Sara Paulshock Interview

Infamous Five Mile rider: ”The Shocker” tells us about her glory days of distance skating, falling in love with downhill and her abusive relationship with her skateboard. Beware, contains debauchery.
Hi Sara, where are you from?
I always find this simple question difficult because I’m kinda an east coast mutt with a gypsy soul and a nomadic state of mind. I was born in New Hampshire and moved to Florida when I was 10. I went to boarding school in the Northeast for highschool and college in Connecticut. After I graduated I moved to NYC and soon discovered it’s not the place for me. It’s too damn hectic and way too flat. I’ve been a nomad since, traveling and skating as much as possible.

Where are you looking for?
I wanna eventually end up somewhere with an endless summer. Year round sunshine, a place with perfect skate weather. Basically, my dream is to end up somewhere where I want to be outside all the time, where it’s conducive to being active and adventurous. Right now I have San Diego on my mind.

What sort of adventuring makes you happiest?
I’ve always liked to explore places, see and experience new cultures and ways of being, I like to do things that broaden my perspective on life. I was an anthropology major and I have always had a strong curiosity about any and all things different. I find skating a great avenue to fulfill this desire. Through skating I’ve met a diversity of people and experienced many new places. Skating has allowed me to make friends from entirely different backgrounds, and I love it. So to answer your question, skateboarding adventures, mostly in the form of road trips, mixed with a little debauchery make me the happiest.
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When did you start skating?
When I moved to Florida my world transformed from playing in the woods to being surrounded by concrete. I saw kids skating and naturally wanted to join. Soon after, my grandparents got me my first board for my 10th birthday. It was a Tony Hawk Birdhouse and I remember picking it out cause it was a bright teal-green color with a cool crow graphic on it.

Have you skated constantly since then?
No. I was in and out of skating. I got into the street stuff when I was around 13-14. Learned how to ollie and kickflip, but never got much better than that. I sprained my ankle when I was 14 at Vans skatepark and put the board down for a while as I played other sports and didn’t want to get hurt anymore. I still continued to skate here and there, but I stopped focusing on it. I didn’t get back into skating, this time longboarding, till I was in college. At that time I used it as a means of transportation, mostly as a way of avoiding being late to class. Having wheels definitely saved my ass more then a few times.

Was there a big longboarding community in your college?
Not really. I went to a really small and preppy school with about 1,800 students. I was kinda the “token skater girl” on campus. There were a few though. I will forever credit my friend Ben Arcia for being the first to push my limits on a board, taking me off campus to skate my first hills and teaching me how to do my first slides. He’s from Miami and runs the Miami Longboard Crew.

Do you still skate with him?
Yes. Every time I’m in Miami I hit him up, which works out well since my sister lives there.

What was your first longboard love?
Like many, my first longboard purchase was a Loaded Dervish. I thought I liked downhill, but looking back I was, well, on a Dervish… need I say much more? And those were bunny slopes. I was still at the point where I most enjoyed just carving and cruising bouncing up and down on my trampoline of a board. The distance thing kinda just fell into place because at the time I also happened to be an obsessive runner and averaged anywhere from 6-8 miles a day. So I had a huge advantage when I went to the Broadway Bomb, which was my first longboard event and it blew my mind. I had never seen so many skaters or felt such an overwhelming sense of community. It was pretty radical and life changing. I became hooked on skateboarding and haven’t looked back since. At the time I could push forever and fast.

What is your distance thing?
After I placed first at the 2009 Broadway Bomb I hit up Bustin Boards and interned with them over the summer going into my senior year of college. Back then Bustin was small and family oriented, and I really was able to grow myself as a skater. Working shipping and the shopfront (back when they had just moved from Hoboken to Brooklyn) I learned everything from how to assemble boards quickly to proper bushing setups. The original Bustin Brooklyn shop is where my longboarding foundations developed. I did my first standup 180 outside that shop on the street. That summer I continued to compete in and win local push races. Then somehow a year later the Adrenalina Marathon races developed and I scored myself a world record and a lot of cash money.

Your first event is one of the greatest in the world. How do you top that?
Haha – yeah it’s pretty epic. The Broadway Bomb is an amazing event and an entirely different experience than any other skate event I’ve participated in to date. I feel honored that I’ve been able to take part in the Bomb the last three years in a row. To watch it grow from my first year of around 250-300 skaters to this past year where there were well over a 1000 people really mirrors the growth of this industry. It’s pretty cool to be a part of that.

You were first overall?
Haha I wish. I got first place for the girls three years in a row.

What was your best position? 
Whoa. Um, being the topic of this interview I’m gonna go with sideways and fast… and by that I mean sliding you sickos! I’ve really gotten  into freeriding over the past year.

