Kyle Martin Interview

Pre-season chat with Kyle about how he got into skating, his love for downhill and unconventional slide pucks.
Hey Kyle, where are you from?
Chilliwack B.C Canada about an hour East of Vancouver.

Is that where you started skating?
Yessir, I’ve been skating for most of my life around here. Mostly street when I was younger.

When did you start riding longboards?
Probably around 1997 or so. Our crew started putting softer wheels on our oversized street decks. I would consider that longboarding.

Did you get odd looks?
There weren’t really that many people skating around here at that time to judge us, we were pretty isolated out in Chilliwack. A little removed from other scenes.

Who were you skating with back then?
Chris Dahl, “King” Brian Elderkin, Shawn Downey, Nick Dunmall. Team Chilliwack was actually kind of well known back in the day when we started skating with the CoastLongboarding crew, we really promoted ourselves a lot.

Is Chilliwack a real place with the best Chilli in the world?
Yes, Chilliwack is a real place. And no, the Chilli is wack, duh!

Is that grounds to ban you from the kitchen?
Whoa there, I can melt cheese on things with the best of ‘em.

Do you still skate with any of your old crew?
I do whenever possible. Careers, injuries and babies have slowed down the others a little but they are all still rad skaters. I don’t imagine they’ll ever stop.

I imagine a baby would slow anyone down, they aren’t the most aerodynamic beings on earth.
Make great slide pucks though.

Where do you skate now?
Honestly, I seem to do most of my skating on the road, by that I mean travelling, and by that I mean on road trips travelling to or from or around events. Last season I was rarely home for more than a few days at a time.

What sort of riding did you do in the beginning?
It was all about going faster and ollying further for me, so those setups were pretty fun. They’re actually pretty identical to the boards I’ve been riding lately; 33″/35″ double kicks with soft street wheels. Best of both worlds really.

When did you start skating downhill on more traditional boards?
Around the same time really. We had no idea what we were doing and rode with no gloves or helmets so we just carved as hard as we could to control our speed. My first real downhill board came a few years later in the form of an Evo. Everybody’s had one.

Landyachtz were making boards in ‘97?
They’ve officially been a company since 97′ or 98′ but Tom Edstrand and Mike Perreten had been making longboards for a while before that.

Who are Tom and Mike?
They started Landyachtz Longboards.

Did you know them back in the day when you got your Evo?
I knew of them. They were both racers and I definitely looked up to them. Also Tom was the IGSA World Champ in 2001 I believe so I’d see him in the magazines and in ads.
We all used to think that Tom had Jedi powers on the race track; in the finals at a Maryhill race, he crashed out and came back from last place to win it, that’s unheard of. The force.

He won on a board he made?
For sure, A Carbon Evo. One of the best downhill specific boards ever made.

How did he go from last to first?  
I have no idea, if you’ve ever been to Maryhill you would know that is a remarkable feat. He’s just fast, he’s a smart racer and he has a wicked tuck. I suspect his secret is some form of hip dysplasia.

What is it like?
Maryhill is pretty amazing visually, it winds it’s way through a gorge in southern Washington. There are points on the highway above that you can see the whole road from, it’s not the fastest or most technical road out there, but it really is hallowed ground to a lot of downhillers. Some of my best memories skating with friends are at Maryhill, the freeride is a must.

When did you first skate Maryhill?
The old crew and I (that I mentioned earlier) used to go on road trips to Maryhill way back in the day, it would have been the first place that I travelled to just to go skating. We would hike the hill and skate down all day long, just having fun and trying to figure out how to go faster.

Just for fun?
It’s always just for fun, but there wasn’t the same kind of scene or interest in longboarding back then, we would just drive 8 hours to go camping and skating out in the middle of nowhere and we didn’t have any real reason to, just for fun.

Do you race as well?
Yeah, racing is a really big part of what I do. It’s one of my favorite aspects of DH, I love the competition and being able to ride balls out on closed roads. There’s a real technical aspect to racing that I enjoy and also maybe a bit of longevity in it, I might not always be able to do tricks but old guys can still be fast.

What else is there to DH?
Freeriding I guess is the only other option. Just riding and surviving. Getting a rush and experiencing things on your board.

Balls out with no kevlar cup?

How did you get into downhill racing?
Nick Dunmall got me into racing, but not really directly. Nick taught me how to tuck and take corners and about drafting. We used to bomb hills together all the time, he was always faster than me and it was always a challenge to keep up with him. But having somebody to chase down a hill really got me into wanting to race. My first race was the “Splash for Cash”, an annual CoastLongboarding outlaw race put on by Team Green on the sunshine coast of BC. I pretty much got hooked after that. Once I started getting some support from sponsors I was able to attend more races and really started to figure out how to do ok-ish at them.

