Interview: Dan Kneeshaw

Anyone who knows Dan knows he rips on a skateboard. But sometimes when guys are really good at skateboarding, they act like jerks for some reason.
 
Well, Dan is the opposite of that. He’s genuinely a really nice guy. As a Calgary-based sales rep for Vans in Alberta, he has a pretty sweet job. Do we even need to mention he’s a multi-talented musician that is always in demand by several bands at a time? Read on to learn more about Dan.

Photo by Jeff Thorburn

Where are you from?

I was born and lived in Saskatchewan until I was 9. Then we moved to BC (Lumby, Vernon). Did all my growing up, skating and trouble making there.

How long have you been skating?

I started skating when I was 6-7 or so? My older step brother had a skateboard in the house growing up, and the second I saw it, I knew exactly what to do with it. Been obsessed ever since.

Where do you usually skate? Any favourite spots or parks?

You will usually find me at Huntington Hills park. That bowl is one of my favourites ever. I live super close to Southwood, and its growing on me. I go there when I want to pretend I can still skate street.. Favourite parks? Polson, and Coldstream in Vernon. I’ve put in some serious hours at those places.

Who do you skate with?

I grew up in the time when skating wasn’t really cool. So I skated mostly alone for like 10-12 years almost? Even now I usually just go to the spot, or park and I will just skate with who ever happens to be there. But I actually really enjoy skating alone, as weird as that may seem. Just always done it on my time, and my terms. Don’t get it twisted though, I still love skating with and running into the homies at all the parks! Riley Boland, Jesse Ingrilli, and Ben Renton and I seem to skate a lot together these days. Its pretty rad!

What brought you to Calgary?

That is a funny/long story.. But here is the shorter version. I had a pretty crippling addiction issue in my late teens that I am pretty open about. But I had been clean for a year and a bit, and needed a nice change.. I packed up my 93 Toyota Tercel with all my earthly belongings, and I had two choices. First was Vancouver with a place to stay in a packed party house, with no work or stability but lots of friends. Second was Calgary, where I had a room to rent and a job, but I had one friend in the entire city… So I flipped a quarter in my driveway. Heads=Calgary, Tails= Vancouver.. The rest is history. I made the right choice.

Photo by Tim Nelson

You work as a sales rep for Vans. How did you end up with a job like that? How long have you been doing that for?

I got extremely lucky.. I worked at skate shops for close to 8-9 years or so? Give or take.. The old sales rep (Stefan G) started giving me sample shoes every once in a while. To help push the shoes at the shop, and sort of ignite that fire, you know? It helped me out, more than he could possibly know.. So when Stefan left, the new guy (my now Boss) grandfathered me onto his sample flow program, and was super cool about me grabbing stuff when I needed it. Eventually I had left the shops, and was repping for another company at the time, and had called Dan (my Boss) about something. I happened to call him on the day that his sub-rep quit for another company. So we talked about it, decided we should do lunch the next day. By the end of that day I got an offer I couldn’t refuse.

A lot of people don’t know that it’s possible to make a living with skateboarding in some way in Calgary. What advice would you give to people that want to work in the skate industry?

Its totally possible. It just may look different to everyone. Wether thats working at a shop, starting up your own company, or what ever. Just don’t expect skateboarding to pay the bills. There are some people who skate around with a chip on their shoulder, giving the vibe they deserve a sponsorship or something. Skateboarding doesn’t owe you (anyone) anything. I believe that if you put your head down, work as hard as you can, on what ever you are passionate about, things will happen. Those things may not happen over night, and it may seem defeating at some points, but its all worth it. I owe everything I have, to skateboarding, and hard work.

You must get asked about sponsorship a lot. Why do you think so many kids just want to be sponsored? How many will actually make it? Any advice for kids who want to get hooked up?

Yeah, the sponsorship thing. This one is a tough one. If I had it my way, I would hook everyone up. Unfortunately, thats not possible. However, these are the things that I personally look for if a spot on the team opens up. A good attitude, is first and foremost for me. I don’t really want some one who’s focusing boards, or screaming at kids at the skate park to be representing my team. Gotta be approachable, friendly, and respectful. Second, style. Good style, weird style, but mostly I want to see YOUR style. I can go watch a million youtube videos of carbon copy skaters that all look/push/skate the same. Thats boring though, I want to see what YOU can do, and how YOU do it different. Third, skill of course. Push the limits, push yourself harder, get out of your comfort zone.

