Chris Haslam

Photos by Seu Trinh

If you don’t like Chris Haslam, chances are you don’t really dislike him, but you’re confused as to who that “other dude” was in his Digital part a few months back. If you do like Chris, you’ve witnessed one of two things: his drive and ability to truly push skateboarding, or you just know the guy is as nice and as harmless as the teddy bear on your sister’s bed.

The reality is that Chris Haslam is about to go pro. He deserves it based upon his recent media coverage, but more so for the things that you aren’t going to see in the following pages, and just the same, the things you aren’t going to read about in the following pages.

Chris deserves to go pro ’cause he skates. He skates anything and everything. He skates as hard on the way to the spot as he would at the spot. He skates without the knowledge of those obstacles that fall in his way while he’s on the way. He zooms through traffic and untouched-by-a-skateboard terrain like Ricky Oyola or Mike Carroll—reminiscent of Guy Mariano, Paulo Diaz, and Gabriel Rodriguez in Ban This. There might be no destination in sight, and that would be just fine for Chris.

If hearing that gives you a good feeling inside or maybe even a slightly jealous one, you’re in good company. If not, I’m sorry for making you wade through what you probably feel is an extended Check Out, because I’m pretty sure all you want to hear about is how Chris’ makeover resembles that of Jamie Thomas. Or maybe just how he can frontside flip out of a boardslide.

Chris, there was a dude with baggy pants and short hair in your Digital part. Who was that mystery guest skater?

That was me before the drastic change. I just think sometimes change is good. I’ve had a shaved head for like fifteen years, so I thought something else would be good and different. It seems to be working out so far. I’m stoked on it.

Was your change influenced by anybody? Was Jamie Thomas an influence?

I think it was influenced by his skating. It wasn’t him and the way he dressed, per se, but I was pretty stoked on his skating and what he was doing. I guess I was just trying to find a middle ground—trying to fit in to something. It’s not like I started going large when I changed the way I dressed or anything.

Do you think people remember you being on Deca?

They remember me, but they don’t recognize me a lot of the time nowadays. They don’t know that it’s me. When I grew my hair out and changed my clothes, they just didn’t recognize me.

Jamie used to send you product. What made you stick around with Dwindle?

He (Jamie) never sent me anything, but I believe he wanted me for Mystery when they were first starting. There was just something about staying with Rodney (Mullen) and Daewon (Song) that made me want to stay—I felt that there was a good vibe. Sure, the companies that I was on (Deca and Artafact) weren’t doing that well, but they told me they were going to start Almost. And the way that Rodney and Daewon talked about it was enough for me to hang in there. And I’m stoked I did. I told Jamie I was just going to hang with Almost and see how that goes. So the only thing left was shoes, and he started hooking me up with some Circa stuff.

What’s the shoe situation now?

Circa gives me stuff through Canada (distribution), but there’re no major deals or anything.

How do you feel when kids say they confuse you for Jamie?

That doesn’t bother me at all, ’cause Jamie’s done well for himself. It’s a compliment. I would like to get recognized for who I am, and for people to recognize and differentiate between his skating and my skating.

You’re kind of off in your own realm as far as your skating—doing really, really big stuff and really, really technical stuff, and sometimes both at the same time. Who did and does influenceour skateboarding?

I think it’s gotta be people like Rodney and Daewon, and Jamie himself. They’re doing their own thing. They skate how they want to skate. They push skating. They do the tricks that people don’t do.

So you’re saying you’re influenced by the fact that they don’t care what people think.

Exactly. That’s another reason I chose to stay with Almost. I’ve been with Rodney and Daewon, and I like the direction they took their careers. I want them to influence me on how to take mine in the same direction.

Was it hard to stay with another Dwindle company after the first two you were on didn’t work out?

No, not at all. I was just stoked to be where I was, skating with Daewon and hanging out with Rodney. It had a good vibe to it, so I didn’t worry about it too much. It didn’t bother me. Even with Artafact, we were just having a good time. It wasn’t like it was stressful for me.

How long ago were you pretty confident you’d have your name on a skateboard?

It hasn’t even hit me yet. It kind of started when Artafact was slowing down or whatever. Daewon approached me with it right then, and that’s when I started really thinking about it. (To avoid it being a major change) I just kept remembering why I started skating and continued to have fun with it. That’s when you learn the fastest. When you’re having a good time, your skating will improve.

Do you feel you’re ready to go pro?

