With Nike Festival of Sports‘ whirlwind of activities, skate demonstrations, and festivities, finally drew to a close Sunday night. The opportunity came to compile the brief conversations we had with all 4 Nike SB Team Riders. We started with none other than Paul Rodriguez and his impression of skateboarding culture in China. Followed immediately by Eric Koston‘s determination in promoting skateboarding, The Berrics style. The dead-pan humor of Omar Salazar often cause people to do a “double take”. But with Shane O’Neill‘s modest responses, the two made a perfect comedic duo.
You grew up in Southern California, an epic center for all kinds of action sports. What was the attraction of skateboarding comparing to other action sports?
Where I lived me in California, there wasn’t much BMX riders. Instead, skateboarding was really what I saw first. But you know I never had an interest in anything else but skateboarding. I don’t know why really. For whatever reason, you just have an attraction to it. So when I saw all skaters around me, I just thought it was the coolest thing.
Is this your first time in China? What is one of the thing that made an impression on you?
This is my first “real time” in China. Technically, its my second time in this country. I was here 4 years ago, only for a day and half so didn’t get to see much. When we came to the arena through the city just days before, I couldn’t believe how many buildings and skyscrapers are there. I was thinking “Man… how short of time all these buildings went up”. Its incredible how people here can do that in such a short time. Just incredible.
What do you think of the skateboarding culture here?
You know, I haven’t seen much because I’m here for only a short time. But I got a chance to meet few of the local skaters before. They are really cool dudes! But I am interested in finding more about it during Festival of Sports.
Fill in the blank on this question – In order for skateboarding to grow as a sport, you must ______?
Keep Street Skating Alive!!!
What is your first impression of skateboarding culture in China?
My first impression of skateboarding culture in China came in 2007 when I was here in Shanghai for the first time. I thought of just how massive this city and this country was. Yet, skateboarding was still pretty much underground. There is a lot of people here and you would think a lot of people would be skating. But it definitely grown a lot more since. It was the first thing I thought when I got here this week. But it’ll be great if the whole country skated…
You and Steve Berra created The Berrics. I’m sure you told the story many times over, but how the idea first came about?
We had the park just as a place to skate or train privately. It was getting harder to street skate in L.A. A lot of spots are anti skating, by putting skate stoppers or getting kick out by security guards and cops. There is a lot of hurdle to go through just to skate on the street in Los Angeles. Sometimes, you just want to skate without all the hassles.
3 years before we started The Berrics, Steve and I looked for a place to buy and build a park for our needs. More and more, friends stopped by to ride. Everyone from pros, sponsored amateurs, or even just close buddies of ours skated there. Steve and I thought the rest of the world should see these great sessions. We thought kids, especially, would really appreciate them. There was nothing like it before, to directly go from the park to your desktop, laptop, or phone. That was the thinking behind The Berrics at first. Just think, we’re psyched to skate with some of these guys ourselves but imagine what is it to be like a kid and see this?
What is your impression of this venue, Nike Festival of Sports?
I haven’t had the chance to walk around and really experience this whole thing yet. I do want to that after the demo today and really take it all in. The concept of it is really awesome. To me, Nike recognizes that skateboarding is sort of on the same level as all other sports and showing it (skateboarding) with the same amount of respect. Its really a milestone, I think.
Omar Salazar & Shane O’Neill
Do you think skateboarding gets a bad rep?
Yes and no. Yes, because we’re out on the street, passed our curfew and sometimes making noise… But when people figure out what we are really doing, they will be like “This is good”.
I don’t think its that bad. I think we get a bad rep because people just seeing us having fun. If you are lucky enough to turn pro, you definitely have more than enough fun in the sports, along with making great friends. But, I don think its bad in anyway.
With skateboarding so widely accepted now, do you think new skaters today have to face the challenges you faced growing up?
If anything, its a lot easier for kids. When I was growing up, there were no skate parks, people didn’t like skating and it was misunderstood. So, kids now are really lucky. There are skate parks all over the place. Before, moms use to take kids to soccer practices. Now, moms are taking kids to skate practices.
I didn’t start skating till too long ago so for me, it hasn’t change terribly. But the way I see it, the kids in America and the kinda things that are happening in skateboarding over there, its bring a wider variety and options to the sport. Now, you can do you just street skate or do competitively. Maybe that is something comforting for their parents.
How has it been so far in China? What is the first thing you notice that is different about China?
F**Kin HUGE! China is big and with so many people! They are hard workers too. That’s why everything is growing so fast here. Also, the Chinese foods are really good here. In America..ehh…its just ok in most places…unless you go to a real Chinese restaurant. Also, it feels like home to me. With everything cool back home is “Made in China” now, I feel like I’m coming home here.
The skate spots are the first things I noticed. Everything is in marble. I guess its cheaper to buy marble than to buy concrete here in China, or maybe something like that. I think somebody told me that last time.
I think marble is easier to come by here
But its crazy! That is the best thing about China for me since marble doesn’t break easily.
Are you surprised at the level of interest people here has for skateboarding?
No, I’m not surprise at all because skating is good for you and its fun. Its different from anything else. So, I’m not that surprise at all and you know, Chinese people has good taste, they like the cool stuff.
I’m a little bit surprise. If skating is unacceptable by most parents in other parts of the world. But when we’re here in China and skate the spots, everyone stops, looks, and smiles. But odd thing is, they don’t let their kids skate either.