I think sponsorship to some is like a status symbol maybe? Im not sure. I don’t want to give some one something, when they aren’t grateful for it, or use it to put others down, if that makes sense? I want it to go to someone that needs it, and deserves it. Someone who has been grinding, and working for it.

As for who, and how many will make it.. Thats all up to them. I want them all to make it! I want my house to be littered with pro boards from kids who made it from Calgary. The caliber of skateboarding talent in this city, is astronomical. Everyday I am left scratching my head watching some young one annihilate the skate park. But Canadians gotta make here first, then they have to win over the states. Its not an easy task, but you can do it!! I believe in you! haha. Filming is huge. Get as many clips as you can. And photos too. Seems to be a dying art form unfortunately, but they are so important. And do your best to not post everything immediately to the internet!

Some advice to those looking to get hooked up(as if this answer wasn’t long enough). Like I said before. Attitude, goes a long way. Be nice to each other. Be supportive of our community. Be respectful of our parks, and spots. Skate as hard, and as often as possible. Film/shoot as much as you can. And mostly, have FUN! Thats what its really all about.

Photo by Cole Hadley

You’re involved in the music scene too. How long have you been playing?

Music has always gone hand in hand with skateboarding for me. I started playing guitar when I was 10, and I’ve been obsessed with it as well for most my life. I just have one band going at the moment, we go by Monolith A.B. Its a doom metal project I have been working on for 4 years or so. We are almost ready to record our first full-length album. We already did it once, and it was lost due to a computer error (another story, for another time). But we are excited to get down to it, and get it out finally.

What else are you into besides skating and music?

Motorcycles have been a huge part of my life since I was a kid. Fixing them, or riding them, I just love being around them. I also do a bit of Fly Fishing when I get the chance.

Any thanks/shout outs?

Thanks to my fiance Jess Doyle, Mama bear, and my sisters Jacklyn and Jenny for putting up with me. Those are the strongest women I have ever met, and they amaze me everyday.

Shoutouts to Mike Sharp, Nick Tempel, Dan Anderson, Stefan Goulet, Vans Canada, Arlen Smith, The Palomino, Blue Montgomery, Ben Renton, Riley Boland, Jesse Ingrilli, all the Huntington Hills locals, every one who has ever said whats up at the skate park, and anyone who has even been able to come to one of our shows. If we are friends, or acquaintances I am glad you are in my life.

Interview: Chad Baker


We caught up with long time Calgary ripper Chad Baker to see what he’s been up to. With banging parts in Beer Storm 1 and 2, and tons of crazy Instagram clips, Chad is always up to something wild on his board. Learn more about Chad and his Skate for Phillippines project. All photos by Liam Glass.

When did you start skating?
I started skating in grade 7 I do believe!
Were you born in Calgary?
Yep I’m a born and raised true Calgarian.

Tell us about Skate for Phillipines. How could someone get involved or donate?
Skate For Philippines is a thing my friends and I started, basically we just wanted to be able to give back to the skate community by collecting skate gear. I helped a friend who’s from the Philippines last year and he was able to bring down a bunch of skate stuff for the kids out there! He said it went great but they needed more, so that’s when I got the ball rolling for this.

You can donate any gear to Mission or get a hold of myself and I usually go meet people for donations. Yeah I plan to go out to the Philippines and hand deliver the gear myself, I can’t wait to see all the smiling faces. I’m also trying to start a thing where you can sponsor a child and send them a complete and other stuff along with it!

Where are your favourite places to skate?
My favourite place to skate would definitely have to be California, but skating Calgary with the homies is always the best!

 Any trips planned this year? 
As for trips, me and the boys are going to do a lot of travelling this summer. We’ve got a few projects in the go that we’re all pretty stoked on!
 

