Through the course of all things come instants of momentum, ease, and prosperity–points at which everything rolls along at a good pace. Points at which most people are happy, bright, and comfortable.
Through the course of all things, these instants are followed by a couple effects: people capitalizing on the hard work of those who came before them, and/or a violent tremor that sends the whole f–ing thing straight into a brick wall, quickly followed by explosions of flame and shrapnel.
Well, the tumblers may be falling into place. Skateboarding, for instance, is cruising right now.
Skateboarding, also for instance, has crashed hard before. We’re better for it, though. After such head-on collisions, the strong, along with many of those previously labeled “upstarts,” forced skateboarding to (de?)evolve and brought it back stronger than before–without the unwanted fat that can build up, layer upon layer, during the easy times.
Mark Appleyard, other new-to-the-spotlight über ams, and their rookie-pro contemporaries are the classed upstarts–a prejudiced and maybe jealous nod toward the well-worn path they rode in on, but if we’re to survive the coming culture crash as our history vaguely eats its own tail, we must realize that Mark and his cohorts are the guys who are going to take us to the next level.
Appleyard’s obvious skill and ease in mastering the sport’s most difficult difficulties make for an easy target, but instead of opening fire, considerations should be made for just keeping him and his in the crosshairs–following closely as he breaks skateboarding’s newest trail through the explosions, flames, and shrapnel.
If I’d never seen you before and was going to meet you somewhere, what would you tell me so I’d recognize you?
I’m like six feet tall. I’m the guy with the short hair and the blue jeans on laughs. Always smiling. No, I’m not always smiling. I don’t know.
Do you think there should be limits on how long people talk about your age or how you came out of nowhere?
Yeah, of course. I didn’t come out of nowhere. I’ve been at this for like ten years–every day. I guess I came out to California to skate ’cause I was sick of the crappy weather. But, yeah, they should stop after a while.
Do you think it’s fair that everyone has to go to California to make things happen?
No. It kinda sucks. If you’re born here, you’ve got such an advantage. Sometimes people who are born here don’t understand how crazy it is to be from another country–to come here and have to get a visa. It can be better being from another country–being forced to skate skateparks in the winter makes you pretty versatile. It makes you hungry, ’cause you want to get out there, it’s all new and you’ve never seen it–like California.
Were you pretty stoked the first time you visited here?
Yeah, I was fifteen. I saved up some money from Christmas, and me and my friend went to San Francisco–I was so psyched. I went to Hubba just to look at it. I went to all the famous spots.
Tell me like I don’t know–why skateboarding? Why not hockey, wrestling, or something like that?
Because with skateboarding there’s no team involved. It’s up to you to do it. There’s no team to screw up if you don’t land your stuff. It’s all you. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s an individual sport, and it’s a lot more expressive than all that other stuff.
Did you do any other sports when you were in school?
Yeah, I played baseball, but that was when I was in elementary school. That was good. I liked that. I still like baseball.
You’re a fan?
In Toronto, skateboarding obviously sets you apart from the general population. When you’re in Southern California, do you ever feel like just another skateboarder?
Yeah. There are so many skateboarders out here, but a lot of them are just little kids. I guess there’re so many here because of the weather. Back home you go to high school and you’re one of the only skaters, but here everyone’s a skater–and if they’re not a skater, they want to be one. They dress like one. It’s just the way California is.
At home, if you see someone in your high school with some éS shoes on, you’re like, “Hey, do you skate? Are you going skating today?” Out here, it’s like, “What are you talking about?” Anybody will wear skate shoes.
Have you ever shoveled snow so you could skateboard?
Of course laughs! So many times! I’ve taken a shovel to the local skatepark when there was like two feet of snow. I shoveled a pathway–enough pushing space to get out of this bowl-launch-ramp thing and a little bit of landing. It was so ghetto. I’ve shoveled my front driveway so I could put my little launch ramp out there. If you fall in the freezing cold weather and hit your finger or something–oh my gosh, it’s pain.
When you think skateboarding history, where does it really begin for you?
It started off with my brother getting a skateboard in ’92 or maybe even ’90. He got this pink-griptaped banana-board-looking thing. We built a jump ramp, and every day we’d put it out in front of our house and skate it–early grab 360s and stuff. We Just cruised around on our butts before that. I didn’t even know you could do tricks or be sponsored or anything. I didn’t care.
What skaters have shaped the way you look at skateboarding and your approach to it?