I don’t know. For me, there’re different levels of pro. People like Eric Koston and Daewon and Rodney and Jamie—when you’re in their presence, they have this feeling, the way that they skate, you know they’re pro. And then you have your lower ranking pros, and that’s where I’ll be for a while. It’s gonna take time and a little more experience in the whole industry side of it.

Should there be certain requirements for going pro?

I think there should be no question. If people start questioning whether you should be pro or not, then you shouldn’t be pro. You don’t question Rodney, Daewon, or Jamie.

Good answer, but those guys have been pro for ten plus years. You do have to start somewhere.

True. Where do you start? That’s what I’m having trouble with. That’s where I’m at.

How important is the knowledge of skate history for a kid about to turn pro?

You gotta at least know a little bit about it. I’ve been trying to make older tricks look new again. I’ve been watching Hokus Pokus and Rubbish Heap lately. I’ve been really into mini-ramp skating. You can bring tricks back that people haven’t seen and do them your way. You need to have a little bit of background.

You have transition and contest skills, do you plan on being one of those X-Games dudes?

I’ll be in there if I skate well enough and qualify. I’ll go to those things, for sure. But I’m not basing my whole career on going to every single X-Games or Gravity Games. I won’t kill myself if I don’t get first.

What are you setting out to achieve when you skateboard?

My objective is to keep it interesting. It’s getting boring and repetitive watching the same tricks on a bigger handrail. I want people to be more creative, have more control over the board. I want to do different tricks that you haven’t seen before or that people haven’t done in awhile. That’s what I meant about Rodney and Daewon. The shock value, from what I hear from Rodney, is what catches peoples’ eye. I want to do tricks that are uncommon, keep it interesting. And then it’s all about doing it with style and picking out the right spot to do it at. That’s why the Almost video is going to be insane.

Square rails or round rails?

Round. It depends what tricks you’re going to do. The round rails are easier for bluntslides. I’d rather skate a round rail. For street skating, square rails feel like you’re in the skatepark. But you could have 25-stair square rails that I still wouldn’t do, anyway.

What’s something that actually is hard for you?

Skating vert. They have a new vert ramp at the RDS park here in Richmond (British Columbia). Sluggo and Alex Chalmers come out all the time, so I’m trying to get some pointers from those guys. I’m going on my vert binge, getting fully padded up.

What’s your best vert trick?

I just got a fakie Indy air. I think it’s called a fakie air? Yeah, I think that’s what it’s called. I just learned that the other day, but I’m pretty crappy at it. I want to learn the Chad Vogt tricks—the rail to Smith to rail revert and stuff. That’s what I want to start doing. When you hear of people like Eric Koston spinning 540s, little kids wouldn’t know that. Those guys need to start whipping out 540s in their video parts, see what kids think. That’s what I’m going to do one of these days, make a video part with me whipping a 540 or a frontside invert. That would be sick.

How did a kid from Canada get recognized by Daewon and company?

It was mostly through the (local) distributor. I had sent out all my videos to the companies. I didn’t hear anything for a year and a half, two years. But then it didn’t bother me, I just concentrated on skating for myself. I was over sending videos. Then one of the guys at Ultimate, the local distributor, asked me for a video, and he was going to send it down to enjoi, but the guy who worked at Deca got his hands on it first and showed it to Daewon. I guess Daewon was psyched, ’cause I got flown down there (Southern California). It happened in less than a month. And Rodney happened to be in there, so I got on Tensor the same day. I went from no sponsors to two legit ones—I was pretty overwhelmed with it all.

What’s it like to go skating with Rodney Mullen?

I haven’t really skated with him that much, maybe twice. It’s a trip, man. He’s insane. That’s all I can say.

Isn’t a kickflip out of a boardslide nothing more than a pressure flip?

No, man. You can do those cheesy roll flips out, but if you catch your board, then that’s not a pressure flip out. There are the people who’ll roll it out there, and they hope they land on it—that’s a pressure flip out of a boardslide. I would never use a roll flip out of a boardslide. If you want to do it properly, you have to flick it and you have to catch it.

Where does your precision come from?

Practicing. I’m always at the skatepark, the Richmond outdoor park—a couple summers ago, every day for the whole day. That’s the only thing I ever do.

Have you ever feared getting the skatepark-only skater plague?

No, not at all. I think skating is skating. If you’re in the park skating a handrail, I feel you can (and should be able to) do a handrail anywhere. That doesn’t really bother me at all.

So you can deal with the cracks on those 50s?

Oh yeah, I can deal with the cracks. I’m in Vancouver. We have the worst cracks, the crappiest run-up, the steepest handrails.

The most skate-stopped spots …

Exactly, none of that bothers me at all.

