I’ve know Ryan since he was about 10 years old and I have been his “neighbor” in San Clemente, CA for over 15 years. I’ve had a front row seat to all of his ups and downs throughout his career. So, I’m stoked to see him still pushing the limits of his skating all the while overcoming injuries along the way.
I chatted with Ryan about some of the work he put into his new part, Lifer, and where he’s going after it because it seems like he’s still fired up.—Jaime Owens
I know you’ve been working on this part for a while. I talked to Ira Ingram [filmer] today, too, and he said, “Dude, Ryan is in the zone right now. If we had another year to keep filming it’d be so crazy, but the part is already amazing.” Do you feel like you’re still in that zone and can keep crushing right now?
I’m trying. Like, dude if we had another year, I don’t even know… Literally for this project, I’m very content. I’m happy with where it’s at and I think it’s at a good place to be done. But I’m also very excited to get working on the Sandlot video or another video part. I don’t know what it’s going to look like or what it’s going to turn into, but I’m definitely going to keep moving while it’s hot. I feel really good on my board, I feel comfortable in the streets, I’m just gonna keep it moving.
Yeah, I got the screener of the documentary and saw the video part, which is incredible knowing what you’ve been through and how you persevered to get to this point.
It’s been a lot. I mean, you’ve been in my life for as early as I can remember from skateboarding and it’s just cool to have these conversations with people that know me and know what the struggles have been; and who skate San Clemente skatepark, nobody skates there [laughs].
That’s our spot!
And it’ll always be. I can always plan on seeing you up there. It’s just dope. And it’s dope to be at this point and have this project be done. But you know how it goes, dude… The project is never really done, like it just ran into a deadline so that’s why this is coming out— it ran into a deadline. It could be more but that’s also just the obsessive nature of my brain and never thinking enough is enough. I really hope that when it actually premieres, and we’re at the theater, that I can actually take a second to appreciate the hard work that went into it and what it actually took to get it done. Because right now, I still don’t think it’s finished.
I feel like no skater is satisfied—like exactly what you said. There’s a deadline you need to hit but you just want to keep moving, keep progressing.
Yeah, it’s good dude. I haven’t seen Rolling Away the documentary. I’ve seen the video part. I think I’m too close to it, honestly. I really like it, I think the skating itself—the style—is structured. I think it’s my most structured video part in terms of take-off, trick and landing. And how I look on the board, how I feel on the board. I think the tricks are good. I think I pushed myself to a level that was scary for a lot of them. I don’t think there’s any filler tricks. It’s all quality, in my mind. So, I’m stoked, but yeah, I’m excited to see Rolling Away with everybody else since I haven’t seen it yet.
You’re going to be stoked, it’s so cool. Geoff Rowley’s in there talking about you.
Yeah, Geoff was there for the taildrop kickflip, too. He came down to support on the final day. So, he was there for the make and that was super epic.
Will you give me a little more of the story of what it took to get that kickflip into the bank in Encinitas? Few years battling it, multiple trips…
Yeah, dude it’s been a few years. You said it, bro. Five trips. Pretty much sixty-something tries…
That’s crazy jumping down that thing sixty-plus times.
Jumping down that thing sixty-plus times and still walking, like, I feel fine to talk about it. I feel like it did some damage to my hip, like the inside of my hip feels a little torn somewhere. But I’m just stubborn and refuse to go get an MRI [laughs]. Some days it feels good, some days it doesn’t, but I know it’s from the effects of jumping down that thing that many times. It took me about three different trips skating it to figure out how to fall. And once I committed to knowing how to fall down it, it made it better. But when I say better, it’s still terrible. You have to commit to a front flip pretty much. You have to commit to flipping your board, obviously not catching it, and the second your feet hit the ground, you have to go forward.
I thought you were going to say you had to lean back the whole time and slide down on your butt, but doing a flip on that thing is buck!
Yeah, you have to go forward. That was the way that I found to be a less brutal way of falling, which was still terrible. I mean, obviously you’ve probably seen some of the slams and there’s no easy way to do it. But that was the lesser of two evils, for sure. So just knowing that that’s how you have to fall down that thing, it adds such a level of fear to it. It’s the most scared I’ve ever been at a spot, constantly looking for the cars. You definitely have to trust your spotters to make sure there’s not some rogue car or motorcycle coming through when you get there. I never even got to put four wheels down until the fifth time back.
That’s gotta be so mental to go that far and not be able to put it down.
I never even felt it, dude. And every time I went there, I did a tail drop into it a couple times. Like just a straight tail drop, so I knew what the ride away was going to possibly feel like. But the kickflip that I landed, I ended up sending it past the knuckle. So, there’s this bump on the spot. It was like a safety spot—at least that’s what I was thinking in my mind—where it’s a little bit flatter and does this weird hump and then it’s into a transition. So, I was always trying to land at the top of that, and I don’t know what happened on the day that I did land it, but I just pretty much said, Screw it…I’m just gonna go into the transition, which added about another two-feet to the drop. I think from where I took off to where I landed in the bank was probably about ten feet…ten and a half feet? But I made it to the pocket, I made it to the actual transition and I had never even tail drop Ollied into that spot, so I wasn’t ready for what the speed was and how that actually felt. So, I landed on the board like four times that day, and the fifth time I actually committed to the roll away. But I almost lost it when I got to the street.
