Hey Luca! Where are you from?
I come from the land of OZ! That’s Australia for the more formally educated. Sydney is where I was born.
Where did you start skating?
I started skating in California where I got my first board on my 10th birthday but I didn’t get into Downhill until I moved to Sydney after I finished School in the U.K. aged 18.
How did you end up in California?
My family moved over there for work and I was too young to stay! After that it was the U.K for the next 8 years so I didn’t skate much at all.
What was the skating like?
Pretty much just rolled around my driveway and the street outside my house. Nothing serious but saying that I had an original handmade sector 9 board with Krypto wheels that came with a speed warning on them which I thought was pretty cool at the time! It got run over when I left in in the driveway one day and I didn’t get another board for a while after that.
When did you get your first longboard?
The first longboard I used for bombing hills in and around Sydney was actually a Dogtown board with heaps of flex! I used to bomb mad hills on that thing just with independent trucks, the wide 215’s and whatever wheels I could get my hands on. It was more like ghetto longboarding because I didn’t really know what I was doing and my gloves were welding gloves with chopping-board pucks.
Haha. What’s Sydney like for skating?
Pretty amazing man. There’s a lot of good riders in Sydney that have done really well overseas. We have a huge variety of urban downhill and also rural downhill. Basically there’s a lot of hills almost everywhere you go so it’s a match made in heaven if you ride. The only thing is that we don’t have any real big mountains like in Canada, Europe or South America but we still get by.
Who did you skate with on your return to Sydney?
Man there’s so many. My favourite people to roll with are those who have been there since day 1 riding together and sharing the stoke. Rob McWhinnie, Jackson Shapiera, Cam Kite, Adam Yates, Ben Hay, Gabe Gywnne and Josh Monk who was out there this summer. It was cool to skate with a Pom in OZ.
Urban vs Rural which tickles your skate bone more?
Dude I love the gnar and grime of urban skating, freaking people out, ripping through streets and carparks, jumping off shit, using features etc. but getting away from that which is your average day of skating in the city is so good. Bombing through fields with sheep and wallabies and then getting pitted by all the jungle foliage in the same run wins hands down over the city for me.
How does one get pitted?
A ‘pit’ is slang for what surfers call a tube. It can also be referred to as getting shacked, spending time in the green room, getting barreled out of your mind, or being slotted. It basically means to be completely covered over by a wave (or in our case trees, guardrails, massively banked corners or just your mate standing making a bridge with his arms!)
How has a city with no big hills produced so many downhill skaters?
It’s because of the overwhelming surf culture in Australia that drives the kids to replicate what they do in the water on the street. That’s how skating started in the first place, and it’s cool to see that it’s still the reason driving a lot of kids to buy a longboard. Even the kids who don’t surf, but who want to surf can get a similar feeling from longboarding as the style is so similar and the hills are never crowded like some of the line-ups in the water! A lot of the best riders in OZ grew up surfing and still do it.
Do you surf?
Hell yeah dude! I got into skating for that very reason. I lived on Bondi Beach and there were too many dickheads in the water and not enough waves, skating provided me with the stoke I needed and I didn’t have to share my hills with anyone except the cars.
Is there a crew in Sydney?
Best damn crew in the world! They are all the nicest, raddest, thane-melting bunch of dudes you’ll find in OZ. I guess they are known as Sydney City Bomb Squad but that was in the beginning; now the Bomb Squad is mostly been commandeered by the grommets and the group has like 300 members. When I first started skating with the Bomb Squad there were about 8!
Groms have taken over in Sydney as well?
Yeah. Some of them are good grommets and some of them are not. We take the good ones to our local spots and teach them the ways. Over the years some really good riders have emerged. Kelly Carter is one of them and Jayden Mitchell (from Adelaide) is another and these guys will give us a run for our money now.
Who are Kelly Carter & Jayden Mitchell?
