Anyone who’s ever seen North Vancouver, Canada’s Alex Chalmers skate knows he’s a player. His ability in a skatepark is mind-numbing, but he’s earned the unfortunate tag “park skater,” which for years has impeded his ability to get connected with a quality board sponsor¿until now. I called him at his home in North Van and we discussed his riding for Flip and the pitfalls of growing up in skateboard paradise.
Canadians hate it when you associate them with Americans. Tell me what it means to be Canadian.
I don’t want to sound like an idiot, but it’s just not America, and it’s not Europe. We’re clean up here, we have really nice parks, we have a really nice lifestyle, and good health care. We’re really friendly¿it’s like a melting pot.
Canada is the only country to attack the United States and burn its Capital Building down.
I think that was over a bunch of whiskey, wasn’t it? You guys invaded us, and we were just getting you back.
Are you a Red Dragon?
You’re not? I thought you were for sure.
No. I’m not a Red Dragon, and I never have been. We grew up in different skate spots, essentially. The Red Dragons were a group that formed out of the core group of skaters from the Richmond Skate Ranch who skated downtown all the time. When the Ranch closed, I took to the North Vancouver Bowls, White Rock, and all over Vancouver, but not so much the downtown area.
Did you and your friends have a name for your group?
Yeah, N.V. Locz.
Do you still skate with those guys?
Anybody who comes to skate the bowls and parks in North Van is an N.V. Loc. Even some of the Red Dragons are.
What’s your terrain of choice to skate?
Anywhere you don’t have to push too much. A lot of people say I’m a park rider, but I like going fast down hills and pushing around downtown, too.
Do you think the label “park rider” has hurt your ability to get board sponsors?
Yeah, absolutely, man. Just because I don’t do nollie inward crooked grinds and shit, people are like, “He can’t skate.” Because of that, some people have looked past me, but it’s all right because I know I’m out there having fun.
How do you support yourself?
Luckily, I’ve had a lot of support from my parents, but for the last two or three years I’ve been doing a lot of stunt work for movies, the TV industry, and ad agencies.
All skateboard stuff?
It started out that way, but then I got in the union. This year I worked on the TV show The Net on the USA network¿I doubled for a character named Eric. I started out just skating¿jumping off a curb, jumping onto a bench¿but they ended up putting me in speeding cars and tackling people. It turned out to be fun.
Is there a lot of money in that?
There’s tons of money in it, but it’s a bit of a trade secret, so I can’t tell you how much we get paid.
You just got sponsored by Flip. How did that come about?
I’ve been wanting to skate for Flip for multiple years, and I’d been in contact with them before, but I don’t think they were ready to sponsor me. Now that their team is expanding and they’ve got a few more pros, they found the space. I waited three or four years, and things worked out.
Flip’s team is almost completely non-American.
That’s one of the reasons I wanted to ride for them so much¿so I’d have a distinct image as a Canadian.
What do you bring to Flip?
I don’t know, they’ve got so much amazing talent already. I hope I bring my own personal style of skateboarding to help round out their team. I guess I’ll be the ATV of the team.
Where you psyched when they told you about being on the team?
You couldn’t wipe the grin off my face, man. I had a smile a mile wide.
Alex’s sponsors are Flip skateboards, Etnies shoes, Sessions skate shop, Independent trucks (sometimes), and Spitfire wheels (sometimes).