

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Insanely fast and yes, it was a make. Back Lip.

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Austyn Back Noseblunt.

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The stage was set.

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All the Brazilian guys killed it.

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Dylan laying down the style on a noseblunt slide.

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Malto nollie crooks.

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Malto Back Lip

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Dylan KF over the ledge.

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Chris Cole about to noseblunt slide in the chaos.

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Mikey Taylor nosegrind.

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Bastien KF Back Tail shove.

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Austyn mid lip slide.

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David always puts on a good air show.

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David (Daveed) Gonzales back three.

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David threw down the style.

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Austyn Lipslide transfer through the hip.

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Pappalardo board sighting.

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Koston Front Feeb.

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Koston FS Hurricane.

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Phone service got a little dicey.

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Dyrdek back smith.

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1 second earlier it was Fandangle time.

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Mikey Taylor Nollie Noseblunt.

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Austyn Gillette BS Flip.

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Cole – Noseblunt Slide.

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Pudwill was here.

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Men’s Room awkwardness.

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Face Eaters Everywhere!

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Manny’s always down for whatever whenever.

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A case of kicking my board away and it refused.

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Heath Brinkley offering little advice.

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Top Shelf Skateboarding

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Everyone in Street League skates, BA is no exception.

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GTWYC

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The good crew.

Chaz back noseblunter.

Tom Asta 5.0 Fakie

Tom Asta FB.
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The Press Conference.

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The Falls were amazing.

Constant Rainbow.

Constant Rainbow.

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Sean Penn mode.

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Like I said, I’m huge in Brazil.

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Chaz in losing $100 mode.
Chaz still owes me $100!

Chaz still owes me $100!

"GO CK!"

“GO CK!”

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Brazil to Miami.

Two hours from home soil.

Two hours from home soil.

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Made it back intact, next stop Barcelona.

Flame Boy vs Porn, Suicide, and Racism

It’s hard to describe to young bucks that there was a time in skateboarding where Blind and World Industries were so in demand. It wasn’t always parent friendly cartoon characters battling each other. My friends and I would call to see when the “World Boxes” were arriving and would be waiting to see what new graphic was out. All the brands out of the World Camp overproduced new graphics, so by the time a catalog came out they already had newer boards out. Shop owners hated it. We loved it. A lot of the time a new board was waiting in that box that was never seen before. Sometimes, that board was too raw to be on the board rack at all. More often than not actual Shop owners couldn’t seem to find to find a spot next to their Hawk Skulls, McGill Skulls, O’Brien Skulls, or Zorlac Skulls for Crack Pipes, Napping Negros, or Satan. Mom’s weren’t too thrilled seeing altered Romance Novels or White Girls sucking on Chocolate Popsicles let alone a busty brunett fucking a giant spark plug. Skaters on the other hand were stoked. Steve Rocco pushed the envelope and with Mark Gonzales, Natas Kaupas, and Rodney Mullen by his side World was unstoppable.

The Natas Challenger board actually offended me. I thought it was in poor taste because that event was a major impact on my life at the time. How dare Rocco poke fun at a national tragedy! In retrospect I was as guilty as the moms pissed about the Randy Colvin board. Pearl necklaces and poorly drawn vaginas were ok but, the Challenger was off limits? Not by a long shot. The Lynch Mob board was probably my favorite because it confronted rasism head on by using ALL of the no no words. To say the World Camp was ahead of the rest of the skateboard companies is not fair. They were light years beyond them. A small independent company changed the format of skateboarding and the big companies had to fight to survive.

There will never be another time like this in skateboarding. It was such a drastic change and it was so raw that it was a one time event. The riders, board shapes, graphics, advertising, videos, and business ethics out of World Industries camp was genius. If people didn’t like it, they were probably old fucks afraid of change and losing control of “their” industry or Bible Thumping weirdos. As bad as the 90s got, they were one of my favorite timelines in skating. Hate Rocco? More like Hail Rocco. -ERL

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World Spring 1991

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Blind & 101 Spring 1991

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Liberty Spring 1991

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World & 101 Fall 1991

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Ghetto Wear Fall 1991

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Blind & Liberty Fall 1991

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World 1992 Spring

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Blind & Plan B Spring 1992

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101 & World Spring 1992

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Blind, 101, & World Spring 1992

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World Spring 1992

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From the Lot to the League

The day started off pretty standard, I was sitting in the parking lot of the Amazon Distribution Center in Fernley NV waiting for my shift to start. I would listen to music and prep myself for another 10 hour shift while watching the most unique humans walk by. Temp workers are an interesting species to say the least. You get all sorts of people looking for a quick paycheck or a second try to work themselves into a better financial scale in life. I myself worked outside of my skate shop because I knew as long as I worked, I’d never have to rely on taking money from the shop and it would be self sustained. I would make quick calls to my distributers during 15 minute breaks to make orders. On 1/2 hour lunch breaks I would call the shop to see how things were going and what needed to be done. The job was hell and running the shop in increments added to the stress of working at Amazon during their busiest season. After my shift was over I would drive to Classic to see how the day went and rush home to eat and go straight to bed. I excelled at my job and was made a supervisor who audited the docks, the last place to insure packages would make it to the correct destination. Everyday I would see the sun go down faster and had a hard time skating let alone making sure Classic stayed on point.