They are the Australian super groms. Check them out online I’m sure you’ll find some cool vids. Kelly Carter rides for the same company that sponsors me, Hopkin Skate and he also rides for Landyachtz. Jayden recently got sponsored by Aera Trucks but I forget who else he’s with. These guys are ones to watch in the near future!
Who made up Sydney City Bomb Squad in the early days?
It was started by a guy called Bugs who now runs the ASRA website a few other guys. Blackwood, Jackson, Cam, Rob….fuck it’s hard to remember it seems like so long ago now!
What kind of stuff did you guys get up to then?
Just terrorising the city basically and bombing any decline we could find. One night I remember we were all skating in a line, about 6 of us doing like 35-40 km/h, not fast just cruising but in speed tuck and the guy at the front who was leading the way, Rob, decided to hang a 90 degree left into this alley way and as he took the corner he smoked this chick so badly! She was crossing the road with her friend and they were pissed and chatting and didn’t see him. He hit this girl in the legs and she got shot up in the air in this crazy rag-doll flip and then hit face first on the concrete. She knocked out her front teeth and Rob picked them up, ran over to her, tried to offer an apology/comfort her and then held out his hand and presented her teeth back to her. She burst out crying and once the ambulance and police left we went to the pub to drink and forget what happened. It was heavy. She was ok though.
Are the police hard on skaters in Sydney/Oz?
Not generally. I mean skating on roads there is illegal but the fine is only $54 or something and most cops don’t feel the need to give you a ticket but cops are people too and some people are imbeciles.
When did you get into skating down hills?
When I moved to Sydney I used to skate on a shortboard but after a few mega speed wobble crashes I decided I needed something that could handle more speed and the answer was a longboard. Once I got the longboard I was unrestricted and got into bombing more seriously hills at higher speeds.
What was your first ride?
Mount Keira in Wollongong, Sydney. I actually dislocated my shoulder on my first downhill run! I was with Australia’s best riders and I was way out of my depth but they looked after me and accepted me back after I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it again.
Is that the worst injury you’ve had?
For sure. Because it kept happening after that. I must have dislocated my shoulder more than 20 times before I decided to have surgery and get it fixed. It still gives me grief.
What is ASRA?
The Australian Skateboard Racing Association. They organise all the events and are largely responsible for the magnitude of the scene in Australia. Their website is the hub of Australian downhill skateboarding.
What notable events do they organise?
All the IGSA events in Australia. Mt. Panorama and Mt. Kiera are the big ones. They deal with the legal/safety side and they basically get the events approved to go ahead. Then they do all the timing systems and process the results. They also throw sick parties and are much loved by the skateboarders in OZ and around the world. They also organize a lot of local events, races, slide comps etc. back home.
Have you raced at any of these events?
Not for a while but they were my first tastes of Skateboard Racing. It’s where I learned all the concepts of racing and also free-riding. You get to see the level of riding and learn and progress from spending time with other skaters. They are well-organized and grom friendly (for the most part) and are the perfect platform for launching into international racing with the big hitters.
When did you start racing?
I started as soon as I was confident on my board. I wanted to race from day one and there’s no other feeling like skating side by side with someone else at high speed, drafting each other and fighting to get down the hill first!
What do you ride?
At the moment I’m riding for Fibretec. I have a DH1000 (topmount) with 46 degree Aeras.
Any other sponsors?
Fibretec Skateboards and Hopkin Skate in Sydney. They are the largest distributor of skate gear in the southern hemisphere and super supportive of the local scene. They sponsor most events and we would be nowhere near the level we are at without their support. They always look out for the team and make sure we have what we need. I don’t have a wheel sponsor yet. I need one now I’m going on tour.
When did you first get sponsored?
It was this year after I got back from Peru. I made a bunch of videos and used the footage and race results to promote myself and approach companies. Fortunately the first one I approached and the one I wanted to be with liked what they saw and put me on their team! That was Fibretec. They make the best boards in the world. Hopkin Skate has been sponsoring me since about 3 years ago when I started skating and filming with the likes of Jackson Shapiera who was the shop’s only sponsored downhill skater at the time.