As long as I can remember, I’ve always liked Koston because he does everything–he makes it look easy, and he’s always smooth. Danny Way and Colin McKay–I always watched them in the Plan B videos and respected them. Those were kinda the first videos I’d seen; those were when I figured out I could actually do tricks.
Now that you’re a recognized skater with a ton of sponsors and a reputation that precedes you, what are you going to do for skateboarding? How are you going to change things up?
I’m just gonna continue to skate, be myself, be positive, and try to film the best part I can for this Flip video coming up.
A lot has been said about your long list of former sponsors and seemingly constant team switches. Does that bug you, and do you plan to stay with your current teams for a while?
I was moving around so much because I was like a little kid–just excited to be offered sponsorship by these companies. It was hard to turn ’em down. I guess it was pretty stupid. I didn’t really think about it too much. But now that I’m on Flip, I know I’m gonna stay here forever. I guess the reason I left sponsors was I felt more comfortable on the other teams–with the people. I feel more comfortable with Geoff Rowley and Arto Saari ’cause they’re my friends, and with Muska on Circa–yeah, I’m gonna stay on all those teams.
What’s different now?
Flip told me ahead of time what their plans were. I know what’s gonna be going on in the future. They’re gonna get me a work visa. Circa’s like a family. I can just walk into the Circa building and have conversations with everybody and laugh with everybody. Everyone’s cool. Geoff and Rune are on Volcom, and it was the way to go–I just like their whole gig.
Have you thought much about how today there are lots and lots of good skaters who seem to be getting younger?
I think that’s because more and more kids are getting into it, watching videos, and thinking, “Hey, Muska must do this every day.” The same stuff he does in his video part, is the same stuff they think he does it every day. It’s not any big thing.
Before this generation, the pros thought differently, I guess. They had to come up with it. The kids now are doing what they’re the pros doing, but just doing it more, taking it further. It seems like a lot of kids are jumping down rails just to get sponsored. It’s crazy. Everyone’s doing gnarly stuff these da
ys–even kids you’ve never heard of.
Where do you see skateboarding developing in the next couple years?
I think all that will matter will be style. The tricks are going to be the same. Maybe bigger rails, maybe more pros. I guess not any new tricks. Everybody’s already done all the tricks, you know? I don’t know if there’s even any more we can do. Back in the day and today, up to now, everyone’s done everything, don’t you think?
Maybe combinations of tricks will be different or something. But other than that, I don’t know. I didn’t used to think that, though. I always thought there was tons of stuff that people hadn’t done.
I mean, there probably is, but you gotta take it to a rail this time. Instead of doing it on a ledge, you gotta take it to a rail. Get gnarly.
Who’s harder to satisfy, the entire world of skateboarding or Mark Appleyard?
I don’t really need to prove anything to myself. I need to progress to be happy. I need to keep going, and I need to get better. I want to learn how to skate vert. I don’t want to stay at one point at all. I don’t really have any goals; I just need to push it harder. It’s never enough. I just gotta keep going until I can’t keep going anymore.
What’s the coolest thing about skateboarding right now?
It’s at a point where you can travel the world and skate a lot of spots, and there’re gonna be skaters there to take you around. It’s like one big family. Also, you don’t need anyone else to do it, like Ping-Pong or something. You can just go and do it.
What’s the stupidest thing?
I went to a trade show about a week ago, and there were like 80 different booths of people who had no idea what’s going on with skateboarding, but they’re trying to get involved ’cause it’s hot right now. That alone says those guys have no place in skating.
Okay, think fast–bass, lead, or drums?
Lead, I guess.
Escalator, elevator, or stairs?
Thirty-two, 42, or 52?
What’s your biggest worry?
I’m afraid of planes.
Does that stress you out?
A little bit. Maybe the night before.
Any recurring nightmares?
No, actually. I don’t. I was never abused as a child laughs.
Are you a very good liar?
No, not really. I guess I used to lie a little bit. I used be a little punk in grade school. I did my share of lying and stealing.
But not enough to get good at it?
I did okay. I got through a lot of ’em.
Do you have any weird obsessions like keeping fish tanks, foosball, Dungeons and Dragons, or anything like that?
I like that video game Bust A Move and Asian girls.
Is life something that has happened to you or something that’s going to happen to you?
It’s happening. This is it.
What’s one thing your mom told you to always remember?
“Always brush your teeth.” Pretty much every time I talk to her on the phone she says, “You got nice teeth–brush ’em.”