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Skater of the Week: Gailea Momolu

Gailea Momolu says he is a skateboarder first and a rapper second, and one fan says he is “more of a dancer than a rapper.” Indeed, Gailea Momolu has a great pair of feet.

Gailea Momolu’s parents are from Liberia, although he was born in Boston and he grew up near Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Now 28, he makes his home in Vancouver, British Columbia. He lived for some time in Los Angeles, the informal capitol of skateboarding, in order to make connections and find sponsors, but he says he likes Vancouver better. “It’s a good skate scene out here,” Momolu says. “There is a lot of focus on the talent, but the scene could be a lot better when it comes to kids getting hooked up and getting their names out there.” Besides, Momolu has a girlfriend in Vancouver. That might explain why he doesn’t like L.A. as much as other skateboarders.

As for favorite places to skateboard , Gailea Momolu picks Shenzhen, China. Yes, China. “People in China really don’t know what to do when they see me skate,” Momolu says. “They just crowd around and watch. It’s a new sport to them.” He explains that his love for Shenzhen “is because it’s all unique marble, the 10-out-of-10 top marble.”

Gailea Momolu describes his skate style as “raw and relaxed.” These two words may not seem to go together, but Momolu insists that he can remain relaxed and still get raw. “I’m a handrail skater, I guess, but pretty much I try to skate anything and everything,” Momolu says. “The reason I say ‘raw’ is because of my pop. I don’t like to flaunt myself too much, but I’ve heard so many people say that about me.”

Gailea Momolu has a comparatively late start in skateboarding. He was more interested in basketball as a youngster, and he didn’t get his first used skateboard until he was 13 years old. But he fell in love with that board and remembers taking train rides to Toronto and Montreal in order to get in on the action during the winter months. “I’ll stay in skateboarding for as long as I can,” Gailea Momolu says. “I just want to be a household name. I just want to keep doing what I’m doing.”


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Coolest Skate Park: West Flamingo Skatepark - Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas, also referred to as Sin City, is a great city to live in or visit if you are a skateboarder. This city is filled with great skate parks. One skate park that you can use for free while in town is the West Flamingo Skate Park. This park, which is located on the corner of West Flamingo and Jones, is a concrete skate park with a lot to offer the street course aficionado.

West Flamingo Skate Park – The Basics
While the West Flamingo Skate Park doesn’t have a bowl park, it does have a great street course. A street course skate park offers skating features that reflect urban obstacles and surfaces. You will find curbs, stairs, rails, planters, benches, boxes and other obstacles. The skills that you can practice in this type of park including balance tricks, weaving, jumping and skidding.

Skating a Street Course
Each type of skate park has its own hazards and advantages. If you are new to street courses then there are a few precautions that you can take to make sure your day at the West Flamingo Skate Park is a good one. First, you will want to stretch out your lower body including your ankles, calf muscles, quads, knees and hips. Street courses require you to do a lot of squatting and twisting, so you will also want to warm up your mid-section with side stretches, lunge stretches and a little walking. When you warm up your muscles prior to entering the park they will be more flexible and less likely to get pulled or torn. This strategy will also help you skate better.

Skateboarding in Las Vegas
Las Vegas is known for many things, including its heat. Generally, you will want to avoid skateboarding during mid-day. This is when the sun is at its most brutal. When skating in Las Vegas, you will want to wear clothing that is breathable, wicks moisture away from your body and provides your skin with adequate coverage to prevent sun burn. You will also want to wear a heat and sun block with an SPF of at least 30.

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Skater of the Week: Andy MacDonald

In 1999, skateboarding legend Andy MacDonald delivered a speech in then-President Bill Clinton’s White House. Then Andy MacDonald skated across the marble floor. True enough, Bill Clinton as we know was a permissive sort of president, but still? You might have thought that by doing this, Andy MacDonald was on drugs. Actually, Andy MacDonald had just delivered an anti-drug speech.

Andy MacDonald, 35, is the Big Mac of skateboarding, an eight-time World Cup champion. Do you want to talk about a fan-friendly guy? Skateboarders are not exactly known for having highly literate web sites. Most often a skateboarder web site viewer is steered to videos of the skater doing all kinds of tricks, while learning little about the skateboarder as a person. But if you go to, you are greeted with this: “Welcome to Andy MacDonald’s web site. If you have a slow Internet connection, click the slow button. If you have a fast connection, click the fast button.” Well, of course we clicked the “slow” button, and sure enough, we received fast access to many of Andy MacDonald’s writings and musings. Dang, thanks, Andy!

