1.) Freestyle went through a 'dark age' around 2006-2010. Not alot of people freestyled compared to today. One name I kept seeing throughout the years was Mike Osterman. What kept you skating and what motivates you today?
Oh man! As pathetic as it sounds, I think graduating high school made me freestyle more. I finished in 2011 and all I was good at was skating and watching Mtv Jams...
But for real, I was lucky to be in contact with a lot of really inspirational people. The World Champs happened in Philly in 2010. I met Terry Synnott and so many of the Small School cooperatives at that event, and I think it re-sparked a lot of stoke for us "younger" freestylers. Getting put on the Mode team was also really motivating. I was just starting college, so having a sponsor flowing me boards made it easier to skate. Plus it pushed me to stay active online.
Now I get really stoked to see new people discovering freestyle. Rodney introduced most of my cohort to freestyle when he was in the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater video games. Kilian and Brett have done an amazing job making freestyle visible over the years too. I just want to represent freestyle as a community. Too many people think those are the only three freestylers on the planet (no disrespect to those guys)
2.) Your pro model on MODE has a very interesting shape. It reminds of the shape 80s freestyle decks were progressing towards, going into the early 90s. Bigger! Explain how you came up with this shape and what are the advantages of a singlekick deck to you?
I could go on for pages about shapes! Back in 2010, I saw Connor Burke skating an 8.25" freestyle double kick and I lost my mind. Then you and Christian Heise came out with the Frankie Cat 7.5" freestyle deck. I think that was the largest single kick on the market at the time. I skated like, 4 of those decks.
Fast forward to 2014ish, Terry Synnott brought up the idea of a Mode pro model. He was super supportive of my weird taste in boards too, which meant so much to me! At the time, I was still stoked on the Frankie cat but I wanted something bigger. I also loved the look and feel of Lillis' old Reverse Skateboards shape. That board had rounded, tapered rails that rocked back and forth in "primo", which I loved! I sort of mashed those two boards together and after a couple of protos, we were all really happy with the shape.
Single kicks give you two vastly different ways to approach every trick. Some tricks are easier on kick tails, like most Ollie tricks. Some are easier on flat noses, like pogos, caspers, some rail flips. The mold that Mode uses has a super mellow concave as well. I absolutely love the feeling of mellow concave for footwork. You can just dance around more easily when you've got a flat plane below your foot.
3.) My first exposure to freestyle was the 'Gleaming the Cube' movie. The next generation had the 'Casper' video and the 'Rodney Vs Daewon' vhs. Today, 'Youtube' is the most efficient vehicle to carry this sport to the next level. Your Youtube channel plays a big part in pushing freestyle foward. Tell us more about this. How it started,.....etc.
How many times a day do you 'Gleam the Cube', Witter?
I started my YouTube channel in 2007. I had been watching guys like you, Keith Renna, Daniel De La Rosa, Sto Strouss, and so many of the 80's dudes on the tube. I figured it was normal for freestylers to make videos and post them on there.
I think the community aspect of freestyle came largely from Youtube. through sharing my skating on youtube (and the forums), I went from only knowing of 3 freestylers to suddenly having real freestyle friends. That was so fucking powerful for an awkward teenager in suburban Illinois with a weird hobby. Nowadays, kids can whip out their phones and have an entire instagram part filmed in an hour. I think that's where the most potential lies in terms of growing the freestyle community.
I took a big break from YT between 2011 and 2015, but I wanted to really devote myself to it in 2016. Newer freestylers aren't aware of other kids who freestyle. There aren't any more forums or blogs that draw the freestyle kids together. Really, the goal of my page is to get people learning, talking, and sharing their skating more. That starts with sharing who I am and why I love skateboarding.
4.) It is one thing to be able to pull off a trick. It is another to make it look good. All your tricks seem to look effortless to you. Do you have any advice on how to make tricks look and feel good?
gah! thanks, and thanks and thanks. I don't know anything about making tricks look good. I just try to picture how Kevin Harris would do a trick or how Terry would do it. Don Brown is another one. Just do tricks that are fun for you. Oh! And skate to music that you like!
5.) Give us a breakdown of your current setup. Are you still experimenting with different equipment or have you found your sweet spot?
I'm always experimenting with setups, haha
Deck: Mode Fortune freestyle deck with Mode skid plates and stickers over my name.
Trucks: Independent 109's with an ever-changing bushing selection. This week I'm trying bones hard bushings. Last week it was Khiros.
Wheels: 3 blue and 1 white Mode 99a wheels. Gotta change to the soft formula because Long Beach Is so crusty.
Bearings: Synopsis ceramic bearings, because Darryl Grogan makes the best bearings on the planet
Shoes: éS Accel Slim size 8.5 because Don Brown, Pierre Andre, and the éS fam make the longest lasting outsoles in skateboarding