Thanks/shout outs.
Big thanks to all my sponsors! Almost, Globe, Tensor, Dwindle Distribution, Remind Insoles via Trading Post sales, Artical Clothing,  and Mission Skate Shop! And a huge shout out to my homies Steve G, Ryan, Riley, Adrian, Rob, Steve and everyone else who I skate with– you all kill it!!


Interview: Enoch Chan

“Over the course of the last 25 years, Enoch has been blazing a trail of quality through the clutter of medocrity. Through skateboarding, art, and confidence, Enoch has been constantly elevating standards with a style and flair that has taken him all over the globe. In a world full of one trick ponies and two dimensional views, it’s so refreshing to still witness his relentless gift of progress. His contributions to skateboarding in Calgary were cemented long ago, when claiming “doing it yourself” wasn’t a flag of pride to wave around, but the only way things got done.
-John Boletta

Where were you born and when did you start skating?

I was born in Montreal, Quebec 1974. I started skating around 1986 but still rode freestyle BMX most of the time till about 1989.

Why did you start skating?

In grade 7 I started at a new school (Queen Elizabeth Junior/ Senior High School) and had to take bus/train to get there and wasn’t gonna walk so I started riding my skateboard (Jesse Martinez SMA).

Queen E was a big school so there was a lot of skaters from different age groups that would go skate, practicing grinds on parking curbs, ollieing over garbage cans etc. There were a lot of good spots right around school. Seeing all these other skaters motivated me and challenged me to prove to them that deaf guys can skate too!!!!!

Another reason I started to skate was being sick & tired of repairing hundreds of flat tires on my bike.

You were part of the Underworld crew. Can you tell me more about that?

What do you want to know about it? There is lots to tell. If you know anything about the Vancouver Red Dragons, Underworld was Calgary’s version on a smaller scale.

Do you still keep in touch with any of those guys?

I’m still in contact with one guy. “Cue” was his tag– Rob Brandt.

Did you have any sponsors?

I was first sponsored by FreeWheelin’ when Chuck Bell owned it by Wendy’s on 17th for a few months but he closed down. Then in ’92 or ’93 a new shop opened in Kensington called “THE SOURCE”.

I was only team guy for about a year then The Snowboard Shop got bought out and turned into MISSION. I went to ride for them cause they gave me better deals. I’d get free Mint decks anytime, they told me I was on Vans team but never got any Vans gear. I remember a contest in Chinatown for some reason I didn’t have my board so I borrowed somebody’s and got booted from team.

Shortly after that in about ’95 I moved to Hong Kong partly cause the heat was on too much from cops about the manslaughter case that another Underworld member was involved with. I came back to Calgary in ’97 for some reason lost motivation to skate, most of UW guys were gone and other friends that skated were doing other things.

Did you compete at all?

A few street contests.

Where did you get your first board from?

My first board was a Sims Steve Rocco, a birthday gift from my Grandma.

What were your favourite spots to skate?

The court house (gone now) was the most popular spot in the city. Petro Canada building, James Short parkade, Eau Claire. Hong Kong had killer spots– best I’ve been to.

 

 

Do you still skate?

Not really, once a month maybe.

What keeps you busy these days?

Ive been tattooing for nearly 8 years and continuing… making art and sometimes spray painting walls around the world.

 

Calgary Skateboarding History in Swerve Magazine

Today’s edition of Swerve Magazine includes a great article about Calgary’s skateboarding history. It covers early skateparks, founding figures like Chuck Bell and John and Barry Hiebert, along with some general skateboarding information. Pick up Swerve in today’s Calgary Herald or click the image below to read:

Photo by Brent Mykytyshyn / Swerve

Photo by Brent Mykytyshyn / Swerve

Interview: Mike DeVries

There are a lot of guys that have been skating for a long time in Calgary. Some of them you may know, some of them you may not. What’s important is that some of them have made some very large contributions to Calgary skateboarding. Mike Devries is one of those guys. We chatted with him about what he’s done and what he’s up to now.

mike

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in the Oakridge area of Calgary.

How long have you been skating for?

I’ve been skating for 35 years now.

What spots did you grow up skating?

Downtown. The rest of the time we made ramps and everyone would check out everyone’s ramps all over the city.

What about skateparks?