That would’ve been the worst to make it down and hit a crack on the roll out.
That thing caused so much fear in my mind that I had already visioned making it to the street and falling at the street. That’s how many games this thing played with me. There’s not one time that I visualized it all the way through with a successful landing—I couldn’t get myself to visualize it. So that played a huge part in the mind games of this trick, for sure. The whole thing was just gnarly, dude.
And that was recently, right? The deadline of this video was coming up so you knew this was it. You had to get this trick.
Well, dude, my deadline was honestly before I had my baby. It was right before Abigail was ready to have our baby and I asked for more time, like, “Hey guys…this things not done, I know we’re not all satisfied with where this things at, so let’s just table it. If we’re going to put this thing out, let’s make sure it’s right.” And they agreed. So, I had my baby and I got pretty much two months of uninterrupted time with her, which was dope, and I was actually able to turn the part off in my mind, which never happens. But there was one night that I went to sleep and she woke up at 3:30 in the morning and it all hit me like a ton of bricks that the parts not done, this tricks not done. I landed it so I could stop thinking about it and become a dad again. Because I went fully back into psychotic mode. It was all I thought about, I was losing sleep, it was all I talked about. So, I finally went and I landed it fifteenth try that day. I wanted to quit, too. So bad. I was so hurt. My shoe blew out. There was some kid there with super glue and I had to super glue my shoe back together. It was so gnarly. I’m so glad it’s done.
Talk about having Rowley there filming a second angle. What did it mean to you having somebody of his legendary status being there? Does that pump you up, like, “Geoff Rowley’s here, I’m gonna do this!“
It pumped me up for sure. I went to his video premiere a week before and just watched it and was just so stoked and saw so many epic legends at that premiere. How they were just so stoked to be there for Geoff, I just felt that love and that vibe. I knew Ira was out of town and was going to be out of town all the way through the deadline. I saw Ewan Bowman and he had been there the fourth time I went back, so I talked to him and was like, “Hey can we go this week?” Because I was just so fired up from Geoff’s video part and he was like, “I’m out of town, but I can come back early.” And I told him no, and that seems forced, doesn’t feel right. So, I asked about next week and he said he was going to be home. So, it was really based on Ewan and when he was available. He said he’d be available, so I just kind of prayed about it. Then all of a sudden Tuesday—God showed me Tuesday, I don’t know why it was Tuesday, it was super random—and I just kept seeing Tuesday, so I said Tuesday it is. So, I called Ewan and set the date in stone. Tuesday at 5 o’clock, we’re going. That’s what we did. And by 7:30 I was in tears rolling away. It’s crazy.
So heavy. Taking that adrenaline and celebration…you just wanna keep going right?
It was so much more than that though, dude. It wasn’t even about skateboarding at that point. It was this mental barrier and this thing that I had overcome from full blown not believing I could do it to being the most scared I’ve been—and I don’t even know if I was scared of getting hurt, I guess, being a new dad—there was so much wrapped up in this one trick, that if I didn’t get it…I almost honestly can’t even mentally go there. It’s all dark. It’s very dark. I can’t go there. But I almost went there, I almost didn’t get it and I wanted to quit on like the eighth attempt. I was so done. Like…I can’t do it. I’m over it. This part sucks. It’s done. Whatever.
Damn, the mental toll was that heavy.
I was literally going to be like, “Let’s just piece the part out. I’ll just post one clip every week for a year and it’ll get the same vibe…whatever. I’m over it.” I just started praying, dude, and then I snapped back into it. You know when you’re trying a trick and you kind of hit a few that are so rogue, but then you snap back in and it’s closer than it ever was. That’s what started happening around the twelfth try. I put it down and slipped out, but then I finally understood—after three years—on that twelfth try that it was possible. And not only that it was possible, but that I was going to do it. I just thought, finally! Sixty tries later…finally. So yeah, three or four tries after that I rolled away.
That’s so amazing. The relief.
The relief was for real.
I’m sure the rest of the video part is filled with tricks you battled.
Oh dude, so many. Every trick in this video part was a battle. That’s just the one that we’re talking about. That’s the one that might live on in skateboarding forever, if I’m lucky. But every single trick took almost two trips. Every trick. And a lot of it was during Covid so I was skating alone, and I never skate alone. I hate skating alone! But then a lot of the spots I was skating, nobody wanted to skate them with me. Which I totally understand. I didn’t really want to skate them either, but I’m trying [laughs]. This part ate me up. But it’s done.
It’s done and you’re ready to move on and keep going.
Yeah, there’s no slowing in sight. I might try and enjoy it for like a month, but I already have tricks in mind. I mean, I literally started this conversation with you saying we need to go shoot this photo [laughs] So I don’t know, man.
That sums it up really well, and I’m down to go shoot.
I’m super hyped with what you’re doing with Closer, and you’ve always been a skateboarder for skateboarding. You’re a real one, always have been and I always appreciate the opportunity to talk to you.
Thanks Ryan. Good luck my dude and we’ll skate SC Park soon.