Justen Ortiz’ Asian Adventure

In this second chapter of Justen’s story, he tells us about his recent tour of Asia, moving down to SoCal, his new LY pro-model – The Prophecy, and eating a live octopus!Midget boxingHi Justen, great to talk to you again!

How’s your week going?
It’s going well. Still getting settled into my new home. Figuring out the city and cool places and stuff.

Where have you moved to?
I moved from Vancouver to Los Angeles.

Why did you leave bacon land?
Winters suck there. California sun year round is what I was after.

Loving it so far?
Yeah totally. I’m living right by the beach in Venice.
Philippines toeside

Will it be easier managing the LY team from America?
Won’t be doing the team management stuff anymore. I’m doing field marketing type work, doing promos on campuses at universities  mostly.

Who’s the new Justen?
Nick Breton.

Sounds like another university tour is on the cards!
Yup, pretty much will be doing that full-time from now on.

With Guff behind the lens?
Nope, Guff is still up in Vancouver. Just me, solo.

Don’t you need a team-mate for beer pong?
I get someone from the warehouse to come give me a hand. Or my girlfiend comes with me to help set up and talk to people on campus.

What are you looking forward most to in this new role?
I am stoked to be living in SoCal now. Awesome skating with rad skaters all the time. We’re heading out this weekend for the moto radventure with Wheelbase mag, riding motorcycles up to Santa Barbara and back and stopping at a ton of wicked skate spots along the way.

How can people find out where to see you?
I have a schedule, but I am always changing it and switching dates around. I don’t want to solidify anything in case I need to change it. It’s not really about bringing a bunch of people out to come meet me. It is more to target a new demographic. University students who need to get around campus more efficiently. I want to talk to the students more, rather than have a bunch of skaters come out and swarm us the whole time.

What impact do you hope to make in the lives of these students?
Hoping to introduce them to longboarding and the benefits of using a board to get to and from class. Walking sucks and it is more versatile than a bike and you don’t have to lock it up and risk it being stolen. You can carry a board up stairs easier than a bike as well.

How are these students different from your usual skate buddies?
They mainly use boards as to commute while on campuses. They are a bit newer to the sport and just getting into it. So it’s cool to introduce them to everything and really get them stoked on it.

Will you be cultivating school ambassadors to help?
Some schools have organized longboard clubs and then we usually partner up with them and set up a booth and stuff on campus. If not, then we just barge it without permission and nobody questions our presence on campus because we look legit. Recently we have started partnering with ”Boarding for breast cancer” to raffle off a complete and all the proceeds from tickets go towards breast cancer research and awareness.

Does LY get involved with a lot of charities?
Definitely, we are always working with a number of different charities and sponsoring many other events involved with raising money for charities.
Korea road

Did you have a good summer?
Yeah my summer was awesome. Got to do a lot of travelling and saw a lot of new places.

Where did you start the travelling?
With my most recent trip in Asia, I started in Japan, then made my way down to Korea, China, Taiwan, The Philippines, Indonesia and over to Malaysia before heading home.

Why’d you go all the way to Asia?
There’s a huge scene that’s fairly new and growing rapidly. Plus some awesome landscape to skate. At first the trip was an idea of maybe going to only one country but we figured, might as well go everywhere else while I’m over there.

Who did you go with?
I went by myself and met up with different people in each country. Some I knew and most I didn’t know. They were always stoked to show me around to all their best hills.

What did you expect to find in Japan?
I expected the hills to be pretty crazy but definitely not as crazy as they actually were. I underestimated them. Pretty much everywhere you look you can find amazing world class downhill runs.

Was there a community in any of the cities there?
The scene was really small in Japan but there were a few longboarders from each surrounding city that would travel to come skate with everyone.

Have the world class runs produced world class racers?
A lot of the riders I rode with definitely had the skill to compete on a world class level.

Did you get to skate with Ayumi?
Yeah I did. I met her and Fifer in Portland the summer before my trip and when I heard I was going to Japan, I got in touch with her to let her know. They we’re awesome. They picked me up and let me stay at their house, and introduced me to everyone else in the scene.

What were the highlights of Japan?
The food, the skating, and going to a wicked theme park with some of the gnarliest rollercoasters I’ve ever seen.

Are roller coasters a bigger thrill than big hills?
I tried to hold my phone and film while I was riding it and that was a pretty big thrill trying not to lose my phone.

What was your typical day there like?
Get up in the morning. Eat some breakfast with Ayumi and Fifer. Then head out to a skate spot to meet up with some others for a session. After that we would have a big dinner somewhere with everyone and talk about the good times.
Japan food

How was Korea?
Korea was awesome. It was very similar to Japan but a little different. The food was different but just as good, maybe even better. The landscape was really beautiful as well.

Was the skating similar?
The thing that I noticed most was that a lot of the skaters were older, as opposed to the young groms you frequently see in North America. The average age for someone there was mid twenties to thirties. If they want the scene to keep growing they are going to need to get the kids stoked on it as well, to carry it on.

Any reasons why there’re no groms?
I’m not too sure at all. I don’t think they knew why either. I definitely did see some young kids but the majority of the people I skated with were older.

