Pat Channita Interview

Interview by Amani and Drake

Whether you love him, hate him, or don't recognize his name, Pat Channita is number one. That is, according to World Cup Skateboarding's overall street rankings for 1999, Pat accumulated more points in WCS-sanctioned events than any other street skater in the world. In short, Pat was the most consistent street-contest skater in '99, and that shouldn't surprise anyone who's ever seen him patiently dissect a street course.
And while he earned this noteworthy distinction by competing in an average of two contests a month for the majority of 1999, Pat'll be the first to tell you contests aren't everything. And he's right, because even though certain corporate entities would be pleased as punch if skateboarding tries a little harder to squeeze into the unnatural mold of televised professional sporting events, skateboarding's been consistently hard for TV to corral and homogenize the way it has so many other sports.
The truth is Pat may be number one on a chart in someone's fancy corner office, but his value to skateboarding is much less easily quantified. No system is yet in place to determine the value of Pat's many contributions to technical street skating, where “number one” is nothing more than an opinion. And we all know what opinions are like.
After weeks of prodding, the quiet, young Laotian-American finally sat down with his brother Beelou (a.k.a. Amani) and his friend Drake to talk about idolizing Hosoi, going to college, and being number one.–J.P.
Amani: Tell me your earliest memory of skateboarding.
Pat: Skating outside. The first trick I learned was going off the curb. I don't even think I was skating on my feet, I think I was pushing on my knees.
Are you a fireworks expert?
Fireworks seem to come up here and there, I don't know what the big deal is. On tour you can get fireworks all the time, and I always seem to have extra money, so I get stuff that blows up.
Who was the first pro skater you met, and how did that affect you?
Christian Hosoi, Holmes! I used to see him at Transitions Skatepark in L.A. It was cool, he gave me a T-shirt and we talked for a little bit. He gave me a couple boards, but things didn't work out.
When was that?
Back in the Milk Skateboards days.
So, even though Hosoi wore all that Spandex and shit, you still thought he was cool. Did you ever have an outfit like Hosoi's?
No, I never had the outfit, but Hosoi had style; he had airs.
What other skaters influenced you?
Well, I started skating in '86, so most of the videos I saw were full of vert guys doing airs. I wanted to do airs, but when I started skating there were no ramps, so I just skated the streets. I saw Daewon Song, and that guy had mega board control. That's what I wanted to do.
Compare skateboarding back when you started to how it is now.
It seems like skating back then was easier–you could just do a board grab or something. But now there's the technical side; you've got to do flip tricks, you've got to do hard lines.
Drake: Pat, what's up with your hair, dude? We've seen you with long hair, short hair, and bed-head, and now you're rockin' bed-head, but it's like 11:30 at night.
Hair shouldn't matter.
What's your favorite thing to skate?
I just like doing flip tricks. It doesn't matter if I'm doing them off stairs or over a bench, I just like flipping my board around.
Where do you usually skate?
I try not to skate the same old spots; it gets kind of boring. Usually, I'll call up different guys and whatever happens happens. Or I'll call up a photographer or a filmer, and they'll usually have spots.
Does it piss you ofto get kicked out of skate spots?
It definitely sucks. You wake up, get hyped up to go skate, drive two hours to a spot, then you get kicked out. Now what are you gonna do? In California you have to drive, drive, and drive–you can get kicked out of five spots and end up driving all day.
Drake: Do you think kids are happy when they see you skateboarding?
Some kids are psyched to meet you, and they want to go skate with you and stuff. But other kids come up and go, “Yo, let me see you do this, let me see you do that. I saw you do it in a video, let's see you do it here, live.” And sometimes you just can't do it.
Drake: Kids don't understand that skating is like everyday life–sometimes you're on it, and some days you're not.
Exactly. Sometimes people win a contest and sometimes they get last. I've been last a couple times. It's all the videos, ya know? On video, yeah, of course it looks like I'm good. I do everything first try on video, right? But in reality it takes a while to film those tricks.
Do you like contests?
Contests are cool, but they can be frustrating at the same time. It's good to get away from the house, though. Everything's paid for, so you just get away and do your thing.
Over the past year you've done really well in contests; do you have a favorite contest from last year?
I don't have a favorite–the contests I won felt good. But every course is different, there're good courses and bad ones; I guess it just depends on how you feel that day.