There were only poorly designed city-owned ramps, so a few people made their own indoor parks and I spent a lot of time riding them: Skate World (Lindsey’s park), Ramp o Rama (Barry Hiebert’s park) and Skate Jungle (TJ’s park) and All Skool(Trevor Morgan’s park). They were some of the first parks in Calgary aside from Skatopia in the 1970s. It was a concrete indoor park– before my time.

What made you open your own indoor skatepark (Four o Three)?

I wanted to create a space for all of the people in Calgary to unite and build a great community of skateboarders and support for Calgary Skateboarding.
I was intending on opening an indoor park and found out there were some guys already building a indoor park. I was super disappointed. I didn’t get into it at first but after thinking about it I decided it wasn’t a big deal and I should go and help. So I did that and ended up becoming friends the 3 partners: Tony, Jarrod, and Devon. The building team was hired from Toronto (Bruce Carson Ramp to Ramp and two of his friends Gosh and Russ). After some time helping I bought out Devon and that’s how it all happened.

millz shredding

How else have you been involved in Calgary skateboarding?

I worked with a group of people called the Fellowship of Calgary Skateboarders (A non-for profit organization similar to CASE) for 10 years to get Millennium Park built and built a temporary outdoor pilot project skatepark out of wood. This was right around the same time the indoor park Allskool opened and the interest was overwhelming from the City of Calgary. They pushed forward to make Millennium happen with help from the Calgary skateboarders and the Parks and Recreation department.

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Tell us about the vert ramp you’re working on. 

The ramp I’m working on right now is a ramp that I’ve had for quite a few years many people have helped out financially and with working on it as well. We used to have it outside of the Four o Three then it moved Priddis until a few people that ride vert wanted to turn it back into vert ramp. So we moved it and restored it. And after many man hours and thousands of dollars we are now to the point where we are ready to fundraise to get the final layer put on. And the people that support what we’re doing will be the people who are eligible to come ride whatever we build.

vert ramp

Any last words?

I’m very happy to see all the new parks springing up and can’t wait to see some of the next generation of kids turn into future rippers. Shout out to everybody that supported me in the past and present times. It means the world to me. Thank you.

“So Stoked, My Dudes”

Unless you’ve been living/skating under a rock for the past two weeks, you’re probably aware of Calgary skater Kyle Conway‘s now-legendary appearance on CTV news. When asked by reporter Jamie Mauracher what he thought of the change to the bylaw that will now allow ramps on private property, he replied, “I’m so stoked, my dudes”, gave a quick dab and a “skurr” and skated out of the frame. All this after boardsliding the big rail at Southwood Skatepark!

 

It’s gone viral. In the past couple of days the clip has been featured on Metro Skateboarding, GawkerVice, Huffington Post, Mashable, Esquire, and the list goes on. Councillor Woolley tweeted about it. It’s even been remixed into a really bad trap song:

The reporter has been a good sport about what has become the meme of the moment. We asked Jamie about it and she said, “I’m surprised it took off. I just made him promise to answer my question and not swear”.

We got in touch with Kyle to learn more about him, his skating, and what’s happened since the clip went viral:

What’s the deal with the video? It was live, so did you plan what you were going to do with the reporter?
So, pretty much the reporter told me to just do the trick and then stop and come up beside her and just say I’m stoked, but my friend Connor gave me the glasses to use and said it would be funny so I wore them.
Did you think it would get big?
No I didn’t think it would get big, but once Metro posted I was really surprised haha.
What area do you live in? Do you skate Southwood a lot?
I live in Cedarbrae in the Southwest, and yeah I’m pretty much at Southwood every day.
How long have you been skating for?
I’ve been skating for about seven years now.
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Photo by John Rajic

How many Instagram followers have you gained?
I think I gained about 2000. I had 1400 before or something like that.

Did you get the idea from the “It’s Wednesday my dudes” video? 
Yeah, I got the idea from the “It’s Wednesday my dudes” Vine clip.

Do you think a lot more people will build ramps at their homes? Any shout outs, thanks, or anything to add?

I hope more people will be building backyards ramps, and I’d love to sesh some of them! And shout out to my dudes.

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