We’re stoked to share this brand new interview with Original Skateboarders Sam Churakov and Andrei Holding, on the eve of young Sam’s American adventure. Much hilarity follows…
Sam: It’s chill, the calm before the storm that is summer skating. I got up at 11.30am, super sleepy.
What will this storm bring?
Andrei: Sam, your storm is bigger. You go first!
Sam: A lot of pushing… Plus 4 weeks of US skateboarding… And Spain.
Andrei: How big my storm will be depends on how well I do on my exams. If I pass, I’ll go to a longboard camp trip to France and Brian (Paris Trucks Team Manager) just informed me today that they might do a trip to Spain this summer and I’m welcome to join them.
Final year of education?
Sam: I’m chilling after finishing my fresher year at University, so two years to go for me!
Andrei: I’d say about 2-3 more years for me. Uni is love, uni is life.
What’s going on in the US?
Sam: I’ll be flying out to Arizona on the 2nd of June to Push the 650 miles to Los Angeles. An adventure titled ‘The Poncho Push’. I’ll be shooting a documentary style film while out there. Once I get to LA I’ll be staying with Orangatang at the ambassador house to slay some LA spots for 2 weeks. Followed by a coast hop to NYC/New Jersey to see Original!
Why are you taking the long way to LA?
Sam: The idea came to me while we were in Belgium shooting our edit from last October. We were pushing around the city a ton that day, I knew I wanted to explore as much of the US as possible, and then the video Adam Colton did on his China trip popped up on my feed. It all just kinda clicked and I went for it. I can’t drive, so road trip by board!
Who else will be going on this leisurely stroll?
Sam: Me, myself, and I.
Have you said goodbye to your loved ones?
Andrei: I’m sure going to miss you dude. #coyote
Sam: haha I’ll shank all the Coyotes that want to brawl. Did you know they pay $50 for a dead Coyote in Utah? That’s my food for the day. But in all seriousness everyone knows what the stakes are and my planning has made things pretty safe. I’m not worried.
What preparations have you made for this sourjourn?
Sam: A lot of street view and route planning, staying off highways and finding those rad clear roads to push. Many hours searching out decent lightweight gear and some fitness training.
Have you gotten any advice from Dave Corthwaite/Colton/Paul Kent etc?
Sam: Not directly, but all three have been a help and inspiration for the Push. More so Adam and Paul as the longtrek trips were my introduction to long distance skating and I’ve read a few of the online articles they’ve done. My gear list is pretty similar to the gear Adam used in China, opting for the super lightweight approach. I discovered Dave’s videos early on with my initial planning which were helpful.
Of all the ways to go, why did you choose ‘’alone in Arizona, in the jaws of manbearpig’’?
Andrei: The legends are true! A beast with the legs and tail of a pig, the body and arms of a bear, and the face and upper-body posture of a man. MANBEARPIG!
Sam: There’s just something enticing about being out there alone, exploring the West solo. Going/doing whatever I feel like and capturing that on camera. I have Al Gore on speed dial if things go bad and I need some assistance though.
What will you be taking on this final trip?
Sam: My board – The Original Drop Freeride 41, Otang Durians 80a, Paris V2’s 43*.
My Osprey 38L pack. Lightweight tent. Sleeping bag. Floor matt. 2.5L reservoir. Wash kit. First Aid Kit. Insect repellent. Sunscreen. Spot Tracker. Map. A knife. 2 Phones (UK + US). Spare Bearings + Shoelaces. Solar Charger. And my Camera Gear (5D Mark III, 3 lens, 2 batteries).
Aren’t you supposed to have a special featherlite board which doubles as a water bottle?
Sam: Meh. All these fancy things. I could be a lot more efficient with weight on the board (I’m not even chopping the kicks off) but as long as it rolls and doesn’t weigh a ton I’m happy. I plan on doing some canyon flatland. Kilian Martin style.
How can your fans support/follow you on this journey?
Sam: I’ll be making daily/bi-daily posts on the Newton’s Shred Facebook page along with photos and other media going up on my Instagram and Facebook. Keep em peeled!
Why are you wasting a great chance to unplug and connect to Gaia?
Sam: I feel it’d be a missed opportunity. I want to inspire others to get out there and explore.
What will you miss by not staying plugged into the matrix?
Sam: The ability to follow along live will be missed. I think that has far more power than jumping off the grid and telling about the adventure after. To take 5 minutes out of my evening to share the experience with others is worthwhile.