Do you try at contests, or do you just go out there and make the best of it, like you're skating a skatepark?
It all depends on the situation. Of course you want to do good, you want to win; your sponsors paid your way there, so you gotta do good for them. At the same time you've got people out there watching you skate, and you don't want to look bad in front of them. For the most part, I try to have fun, but I definitely want to do good. If I didn't want to do good, I probably would have stayed home.
Number-one street skater in the world for 1999–does that mean anything to you?
I don't know what it means. In the World Cup rankings, I guess I'm ranked number one, but that just means I did well in contests this year. My sponsors are happy. That's all it means.
Are there any particular contests you want to win?
There are a lot of contests I want to win, and I'd say which ones, but then people would expect too much. The bigger the contest the better.
What's the best place you've traveled to?
Most of the good times come from road trips. Contests are fun, but you usually don't have that much time to hang out. On tour you get to hang out and chill. There's a lot of places I thought were cool … Texas, Fargo, Vancouver, Chicago, different spots in Europe.
Where do you want to go that you haven't been?
I haven't been to South America yet, but I'll be going this January 2000 with Reef. I haven't been to Australia; it seems cool. I haven't been to Japan; I'd like to go there. I'll go wherever skating takes me.
Is there anything you don't like about skating?
Getting kicked out of spots; that definitely sucks. It's not like you just get kicked out–you get a record, too. It's like you're a criminal, but in reality, you're just skating. Then there're the things you have to do even though you don't want to, like you gotta film a video part, you gotta shoot photos. People are paying you now, so you gotta do some stuff. Sometimes when you show up at spots there are people who want to see you do stuff they've seen in videos. But you can't always do the stuff you've done before, and they expect to see it first try. Then there's always the product thing–people going, “Hey, you get free stuff, why don't you give it to me?” Everyone gets paid money when they work, but you don't see people asking other people for free money all the time. I just can't give out free stuff all the time.
Which skaters influenced who you are now?
People on the teams I've been on–I see them busting out, and that makes me want to bust out, too. Guys like Danny Way, Jeremy Wray, Eric Koston. Koston's just on this other level. Daewon–he has so much board control, he can just do whatever he wants. I want to be like those guys, and I want to do everything they can do, too.
Are you friends with all the guys you looked up to?
I don't know what you mean by “friends,” but yeah, I've met them. We talk, and we'll skate here and there.
Drake: What happened between you and Danny Way after Plan B went under?
We still talk, I usually only see him at contests. We're not on the same team anymore … it's sucks we don't stay in touch, but we still see each other here and there.
Drake: What's up with you and Moses Itkonen, do you guys skate together a lot? Is Powell a tight team? Do you talk to the rest of the new Bones Brigade much? What's the deal?
We've got everyone's numbers, but we usually just see each other at contests. We've got pros from like ten different countries. We've got riders all over the place, but it's cool. We talk sometimes and hang out and stuff.
What kind of skateboarder do you think people see you as?
I try to be well-rounded. It seems like people see me as a technical skater.
What are the first videos that inspired you?
The H-Street videos, especially This Is Not The New H-Street Video. Then the Plan B Questionable Video; I watched that a billion times. Virtual Reality. Videos like that. I still watch them, too.
Have there been obstacles in your skateboarding career?
Times can get rough. If you aren't sponsored you can't get boards all the time, so you're out there riding boards with no tail or nose. But if you keep wanting it, you're gonna keep skating. My first two years skating I only got one board a year at Christmas, and it had to last all year long. Another obstacle is breaking bones. You get hurt, and your parents don't want you to hurt anymore; they want you to stop skating. But you really like it in your heart, so you just keep skating. Getting hurt's just part of the game. You get hurt in a car accident, but that doesn't mean you stop driving.
Was being a pro skater a goal you had?
I didn't pick up my first skate magazine until I was five years deep into skating. I just wanted to skate, and I didn't even worry about it. Later I found out people got sponsored, and I was like, “Yeah, that's cool.” I didn't even know what it was about. I entered contests here and there because I thought it was fun to skate in contests. Things just happened.
