Skateboarding’s warrior-poet, 29-year-old Mike Vallely hasn’t only held skateboarding’s hand as it’s transitioned from era to era, at times he’s dragged it by the ear. He’s fought for skateboarding, and at times it’s fought him back, but his devotion to the activity that gave his life direction has changed it forever. He is the skateboarder’s skateboarder.
What’s been your favorite year in skateboarding so far?
Eighty-six was pretty good. Laughter
What about ’86 did you like?
I got sponsored, I won the NSA amateur championships in Oceanside New Jersey, I was on the cover of Thrasher, and I visited California twice where I skated with Mark Gonzales, Lance Mountain, Natas Kaupas, Jesse Martinez, and Tommy Guerrero. It was pretty awesome.
How old were you, sixteen?
Who’s been your biggest inspiration in skateboarding?
In the beginning I would have said it was different pros, but now it’s the skaters who are out there every day, who support this industry and make it what it is–the true hardcore skaters of the world. They’re the reason I’m still a professional, I’m still active, and that I’m trying to give back to skating.
What’s the stupidest trend you’ve seen skateboarding go through?
Small wheels. That was the worst, man. I was just looking at some old stuff my father has here at the family’s home in New Jersey, stuff he’s collected. He has my signature wheels from then … 42 millimeters! It’s unbelievable.
My daughter goes, “Those aren’t skateboard wheels!”
I’m like, “You’re right.”
What do would you consider to be your biggest contribution to skateboarding?
I really don’t know. These kind of things are for other people to say, not me. I think just being myself and remaining an individual.
Describe the current state of skateboarding.
The way I see it right now is the way I’ve seen it for five or six years: potential. It could potentially be really good. I just don’t think there are enough people giving; more people are taking. More people are worried about survival and getting by day to day instead of creating for the future and making the sport better. Everyone is thinking short-term instead of long-term. I don’t think there’s been someone with a real vision since Stacy Peralta. I mean, someone with the vision to shape the sport and give it life. The sport needs somebody to do that.
What are you predictions for skateboarding’s near future?
I think it’s still building and growing. I don’t know what the numbers say, and I don’t know how many people out there are doing it, but in the world I roam in–demo to demo, town to town–excitement seems to be building, and the sport seems to be getting better. I think it comes down to the pros–people like Koston, Muska, Hawk–as long as those guys continue to be personalities, progress, and stand out, skating will continue to be exciting.