What format will the video from this trip take?
Sam: That is the question! I’ve been toying with the idea of a short series, although I’m not sure if that will happen. It’s more a case of see what I shoot or feel like shooting then work the rest out when editing. The video I’m most excited for will be the main one: everything from the whole US trip in one. A four minute video of made adventure and skating. Inspired by Casey Neistat’s Nike video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxfZkMm3wcg
How will you be spending the rest of your time in the US?
Sam: After some recovery time eating In ‘N Out, I’ll be skating and filming with the Orangatang crew. Taking the tour and filming with Adam Stokowski, Ethan Cochard, and a bunch of others hopefully. Then it’s over to NYC/New Jersey for more of the same! Including my 19th Birthday.
Are you going to Spain (BCN I assume) together?
Andrei: As I said before, it all depends on how I do on my exams. For all I know I’m on the ‘no travel list’ for this summer. -cries on the inside-
Sam: Sucks. BCN is potentially on the cards, I’d love to make that happen, but I’ll be skating the epic city of Granada and surrounding areas staying with a buddy of mine, Joe Baldwin, who runs Z&G Skatehouse with media guru Robyn.
Joe doesn’t live in London?
Sam: He escaped. He lives in Spanish Paradise now.
Sam: Indeed! Issue #11 dropped recently and #12 is in the works!
When will we finally see a video with you guys + Axel & Aleix?
Andrei: I think we talk about this pretty much every year? But other rad stuff, like Oslo or NYC, comes up and we don’t have the time to make it to BCN.
Sam: This summer was going to be the one after talking to Axel at ISPO, but then things happened haha We’ll see what goes down.
How was ISPO?
Sam: It was a rad time. Lot of fun seeing everyone, meeting new people and lurking for 4 days straight. I got badly sick the final two days though, which dropped things down a peg, but it was worth it. Highlight of the trip was definitely the electric skateboard, those things are dope. Could do with one next month…
Andrei: Awesome new stuff, free food & drinks and lots of skating with friends from all over the world. Shout out to my buddy Dominiek Grauls (man behind the WoodWings Longboardcamp I was talking about earlier) for coming up with the idea and Sickboards for getting us in.
For me the highlight was definitely Sam getting a message from Deen Mondt at 2 in the morning saying: WHERE THE PARTY AT?
What’s your role with this camp?
Andrei: I help out wherever I can with. Dominiek is a real OG. He has been in the longboard and snowboard scene for a really long time. And the past year the only thing that was on his mind, was the camp. His look on things is awesome, all he wants is for people to have fun and to push the scene.
And believe me, things are looking epic! We literally have a mountain with an epic road and freestyle spot to ourselves at the camp… What do you want more?!
Do you have shop sponsorship yet?
Andrei: I was riding for a local shop. But people weren’t buying local enough and they had to stop. RIP Surfshop Medusa.
Last time we spoke was ‘’just after’’ SYTYCLD, what did you get up to after that?
Andrei: We ate a really big apple, enjoyed the Belgian autumn I personally had an existential crisis at SYCLD 2015 due to my mind being blown so many times.
But all lame jokes aside, we skated NYC for 2 weeks in the summer. Had 2 of the raddest(!!!) guides in town, Carl Knight and Steven Vera. They knew all the sweet spots of the city. Both skate and food wise. Visited OS headquarters for a day (dream coming true, fanboy status), met all the awesome people that keep the things rolling and had an afternoon skate/photo session with Scott, Christopher and Dax. On the way back to our skateloft (you heared me right and yes we did actually skate it) in Newton that evening I almost knocked over somebody’s drink on the street (read: in the hood) by accident and that resulted in Sam and me pushing for our lives. But hey, we are alive and it’s a funny story to look back on.
The ‘Belgian Autumn’ skate trip was kinda impulsive. Sam had some time off and we just went for it. Skating in rainy conditions while something simple as breathing hurts (I had bad case of the flu), was tough. But at the end of the trip I was healed, we got the clips and we got awesome feedback on the video. Everybody happy.
Judging at SYCLD was…
Sam: *Word Count Exceeded* What he said. NYC was dope, can’t wait to be back there. A couple weeks after ISPO we hit up SYCLD for the 3rd year, definitely my favourite event of the year. This year had a twist though; we were judges along with Lofti, Maarten and Noemie. Had a blast, saw some next level stuff, and learnt that judging is hard. Everyone is so different in what they do. It truly is impossible to force every style of flatland into one singular point system.