What makes you stand out from other skaters?
I just do my own thing. That's a hard question to answer. You'd have to ask someone else to really know.
What's your best memory from skateboarding?
Turning pro and having my name on a model. Then winning my first pro contest. When you beat 200 other guys, you're like, “Damn!” Ya know? Now you've got this trophy that says “First Place,” and no one can take that from you.
Skateboarding's given you a lot–do you feel like you've given back to skateboarding?
Skating's definitely brought me a long way. From getting free skateboards to g46;ve done before, and they expect to see it first try. Then there's always the product thing–people going, “Hey, you get free stuff, why don't you give it to me?” Everyone gets paid money when they work, but you don't see people asking other people for free money all the time. I just can't give out free stuff all the time.
Which skaters influenced who you are now?
People on the teams I've been on–I see them busting out, and that makes me want to bust out, too. Guys like Danny Way, Jeremy Wray, Eric Koston. Koston's just on this other level. Daewon–he has so much board control, he can just do whatever he wants. I want to be like those guys, and I want to do everything they can do, too.
Are you friends with all the guys you looked up to?
I don't know what you mean by “friends,” but yeah, I've met them. We talk, and we'll skate here and there.
Drake: What happened between you and Danny Way after Plan B went under?
We still talk, I usually only see him at contests. We're not on the same team anymore … it's sucks we don't stay in touch, but we still see each other here and there.
Drake: What's up with you and Moses Itkonen, do you guys skate together a lot? Is Powell a tight team? Do you talk to the rest of the new Bones Brigade much? What's the deal?
We've got everyone's numbers, but we usually just see each other at contests. We've got pros from like ten different countries. We've got riders all over the place, but it's cool. We talk sometimes and hang out and stuff.
What kind of skateboarder do you think people see you as?
I try to be well-rounded. It seems like people see me as a technical skater.
What are the first videos that inspired you?
The H-Street videos, especially This Is Not The New H-Street Video. Then the Plan B Questionable Video; I watched that a billion times. Virtual Reality. Videos like that. I still watch them, too.
Have there been obstacles in your skateboarding career?
Times can get rough. If you aren't sponsored you can't get boards all the time, so you're out there riding boards with no tail or nose. But if you keep wanting it, you're gonna keep skating. My first two years skating I only got one board a year at Christmas, and it had to last all year long. Another obstacle is breaking bones. You get hurt, and your parents don't want you to hurt anymore; they want you to stop skating. But you really like it in your heart, so you just keep skating. Getting hurt's just part of the game. You get hurt in a car accident, but that doesn't mean you stop driving.
Was being a pro skater a goal you had?
I didn't pick up my first skate magazine until I was five years deep into skating. I just wanted to skate, and I didn't even worry about it. Later I found out people got sponsored, and I was like, “Yeah, that's cool.” I didn't even know what it was about. I entered contests here and there because I thought it was fun to skate in contests. Things just happened.
What makes you stand out from other skaters?
I just do my own thing. That's a hard question to answer. You'd have to ask someone else to really know.
What's your best memory from skateboarding?
Turning pro and having my name on a model. Then winning my first pro contest. When you beat 200 other guys, you're like, “Damn!” Ya know? Now you've got this trophy that says “First Place,” and no one can take that from you.
Skateboarding's given you a lot–do you feel like you've given back to skateboarding?
Skating's definitely brought me a long way. From getting free skateboards to getting money–I never thought I'd actually get money to skate. I try to do new tricks. I have fans out there, and I don't want to let them down, so I'm out here trying to get my coverage or whatever makes them happy.
Drake: You're now in the position where Hosoi was when you met him. You're in the position where you've got to represent skateboarding in a positive way. So how do you reflect that in your everyday skating?
I try to just flow with it. I know there're people out there who want to know what's up, and when I was an amateur there were pros who were cool to me, so I try to do the same thing back. If people ask me questions, I'll give them an answer, if they want to skate, we'll go skating. It's cool.
What do you think skateboarding will remember you by?
I'm not sure on that one. I hope they just remember that I was out there, and that I was able to do some tricks. And I hope they liked my style.

