In fact, skateboarding is growing in unlikely places like Cambodia, Afghanistan and Uganda. I have seen some good stuff coming out of Tel Aviv as well– there’s a brand new bowl there. The sport actually is spreading, and generating a lot of interest in the most unexpected places.
Ethiopia has a good scene and several charitable skateboarding projects. It’s incredible to see these kids experiencing something new – they are embracing skateboarding and it’s having such a positive effect. We are able to see that there is another way for them to be active and enjoy themselves other than through the more traditional sports.
In the US, we feel there is a cool way of skating and we tend to skate in a way that’s considered acceptable. When I work in a place like South Africa [with the Indigo Youth Movement, a worldwide organisation that encourages young people to enjoy sports, including skateboarding] those rules do not exist. They have their own interpretation of skating, which is very fresh. It’s fun to see them take the sport and make it their own style. It gives them self-esteem and helps them in their careers.
Just the act of skating can teach so much about self-confidence, self-motivation and meeting your own challenges. As opposed to only participating in team sports, where you are counting on the team or the coach to tell you what to do. That is an important aspect of maturing, but I think the idea that skating is as much a form of self-expression as it is a sport, and an art form is just as important as well.
There are more women getting into skateboarding than ever. There is a whole competition series for women now – a division of the X-Games – so I think that the ratio of men to women involved in skateboarding is becoming more balanced.
One place I can’t wait to get back to is Camp Woodward skatepark. There is one in Pennsylvania, however there’s also one we can get to from our home in California. Near Bakersfield, it’s the premier skate facility and training ground, with an abundance of every type of terrain. My kids love it, thus it’s fun to make a day of it. My kids really spend a week’s summer camp up there: it’s really conducive to progressing your skating.
About 15 years ago, I commissioned my own ramp. It’s actually a marvel of technology. It was costly but it is the most perfect ramp and that is my happy place, the place where I go to work out new tricks. It’s a private facility, hence I don’t have to worry about people watching or crowding me out when I skate.
I bring my skateboard wherever I go and if there’s an opportunity to skate, I take it. My trips away aren’t always directed by and for skating: sometimes they involve a tropical island or the snow, which can be fun, too. It all depends on the waves or the powder. My wife and I recently went to the Laucala Island resort in Fiji and that was pretty amazing. There’s surfing nearby and it’s very tropical. We have a place near Mammoth Mountain [in the Sierra Nevada not far from Yosemite in California], and that’s our favourite getaway for snow.
Moreover, skating is in a good place. I would like to see it better supported globally when it comes to facilities, which is why I started my foundation, to give a hand to provide more public skateparks. That concept could be embraced more internationally.