Who do you ride for now?
I ride for Landyachtz Longboards, Bear Trucks, Hawgs Wheels and Venom Bushings. There is a really great family of riders involved with these companies, I couldn’t ask for more.

When did you first get sponsored by them?
I’ve been riding for them for a year and a bit now, but I’ve known everybody on the team for quite a bit longer. Me and Venom Zak Maytum have been down for years.

What disciplines do you practice?
I just ride down hills on whatever I’ve got and let the road dictate the riding style. I still skate street and bowl sometimes, tech slide and I rip around on a slalom board pretty often. I like to skate everything

When did you start getting into tech sliding?
I’ve had the pleasure of skating with Mark Short plenty in the last few years! He’s a great guy to hang out with and a ridiculously great skater with a really aggressive style. We’ve battled it out on the slide hill a few times, he whooped my ass at Danger Bay last year, in fact a lot of people did!
I’ve been tech sliding for about 6-7 years now, but I’ve been taking it a little easy on that recently.

Do you compete in slalom?
No, I haven’t yet but I would like to try it soon, they are great boards for getting around on in the city.

How does the tech-slide and slalom affect your Downhill game?
It’s just another way of being comfortable on a skateboard. There isn’t a form of skating that doesn’t benefit another in some way.

How was last season for you?
Last season was great! I got to travel all around North and South America. I hit up as many races as is humanly possible and spent a couple of weeks in Europe.

What races did you attend in South America?  
I hit up the Festival de la Bajada in Colombia, Tarma in Peru, and Tuetonia in Brazil, and went to various slide jams and sessions that were going down. The scene is pretty huge, there is a lot of talent and intense skating going on down there.

Was this your first season competing outside North America?
Yeah it was my first full on travel year outside of the continent. It was really cool to meet a lot of the people and scenes that I see on Facebook, it’s massive.

Did you do the whole Eurotour?
No, I just hit up the Kozakov Challenge in the Czech Republic. I spent most of my time in Switzerland filming on the Greener Pastures tour. I would really like to hit up the whole circuit.

How did you get involved with Green Pastures?
By chance. Dillon Stephens was actually supposed to go for Landyachtz but he had gotten sidelined with an enlarged spleen. I was informed that I was going very shortly before I left, like a few days.
What did you enjoy most about your time in Europe?
The roads were next level, like some of the best mountain passes that I’ve ever skated. The people were very cool and getting to experience it with some of my friends. Also Prauge, how cool is that place?

What were you doing in Prague?
Just chillin’, experiencing the nightlife, visiting old churches and torture museums. Tourist stuff.

No skating?
Just to the bars, we were only there for a few days. It’s nice to take a little break once in a while.

What was the highlight of Greener Pastures for you?
Doing a solo run down an epic mountain pass. We were chasing the crane car and shit just started to fall apart and get sketchy so I broke away and passed the film crew and chased a car with a family down a road I had never skated before, I think I freaked them out a little because they would try and out run me in the straights and I would catch them in the corners and try to pass. It was intense.

Did you win?
It was a personal victory in a sense but no, the car won.

Will you be doing the Euro tour this season?
I hope so, I would like to hit as many world cup races as possible but there are so many other events that I might not get to.

What are your plans for this season?
I’m definitely going to Australia for both of their events over there, doing the North America stuff. I never really seem to know, but I’d like to hit races and events that I haven’t been to yet and go back to just the best ones.

What do you when you’re not skating?
I spend a lot of time at landyachtz prototyping and helping to develop new products and just lurking around the office distracting people. Also long walks on the beach, star gazing, deep and meaningful guy stuff.

What is your official role in the Landyachtz family?
Pro skater first and foremost, then product development design and testing. They are really great at working together with their riders and listening to what we have to say. It’s refreshing.

Choose 3 numbers between 1-25
4, 9, 13 did I win?

Yes! You have been selected for Kidney harvesting.
Where do I send my $5000 dollars first?

4 – Who is the best person you’ve seen skating ?
Zayne “Chunk” Cromarty.

9 – Favourite song to listen to when you skate?
Young Turks – Rod Stewart

13 – Do you have a pet ?
No sir, no pets. My GF has a little dog that farts in bed all of the time.

Haha awesome stuff. It’s been great talking to you. Look forward to catching you somewhere sometime!
Thank you! Hopefully I get to meet you this year! You’re always welcome to come skate Canada!

Any thank-yous or shout outs?
I’d like to thank anybody who’s ever lost skin on a skateboard, it’s fun right?