Yeah, it’s not all that uncommon to have a backyard mini ramp, but what about a full-blown pool? Must be nice. Arto Saari weighs in on what it feels like to have what everyone’s dreamed of. As told to Kevin Duffel, from our November issue. Photography by Skin Phillips.
I found this house that had enough space to either build a mini ramp and not touch the garage, or dig a hole, take part of the garage out, and build something bigger. I was like, “You know what? F—k the mini ramp.” And I knew Lance Mountain had built a pool, so I got in contact with him, like, “What do I have to do in order to get a pool built?” He pretty much just hung up the phone and was at my house like 15 minutes later. We came to a conclusion that a left-hand kidney would be perfect. Lance has been riding the pools for 30 years or something, so it just made sense to talk to him about it. It was finished last May. He was there every step of the way. I also wanted it to be a swimmer. You can actually fill the pool up with water.
Whenever you seal the deal with the company that you build it with, do not change anything throughout the project. Just make sure that the plans are completely correct and finished before you dig the first hole. You have to be really careful how much you dig out, and what kind of dirt you have. You want to have packed dirt. Everything helps. It helps a lot if you dig it out and the shape’s pretty close to how you want it. If it’s just kind of a random hole, it makes it a lot harder. Do not change anything at all until it’s completely finished. Otherwise you end up paying a lot more money.
Arto threw a massive BBQ and invited the whole crew over for a good time. Video by Chris Thiessen.
The first drop-in was insane because I had to stare at the thing for like two months, thinking, “Oh my god, did I mess it up?” I knew nothing about it. I was tripped out for the first two weeks of skating, like, “This thing’s incredible. I have no idea what I’m doing, but it’s fun.” It gave me a whole new outlook for skateboarding. There’s so much more in skateboarding than what I’ve been doing for the last 10 years. When I first dropped in it felt like I started skating again, like a little kid, because I couldn’t even do a 50-50 in the deep end. It felt rad.
Everyone’s actually been very respectful about showing up. Everyone always calls first. There’s only been a couple of dudes that barged it once, and it happened to be—which is ironic—the Antihero dudes [laughs]. I wasn’t home, but there was a breastfeeding mother upstairs and some dudes started skating at 9:00 a.m., and she just f—king went nuts [laughs]. I’m kinda honored that it was the Antihero dudes. It was just a miscommunication with the day and the time, but it was pretty funny. I haven’t come home and found any random kids yet. I’d be f—king pissed. If you do that, then that’s it—you’re out. I’ll let you skate it. Call me, get my number, whatever, you can skate it, but just don’t barge it. If you’re caught, you’re banned for life.
Anyone that’s out there, just go build more pools. They’re fun. It’s always a good excuse to get your homeys over and have a good time and have a massive barbecue. That’s one of the great things about it. You get to meet a lot of great people through it. It’s been super rad, especially meeting some of the older cats, and having Cab [Steve Caballero] all of a sudden show up at your door, you’re like, “Ohhhhh whattttt. I’ll just sit down and watch.” Skateboarding’s given me so much in these last 10 years. I mean, this is a little thing, but I just tried to give back to skaters and people. It’s not a whole lot, but I just wanted everyone to have a good time. Probably the best thing I’ve ever done in skateboarding and throughout my career is building that pool.
"Lance [Mountain] helped me a ton on the design and what would work, and all the lines and all that. Lance has been riding the pools for 30 years or something, so it just made sense to talk to him about it. He was there every step of the way." The man who designed Arto's pool gets inverted frontside.