First time in NYC? What was it like?
Andrei: Everybody told me the metro at NYC was going to be hell. But it was ok. Besides that it was hot all the time, drank up to 4-5 bottles a day. And $1/slice pizza is awesome.
Sam: It was wild. There’s always something going on in the City or somewhere new to discover. Not to mention the spots! Although security is a bit tight in some places.
What did it mean to finally go to the OS nest?
Andrei: When I started skating I watched their videos and saw the warehouse. Being there, meeting everybody, etc. was incredible. Oh, and also: BOARD OVERLOAD! Never seen so many Apexes in my life.
Did skating in your spiritual home change anything?
Andrei: My OS power level went up. OVER 9000!!!!
What were your favourite collaborations in the last year?
Sam: The October trip to shoot “Belgian Autumn” was definitely my favourite. Great spots and it was super spontaneous. We decided to do it 2 weeks before. Just a classic Belgium trip. The video was really well received too which is always a big bonus.
Any near death experiences?
Andrei: We lived in the hood twice during our stay in NYC. That says enough…
Sam: We were told as we got the keys to the place that someone got stabbed in the neighbourhood recently. It was pretty sketchy.
How did SYCLD15 compare to last year’s?
Andrei: It got bigger. Literally. Like twice the size in square meters. Instead of 1 day, we spent a whole weekend in Eindhoven. Locals showed us around. So unofficially it was a 2 day event. Goal for next year is to officially make it into a 2 day event. Mucho love goes out to Bianca for organising the whole thing. I like this event more than I like my birthday.
You didn’t compete in any category? I remember you judged last year but went in for best trick. Officially pro/famous?
Andrei: After a whole day of judging I went for a snack. While I was eating the delicious slice of pizza, best G-turn was going on with ‘replacement judges’. The first round ended and they asked if somebody wanted to join in. With a mouth full of pizza (sorry mom) I went for it. Landed a one foot nose manual g-turn to shuvit to one foot manual and finished my pizza in peace. In the end I ended up on the podium together with Eloi Apostol, Pujol Ribalta and Renze van den Brink. Impulsive move to podium, good times.
Is there a fair way of judging flat land?
Andrei: Like Sam said before, it is hard. Very hard! There is so much stuff to take into account. Tricks, style, creativity, fluidity, what colour of pants the rider is wearing, etc. This is the formula we used: ((Score Sam + Score Lotfi + Score Noemie + Score Andrei)/4) multiplied by the colour of the pants.
Sam: I don’t think there’s any fair way about it. The way we did it is probably the closest. Everyone on the panel had different styles and liked different things so averaging our scores kinda takes into account the variation in styles. But you’d have to split riders into strict categories of freestyle, dance, etc. to get a fair system going, which blows the fun with rules/regulations. I think the fact that there’s no fair way about it is what makes it fun, everyone’s doing different things as there’s no system or criteria to aim for, you never know what you’re going to get. Tips to anyone at a flatland comp: just be different.
What was the most impressive skating/trick you saw last year?
Andrei: That’s a tough one. Especially with all the media being posted on the #showmeatrick page (shoutout to Matt Burke for the rad concept). People come up with the weirdest/coolest/smoothest stuff these days. At the moment I’m having a hard time coming up with one specific trick because the new Kilian Martin/Brett Novak video is still fresh in my head.
What else have you done this year?
Andrei: Skatewise I think we’ve covered all the big stuff. Other than that I’ve spent a lot of time snapping all kinds of pictures.
Sam: Lots of Essays. Skating bowls. Enjoying the coast life.
KnK this year?
Sam: Every year I say next year, so, next year. My philosophy on it usually comes down to the amount it’ll cost to get out there plus the registration fees. I’d rather spend that money skating a bunch of different spots freely over 2 weeks than a week skating the same hill. But who knows, next year could be the year.
What are you looking forward to most this year?
Sam: The big US tour!
Thanks again for your time boys. See you at LIFE etc!
Andrei: These interviews are too much fun!
Sam: Gracias! See yah then.
Any last words?
Andrei: Tricks get … Nah, that would be to cheesy.
Sam: Yes it would.
A Belgian Autumn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SgeR75eBTNU
NYC behind the scenes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-pu5bWkPZs
A Belgian Autumn behind the scenes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNW3_QU7mP0
WoodWings Longboardcamps: http://www.woodwingslc.com/