On this particular day I had an email from an old friend, Rob Dyrdek. Rob for whatever reason had always had my back since we first met in 96. Sometime around 2004 he fought hard for me to become the DC Shoes Team Manager. A position I had for about an entire day before a friend of mine, Heath Brinkley was offered the job. That’s where the majority of my grey hair came from. The bad news was I lost out on my dream job, the good news being I had free shoes for the next couple of years. Rob asked me if I would be interested in a job at Street League that he lined up. I was invited to go to the finals in Las Vegas the year before and was sold, seeing it in person is a whole other level of rad. When I had a chance to call him he explained the job to me and that I would be traveling to Seattle, Kansas City, Phoenix, and New Jersey to keep the show flawless. Rob knew I was friends with or acquainted with most of the Pros in Street League so it was an easy transition although I had never worked on live television. After a phone meeting with Brian Atlas, I discussed the proposition with my girlfriend of quitting my job at Amazon to start touring with my friends and get back into the side of skateboarding I was in before I moved back to Reno. Being the amazing person she is, Megan agreed it was a no brainer. I was ecstatic when I left that parking lot the last time. Although I pulled the trigger early and was hurting for those last few paychecks I should have waited out.

I’ve always been afraid to fly. That being said, I was the first person on the scene of an airplane crash out in Fallon NV and about a year later saw an airplane crash right in front of me at the Reno airport. Although they were both Cessna prop planes, those images were heavily burnt into my brain. My first stop for Street League was in Seattle WA and would you know it, I was flying in on an Alaska Airline turbo prop plane. Why would it be any other way? My cherry was getting popped back into the ways of flight and it was hell all the way there. I’m sure the flight was actually a smooth ride but, I was a mess. I made it there, took the transit to my hotel, and made my way to the arena to check out the scene. I saw Rob and the first thing he said was, “Eric Lantto are you ready for the most stressful job in Street League?” and I replied “You know that I am”. He introduced me to the crew and staff, the ESPN guys, and I went to check out the course. It seemed like it was a lot to take in but, I was in my element the moment I got off that plane.

The next morning I met with all the guys I would be working with. I had become friends with Paul Rodriguez and Mikey Taylor from the City Stars days. Actually when I knew Paul was becoming PRod and he was on the verge of blowing up I cornered him in the elevator. I told Paul if I ever saw him even if it was years from then and he didn’t talk to me I was going to put the hurt on him. He said, “I know you will Eric” and from that day had always stayed the same person. Paul has never let his success change him as a person, true blue and a loyal friend. The same goes for Rob, money and fame has not changed the person who did a demo in the back of Addiction Skate Shop on a quarter pipe. Rob was a Reno fixture there for a few years. I met all the other guys and broke down how the contest was going to go with me on board. The contest went well, I made one mistake and made sure to never send anyone out of order again. No matter what though, I still fanned out on Koston….I mean it’s Eric Koston right?

From Seattle we had three more stops and I was hooked. I did my job well and I was working with the best skateboarders surrounded by 15,000 screaming fans. I built solid relationships with a lot of good people. Working out tricks and runs with Malto, Mike Mo, Chris Cole, and Paul were some experiences that are golden. Street League is my perfect element and I never took one stop for granted. I ruptured my achilles tendon four weeks before Kansas City and had food poisoning the night before my flight and I knew there was no way I was going to throw in the towel. I limped around stage and the walk back and forth to the hotel was murder but, there was no way I’d miss out on a KC trip. Kansas City rules, and Malto’s fan base there is insane. Thousands of fans screaming “Let’s Go Malto Let’s Go!” and holding up signs dissing the other Pros was amazing. Sean is another guy that is true blue. I met him once at the Phoenix Am contest years before and he remembered my name and was genuinely stoked I would be touring with them. Every stop we would time his run together and discuss different tricks. I say that in a manner of graciousness, I take all of these experiences with such grateful attitude. I have always worked with and been involved with this side of skateboarding and now that I’m older, I appreciate it so much more.

My last stop was August of this year in New Jersey and as I write this I’m decompressing from the high I get from being involved with such a great organization. The job is fast and stressful, there can be no mistakes on my part. That is the element I thrive in, it’s something I have never taken for granted and each year has been better than the previous. I am able to tour the country with my friends and witness guys puling tricks that could be video part enders first try. With all the money on the line and being surrounded by thousands of screaming fans, it’s still just skateboarding and the guys are having fun skating. The misconception of some of the guys I work with is just plain funny to me. I’m honored to be around some of the most respectful and talented skateboarders ever. To me it is like one big Shred Sunday and the vibe is the same. A solid crew of skaters getting together to shred on the weekend. It’s all skateboarding and that’s why I’m involved 100%. I’m counting down the minutes to next year, from what I hear it’s going to be the best one yet. Thank you Rob Dyrdek and Brian Atlas for the opportunity to shine. -ERL

In the eye of the hurricane. Forrest Locke photo.

Game face with the best guys doing what we love. Forrest Locke photo.