That’s the way you like to tuck?
Face down ass up thats the way I like to tuck? Wait, no! Ass down, gotta stay aero haha.
What is the Adrenalina Marathon?
It’s where longboading meets endurance athlete. It’s like any longboarding event except you hold off on the beer until you’re done slaying 26 miles as fast as you can. By that time you can be a two beer queer and pass out by 9 and still feel like shit the next day. I wouldn’t exactly say it’s fun, but it sure gives one a sense of accomplishment. Especially when there’s a fat cheque involved with your name on it!

How fat were the fat cheques?
In all I won a total of $9000 from the Marathons! Pretty freaken radical. Thanks to that money I’ve been able to enjoy life as a skater vagabond, couch surf, see and skate new places and most importantly meet some truly awesome people. Unfortunately, the vagabond novelty is slowly but surely coming to an end and I am currently looking for a career path to follow. Ideally, I’d like to do something that allows me to stay tied to the industry.

Can’t you just win the money all over again and again?
Ahh, I wish. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Adrenalina Marathons will offer the same purses again.

How did they manage to throw so much money at people?
Thats a good question and no one really seems to know. I like to pretend they used us as a means to launder illegal drug money, but it doesn’t really make any sense. Maybe they’re just generous and looking to spread the wealth. Who knows and who cares because it doesn’t change the outcome. They were a great series of events.

What convinced you to enter skateboard marathons?
Why not? Get the opportunity to travel and skateboard for free ? If I didn’t jump on that horse I’d be stupid.

How far did you get to travel?
Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico.

When did it start?
There have been a total of five Adrenalina races to date spaced out over the course of last year. They ran a world tour that consisted of four races from July to November 2011; NYC, Puerto Rico, Texas, and Florida. My favorite was the Puerto Rico race because, well, kinda goes without saying. I got to travel to a tropical island on Bustin’s dime, which was super radical. But it was not as cool as the DR, which after scoring a $3000 check for my first place finish, I was able to visit. That place has the most stoked crew of locals I have ever had the pleasure to skate with. My gal Pam Diaz truly lives in a tropical skateboarding paradise, she is a very lucky and talented lady.

Pam! She is the truth. Can she PUSH though?
Lovely chicka! That’s a good question. She can certainly tuck haha. How about that push lady? Think you’re gonna have to ask her that one.

Have you skated with her since?
Yes. I had the pleasure to see and skate with Pam at the Catalina Island Classic early last month.

How did it go?
It was radical. Such a fun and challenging course. Unfortunately, for me I fell about 100ft from the finish line and didn’t advance. Still an awesome event and overall experience, my only regret is that I didn’t get to skate the course more.

Had you done any races before this?
I went to Festival of Speed last year, but didn’t race. Maryhill was my first time ever going fast and cornering. At the time I had absolutely no idea of how to take a line. The concept of going outside inside was completely foreign to me and almost got me killed lol. It was a serious eye opener and one hell of an adrenaline rush. Before Catalina I’d only raced on the east coast and nothing nearly as technical or intense.

When did you get into downhill?
Over the last year I’ve gotten a lot more into downhill. It’s been a nice change to have gravity working for you rather than against you. But being that I’ve lived in such ridiculously flat places (NYC/ Florida) I’ve really had to go out of my way to practice skating fast and it’s made it a lot harder to improve as quickly as I would like.

Do you enjoy freeriding or downhill more?
Freeriding for sure. I think it’s safe to say I’m obsessed with going sideways. I’m seriously in love with that feeling urethane makes when it breaks traction. Add some control in that equation and I’m addicted. I can’t seem to get enough of it. It’s like sex to me. Well almost, but seriously it’s that good haha My skateboard is like an abusive boyfriend; it gives me both pleasure and pain, and no matter how beat up I get I can’t help but come back for more.

What’s the worst he’s done to you?
Most recently I high sided off my board going standup into a corner while skating Tuna Canyon in Malibu. I tried to run it off but was going too fast and ended up busting my ankle pretty bad. I’ve been out for almost a month and it sucks. Tuna is hands down my favorite road to skate. I love it. It’s the only place I’ve ever skated that I can literally feel, taste, and smell urethane melt away from my wheels, but we too have an ongoing abusive relationship. I’ve taken my fair share of nasty falls while skating there and have more than a few scars to prove it. Nevertheless, I can’t wait to be back on my feet, get even and slay, I mean shred, that bitch of a road again! Rawr!
Do you skate as aggressively as you sound?
Well I’m certainly not the graceful type lol, but I do like to think I have some flow. In general though I tend to skate within my limits, which seems to keep aggressive skating in check.