Just for a sampling, Andy MacDonald writes about his adolescent years in “All 80’s All Day.” He speaks of attending a recent retro 1980s skateboard event: “In the 1980’s, the more accessories you were rocking, the more styling your kit: I had my boom box from high school, a neon FreeStyle watch as well as a Pop-Swatch on my shirt, suspenders on my Don Johnson pants with neon green Maui and Sons short-shorts to skate in, OG Airwalk Disaster’s with the mud flap and paint splatter as well as a set of Airwalk prototypes to skate in complete with Smith lace savers, a custom made red Flyaway helmet, blue Rector elbows and Pain Cheater knee pads, oh and a radical ‘flop’ hairdo I did it myself with a set of buzzers the night before … All this gear made it almost impossible to skate, but it didn’t matter.”

Andy MacDonald’s next web site section explains how he joins Tony Hawk in raising funds for public skate parks. This guy is such a real deal. Respect Andy MacDonald! And to the younger skaters: Learn how to put something on your web sites besides videos.


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Skater of the Week: Ryan Decenzo

Skateboarder Ryan Decenzo of the Greater Vancouver area in Canada’s British Columbia province is one of the stars of “Shoot to Thrill,” a unique production organized through the Red Bull energy drink.
Ryan Decenzo is among Shoot to Thrill skateboarders who formed 10 teams, with three skaters each, in 10 Canadian cities. Each Shoot to Thrill team was given a limited 10 rolls of film and 72 hours to record their best productions. Ryan Decenzo’s team captured top prize money, and the compiled Shoot to Thrill footage made its debut shortly before Christmas in Vancouver.

Film for Shoot to Thrill was precious for Ryan Decenzo and other participants, because it would go to waste with a botched routine. “Sometimes it was hard to try and land a trick with the pressure of the 16mm film,” recalls Decenzo, 23, who is among a rising tide of Canadian skateboarders who are cracking the world scene. “Or it was hard because sometimes tricks take an hour and you have to think like, ‘OK, how long is this trick gonna take and when should I ask for these guys to use the 16mm?’ There was pressure for sure. I think it only sprinkled for a minute during the mini-ramp session, so we got lucky weather wise.”

For Shoot to Thrill, Ryan Decenzo came up with a skateboarding storyline based on a race. “The acting was minimal and funny, plus the story is sort of comical so it doesn’t matter if we sucked at acting,” Decenzo says in his usual modest and lighthearted way.

Greater Vancouver’s winters are mild, compared to most of the rest of Canada, and so Ryan Decenzo says that as a youngster, he was a skateboarder for all seasons. “If I’m somewhere where I have some free space and my board, I’m definitely gonna be rolling around jumping on and off stuff or kick flippin’ all over the place,” Decenzo says.

See him in Shoot to Thrill, and in an array of other videos on YouTube.


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Coolest Skate Park: Ramp-N-Speed

In Alabama there is an indoor-outdoor skate park that is calling your name. It is the Ramp-N-Speed Indoor/Outdoor Skate Park. Here you will find a great collection of indoor and outdoor skating structures that allow you the chance to learn new tricks and prefect old ones. This park can be found at 1200 Alton Drive in Birmingham, Alabama.

Ramp-N-Speed Indoor/Outdoor Skate Park – The Basics
Ramp-N-Speed Skate Park offers the best of both indoor and outdoor skate parks. The interior park offers boxes, a 15-foot vertical wall, a 6-foot mini ramp, a hip to a 6-foot mini ramp and a 4-foot spine. Outside you will find a twelve foot vert ramp, several launching ramps, rails, boxes, a triple hip and quarter pipes of various sizes. While this park is packed with great skating features, it is not a bowl park.

Ramp-N-Speed Indoor/Outdoor Skate Park – Rules and Hours
During the school year, Ramp-N-Speed Skate Park is closed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. During the rest of the year, the park is open Tuesday through Thursday from 1 p.m. until 10 p.m., Friday through Saturday from 1 p.m. until 11 p.m. and Sundays from 1 p.m. until 7 p.m.

This park only has a few simple rules. To start with, you will need to sign a liability waiver before you can skate here. Next you are required to wear a helmet while skating. Pads are option, but recommended. If you don’t have your own helmet and pads, you can rent them here. To prevent rashes from the pads, wear a long-sleeved shirt under your elbow pads and long pants under your knees pads. Also, don’t forget to put on a pair of shoes that have skid-resistant soles.

In addition to skateboarders, bikers and rollerbladers are also allowed in the park. Since there is a mix of sports going on here, you will want to keep your eyes open and be aware of who and what is around you. Also make sure you don’t try to cut anyone off while skating. This can be dangerous and bring the fun mood of the skate park down.

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Featured Snowboarder of the Week: Norway's Fredrik Austbo

Snowboarder Fredrik “Shredrik” Austbo has a challenge that might surprise you. The 20-year-old boarder comes from Norway, but there’s not as much snow as he would like. Not enough snow in Norway? Well, this is Stavanger in southwest Norway.