What’s your motivation in going to the club when you don’t booze?

Watching people like Seu (Trinh). I like people-watching. Down in L.A. there’re a lot of interesting people to watch. I do get bored with it after an hour or so. I’m just there to make sure people get home safe.

What’s the temptation if you’re always the sober one?

I just skate. I just want to skate all the time. It may sound corny and cheesy, but that’s all I want to do.

Does the hessian Chris Haslam get more chicks than the hip-hop Chris Haslam?

(Laughs) No, man, same numbers.

So overall, are you more content these days, I mean, as a man in women’s jeans?

Um, content? Yeah. I’ve been the same for a while. Regarding skating could have 25-stair square rails that I still wouldn’t do, anyway.

What’s something that actually is hard for you?

Skating vert. They have a new vert ramp at the RDS park here in Richmond (British Columbia). Sluggo and Alex Chalmers come out all the time, so I’m trying to get some pointers from those guys. I’m going on my vert binge, getting fully padded up.

What’s your best vert trick?

I just got a fakie Indy air. I think it’s called a fakie air? Yeah, I think that’s what it’s called. I just learned that the other day, but I’m pretty crappy at it. I want to learn the Chad Vogt tricks—the rail to Smith to rail revert and stuff. That’s what I want to start doing. When you hear of people like Eric Koston spinning 540s, little kids wouldn’t know that. Those guys need to start whipping out 540s in their video parts, see what kids think. That’s what I’m going to do one of these days, make a video part with me whipping a 540 or a frontside invert. That would be sick.

How did a kid from Canada get recognized by Daewon and company?

It was mostly through the (local) distributor. I had sent out all my videos to the companies. I didn’t hear anything for a year and a half, two years. But then it didn’t bother me, I just concentrated on skating for myself. I was over sending videos. Then one of the guys at Ultimate, the local distributor, asked me for a video, and he was going to send it down to enjoi, but the guy who worked at Deca got his hands on it first and showed it to Daewon. I guess Daewon was psyched, ’cause I got flown down there (Southern California). It happened in less than a month. And Rodney happened to be in there, so I got on Tensor the same day. I went from no sponsors to two legit ones—I was pretty overwhelmed with it all.

What’s it like to go skating with Rodney Mullen?

I haven’t really skated with him that much, maybe twice. It’s a trip, man. He’s insane. That’s all I can say.

Isn’t a kickflip out of a boardslide nothing more than a pressure flip?

No, man. You can do those cheesy roll flips out, but if you catch your board, then that’s not a pressure flip out. There are the people who’ll roll it out there, and they hope they land on it—that’s a pressure flip out of a boardslide. I would never use a roll flip out of a boardslide. If you want to do it properly, you have to flick it and you have to catch it.

Where does your precision come from?

Practicing. I’m always at the skatepark, the Richmond outdoor park—a couple summers ago, every day for the whole day. That’s the only thing I ever do.

Have you ever feared getting the skatepark-only skater plague?

No, not at all. I think skating is skating. If you’re in the park skating a handrail, I feel you can (and should be able to) do a handrail anywhere. That doesn’t really bother me at all.

So you can deal with the cracks on those 50s?

Oh yeah, I can deal with the cracks. I’m in Vancouver. We have the worst cracks, the crappiest run-up, the steepest handrails.

The most skate-stopped spots …

Exactly, none of that bothers me at all.

What’s your motivation in going to the club when you don’t booze?

Watching people like Seu (Trinh). I like people-watching. Down in L.A. there’re a lot of interesting people to watch. I do get bored with it after an hour or so. I’m just there to make sure people get home safe.

What’s the temptation if you’re always the sober one?

I just skate. I just want to skate all the time. It may sound corny and cheesy, but that’s all I want to do.

Does the hessian Chris Haslam get more chicks than the hip-hop Chris Haslam?

(Laughs) No, man, same numbers.

So overall, are you more content these days, I mean, as a man in women’s jeans?

Um, content? Yeah. I’ve been the same for a while. Regarding skating or regarding the women?

No, as a man in women’s jeans!

(Laughs) Oh, a man in women’s jeans. Asshole! I knew that was coming. Whatever, I’ve always been content with skateboarding. If you’re having fun and are stoked on what you’re doing, things will always work out for you.

ting or regarding the women?

No, as a man in women’s jeans!

(Laughs) Oh, a man in women’s jeans. Asshole! I knew that was coming. Whatever, I’ve always been content with skateboarding. If you’re having fun and are stoked on what you’re doing, things will always work out for you.