Chima Ferguson

There’s too much talent coming out of Australia lately, and that concerns me. Sure, I’m all for growing skateboarding on a global level (this mag is called TransWorld, after all), but the stubborn patriot in me wants to keep the U.S. of A. on top. One of the latest threats to American supremacy has been the Oz-bred Chima Ferguson: a perfect storm of go-big ability and the ability to keep coming back for seconds. His talent is unreal, really. So much so that team U.S.A. just might have to Americanize him-now if only he were a willing participant…

Words by Carleton Curtis

I’m going to skip the Australia-related questions because you’ve pretty much covered everything already. Yeah, pretty much.

Unless you feel like talking about the motherland. No, that’s cool. Most of the questions I get asked from American magazines are about Australia.

You were just voted Slam skateboard magazine’s “Skater Of The Year.” Yeah, it’s a pretty random thing we do every year here in Australia. They nominate the top twenty skaters of the year, then they get the top twenty to vote, and somehow I came out as the winner.

So what did you do to deserve such an honor?
I don’t really know (laughs). I just got a bunch of photos and whatever. They were just like, “There ya go.”

But you’re only getting a puny four-page interview in our Am Issue. Does that piss you off?
No, I’m cool with whatever.

Do you wear hats everywhere you go?
Yeah. I really like Supreme hats. I just bought one of those yesterday, and I like beanies as well. I guess I just like keeping my head covered.

Was getting hooked up on Deluxe really as easy as sending them a sponsor-me tape?
Yeah, believe it or not. It was sent in by the distributor here back in 2004.

Do they ever pressure you to move to Cali?
No, I usually just go over to the States once a year. But I’d much rather stay in Australia-I couldn’t really see myself living over there. Life is just too hectic in the States, and the skate scene here is coming up now, so there’s a bit more going on in Australia.

Why is Australia churning out so many rippers these days?
I’m not sure (laughs). There’s something crazy going on over here-there must be something in our water.

Why don’t more good skaters come out of New Zealand?
Probably because their weather sucks.

Do you think ams really skate harder than pros, or is that just a jaded industry stereotype?
Yeah, I guess some ams do because they feel like they have more to prove. And pros don’t really have that mind-set because they’ve already made it. So I guess it’s true in some ways and untrue in other ways.

From one to ten, how jaded are you?
Ten being the highest a person could jade out. Probably a seven.

Really?
How old are you?
Eighteen.

That’s pretty jaded for an eighteen year old. (Laughs) Seven is just my favorite number.

I could ask you a lot of things where seven would be a really embarrassing number. Okay, so like most everyone else in skateboarding these days, you’re into Guitar Hero, right?
Yeah, I just bought that yesterday. It’s really cool. I’ve been playing it all night to some Black Sabbath and Rolling Stones songs. There’s some pretty sh-t songs on there, but some pretty good ones, too.

PS3 or Xbox 360?
I haven’t played either, ’cause PlayStation 3 just came out here, like, two weeks ago. It’s just always been that way, plus the PS3s are going for around a 1,000 bucks. Just watch, in three months it’ll come down to 600 bucks, then 500, and it’ll keep coming down.

What’s the most random thing you’ve ever purchased?
My chainsaw is definitely the most random thing I’ve bought. I just woke up one day at a friend’s house and we were watching a Baker video, then the idea came into my head. It was pretty cheap, only around 200 bucks. When I finally got it, I took it to this cluster of trees by my mom’s house and just started cutting down trees. Chainsaws are lotsf fun (laughs).

You grew up in a rough-and-tumble neighborhood. Villawood, right?
Yeah. It used to be rough, with lots of drug dealing and gangs-lots of stabbings and lots of fights. But it’s pretty much like any other place these days. All that stuff died out at the start of the millennium.

Okay, I’m going to break my no-Australia rule on this one: What’s the feeling in Oz a month after Shane’s passing?
It’s been really gnarly. The day I found out, I just invited everyone over to my house and we all went out for drinks. I think it took a long time for it to really hit everyone. Shane was such a cool guy and I’d known him for years. Then when something suddenly happens like that, you’re just like, “Whoa. This is gnarly.” It’s a huge wake-up call.

Do you remember what you were doing when you heard the news?
I was sleeping, actually. When I woke up, I was looking on the Internet and went to your guys’ Web site and was like, “Ohh, no.” Then I called up Volcom and they confirmed it, too.

What’s your opinion on it?
Do you think skateboarding hit its peak of recklessness that night?
I don’t know. I guess Shane was always a bit crazy. It’s kind of a weird thing-he was wearing nothing but boardshorts when it happened, and Ali was wearing a sarong.

