Pioneer: Sean Sheffey, Full Interview—Power From The East

How about that street gap at UCSB. Had anyone ollied that?
I think Ron Allen might have ollied it. I had ollied something close to that distance at an SMA demo in Michigan [Read Greg Hunt’s account of witnessing this demo first hand at the end of the interview] . I had skated this curb-to-curb planter with Mic-E Reyes back then and had backside ollied it. That got word out on the circuit, so Mike approached me again like, “We heard about the demo… I got this street gap and this other thing I want to take you to. You think you can do it?” Of course now I was getting paid so there was pressure. But he took me there and it happened.

Where was that dirt planter you backside 180d?
Right outside UCSB in the parking lot. Mike pulled us up to it, and once again he’s asking me, “What do you think about a backside 180?” I was like, “No way.” You can see a couple of the early tries in the slam section. I thought there was no way I could clear it. Just getting buck wild and tumbling to get over it (Laughs).

Was that the same day as all the other Santa Barbara stuff?
I’m not sure. But we were only up there total for about three days so it was all real close together.

Daniel Harold Sturt shooting a Sheffey lipslide attempt in San Diego. Circa 1991.

Where was that double kinker?
That’s down here in SD. At Balboa Park.

Was that Ternasky too?
That was towards the end of the trip. He brought me and Sal (Barbier) there. [Read Sal’s account of this on the last page too.] We walked up to it and he’s like, “What do you guys think about this?” I was like, “Yeah man. This looks really good.” Not really thinking about actually skating it. He’s like, “You know one day, somebody’s gonna have to do this. We’re paying you guys. Somebody’s gotta up the ante. This would be rad for one of you.” We went on a tour and then a little after we got back he was like, “Ok, it’s time to skate that rail.”

Had you skated rails before that?
Off and on in DC. I was pretty accustomed to handicapped rails and had skated maybe a ten-stair. But nothing like the one in the video. I remember we went at night the first time. All I could think was that I wanted to clear the rail no matter what. I hauled ass at it the first try and it threw me so far I thought I was gonna die. I came down on the rail and it flipped me up. Right on my ribs. That’s the one in the slam section. I sat down and thought about it and was like, “Ok, let’s go again.” I didn’t want to be defeated on it. I went again and it throws me over the other side of the rail. I flipped over it again and Mike’s just like, “Are you ok? Is this gonna be possible?” I told him I didn’t know and he said we would come back in the morning. We went back and I worked out a technique. Basically I went slower and came at it from the side. Got on without putting all my weight on right away. That way, I would slide through the first kink before I got over the top of it for the second two kinks. It ended up working. Plus I had a everslick prototype so that helped (Laughs).

Ode to Ice Cube for a 1992 Droors Clothing ad.

Was there anything you tried to get for that part that didn’t happen?
Not really. Kit Ericson was skating these massive gaps. But I didn’t mess with those too much.

What about the Life ad with the backside lipslide on that high rail?
Yeah. The “Don’t Eat My Friends” ad. That was the first time I had skated a rail that high. It was quick too. Only like four or five stairs. I didn’t make it and I got pretty broke that day. That was the last time I tried a backside lipslide for so long. That session worked me. I was through with them. I love them again now though.

When late shove-its came in, I remember you picked up on those and took them big early. Like at Back to the City (’91) and over that fence in SD. Was that one of the first technical tricks you picked up on?
Yeah. I really liked when all that came in. Technical progression was a big part of my teammates at Plan B. So I started seeing what came naturally to me. Those late shove-its were some of the first ones that I felt comfortable with.

Was it weird when the pressure flip stuff started coming in too? It seemed like all that stuff was a different style than what you had been skating.
I actually liked the whole method of it. It was what my teammates were doing so I enjoyed it. At the same time I was a little removed from it too because I was married and had a kid so young. I wasn’t always with the guys. Up to that time too I had been vegan, so I never wore leather shoes and all that.

Sean weathers the start of the Big Pants/Small Wheels era for his part in Plan B’s Questionable (1992). La Schmoove.