With the 12th Annual TransWorld SKATEboarding Awards only one week away, for the next seven days we’ll be bringing you interviews, photos, and videos of this year’s nominees. First up is Best Street nominee Dennis Busenitz. Read his interview from our February issue after making our list of 10 Skaters Who Changed The Decade, check some unseen sequences, and of course, peep his Diagonal part, hopefully, for not the first time.
10 Skaters Who Changed The Decade
Words by Mackenzie Eisenhour
Photography by Dave Chami
Speed is a cheap thrill for many skateboarders. It’s an aspect of our pastime that some never fully experience. But for the seekers and afflicted, once you taste the sweet-nectared adrenaline rush of losing yourself within its uncontrollable grips, you will never skate the same again. The following is Dennis Busenitz’s decade.
Where did you celebrate the year 2000, and who were you with?
I was with my family, driving from Colorado to Kansas. I was still in high school and we were on our way back from a snowboarding trip for the break. We were actually in the car when the ball dropped. Not very exciting [laughs].
Where were you at with skateboarding at the turn of the millennium?
Well, 411 still mattered. I had to watch that, right [laughs]? I think they were around Issue 40 or something*. That’s kind of when that started to fade. On my end, I’d just started getting flow from Deluxe. I was gearing up for my first Tampa Am a couple days after I got on flow. So I was giddy about all that.
Frontside flip fakie manual 180 out.
Describe the move to S.F.
It was a nice change from Kansas, for sure. It was just rad to be able to skate a city again. Basically just do some real street skating. Seeing all the famous spots and everything that you knew from the videos was cool. Then meeting all your favorite pros and realizing that they’re normal people [laughs]. Getting introduced to alcohol by [Jason] Phares was interesting. Figuring out not to run your mouth about all the tricks your gonna do sober when you’re drunk [laughs].
How did it feel having your first video part alongside a Mark Gonzales part in Real To Reel [‘01]?
It felt good [laughs]. Yeah, no, it was a little intimidating. There was pressure for sure. But at the same time you knew that even if you had a shitty part, they’d still make the video good. Or maybe that’s what I told myself to take the pressure off [laughs].
At what point did you begin to believe you had a career in skateboarding?
That has yet to happen [laughs]. I still can’t believe it’s a legitimate career. I’m just running with it. It wouldn’t surprise me if it all ended tomorrow. But I’m thankful for every day I can do this. I look at it like a vacation from real life. The vacation just so happens to have lasted a decade.
What was changing in skateboarding circa ’02?
I feel like that was the peak of the whole hammer thing and just everything being about jumping down huge things. Going big was everything and people weren’t too concerned with the technical stuff like they are now.
Were you worried you didn’t fit into that formula?
Maybe a little worried. But not worried enough to go jump down twenty stairs [laughs].
Where you sad to see VHS go out? What was your first skate DVD?
I remember getting The DC Video [’03] on DVD. But I still watch VHS now, so for me it’s not really gone out yet [laughs]. You gotta have VHS to watch all your old videos.
Backside lipslide pop out.
Describe turning pro.
Whatever. You get your name on the board. Not much else really changes. It was right after Seeing Double [’02]. I was gonna turn pro for that but then broke my leg before the premiere.
How was filming for Skate More [’05] and Roll Forever [’05]?
For Roll Forever we weren’t really trying to film for a part. We were just collecting footage. Roll Forever turned out to be a sort of an accidental video. It was supposed be a promo then just grew into a full deal. Skate More was pretty much leftover footage from Roll Forever mixed with all the last-minute stuff I was able to get in the month and half between the time I got on DVS and the video deadline.
By then, with Volcom, DVS, and Deluxe having your back did you begin to get a little more comfortable financially?
No. Really all that stuff has just happened slowly. Every other year or so my sponsors will give me a little raise, and over the past ten years that has begun to stack up. But it never really came in one big bang. It’s more slow and steady.
That’s better than boom and bust, U.S. economy style.
[Laughs] Yeah, right. Financially the best move was probably the adidas move.
Describe getting on adidas.
Bryce [Kanights] had kind of talked to me about it. If Bryce hadn’t been involved, I probably wouldn’t have given it much attention.
Dennis Busenitz in Adidas’ Diagonal
But the German heritage was crucial right?
[Laughs] That kind of came as a bonus. Any time you change sponsors, though, you try not to piss people off, but it’s pretty much impossible. It was a big decision for sure. I talked it through with a lot of people I trust, and they helped me make decision. Eventually I just went for it. I have yet to regret a single day.
When was your son born?
Rune Jackson Busenitz was born on January 23, 2008. If anything, having a kid just got me more psyched on life on general. It got me more psyched on skating. There’s a little more responsibility of course, but it helps you focus on life’s priorities. His mom, Julia, and I just got married this past August too. So the family is on.
Compare your lifestyle from ’07/08 to how you lived in ’01.
Let’s just say I went from being completely clueless to not quite completely clueless [laughs]. Life gets a little more serious—you get a mortgage to pay, a kid to take care of, taxes, and all that. Basically, all the “adult” stuff you heard about when you were a kid. Things do change when your family’s livelihood depends on it [skateboarding]. Anyone who says otherwise is lying. But in the grand scheme of things, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Run down The Battle against Chris Cole (’09).
I’m just happy I made him sweat [laughs]. A lot of preparation went in to that. I had to learn by switch frontside big-spin heelflips. No, I was just glad to get a couple letters on him. Seeing him win the whole thing made me feel a little better too. I still can’t believe how seriously people take these things. That right there, ten years ago, you would have gotten laughed at if you tried to tell people that a game of SKATE would be that big of a deal. Even indoor skateparks in general, ten years ago when I was in Kansas and had nothing else to skate but the park, I still felt like it was frowned upon to be the dude at the park every day. You were like the skatepark barney or whatever. You had to leave the park and go skate street if you wanted to turn pro. Now with The Berrics, it seems like you could jump-start your whole career without ever setting foot outside.
What are some other changes you feel skateboarding has gone through over the decade?
Well, it does seem like these days you have to go to China to film a legitimate video. Back in ’03 and ’04,it was like you had to go to Barcelona. Ten years ago you could still just film a part right here in America.
Backside 180 nosegrind shove-it out.
Well, thanks to the recession we might be right back at square one.
Where do you see skateboarding ten years from now?
F—king radder than ever. Skating craters on the moon [laughs]. No, hopefully it will just still be somewhat raw. Just not completely tucked into some league.
What trick or accomplishment makes you the proudest over the past decade?
The fact that I’ve been able to do it for the past ten years and am still pulling it today. I’m proud of that.
You just might have gotten kids to take that one extra push.
Yeah, as long as it’s not a brake push [laughs].