What’s the latest with Ali’s condition?
He’s gonna have to stay here for a while because he’s got serious head injuries, and you can’t get on a plane with an injury like that. I was in Melbourne two weeks ago at Dustin’s house and they’re visiting him every day. The doctors just took the breathing tubes out, so he can breathe on his own now and talk. From what it looks like, he’s on a quick road to recovery. I’m pretty sure he’ll be able to skate again.

What’s your relationship with Dustin Dollin like?
Was he a mentor to you?
The first time I met Dustin and really got to hang out with him was in New York, back in 2005. He’s really cool, he got me hooked up with Vans and all that stuff too. Every couple of months I stay at his house in Melbourne and film for the new Volcom video. It’s just the Australian Volcom team, but it’ll be shown all over the world. Anyway, Dustin’s just amazingly level-headed and always down to help people out.

How much time do you spend with the dudes at Real?
Not a whole lot because I’m in Australia most of the time. But whenever I go the States I go to S.F. for a couple weeks. But mostly I stay at the Volcom house in Southern California, wherever that is.

Do you get along with the Real guys?
Yeah, pretty well. I don’t really feel out of place with them, but they do spend a lot more time with each other than I do. I guess it’s a bit weird, just seeing them every now and then.

In your TWS Check Out last year, Ernie Torres said you do a good Tyrone Biggums impression. (Laughs) I haven’t done that in a long time. They play Chappelle’s Show here in Australia on the comedy channel, but it’s all episodes. But they never get old. And I’ve been collecting DVDs lately, so I’m buying those box sets for sure.

What’s your favorite TV show right now?
Probably Arrested Development. I bought all those seasons, too. And I’m really into Clint Eastwood movies right now.

Aren’t there any good Australian TV shows?
No, Australian television sucks. Not that I know much about acting, but the acting is always terrible. And it’s mainly soap operas and stuff like that.

Do they show tits on Australian TV?
Uhhh, I think after a certain time, yeah. But I don’t really watch TV much anymore. I’d rather just buy the shows I like.

So let’s talk about skateboarding. What kind of terrain do you like skating the best right now?
Probably ledges and bowls-I’ve been trying to skate tranny lately. It’s really cool flying around a skatepark.

But you’ve pretty much made a name for yourself jumping down more stairs than you can count on both hands.

Yeah, yeah. I still do skate stairs and stuff like that, but not as much as I used to. I guess stairs just started giving me too much pain in my legs. I’m trying to do something different now.

Did you look up to the “big, tech” guys like Heath Kirchart and Geoff Rowley growing up?
Definitely. Rowley’s always been one of my favorite skaters.

Are there any tricks that you simply can’t do?
Frontside flips. I mean, I can do ’em, but they look really bad (laughs).

Loose or tight trucks?
It kinda changes because the weather will get really hot out here and the rubbers will get really soft and the trucks’ll be loose. But then when it gets cold, they freeze up and get really tight. So I guess I just ride ’em however. I’m not too fazed about how my trucks are-I’ll wake up and skate ’em. I’m probably most particular about my wheels. I don’t like big wheels, the biggest I ride are 51mm. Also, the color on the top of the board is a bit weird for me.

Is that a superstition of yours?
I just hate when the boards are painted all the way around, dipped. It makes your board look crazy, like really really thin or really really wide. Just plain woodgrain is best for me, eight inches wide. I don’t have any superstitions really-I just try not to think about stuff too much when I skate.

ff like that, but not as much as I used to. I guess stairs just started giving me too much pain in my legs. I’m trying to do something different now.

Did you look up to the “big, tech” guys like Heath Kirchart and Geoff Rowley growing up?
Definitely. Rowley’s always been one of my favorite skaters.

Are there any tricks that you simply can’t do?
Frontside flips. I mean, I can do ’em, but they look really bad (laughs).

Loose or tight trucks?
It kinda changes because the weather will get really hot out here and the rubbers will get really soft and the trucks’ll be loose. But then when it gets cold, they freeze up and get really tight. So I guess I just ride ’em however. I’m not too fazed about how my trucks are-I’ll wake up and skate ’em. I’m probably most particular about my wheels. I don’t like big wheels, the biggest I ride are 51mm. Also, the color on the top of the board is a bit weird for me.

Is that a superstition of yours?
I just hate when the boards are painted all the way around, dipped. It makes your board look crazy, like really really thin or really really wide. Just plain woodgrain is best for me, eight inches wide. I don’t have any superstitions really-I just try not to think about stuff too much when I skate.