Did you get any history lessons about the skate community out there?
Not too much of a history lesson. The scene is just still starting out there so it was pretty fresh.

China must have been an adventure!
Everywhere was an adventure. The food in China was definitely an adventure haha.

Did you eat any weird stuff?
In China I had some pig brain, pork intestines, donkey meat, rotten hardboiled egg. Not as weird as the live octopus I ate while I was in Korea though.

What was the biggest culture shock?
I’ve never been to Asia before, so flying directly into Japan was a bit of a culture shock itself.

Did you get to explore lots of places?
Yeah for sure. Our schedule was pretty tight and we wanted to cram as much skating into it as possible, but it was nice to take a day to explore the cities and do some cool activities and stuff.

Who were you on the road with?
I went by myself but was always meeting up with different people in each country to show me around. It was really fun meeting lots of new people but always sad whenever I had to leave and move on to somewhere new.

Where in Asia did you get the most skating done?
It seems like I was always skating way more than I ever was before. Since we had limited time in each place, we had to do as much as we could in such a short time frame. I think maybe Korea or the Philippines.

What were the events like?
We had a few slide jams where a bunch of the local skaters came out to skate and have fun. It was pretty relaxed and we usually just ended up all hanging out after to get food together and stuff. There was a pretty big race held in Malaysia at the end of my trip that was a lot of fun too. It was just like a big hangout session and pretty laid back. Not too formal.

How did you fare in the competitions?
The slide jams weren’t too competitive and pretty friendly. The race I came in 2nd place though. The competition was really tough.

Did you bump into any of the other Westerners on tour?
I ran into a couple people from the Bustin team while I was in China who were filming a video part there. I also ran into an old friend, Ishtar Backlund, while I was in Malaysia. It seemed like she was doing the same kind of tour as me but was always a step ahead of me. Everywhere I went the people there would tell me that Ishtar was there and just left.

Does LY have any Asian riders?
Yup, we have a few riders in Korea and Indonesia and since I got back, we now have a riders from the Philippines and China.

Was recruitment part of your mission?
Not necessarily but it is definitely something we consider anywhere we travel to.

What were you looking for in potential team mates?
Someone who everyone else looks up to and admires. A good leader in a community and someone who tries to push and grow the scene in their community.

Who are the new additions to the team?
Pedro Escarda in the Philippines and FTW in China.

Is there anything from your trip you wish you could bring back to North America?
Ice milo from Malaysia. It’s like a cold hot chocolate beverage.

Where did the wind carry you after Asia?
Well I spent a few months home after I got back and then I recently moved to Los Angeles. I am hoping to go back to the Philippines in spring for some events there.

For the VLT?

You’ve fallen in love with the Philipines?
Anyone who has been there would understand.

Has LY run any disaster relief campaigns?
Not yet but I would love to look into something and try and get something started.

Have you had any West Coast adventures?
We just got back from a week long photo mission trip over to Las Vegas and then up through death valley and Yosemite and into San Francisco and back. We have been shooting photos for the new 2014 line up.
san fran

Who was shooting?
Jacob Lambert. He’s our photographer.

Who else were you riding with out there?
It was me, Pat Schep, Billy Bones, Marissa Garcia, and Tim Mcclain.

Is there a skate scene in Vegas?
Yeah, there is a pretty active scene there right now. Our good friend Mike Snyder is the leader of the scene there at the moment.

What’s new in the 2014 lineup?.
We have a few new boards as well as new wheels, and trucks. Pretty much a bunch of brand new stuff is on its way out this year that is gonna be epic. I also have my pro model top speed coming out, The Prophecy.

Will you have the usual updates to the old favourites?
A lot of the boards will feature new upgrades and features, but we also have some brand new never before seen boards coming out.

What will the new boards add to the present quiver?
We’ve listened to what a lot of people are asking for and what the riders like and have based some new designs around that. Lots of versatility and some good all around boards for any style. I think Elena is even working on a board specifically catered towards girls.

How long have you been developing new Hawgs?
We are always prototyping new designs and different urethanes and formulas in our wheels. We will often get a box of random wheels we are asked to ride and test out and give feedback on.

Any chance for a bacon graphic on a board next year?
I wish haha.

Congratulations on the pro model!
Thanks a lot! I’m pretty hyped on it.

Are you the first to get a pro model?
Nope, Wolf has the Wolfshark, Phillip Lemire has the ripple ridge, Max Gradlmiller has the El Barbaro.

What will the board feature?
Same design as the top speed 36 but with a hollow-tech core making it a lot lighter and stiffer.

When will it be on the market?
I think in the next few weeks hopefully.
prophecy board

What will you be up to for the rest of the year?
Well, I am hoping to head back to the Philippines in spring and then maybe up to Vancouver for a few of the big events there this summer then who knows from there. I always love travelling and exploring new places.

Come to ISPO!
I would love to but I think Landyachtz wants to send most of the sales reps for that.

It’s been fun catching up buddy, see you around.
Definitely. It is always a pleasure talking with you. Hope to stay in touch. Take care.

Any last words? 
Don’t drink and time travel.

Instagram: @justenortiz
Facebook: facebook.com/justenortiz