20 Questions with Ryan Smith

1. What part of Canada are you from?

British Columbia. I was born in Vernon, B.C.

2. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Vernon, and then later on, I moved to Kelowna when I was eleven and started skating.

3. How was the skating in Kelowna?

It was sick, actually. There’s a pretty good talent pool there.

4. What got you into skateboarding?

I saw Back To The Future and thought it was pretty badass (laughs). Nah, I don’t know. I broke my collarbone loads of times when I was younger, so the doctor said I couldn’t play team sports or I’d get hurt. For some weird reason, my mom thought it’d be fine if I rode my bike around and skateboarded. It probably wasn’t safe.

5. Being from Canada, do you have Canadian pride?

Yeah, definitely.

6. How come?

I don’t know. What pride am I supposed to have? I can’t have American pride.

7. No, I mean, where do you think Canadian pride comes from? I mean, why would you even have country pride?

Because I like where I live–it’s clean, nice, and has good skateboarding. I mean, I think it’s good to be proud of where you’re from. There’s no point in hiding it. People come off fake otherwise.

8. At what point in your life did you realize that you wanted to pursue skateboarding as more than just a hobby or something you did in the neighborhood?

Well, it was weird. When I was thirteen, I hung out with, like, eighteen year olds–they were all older. Some of the dudes were really good at skating, and I watched them go through the fact that they had to get jobs when they realized the sponsorship thing just wasn’t gonna happen for them. Then I got to the age of seventeen or whatever, and I was just like, “Dude, I don’t think this sponsorship thing is gonna happen for me.” Then my friend was making a local video and I was goin’ for it. I just partied with my friends and didn’t really care. I was like, “This is what I want to do,” and everything just kinda fell into place. I got a little bit of coverage from local magazines and videos. People just noticed, and I went from there.

It was probably when Moses (Itkonen) called me out of the blue. He got my phone number from a mutual friend. He called me up and then sent me the hugest box of RDS stuff. Then after that, I knew it was on.

9. Who do you think’s been the biggest influence on you?

Life-wise, probably my dad. Him telling me, “You know, I’ve worked my whole life, and if you have an opportunity or chance to do what you want to do, then go for it and do it. I’ll support you 100 percent.”

In skateboarding, probably Paul Machnau ’cause I’ve tried to do everything he’s done. Like, he was on Powell, so I got on Powell. He was doin’ stuff, and I’d try to follow him close behind.

10. When did you figure out what you wanted to do for yourself rather than seeing what other people are doing? Kinda like coming into your own. Do you feel like that’s happened yet?

Sort of. I remember going out to shoot photos, and I’d look at a magazine and be all, “That guy’s sick, but I don’t know why he let that go in there,” or whatever. Some people do something first try, and some people take days to do it, but once the photo comes out, you can’t tell how long someone tried it for. I just try to do my very best and have my best things come out. At that point, when you’re that focused to do your very best, you pretty much forget about everyone else.

11. Do you have plans to turn pro?

I don’t know–you tell me (laughs).

12. I don’t know if I’m supposed to be doing this interview,, but it’s not, “Do I have plans,” it’s, “Do you have plans to turn pro?”

Yeah, definitely. It’s a goal. I mean, I made it this far. I went from being a shop-sponsored kid to a local Canadian-board-company-sponsored kid to flow for a U.S. company to actually being on the team.

13. Why do you want to be pro?

Why? Because no one wants to be a perpetual amateur. That just sucks. I’ve seen what you can get out of being pro. Put it like this: you could be am and live from day to day, check by check, or you could really work for it, be pro, and have somewhat of a future–secure yourself.

14. Who do you think are the best amateurs right now?

Chris Cole, Caswell Berry, Paul Rodriguez, and Jon Allie.

15. Do you think ams should be paid?

Yeah, definitely because …

16. ’Cause you’re an am and you want to get paid (laughs)?

F–k yeah. Nah, I think they should get paid because if I didn’t get paid, I wouldn’t be down here (So Cal) right now. I wouldn’t have been able to move to Vancouver, I’d still be in Kelowna doing nothing. I’d be working some shit job. Hopefully, people get their money’s worth out of me. If not, f–k it (laughs).

17. Who are your sponsors?

Zero skateboards, RDS, DC Shoes, Independent trucks, and Ricta wheels.

18. How come you don’t own a cell phone or computer?

I’m a Luddite.

19. What’s a Luddite?

Someone who’s anti-technology. No, I don’t know how to use computers really. I do want to buy one just so I can edit little videos and stuff. As far as a cell phone goes, I don’t make enough money. I know that I’ll just be on it for days, so I’ll just be, like, broke with a phone (laughs).

20. What’s “the pink sock?”

Aw, dude. I don’t think TransWorld can handle the pink sock.