How long till you can skate again?
Over the last week I’ve skated a few times at Chambers Bay (which is an awesome place to skate btw in Tacoma, WA). I’ve been icing a lot and using tiger bomb like it’s my job, but even still each time my ankle has gotten pretty angry at me and swelled up, which sucks. I’ve been having to “take it easy” and not skate too hard, which I find really difficult to do as I much prefer to push myself each time I skate.

How does the vibe differ from pushing distance?
The vibe is way different. There is more of a rambunctious undertone within the downhill scene that you don’t find in the distance scene. Debauchery seems to follow those willing to get down gnarly and go fast than it does with those who want to push a marathon. I mean, there’s only so much partying one can do when you have to skate a marathon the next day. That being the case, I find a much larger emphasis on health amongst the distance crew, which is something I really like about it.

Are you a health nut?
I don’t consider myself a health nut, but I do prefer to eat healthy. In my experience skaters eat a lot of crap food, and especially on the road. I hate going more than a day without eating any type of greens and that can happen all too often in this scene being as most skaters are on a budget.

What do you ride?
I ride a Five Mile P-40 Warhawk set up with 46* Aera trucks and Divine wheels, usually City Slashers. I’m stoked to say that I couldn’t be happier with my set up right now, which hasn’t always been the case in the past.

Are those your sponsors?
I ride for Five Mile Longboards, Divine Wheel Co. Timeship Racing. I do sales for Aera Trucks. And get flow from a few other companies including Holesom, Skanunu Bearing Cleaner & Lube, and Deville bearings.

When did you get on the teams?
By midwinter last year I was really itching to move out of NYC for good so it just kinda made sense to move on and off the Bustin team. Shortly after I hit up Dan and Cody over at Five Mile Longboards, a truly grassroots Tacoma based company where they make some seriously sweet boards. I wanted to be part of a smaller more family oriented company, where not only could I be truly stoked to ride their boards, but also grow with them. After quitting Bustin, I realised I would no longer have access to wheels so I hit up Dubes over at Divine. He happened to be in the market to put a chick on the team so it just kinda worked out. It’s great to represent and ride for companies you believe and trust in, where you can honestly look someone in the eye and rave about how much you like the products they make. Joe over at Timeship has been nice enough to hook me up with gloves, even a sassy set with custom cheetah print trim. Thanks to my Holesom scented slide pucks, my gloves don’t smell so bad anymore, but rather like bubble gum and blueberry. I scored my Aeras by doing some sales work for Kevin, and I’m not kidding when I say getting those trucks was the best thing that has ever happened to my skating; switching to Aeras from cast trucks is analogous to giving someone glasses who never knew they were blind. Yeah they are that awesome. I am a lucky girl!

What do you do when you’re not skating?
Let’s see…hummm. I really hate this question. I’m a pretty hyper, active and outgoing person so I’m always trying to do something that doesn’t involve sitting still for too long.

What was the highlight of last season for you?
This is going to sound cliché, but I was pretty stoked upon coring my first set of wheels.

What are your plans for this season?
After Maryhill Festival of Speed I’m going into Canada and, depending on what my sponsors can do for me, I’m planning on hitting as many events during July/August as possible. In particular, I’m really looking forward to the She-Ride first. The first ever all ladies Maryhill freeride July 28th-29th and I also really want to make it to Giants Head.

What’s the sheride?
This year the infamous Maryhill Loops road will play host to its first ever all female freeride event. It’s not a competition, but a gathering for girl riders from all over the world to get together, support, and learn from each other. This is huge in the world of female longboarding and I can’t wait to meet and skate with my fellow shred sisters!

No distance skating in the forseeable future?
Eh, honestly I’m pretty out of shape when it comes to endurance sports right now. I don’t run distance anymore like I used too nor do I live in the city anymore and skate everywhere I go so I can’t imagine my distance skating is up to par. That being the case, I still have remarkable muscle memory and I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be too hard for me to start kicking ass again. I’m just more focused on other elements of skating at the moment.
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Choose 3 numbers between 1 – 31
11, 13, 31

11 – What’s your favourite website
Easy: Facebook

13 – Do you have a pet?
I have two cats at my parents house in Florida. Chloe and Uncle Kitty. They’re pretty rad cats.

31 – Laura Hatwell asks – what makes you a happy skater?
Nothing makes me happier then a session in nice sunny weather with rad people. Being around other stoked skaters is pretty awesome.

It’s been great talking to you Shocky Wocky. Maybe catch you at the next broadway bomb?
Hopefully. I’d love to go again, but I’m not stuck on it. Presumably, I’ll be living on the west coast come October (when the race is) and may not be in a financial position to get myself out to NYC, but we’ll see.

Any thank yous?
Oh man so many! Let’s see, big thanks to my sponsors first off, and of course to Mom and Dad for being supportive. And a big thanks to the longboarding community in general for being so welcoming and awesome, and for making me truly honored to be a part of it.