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The Am Issue: Cyrus Bennett

Life will forever chart its own course. In spite of our most cleverly crafted plans or best attempts at controlling it, the big wheel turns on its own whims. This universal law revealed itself en force for Cyrus Bennett a few years back when he was all set to finish up his industrial design degree at Pratt Institute in NYC and move into a fledgling professional career in said field. Luckily for fans of his skateboarding (and specifically that kickflip), fellow Pratt students Max Palmer and Sean Dahlberg started filming with Cyrus, and before he knew it he was being offered a spot on Nike SB and signing in as an amateur skateboarder for Alex Olson's 917. Currently finishing up his part for the debut 917 video due out in late summer/early fall, Mr. Bennett sat down for the full story of becoming the accidental amateur.-Mackenzie Eisenhour
Photos By Zack Malfa-Kowalski

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Ollie into bank. Manhattan, NY. (click to enlarge)

Let's do the basics. Where did you grow up and start skateboarding?
I grew up mostly in southwest Colorado, near the Four Corners area. I grew up in a town with no spots, so I pretty much learned how to skate on a six-foot miniramp. Now I can't even really skate tranny, so I don't know how that really worked out.

First hookups?
I got on Element flow through a shop when I was maybe 15 or 16. But the shop was really wack, so I quit both. I came out to New York when I turned 18, and I got hooked up originally by Lurker Lou and his company [Iron Claw]. Then we kind of just parted ways. Then a bit later Nike came in with an offer. It all happened really fast while I was still going to school. I didn't plan on being a sponsored skater at all.

A few of you were going to Pratt Institute, right?
Yeah. I got my degree in industrial design.

"I GREW UP IN A TOWN WITH NO SPOTS, SO I PRETTY MUCH LEARNED HOW TO SKATE ON A SIX-FOOT MINIRAMP."

Was that why you moved to NY initially?
Yeah. My dad is originally from Boston and my mom is from New York, so I always figured I would end up here. But Colorado is so sick, too. I'm kind of sick of New York now to be honest. But I still like it where I live and have a lot of good friends here.

Is the degree something to fall back on if need be? Do you still mess with industrial design?
I do and I don't. I help out a friend of mine with her scarf company she does. She prints all these contemporary artists on cashmere scarves. So I like to do all that stuff when I'm not skating. But it's hard in New York; it's so expensive that it's tough to do anything unless you can afford your own studio space. My apartment is so cluttered. I still do graphic design stuff on my computer. And with the Nike thing, I had studied shoe design in school, so that might be something I'd be interested in later.

What made you change course and focus on skating versus the school/career path?
I think when I got on Nike. I was flow for Vans for a while through Ryan Dewitt [RIP], and then I started getting Nike shoes from Jack Sabback and the homie Keith. Just through Johnny [Wilson] putting out his video clips and I think people saw those. Then Johnny kept putting out clips and that dude Kaspar [van Lierop] hit me up to get fully on. Since then I've pretty much only been skating.

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Kickflip into bank. Los Angles, CA. Photo / Colen (click to enlarge)

How did you meet the Johnny Wilson crew?
My oldest friend who I kick it with, Max [Palmer], went to Pratt too. And then Sean [Dahlberg] also went there and that was who I fllmed my first video part with my first year of school. Before that I had never filmed skating at all. I met Johnny and his whole crew after that through mutual friends. The New York skate scene is pretty small once you get to know people. Then we've just been filming ever since. Sean got into other shit. He films these crazy documentaries now on like the border control or he was doing another one with gangbangers in a federal penitentiary in New Mexico. It was cool filming with Sean because it was always just one-on-one. Now with Johnny it's like a thousand people every time.

Is it true from your firsthand experience that as Quartersnacks stated, they are "the most productive skate crew in the history of NYC skateboarding"?
[Laughs] Maybe. But I think that's just how much everyone is filming in general now. Everyone is putting out clips. It's kind of cool but kind of wack at the same time. I kind of appreciate well-thought-out video parts—something somebody really put some work into. But it also makes Instagram kind of cool because you can just throw the clips up on there and have it not be a big deal.

