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Interview with pro skateboarder Ryan Sheckler
22 year old pro skateboarder Ryan "Shecks" Sheckler truly needs no introduction to skate fans or to many other Americans for that matter. That's because in addition to skateboarding he has graced the television screen with his MTV show The Life of Ryan, the big screen as the character Mick Donnelly in the 2010 film Tooth Fairy, raised countless funds for charity and has been the subject of many a teenage girl's pining. This year has kept him extremely busy skateboarding, competing in the Street League Series, raising funds for Autism, being involved with films as well as releasing a new sneaker with etnies. It was hard to catch up with him, but I was finally able to do so this week. Here's what Shecks had to say about his life, his new sneakers and what he's got planned in the near future.
Gonzalez: What was it like growing in San Clemente?
Sheckler: Growing up in San Clemente was chill. There were so many kids on my street that skated and a school and cool skate spots close by. We spent most of our time skating from spot to spot and filming each other.
Gonzalez: Between being a pro skateboarder, having your own show on MTV, being on stage with the likes of Lil' Wayne and acting in major motion pictures, you have had quite an interesting career path. Is there another sport or job that you would be interested in adding to your resume?
Sheckler: My life path has been a blessing and a great learning experience. Skateboarding is my passion and I don't see that changing. When I'm not skating, I love to surf. I'm open to the new experiences and opportunities.
Gonzalez: You have been skateboarding since you were, as they say, "knee high to a grasshopper." With that said, how has the sport changed since then for you personally? Do you think that those changes have added or subtracted from the sport?
Sheckler: For me, skateboarding is a lifestyle. I really don't know anything different. My life revolves around skating. If I wasn't a professional skateboarder, I'd still be skating every day. Skateboarding seems a bit more mainstream and accepted than when I was growing up in San Clemente. I think this is partially due to the popularity of the X Games , Dew Tour and Street League .
Gonzalez: What are your thoughts on adding skateboarding to the Olympic line up?
Sheckler: I can see vert skating and the Mega ramp, for sure. Just like winter Olympics has the snowboarding half pipe.
Gonzalez: How long have you been with etnies?
Sheckler: I've been part of the etnies team since I was a little kid, just eight years old. I turned pro at 13, then etnies gave me my own shoe at 15. At the time I was the youngest pro to design and receive a signature shoe, which was really awesome.
Gonzalez: I know that you just released a new shoe with them. Why don't you tell us a little bit about the shoe?
Sheckler: My new etnies shoe is the Sheckler 5. This is my fifth pro model shoe with etnies and its another one I'm proud of because not only were we able to design it to look cool and fit my personal style, but it features this new technology to come out of the STI (Sole Technology Institute) Lab called STI Fusion. Basically STI Fusion makes the shoes lighter and more durable, which are really important things to have in a skate shoe.
Gonzalez: Specifically, what inspired you to come up with the design and how much control do you typically have over the design process?
Sheckler: Basically I was looking for a comfortable shoe that looked good and had the technology in them that makes them better to skate in than your non-technical shoe. When I heard about the STI Fusion technology that Sole Technology was working on that no other shoe company had ever done before, I wanted my shoe to have it. I worked with the etnies designers in featuring STI Fusion, designing what the shoe looked like, including the mid-top and side panel design, and incorporating the colors I like in a shoe. The etnies design team is great because they keep me involved throughout the entire design process from sketches to the final product and I get to give my input and choose what I want.
Gonzalez: Do you have any other products or videos releasing soon? If so, what is being released and when?
Sheckler: Late this year, my sixth pro model shoe is being released. The etnies Sheckler 6 takes everything I love about the Sheckler 5 but puts it in a low top rather than a mid top and still has the STI Fusion technology in it. I'm excited for everyone to check it out!
Gonzalez: This year you have given skate fans some amazing performances at both the Street League stops and the X Games 17. Surely being able to unleash such tricks requires hard work and practice. I have to ask, how often do you practice?
Sheckler: I skate all the time. Some weeks I get to skate every day, some weeks I'm traveling so I skate less, but I always have my board with me. You never know when you'll come across a killer spot.
Gonzalez: What has been the most challenging task you have ever undertaken, either personally or professionally, and how did you approach it?
Sheckler: It was challenging when I injured my foot two years ago and was off my board for almost eight months. I did rehab every day and was so glad when the doctor finally took the pins out and cleared me to skate, again.
Gonzalez: What accomplishment, personal or professional, are you most proud of and why?
Sheckler: I'm really proud of our foundation and the money we've been able to raise and donate in the past four years.
Gonzalez: What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the sport?
Sheckler: Whatever sport you choose, do it because you love it, and don't expect to be an expert first thing. It takes time to do well at anything, but if you love it, you'll stick with it.
Gonzalez: What competitions are you planning on participating in this fall?
Sheckler: I don't have any plans to compete until next Spring, I'm focusing on my Plan B video part right now.
Gonzalez: What's next for you personally? Where do you see yourself in the next five to 10 years?
Sheckler: Right now I'm just focused on skating.
Gonzalez: Let's talk a bit about the Sheckler Foundation , specifically the Passion Project. What is it and how may skate fans become involved with the project?
Sheckler: We started the foundation four years ago so that we could focus our efforts on giving back. Our passion project, "Be the Change," developed out of this. We saw how passionate our followers were and wanted to be able to give them a voice in creating real sustainable change in their communities. Our plan is to educate, equip and empower through our website and social network. We will preview our plan next month and officially launch it January 2012. More information is available on the foundation's website.
Gonzalez: What other social causes are you passionate about and why?
Sheckler: I love working with autistic children. The little girl across the street had autism, when I was growing up. I would watch her struggle with things that we just take for granted and it was always so awesome to see her accomplish a task or learn something new. To this day, I always smile when I think of Juliette!
Gonzalez: What person do you most admire, living or dead?
Sheckler: Jesus Christ.
Gonzalez: If you could only be remembered for one thing what would it be and why?
Sheckler: That I was light hearted and gave everyone a chance.
My children are skateboarders and I have a history of following the sport.
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