Justin tells us all about his early days skating in Canada, moving to Australia, bombing Mt Kiera on a 26” board and snapchatting with Tony Hawk.
Hello Justin, how are you?
Hey, can’t complain! Working at a skate shop on manly beach… life’s tough.
Where are you from?
Vancouver, BC Canada. Grew up my whole life there. As much as I love living in Sydney, the weather’s better, windier roads, etc Vancouver will always be home. People that know me know I’m fiercely patriotic, maybe obnoxiously eh.
What took you to Australia?
About 3 years ago, I decided to come down for a semester on exchange from my home university. I had a ridiculous amount of fun down here the first time, and got my DH under my belt for the first time, met a girl and partied pretty hard. All those things brought me back after I finished my degree last year.
Still in love?
With the girl? Sadly, no. She’s actually a rider for Early Skateboards up in Byron Bay. Still in love with skating though.
When did you start skating?
I got my first longboard in 2008, first year university. It was a huge really well paved campus and I guess I wanted to look cool going to class every day. So I picked up a little Arbor cruiser that year. Had a few high profile stacks in very public places that first year.
Did becoming a cool kid change your life?
My mom thinks I’m cool.
What are your most memorable stacks?
I’ve never broken a bone (knock on wood) but I’ve had a few close calls. The worst was in that first year of skating. Was coming back to campus at 3am from someone’s house and the last bus was peeling away from the stop, so naturally I bomb after it, entire pizza in hand. I was gonna catch it too at the next stop, but SUDDENLY: train tracks. Pizza and blood everywhere. No gloves, no helmet, didn’t have a chance.
Ham and pineapple?
Nah man pepperoni. It’s got the best calories to dollar ratio.
When did you evolve from a cruiser?
In 2009, I joined up with the UBC (my uni) Longboard Club which was supported by Landyachtz. Soon I got one of those OG drop carves and learned how to slide at the weekly Tuesday sessions we held. From there, I got a summer job at lLandyachtz and that’s when the skating got more serious.
How important are Longboard Clubs to the skate eco system?
Can’t do without them! I remember feeling super welcome at that first session. When I started to run it and organize sessions and events, it was great to see the numbers slowly grow and the level of skating increase. Without the club and a group of friends to regularly meet and challenge each other, there’s no way UBC would have so many really decent skaters.
How did LY support the club?
They hooked us up bigtime! the EH team van would come out occasionally with all the demo boards and some pros, they would give us prizes for our carpark races, and set up a really awesome booth for the UBC club expo, (which was clandestine since we aren’t an official club due to insurance and legality and all that BS). They were always really good at supporting us.
What was your role in the club?
By the end of it I was co-president with my good buddy Sean Suchan of Landy who got me into it in the first place.
Do you still ride with any of the UBC gang?
Yeah whenever I’m in van. I’ve actually met people down here, the Melburn crew, who used to skate with one of my closest UBCLBC friends, Gilbert. It’s a small world with longboarding!
What was your summer job?
Grippin’ and Shippin’. We used to grip hundreds of boards a day, all the while zoning out on audiobooks. work wasn’t work anymore it was storytime.
Epic summer. Changed my life. Which is why I went back and worked the next 3 summers at Landyachtz.
What books make Justin happy?
Favourite books? Well Ender’s Game was my favorite as a kid, still is. Nobody else had read it at landy so we audiobooked it. Im also a huge fan of The Alchemist by Paul Cohelo.
Did you learn anything in that summer working with landy?
Pretty much everything about longboards and how to ride. I was pretty clueless coming in. I tried mounting a drop through truck without taking off the hangar my first day.
Were you doing the same thing over those other summers?
Same old, same old. I worked in the seconds shop sometimes as well. Weekends were nice, just got to sit inside with the Landyachtz fat cat, Dumptruck!
What made you fall in love with the LY guys?
Well there was definitely some bromance on our many trips up to poach Giant’s Head. Expressed through the barrel of an airsoft gun after a fair few campsite beers.
What did you get up to in 2010?
Which one was that again? Ah yes of course Vancouver 2010 winter olympics! To date probably still the biggest 2 week party bender of my life. There was some other stuff too that year I guess.
Are you a famous ice luger?
Yeah but I’m the pitcher, not the catcher. Why does 2 man luge even exist?