Can you break down the move from Polar to 917?
I kind of just quit Polar and then after that I had been skating with Logan [Lara] and Alex [Olson]. Alex didn't ask me directly, but Logan brought it up one day like, "You should just ride for us [917]." Even though it was new at the time, I liked the idea of skating with people I already knew.

"I KIND OF APPRECIATE WELL-THOUGHT-OUT VIDEO PARTS—SOMETHING SOMEBODY REALLY PUT SOME WORK INTO."

When did you meet Alex?
Like two summers ago.

What made you leave Polar?
It was strange. I think just communicating over the phone was tough. I didn't really know anybody on the team at that time either. Now I know the whole Polar team and they're all sick. It was very short lived though when I was on.

Are you working on the 917 video now?
Yeah. It's supposed to be out this August, but who knows. I think August or September is what we're looking at now. Half of us have finished parts, and the other half need footage.

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Backside wallride. Manhattan, NY. (click to enlarge)

Is it the standard video with parts?
I think so. But it might be a little weird because Logan's editing it. They'll probably be some funny shit in there. He might be mixing it with iPhone stuff too, I'm not sure.

Is the Bianca Chandon brand only high fashion now? How much time does Alex devote to each?
He still does them both. I saw on Instagram that he just dropped a new line of Bianca shit. 917 was kind of fucked up for a little bit, but he figured it out. He had some issues with his partner, so they had to put it on hold and figure that out for a bit. Now it's sick. At first he had wanted both to be sort of geared at both fashion and skating, but I think he changed his mind. He realized it was better to aim one [Bianca] at high fashion and have the other one [917] be the skater thing.

Alex never changes his mind.
[Laughs] Yeah, right. He's a freak.

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Ollie, Manhattan, NY. (click to enlarge)

Riding for Nike, after the recent adidas/Lakai/ MJ fallout, where do you fall on the whole core/ skater-owned versus corpo shoe argument?
I don't really know. I had always skated Vans growing up, but Vans is just as corporate really. I never really did the whole Lakai thing, but I can understand why they're pissed. They were a prospering company and then Nike, adidas, and Converse just kind of jumped in and gave big offers to all their skaters. It's hard to turn down money. People can do what they want. It's kind of weird, but I guess things are constantly changing. I don't think its wack that people are pissed. It makes perfect sense. But I think people will get over it. I don't know.

How long did you film for the Paych ['15] part. Did you know you'd get last part?
I think we had filmed for eight or nine months. I didn't know I was going to get the last part or anything. Johnny never really shows people footage. I just trust that he won't use anything in there I'm bummed on. But actually it's better sometimes not to see it because you get hypercritical about your own footage. I'd rather just let someone else handle it sometimes. I've had things that I absolutely hate but other people see the clip and are like, "That's so sick!"

Sometimes a trick feels weird, but it doesn't look that way in the footage.
Yeah. Exactly. Even the circumstances around it—the whole day leading up. It can all change your view. When it's your own shit sometimes it's harder to see it right.

"IT'S HARD TO TURN DOWN MONEY. PEOPLE CAN DO WHAT THEY WANT. IT'S KIND OF WEIRD, BUT I GUESS THINGS ARE CONSTANTLY CHANGING."

First video you memorized?
I grew up watching The End ['98]. That video was definitely one of them. That and Misled Youth ['99]. That was kind of the era that was happening at the time. Except I probably got them in like '01 or '02.

Who was your dude in The End
Probably [Andrew] Reynolds' part and then Heath [Kirchart] and Jeremy [Klein]'s part too. Their parts are so sick still.

What about Misled Youth?
Jim Greco. He skated to Black Flag, and he slammed really hard, so I thought that was cool [laughs]. He also did the first back three I remember seeing. The ender.

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Frontside 50-50 to grind 180 out. Brooklyn, NY. (click to enlarge)

That one at Bricktown where he contorts his body all crazy.
Yeah. It's the craziest shit. That kind of blew my mind. It resonated with me.

Best three ams out right now?
Austin Kanfoush, Max Palmer, Andrew [Wilson], and everyone I skate with.

Am who should be pro?
Massimo Cavedoni.

More Am Issue Interviews:

Bobby De Keyzer

Dane Brady

Cole Wilson