What were you doing in Peru?
It was 6 months after my operation on my shoulder, I wanted to go skate ASAP and that was where the IGSA races were at the time. Also my Friends Rob McWhinnie and his wife Maga spend half the year there and Maga is actually Peruvian so she has all of her family there, they are all super cool. It’s an epic place to skate and there is a big local following. There are some really great riders coming out of Peru these days.
Who makes up the Hopkin team?
The Hop shop didn’t have a team and when they put it together Hop approached me, Rob, Gabe and Benbro. Since then the grommets got picked up, Kelly and Cooper. Rob’s wife Maga has been added as well as Lea Robbo (Sister of Dave Robbo, manager of the shop & skateboard guru extraordinaire) so it’s good to have some girls. The famous Adam Yates is our newest edition. Check him out, he rides for Landyachtz also and he absolutely rips.
Any wheels in particular you would like to ride?
I rode Otangs for ages when I first started and I still ride them today as they are a good all-round wheel and I’m familiar with them. I’ve been riding Sector 9 Butterballs for free-ride recently and they are the best wheels I have ever used. They slide really well and have an even wear. The R.A.D. wheels are also awesome. Designed by a true skate master so they are being used by a lot of pros. Landyachtz Biggie Hawgz is what I have for racing at the moment. They have a 70mm contact patch and are also really good wheels.
How are you feeling about your first race season?
I feel good man, my results have been okay so far and I’m looking forward to the Euro tour. My girlfriend Alix and I are going to Norway first to attend the extreme sports festival in Voss. There’s a race there and lots of free-riding. There’s also base jumping, wingsuit-flying, kayaking, mountain biking and a bunch of other crazy shit. I think De La Soul are playing too. Stoked.
Does she skate?
Alix is very supportive of what I do, she loves skateboarding and she can skate but she prefers cruising along, carving and skating to the shops over riding gravity.
What’s the best thing about having a girlfriend who likes skating?
Not getting hassled for doing it! Our lifestyle can be pretty hectic what with all the travelling and injuries etc. Alix is there through all of the good and the bad but not many girls can deal with it. Sometimes we can be apart for a few weeks or even months and it can get really hard. We’d rather be together but you can’t have both all the time. Sometimes you have to choose, girlfriend or skateboarding. I just about manage both but I guess most skaters out there are single.
Voss sounds like fun, will you be hanging around after the race?
I’m going for 6 days. I think the race is on the last few days we are there. I’m sure I’ll be getting pissed a lot with the Norwegians before, during and after the race. That’s how they roll over there.
How do Australians fare at ‘’winning the party’’?
Well they sure can party. Aussies like to get a little rowdy but more so when there’s more than one of them. In fact I would say the rowdiness increases with the number of Australians. It’s a shame Jacko is injured because that man can party like it was the last day of Woodstock on any night he so chooses.
Will he be up and skating soon?
I hope so. We miss him, but he won’t be back until 2013. He’ll do his rehab and be back at the top though. He is super competitive and won’t be stopped by a broken leg.
Have you raced in Europe before?
The only race so far has been Bo Peep in the U.K. It’s actually the place I have skated the least out of all the continents I’ve been to.
What do you do when you’re not skating?
I have a degree in music so performing whenever I can is a good way to make cash as I can do it in almost any country. I used to do some modelling when I was back in Sydney but I stopped that when I left. I also work during the summer months on yachts in Ibiza either catering or working on board. I love the ocean and I can’t be apart from it for too long, it depresses me!
I joked with Jackson that they only let pretty faces on the Hopkin team, I didn’t realise they employed actual models!
Haha yeah man, we got some good looking people in Australia. Not just pretty faces either – really sick skaters. Full package bro!
Is there anything I’ve forgotten to ask?
