Written by Mackenzie Eisenhour
Photography by Dave Chami
Age comes with wisdom as bearings come with spacers. Just because they come prepackaged together, doesn't always mean they get used. At the crossroads of 30 and only weeks from becoming a father—Chima appears to be using his spacers. He seems wise to life's imminent challenges/responsibilities without being jaded in his preparations for the next chapter of his life. Having bought a house three years back on native Australian soil, and able to fulfill his duties as a Real Skateboards, Vans Shoes, Thunder Trucks, and Spitfire Wheels professional from his home base—Chima breaks down the state of skate, circa 2019, the changes on his own horizon and his plans for tackling the next decade.
Hey Chima, when are you guys due?
On January 24. Less than two months to go now. It was kind of scary at first. But it is what it is. Better to accept it rather than freak out about it.
It's a life changer.
Yeah. Definitely. But we’re both at a good time in our lives for it.
You're pretty set up out there with your house and that. Probably as good timing for something like that as any.
Yeah. I was still traveling back and forth up to about three years. Actually, three years ago this month I moved home and bought the house here. After doing the Vans video and all of that there wasn't that much going on for me in LA so I moved home.
I was surprised to see you throw out an early grab recently. But somehow I really like it. Early grab down a big set seems harder than Ollie. What made you try that?
I was already planning on skating that set because I was shooting a trick for this interview. A lot of the time, as I've gotten older—when I Ollie stuff now I might end up snapping a board or something just warming up—so early grabs are a good way of getting a feel for the stairs with a little less impact. It's fun as hell too.
Do you think skateboarding is going to keep widening the goalposts to accept more tricks? Obviously an early grab was a dork trick at best ten years ago, if not an invitation for mockery.
Yeah. It seems like a lot of stuff has gone—it's not even full 360, because some of this stuff was never really cool—but more things are being accepted.
Some of it almost feels like trolling. Like basically doing everything you were told you couldn't do. I'm just waiting for one of the Supreme kids to push mongo and launch that as the new craze.
Yeah, some of it feels like shock value.
Trick Trolling? Will mongo be the final frontier?
Now that you say it, I honestly wouldn't be surprised if someone did it.
You should launch it.
Maybe. Just run it and see what happens.
So you've been back there three years and you're pretty much able to keep doing it?
Yeah. Especially now. I mean California will always be central but nowadays—I don't particularly like what Instagram has done overall to skateboarding—but if it means that I can live in Australia and people can still see what you're doing then it's not all bad. Plus, the way it is now, if I go to the States, I'll go for two weeks and really make the most of that time. Whereas living there I would always know I could go back to spots and that. So it actually helps in a way. I put out a video part earlier this year for Vans that was shot in LA, Sydney, and China so it does work out.
I know we've been saying the same thing for like ten years "Man, California doesn't matter anymore." But with Instagram it really does feel like it’s changed.
It's good and bad in some ways. For kids growing up now, they might take it for granted. Growing up in Australia twenty years ago you would wait for months, and when you did get the video you would watch it on repeat for years to come. Now it's all there right away. You watch it once and move on. No matter how much time somebody might have spent on it.
It does seem like we've been able to separate it a bit at least. The full-length seems alive and well and then Insta is sort of for everything else.
I think there will always be full-length videos. But I don't think people will spend as much money maybe. I like that the fact that people are still working hard and doing it the way it has always been done, but on the other side it has to be worth it too.
Pontus seems to have a good balance with Polar. He really leans on the full-length to define the company, and then the riders use their Instagram accounts to keep that hype going between the videos.
I think it really works for that company too because they have a very loyal following. Those people will wait for his videos and he does a good job with it all.
I've been skating your Chima Pro 2 shoe. It's super sick. Super simple, no bullshit and slim. It does seem like the puffy shoes are knocking at the door again. Puffy shoe comeback?
For myself, I've got really wide feet. In some ways, they almost take the impact for me so I've always skated thinner shoes with better board feel. I think that also has a lot to do with why I ride for Vans. I have noticed the resurgence of chunky DC models. Funnily enough there is a real similarity in fashion right now with some of the '90s skate shoes. The fashion brands like Balenciaga are doing these really puffy shoes and it feels almost like the same '90s trends.
It's like we're all sampling from the past, but then each subculture is also on its own track. Maybe all the tracks have lined up now with social media.
Exactly. High fashion is heavy into sampling skateboarding culture right now. I think I'll stick with my thinner shoes for now. I don't really switch things up too often.
It was always tied to the pants too. When pants got slimmer, shoes did the same. Now pants are getting bigger, the puffy stuff is back.
That's true. Sometimes it doesn't fit.
That was the OG Baker style right? Tight pants with puffy spray-painted shoes.
(Laughs) Exactly. There is a time and a place for all of it.
LA for two days then Hawaii for five days. All for a Vans trip.
I was also told the footage from these photos was going to a Spotlight part on the site. Is that going to be a full part?
Yeah, I filmed everything with like three filmers so we're just starting to edit it. Probably when I get back from this next trip.
Favorite video so far for 2018?
A lot of good ones. That Foundation (Souvenir) one was sick. But Element (Peace)—I've always loved everything that Jon Minor has done. Getting him involved in something that wasn't Emerica and seeing what he did was really interesting. He killed it with that one.
Pro skateboarders—more models or more athletes?
It depends who you're looking at. I won't name names but there are definitely people that get away with wearing bright gear and not really doing too much on your skateboard. Then on the other side you have the people that are staying fit and doing it all that way. I'd consider myself more of an athlete these days. I'm getting older and you do have to pay attention to your body and stretch and all that. But skating has also always been about music and fashion too.
It's true. We don't wear uniforms so it lends itself perfectly to being vehicles of fashion.
There are a million different ways to do it. Just do it however you like.