Did you do any other races that year?
Lots of outlaw races, even more carpark races. I didn’t have the money for brittania or whistler because I was saving up to come back to Australia! Plus I wasn’t a good racer back then.
What did you enjoy about racing?
In my mind, the best part about (sanctioned) racing is that there is no chance of cars, the dangerous corners are haybaled, so you can just go 100% balls out without thinking you’re going to die if you come out of your lane. Plus the competition’s good, it makes racers ride in tighter packs.
How did the skating in Oz compare to home?
The Aussie scene at that time was way more downhill oriented than the freeride side which was more popular in Van. I remember knowing nobody who skated in Sydney, seeing someone with a LY 9two5 on the train and striking up a conversation. Next day I was skating with him and the Sydney City Bombsquad, day after that I got invited out to Mt. Kiera with Jacko and Cam Kite for my first ever DH. I was terrified but I wasn’t about to puss out around those guys. The Aussies have a really good tight knit inclusive community, I love skating down here.
Ching-ling said to ask what you think of Gilbert?
Haha you know Ching! Small world. Gilbert is one of the nicest dudes you will ever meet. Great friend of mine. Awful driver though.
Did the Sydney community feel different to Van?
Just because it was smaller, I felt like there was less bad blood between people. It was more inclusive. There’s no LY-Rayne kind of bitter rivalries. Everybody is super gung-ho. I guess that’s just an aussie thing.
Are things in Van more like bloods vs crips?
Nah that’s a bit of a stretch. Maybe it’s because I was way more involved in Australia than I ever was in Canada, just seemed more like a community down here to me. Probably because of the small size. Everybody knows everybody.
How did you enjoy skating Kiera?
That first day was amazing. Kiera was just punishing my legs back then. I was on a board I’d never ridden before with Jacko and Cam behind me bumping. I think they thought I was better than I was at the time. But now I can do Kiera on my Dinghy!
Did people assume you were super because you were from Van?
Well I had big standies back then I was a good free-rider, but never had the DH experience. I guess Aussies go by “he can slide, he can tuck” mentality.
You do Kiera on a little board?
Yeah I did in on my 26” OG Dinghy. My favorite board. It got a bit twitchy, but I could still do the whole thing without braking.
What sort of skating gives you the biggest jollies?
Doing things on my Dinghy that you’re meant to do on a big board.
Do you have a favourite setup?
Dinghy! Otherwise my Peacemaker with Polar Bears and yellow mini zombies.
Are any of those your sponsors?
Yep, Landyachtz has been great with supporting me with gear since I’ve moved down to Australia. And the shop I work at down here, SkaterHQ has also had my back with entry fees, leathers and events. Super grateful for all of it
Fun shop to work in?
So good. Its right on a world famous beach, across the street. So we get some bikini honeys in here sometimes. Today, we had Bob Burnquist come into the shop to buy a full setup because his bag was lost on the plane. He was competing at a Hurley comp. They built a huge bowl on the beach for it.
Dude. For real? Did he sign your shoes?
Nope. But he signed the wall of the shop, right next to Tony Hawks signature. I snuck mine in there a year ago when SkaterHQ put me on the team. So now there’s my signature there next to both of them. Do I deserve that? No.
Do you still snapchat with Tony Hawk?
Haha well there’s a guy that works at Basement Skate (formerly Hopkin) that looks exactly like Tony Hawk, and I have him on snapchat so that counts.
Do you surf?
I can, but I don’t. Three Reasons.
1 Early mornings
2 Waiting ages for 5 seconds of happiness
3 Fucking Sharks.
What is the Canadian equivalent?
I’m not sure there is one! It’s a pretty unique track as far as the shape of it goes. Pavement as well.
What has been your favourite year of skating?
Hard to say, they’ve all been great. I’ve made skating the focus of my life for the past few years and its just been the best lifestyle I could imagine.
“I’ve made skating the focus of my life for the past few years and its just been the best lifestyle I could imagine.”
If you weren’t skating, who would you be?
I’d be in second year Law School by now! I’m still going that direction, I start back at school in September but I’m really glad I took those 2 years out. It kept me sane.
What opportunities does putting the stoke first give you?