No! But I will tell you a dark secret. I am addicted to an ENGLISH creation and I can’t stop eating them. Maltesers! They are what keeps me going when I’m in the U.K. I’d like to take this opportunity to claim that they are the BEST chocolate snack ever created by anyone EVER.
I am sure the Swiss reading this will do their best to disuade you, but remain strong!
Fear not brother, I have tasted the Swiss chocolate and it is never used to coat malt and shaped into delicious, crunchy balls. That might sound weird to those who have never tried what we’re talking about…
Haha. Where have you been skating recently?
Wimbledon, Crystal Palace, they are all pretty close for me. I live in Putney. I’m not so keen on the hills here though. If you can call them that… better than nothing but stoke level is never high after skating in London.
What is the skate community like in London?
Pretty friendly for the most part but quite spread out! There’s a bit of politics but we have that in Australia too. People are quite secretive here about their spots.
Is it a bit like fight club?
Yeah, people are quite closed off here as they don’t get a lot of pros coming to skate their spots like in other countries and probably don’t know too many either if they themselves haven’t travelled overseas so they don’t make exceptions for anyone. The first rule is… you don’t talk about fight club.
We’ll probably be shot for talking about it now. Nice knowing you pretty boy.
Uh oh. It’s cool man no one’s told me any secrets… Yet!
Is that the biggest difference between skating in London and Sydney?
Aside from the quality of the hills? Yeah, Sydney attitude is different. Take Josh for example, he came to Sydney, never been there before to skate and gets looked after and taken to all the spots and treated like he was always part of it. I’m not saying I have been left out over here because everyone is nice enough but there is no stoke. Probably because they don’t have enough of a scene but Pommy was STOKED in Sydney. I think the U.K downhill scene has a long way to go. People who are more mature and who have travelled and skated in other countries like Pete Connolly know the deal. They know how to treat foreign skaters because they have been one somewhere else. Me and Josh have skated a bunch together with Jorge Higgins and Bruno locally and they are really nice dudes. Jorge is a funny grommet and Bruno skates anything with four wheels. If it has two wheels then he will manual.
How has your bromance with our Josh evolved since?
Skated a lot of hills together since then. His skating has improved since and I think the trip to Oz and NZ was a big confidence booster for someone coming from England which is so far removed from that scene. He’s coming to Perygudes so that’ll be the 4th country we’ve been to together, and I’ve only known the dude for like 6 months! You sure do get around if you’re on the IGSA tour.
How long will you spend skating in London?
Not sure if I’ll be hanging around for the winter but I have no set plans yet. Nomadic travelling will probably be the answer.
What would make the rest of your stay in Europe’s favourite city more rad?
Haha is that because it’s the Olympic city or was there actually a vote? They obviously never went to Amsterdam. I’d like to see Australia leave with more British-made gold medals than the British!
Mate. Malteasers were invented in London!
It’s true. Maybe if they sponsored me it would be easier in general because they cost me about 20 pounds a month!
Choose 3 numbers between 1-32.
1, 32 aaaaaaaaaand 12
I knew you would choose 32
Don’t mind fuck me! You had no way of knowing! haha
I swear on white chocolate malteasers I knew you would. You’ll see why soon
1 – What do you take with you when you go for a skate?
As little shit as possible. Money, cigarettes & lighter. Don’t smoke kids it’s not cool, it’s actually bad for you. You gotta be honest right?!
32 – Daniel Hawes asks: What’s the most interesting thing regarding string theory you have recently learnt?
I could Google it and pretend I know what that is but I’m not going to.
12 – What’s your least favourite movie?
Anything with Tom Cruise
That was lots of fun! See you over the weekend?
Cheers bro, I’ll see ya on a hill somewhere!!
Any thank yous?
Hopkin Skate, Fibretec Skateboards, Predator Helmets, all my friends in the Downhill community and my beautiful girlfriend Alix. And you cos you’re rad too.
http://vimeo.com/lucacoleman – All my videos to date.