Fredrik Austbo says the season is short, and the nearest good mountain is more than two hours away. Therefore, he started out in soccer shoes, hockey skates and with a skateboard. He’s also into gymnastics and surfing. So, when he first tried a snowboard at the age of 10, with all of his athletic ability, it felt perfectly natural. Therefore, Fredrik is reminiscent of American Shaun White, with the potential to combine the snowboard with the skateboard in a “free and happy” way. How’s this for a good solid day: “I eat a good breakfast and then go up to the mountain and ride the whole day with my friends. Then afterwords, I go skateboarding.”

As an adolescent, Fredrik “Shredrik” Austbo says he didn’t think of turning pro or making money, even though he was winning loads of medals and trophies in Europe. Only during recent years did he turn truly serious about a pro career. His main influence is his coach and ThirtyTwo team manager, Jan Prokes.

Because of his wide ranging background, Fredrik Austbo is amused at a feature that invites viewers “to watch some footage of ThirtyTwo team rider Fredrik Austbo shredding up the concrete over at etnies . What? You didn’t know he could skate? Hell, yeah! Turns out Fred’s a full-on tranny dog who loves to grrr-ind coping for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Fredrik Austbo has broken out of the European confines to compete at destinations as distant as the United States and Canada.


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Coolest Skate Park: Rye Airfield Skate Park - Rye, New Hampshire

If you are in New England and looking for a great place to go skateboarding, the Rye Airfield is the place to go. This skate park is a New Hampshire Mecca for skaters, which offers about 50,000 square feet of skating terrain. It is generally open Tuesday through Sundays, however, if you want, you can rent out the entire complex on Mondays.

Rye Airfield – The Basics
The Rye Airfield can be found at 170 Lafayette Road in Rye, New Hampshire. During the school year this skate park is open Tuesday through Friday from 3 p.m. until 8:45 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. until 8:45 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. until 5:45 p.m. During winter and spring break, Rye Airfield expands its hours so that it is open Monday through Friday from noon until 8:45 p.m., in addition to its normal weekend hours. During the summer months the park is open Monday through Saturday from noon until 8:45 p.m. and Sunday from noon until 5:45 p.m.

This is not a free park, so you will have to find a few bucks to get in. Session passes cost between $10 and $14, day passes cost between $25 and $33, and 30-day passes cost between $49 and $75. The price that you are charged will depend on whether you are a member or a non-member of the Rye Airfield.

Rye Airfield – The Features
The Rye Airfield is one of the largest skate parks in New England, so pull on a pair of jeans and grab your board for one of the best skate experiences of your life. There are four different sections to this park. The first section is the Proving Ground. This area includes ledges, gaps, a pyramid, deck-to-deck jumps, a hubbarail and a variety of trannies.

The second section of the park is called the Flow Unit. Here you will find a great ten-foot quarter pipe, an eight-foot bowl and more modest seven-foot bowl. Make sure you have the skills to navigate these features before you set your board in motion.

The third section of the park is the Micro. Here you will find micro ramps, mini box jumps, rails, pyramids and a double many.

The final area in this park is the Gap Ledges. Here you will find three great ledges with deck-to-deck jumps. This is a great area to learn new tricks.

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Craziest Stunts: Rooftop Skateboarding

According to a recent news report, a group of teenagers were eager to enjoy some fun in the sun on the Sunshine Coast of Australia by jumping off the Coolum Beach’s Esplanade rooftop – on skateboards.

The teenagers were practicing awe-inspiring leaps, twists and jumps on top of the roof and managed to catch the attention of shoppers and retail store owners over the weekend. The daredevils managed to pull off an impressive lineup of skateboarding tricks including vertical jumps, 360 degree leaps and 180s on top of an uneven rooftop.

Residents and shop owners confirmed that they were dong no harm and were just having some fun. The skateboarders simply enjoyed their practice session and adrenaline rush before heading home for the evening.

Ramping Up Your Skateboarding Skills

Skateboarding tricks and stunts can take months, even years to master, but the gurus of the skateboard have learned how to ride, maneuver and balance properly to avoid serious injuries.

Beginners may need to wear protective gear such as knee and elbow pads, the right shoes and even a helmet to reduce injury from a skateboarding mishap. Getting just the right angles and balancing the body just right before performing a jump or leap can be difficult for the beginning boarder; still, there are some ways to improve your skills.

First, you’ll be better off practicing at an actual skate park before venturing onto the rooftops of buildings in the near future. Skate parks are designed with special edges and tracks that cater to the wheels of a skateboard. This will make it easier to practice those ollies, grinds and 180s without running into walls or other skaters. Well, at least for the most part.

You’ll also need to practice good form. Keeping your weight balanced by bending your knees slightly and relaxing the body will help you maneuver the board easily and help you execute each move with ease. Keeping your eyes focused on the ground ahead (and not on your feet) will also help you navigate better and plan your next move.

Finally, don’t forget to use skateboard wax. You’ll need to rub this on the ledge you are working against so that you can ride up to the edge and make your turns with ease. A block of hard wax is fairly cheap and will likely last you through an entire skating season.