I put the stoke above going to law school right after undergrad, and that gave me 2 years in Australia to… be stoked! Beyond that, stoke just makes you overcome your fear of things. If I wasn’t stoked on it, I wouldn’t be skating DH.
Will you be a skateboarding lawyer?
I plan to have a briefcase with trucks.
When the time comes, will you be able to choose between 6 figures and road rash?
Even as a lawyer, when Thursday at 8pm rolls around, I’ll be on the art gallery steps with all the punks and kids ready to hit downtown parkades…. With my briefcase-board and suit. Nah ill ride my dinghy.
How was your 2013?
2013 was my first full year in Australia, first full year out of the parents house supporting myself, first newtons, first slide jam win, first successful video, lots of firsts. Went on a ton of long skate trips too. One of the most memorable was driving from Sydney to Townsville and back for Beat the Bastard. For those who don’t know Aussie geography, that’s a metric lightyear. We lived out of my buddy Pat’s van, “Ghengis Van”. We’re doing the same thing through Europe next summer.
What makes a successful video?
There’s way too many of the same cookie cutter longboard videos out there, and everybody and their mom has made an edit. You’ve just gotta do something that is different, it has to stand out. One Man Slide Jam was my first successful video. I put the camera on a tripod and didnt move it for the whole session while I tricked in front of it. Then in after effects, I masked and layered those shots together so I would appear in many places at once. Add a really high energy song and you’ve got a video that’s different and fun to watch. That one got picked up by a lot of people.
What do you shoot/edit with?
I edit with the Adobe Suite. Having premiere, after effects, and photoshop work seamlessly together makes things much easier. As for shooting, it depends. My mate’s Canon 7D with an epicly wide angle lens produces some of the fastest looking footage I’ve ever seen. Other than that I have a Sony Handicam for follow runs and go pros of course.
Do you like Van life?
It has its ups and downs. It’s good to be able to pull over anywhere and have a place to sleep for free. But you do get a bit tired of flavoured tuna and avocado though. It’s fine, I don’t mind being smelly.
What is Beat the Bastard?
Its a 3 day charity freeride on one of the most interesting hills in the country, Mt Stuart. It gets fast and it’s nice and cornery with the most perfect pavement you can imagine. Ruins wheels though.
What’s your slidejam finishing move?
I’ll manual down the hill to get some speed, throw into a stalefish, shuvit out and land cross stepped. It’s a goofy witchcraft trick but it always gets a few hoops and hollers.
What are your plans for this year?
I plan to leave Australia in late May, go back to Vancouver to see my little sister graduate high school, hang around there for a few months, then do 2 months in Europe living in a van. After that it’s off to Halifax, Novia Scotia, where I start my first year of law school.
Will you be doing an Eh team tour?
Not too sure what their plans are for the Euro race season. I’ll get in touch with them before I plan a route. Travelling with those guys is a riot. I caught them on their Palm Trees and Pits tour of OZ.
No Asia skating?
I’m only half filipino. Haha, nah I’d love to, I’ll try and work it in. I’ve seen some hectic things come out the Philippines especially.
VLT looks good, talk to Ching-ling for the hook up!
Sweet! I’ve skated a bit with Ching too in Vancouver. But mostly I know her from Gilbert always being on BBM fearful of the “seen but not replied” fallout happening to him.
What do you do when you’re not skating?
Come to think of it I’m living a bit of a one track life right now. I skate, work at a skate shop, go home and edit skate videos, relax and play skate 3. Is that sad?
Pick 3 numbers between 1-16.
5 3 7 ← my room number in 1st year. You’re not doing one of those origami fortune teller things are you?
5 – what’s the scariest thing that’s happened to you?
Hmm well mum might read this and I don’t want to scare her. Let’s just say the pizza train tracks incident was the scariest.
3 – what crime are you most likely to go to prison for?
I’m hoping that in a few years it won’t be a crime anymore.
7 – why did the chicken cross the road?
To eat my road pizza
It’s been pretty awesome getting to know you Dinghy man. Keep on having fun over there, maybe bump into you somewhere in Europe!
Yeah man thanks for getting me into this! Hope i see you over there.
Any last words?
Always kind of wanted my last words to be ‘oh shit!’ So I guess ill just leave it there.
Hit up my channel on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/arboo80