The stoke from transition skating is a slightly different strain from the rush you get on the streets. Basically the same drug but with a different delivery method. Some of us need to taste the sidewalk first; Ronnie Sandoval needed to taste the carve. After witnessing Robbie Russo pump Channel Street, in an instant he went from skateboard dabbler to skateboard junkie. In the years of addiction since, he jumped from shop-sponsordom and almost flow to having his frontside invert celebrated by luminaries of the ’80s vert golden age, a full am spot on Gonz’s Krooked, and a sacred slot on the official Lakai roster. Not to mention heavy and durable backing from Dickies, membership to the Doomsayers end times Club, Spitfire thane, and Ace Trucks. For the record, here’s his Am Issue chitchat.-Mackenzie Eisenhour
Where do you work?
I work at Badfish skate shop in San Pedro. It’s pretty chill. Just kicking it, and I get to be around skateboards. We watch some skate videos, but mostly just watch Blood In, Blood Out [’93].
Since this MJ/Mike Carroll controversy just blew up this morning, do you have any opinion on the skater-owned battle/ Lakai versus the big corpo guys Nike/ CONS/adidas?
I don’t know. I just try to stay in my own zone. It’s kind of crazy going up against big corporations for skater brands. I just like Lakai. It’s for skaters by skaters. Even the people that make the shoes skate, the people packing the boxes and shipping them skate. I like riding for a skater-owned brand. I’m stoked.
Any opinion on Marc Johnson going to adidas?
I know Marc pretty well, I guess. I’m pretty bummed out that he left Lakai. Hopefully everything goes good for him and he keeps it locked up and skating as much as he can. He kept it low-key and then it got announced, and it kind of blew up in his face. But whatever, you gotta do what you gotta do. But maybe next time don’t announce it at a premiere.
“ONCE THEY FOUND OUT ABOUT IT AND SAW THAT THIS WAS WHAT I WANTED TO DO FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE, THEY BEGAN TO TAKE IT SERIOUSLY.”
When did you pick up a skateboard? I read that you saw Robbie Russo carve and got hooked. Were you born and raised in Pedro?
I’m born and raised in San Pedro. Yeah, basically I went down to Channel [Street] and this was when Rob wouldn’t do any tricks at all. He would just carve around the park super fast—pump around the bowls as fast as he could and do just long grinds. When I seen him skate I just knew like, “Fuck, I wanna do that.” So I went and borrowed my brother’s skateboard, went back to Channel, and dropped in. I had skated street way before that, but when I went and saw Channel Street, that was really when I knew I wanted to get into it. Robbie and Oscar Navarro were big inspirations.
What was your sponsor run from first hookup to Krooked/Lakai?
My first sponsor was Transitions skate shop in Carson. We would hang out there, and one day me and my buddy Oscar went there and they asked us if we wanted to ride for them. We were like, “Fuck yeah!” I was flow for a while after that and then I went to the Chili Bowl and skated that and Mic-E Reyes hit me up after that to ask me if I wanted to get on Krooked. I started getting boxes at the house and my parents couldn’t believe it.
On your SPoT profile page, your grandmother, mom, and sister are all giving you props in the comments. It looks like you have some serious support from your fam. Is that true?
[Laughs] Yeah, they’re really supportive. They weren’t when I was younger because I think they just didn’t understand it. Once they found out about it and saw that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, they began to take it seriously. Now they love it.
Do you ever watch old videos to think of new vert/tranny tricks?
Oh, yeah. I watch old videos all the time. My buddy Rick is super into inverts too, so we watch them together and study them. Then whenever I see Raney Beres or Andy Roy we talk about the weirdest ones we can possibly come up with.
What are some good ones?
Oh, I think honestly one of the best ones is Jason Jessee’s Andrecht fakie hang-up. Then the Gonz does one where he takes his feet completely off the board, turns it sideways, and then puts his feet back on and goes in. And then, of course, you have to throw in the Lance Mountain sadplant—one of the best ever right there.
You guys are bridging this new generation to the old ’80s guard.
Yeah. And it’s only going to get crazier. People are going to start doing 540s into inverts.
Let’s pray and hope that never happens [laughs].
Agreed. I think that’s why it died last time. It got to be too crazy. Like finger- flip gymnast plants and all that. Stick to the basics.
A good basic invert or sadplant is all you need.
“BUT MAYBE NEXT TIME DON’T ANNOUNCE IT AT A PREMIERE.”
World’s best skatepark, besides Channel Street?
Lower Bobs [Oakland] or Washington Street [San Diego].
All-time best Channel Street local/ legend?
Andy Harris—OG surfer style.
All-time best invert variation?
Who’s got the best one?
Since this is the Am Issue, best am out right now?
Oscar “Oski” Rosenberg. Hands down, the gnarliest dude ever.
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