 
sidebar

Pat's Road to #1
Only in the past couple years has a contest-sanctioning body arisen in skateboarding to govern the quality of contests and keep a running tally of the results in the form of an overall-points ranking system. At the end of 1998, Pat was ranked 14th after entering just more than half the WCS-sanctioned events that year. In 1999, Pat entered eleven of the twelve sanctioned contests, finished in the top ten in six, and ended up winning the WCS overall street title, proving that skateboarding definitely grades on attendance.–J.P.
SPoT Pro (Tampa, Florida) 3/11—14–35th
X-Trials
(Louisville, Kentucky) 4/23—25–8th
Slam City Jam 6
(Vancouver, Canada) 4/29—5/2–58th
X-Trials
(Richmond, Virginia) 5/7—9–2nd
Vans Triple Crown
(Milwaukee, Wisconsin) 6/4—5–1st
X-Games
(San Francisco, California) 6/25—28–2nd
Radlands '99
(Northampton, England) 7/2—4–20th
Globe World Cup
(Dortmund, Germany) 7/8—11–17th
Mystic Cup
(Prague, Czech Rep.) 7/16—18–2nd
X-Trials
(Oceanside, California) 7/30—8/1–1st
B3
(Beaverton, Oregon) 8/27—29–didn't enter
Triple Crown Finals
(Huntington Beach, California) 10/1—3–28th

to getting money–I never thought I'd actually get money to skate. I try to do new tricks. I have fans out there, and I don't want to let them down, so I'm out here trying to get my coverage or whatever makes them happy.
Drake: You're now in the position where Hosoi was when you met him. You're in the position where you've got to represent skateboarding in a positive way. So how do you reflect that in your everyday skating?
I try to just flow with it. I know there're people out there who want to know what's up, and when I was an amateur there were pros who were cool to me, so I try to do the same thing back. If people ask me questions, I'll give them an answer, if they want to skate, we'll go skating. It's cool.
What do you think skateboarding will remember you by?
I'm not sure on that one. I hope they just remember that I was out there, and that I was able to do some tricks. And I hope they liked my style.

 
sidebar

Pat's Road to #1
Only in the past couple years has a contest-sanctioning body arisen in skateboarding to govern the quality of contests and keep a running tally of the results in the form of an overall-points ranking system. At the end of 1998, Pat was ranked 14th after entering just more than half the WCS-sanctioned events that year. In 1999, Pat entered eleven of the twelve sanctioned contests, finished in the top ten in six, and ended up winning the WCS overall street title, proving that skateboarding definitely grades on attendance.–J.P.
SPoT Pro (Tampa, Florida) 3/11—14–35th
X-Trials
(Louisville, Kentucky) 4/23—25–8th
Slam City Jam 6
(Vancouver, Canada) 4/29—5/2–58th
X-Trials
(Richmond, Virginia) 5/7—9–2nd
Vans Triple Crown
(Milwaukee, Wisconsin) 6/4—5–1st
X-Games
(San Francisco, California) 6/25—28–2nd
Radlands '99
(Northampton, England) 7/2—4–20th
Globe World Cup
(Dortmund, Germany) 7/8—11–17th
Mystic Cup
(Prague, Czech Rep.) 7/16—18–2nd
X-Trials
(Oceanside, California) 7/30—8/1–1st
B3
(Beaverton, Oregon) 8/27—29–didn't enter
Triple Crown Finals
(Huntington Beach, California) 10/1—3–28th