Meet Gavin Bottger: In general, he's the gnarliest 11-year-old I've personally ever met. That, and he's one of the most skilled, fluid skateboarders I've ever seen skate in person. Maybe you've seen his viral Instagram clips; maybe you've seen him on Camp Woodward's YouTube series; maybe you've been lucky enough to see him at a local skatepark doing his thing in person... Either way, whether you've seen this half pint ripping or not, I can guarantee that you'll be seeing a lot more from Gavin Bottger in the next few years.
But what exactly does arguably the best 11-year-old skateboarder on the planet do all day? What's it even like to have so much figured out at such a young age? We decided to catch up with Gavin and put him under the microscope to get a closer look at what life on and off his board is really like. And for the record, I have no problem admitting that Gavin is my new favorite skater.
A lot of people might know all of this, but a lot of people also might not—How old are you right now? Where are you from? Who are your sponsors? And how old were you when you first started skating?
I’m 11 years old, born in South Lake Tahoe, California, and currently living in Oceanside, CA. Well, I'm very fortunate to have a lot of industry support. Nike SB, Volcom, Powell-Peralta, Bones wheels and bearings, Independent, Hot Wheels, Grizzly, S1, 187, Glassy Sunhaters and GoPro. And I started skating when I was five and a half.
Was there a certain moment—if you can recall—that you decided, "Okay, this is it; I want to be a professional skateboarder when I grow up." And at what age did skating start to really click for you? Like when did you fully get drawn to skateboarding?
In the beginning I never really thought about being pro, I was just skating everyday and having fun. But I've been drawn to skateboarding since day one. My dad took me skating something like, 70 days in row from the start. I'm hooked!
What's a normal day like for you, if there is such a thing? I guess when you're not out traveling, what's your daily routine like?
A normal day is: Wake up, eat breakfast, go skate for a few hours, go home, eat some lunch and do some school work. Then I’ll go skate again, eat dinner and chill with my family before I go to bed.
Being from South Lake Tahoe, where did you grow up skating? And now that you're a San Diego county resident surrounded by all of these amazing skateparks... what is your favorite park in SD and why?
In Tahoe I grew up skating Bijou skatepark and The Skatehouse. But right now my favorite skatepark is the new Linda Vista park because it's got everything and it's super fun.
Since that’s a little more south than Oceanside, what would you consider your local park these days and how often are you there?
My local park is probably Alga Norte (Carlsbad, California). I skate there at least 4-5 days a week.
Who do you usually skate with when you're home and not traveling? Like who is the squad that you're usually on sessions with?
I usually skate with my homies Keegan, Toby, Bali, Myles, Taylor and Rylan.
Are there any pros that you haven't met that you think you'd fan out on? And if so, why?
Yeah, John Cardiel… because he is a legend and super inspiring!
Your dad told me that you need to skate at least 6 hours a day or you'll lose your mind, which I think is awesome [haha]. How many hours do you think you skate every day?
[laughs] I'd skate all day if I could, but I usually get to skate 4-6 hours a day
I know you have a busy year ahead of you—what are a few events or contests that you have down the pipeline for 2018? You might be one of the busiest 11-year-old kids that I've ever seen!
Oh man, this summer is going to be crazy fun. I'm going to Woodward Riveria Maya in Mexico to finish filming Season 9 of the Camp Woodward show. I’ll be at Woodward West for a week. I'm gonna be at Woodward PA a bunch. Dew tour… hopefully going back to X Games. I'm doing a bunch of stops on the new Hot Wheels contest series, and possibly going to China for the Vans Park Series. And somewhere in between I'm going to start filming a part with Volcom. Hope to do a trip to Oregon this summer too.
Jeez! You’ve got to be the busiest 11-year-old I’ve ever met. How do you decide which contests to skate and which ones to pass on? In a perfect world, if no contests or events overlapped would you try and skate every single one?
Skateboarding is not all about contests, but I really like doing ones that I get to travel to so I can see new places. I love traveling! Skating with my friends all day before the actual contest is probably the most fun, though!
On the subject of contests, what do you do before skating a contest? Some dudes have rituals or routines, do you have anything like that or do you just show up and start charging?
I usually just show up, get warmed up and start to put a line together. But I like to have a nice meal the night before, just relax and go to bed early before the event. My dad is always telling me the importance of taking good care of myself so I can skate my best and skate a long time.
Smart man. What about street skating? You're so gnarly in pools and transition, how often do you skate street?
I still skate street everyday just to keep things fresh.
So you mentioned the Camp Woodward show earlier. Tell me a little about it. Did you start to notice more people coming up to you at the skatepark asking for photos and stuff after those episodes aired?
Wow! Filming the Camp Woodward show was amazing. It was probably the funnest two weeks of my life. It was the first time I was sort of on my own away from home! I can't wait to go back this summer. Not so much photos and autographs, but I get a lot of DM on Instagram about the show and stuff.
How often are you up at Woodward skating and what's your favorite thing about going there? All of the parks at each camp location look unreal, a little skateboarding paradise.
I usually go to Woodward a few times during the year. This year I'm going a lot more though. I'd say probably my favorite thing about skating Woodward is just the variety of parks and things to skate. It's impossible to get bored there. It's just way too fun. It's a great place to progress and learn new tricks.
Was that your first time doing something like that? What was your favorite part about filming the show?
Yeah, that was my first time doing something like that. My favorite part was filming with my friends at the skatepark. It took me a little bit to get used to the cameras being in your face all the time but after a while you almost forget they're there.
Who are some skaters—whether they're pro or not—that get you motivated? And also who are some that you've drawn influence from? You definitely do your tricks with proper style; far more than most young skaters ever could, so to me, it looks like you draw influence from some of the early pioneers.
Thanks, man. I said it earlier but John Cardiel for sure. He's been through some crazy stuff and he's always positive and still charging at life. I get influenced by Neal Hendrix, Cardiel, Pedro Barros and Chris Russell. And my Uncle Mike has really helped along the way.
You've traveled all of for skating already at such a young age, but what are a few places that you have on your bucket list to visit and skate?
I've always wanted to go to Australia. And I want to go to Italy and skate with my friend Ale.
I don't know how I would've answered this question at your age, but what do you see yourself doing 10 years from now?
Hopefully traveling the world with my skateboard and friends and having as much fun as possible!
What’s your dream session?
My dream session would probably be skating Lincoln City with all my homies and my heroes!
Well this was a pleasure, Gavin. I appreciate you taking the time to do this and let me shoot some photos with you. Is there anyone you want to shout out, thank, etc.?
I wanna shout out my mom and dad for moving the whole family to San Diego and making my dream happen. Love you guys! And my little brother!