Andrew Pletan: NoCoast Skater

Stoked for this conversation with the Oklahomie Andrew. He tells us about the local community, the upcoming Davis City race and ”Big Country” pizza. Yum.IMG_0706 Hi Andrew, how are you?
Hey, Gbemi! Doing really well. How’re you doing today?

Great, no bacon in my sandwich though!
That’s just tragic. Fortunately the muffin I just ate had plenty of bacon involved!

And cheese?
Bacon, egg and cheese. The best kind of muffin.

Where are you from?
All over the great plains region of the US; born in Nebraska, grew up in Tulsa, OK, lived around DFW, TX for a couple years and now I’m up at Oklahoma State in Stillwater, OK. Pretty much anywhere that’s lacking hills.

Where did you find skating?
I actually didn’t start skating until someone put a longboard under my feet. Some s9 pintail when I was a junior in high-school. Some buddies of mine started making decks out of flat plies of birch to push around town and we took off from there. Eventually we discovered this whole community of guys raging down mountain roads all over the world and had to do the same thing. Riding more traditional skateboards came much later for me.

Who were the other trouble makers?
There was a solid group of seven or eight of us from my home town. I think I’m the only one still skating regularly; the Terra-serf crew. There’s a boat-load of shameful videos of us putting around on Youtube still. Definitely had unreasonable amounts of fun though.

Where did you guys skate?
We spent a lot of time on some hideously mellow (maybe 2-5% grade) hills trying to learn colemans and the classic double-hand toeside. Eventually we started finding hills that were more suitable to our goals but it was slow going. Even now we spend a lot of time on Google Earth and travelling to skate roads where we can push our limits.

What do you hope to achieve by pushing it?
To be able to do what you want while going down the hill, right? For me it’s sliding less and keeping my hands up more. IMG_1021
How did you discover the community?
Silverfish and YouTube. Interest led to Google which led to Silverfish which led to that Whirling Dervish video and we were hit with the idea that you could do something on a “longboard” other than just push around town and cruise. I had to see more videos and found some oldies of Louis Pilloni killing it on a Vanguard and some of the original “Danger Bay to LA videos.” If you haven’t seen them, you should take a look back.

Did you do any of the challenges?
Nope. I learned a few of the footwork moves, but once I saw people going fast, grabbing rail and putting their hands down I kinda lost track of the dancing/freestyle stuff. I just wanted to race my friends and slide in between.

What was the next stage of your evolution?
I started skating with a crew of younger guys when I came back to Oklahoma that were really into technical standup freeriding and racing. Dave “Gnomesteeze” Atess was hosting SLC races for locals and there was a short lived “trick of the week” kind of deal going on to encourage everyone to learn slide-shuvs or switch-toesides. It was the kind of skating I was really into. We started doing a lot of travelling and figured out that the things we were doing on our local bunny-slopes were letting us hit roads that we would have brushed off as “unskateable” in the past. Kick tails got trendy and they make boring hills better so that’s been happening too.

“When you’re going fast, especially drifting, there’s not a whole lot of other things that can be going on in your head. It’s a kind of focus that is entirely unintentional and engrossing.”

Why did you enjoy this kind of skating?
When you’re going fast, especially drifting, there’s not a whole lot of other things that can be going on in your head. It’s a kind of focus that is entirely unintentional and engrossing.

What were you riding then?
I’ve always been into directional topmounts. Which one I’m on at any time fluctuates pretty wildly but right now I’m playing around on a DB Robot Special – you actually hooked that up!

Loving it?
Beyond stoked on it. Spencer Smith is nicknamed the Scientist for a good reason. I’m working on a review for it now so I’ll keep some of my thoughts on it for later.

Is there a big community out there?
Our numbers in Stillwater have dwindled but the scene in Oklahoma as a whole has exploded. Tulsa is packed full of groms that are 90 blasting big standups and hosting their own outlaw races. Oklahoma City has had a solid crew for a long time and Kyle Ramsey is always keeping them in line while fuelling some stoke and pumping out media–groms down there are absurdly talented. Forces us older guys (never thought 24 would feel so old) to keep our game up.

Who are your favourite groms?
Oklahoma City has been pumping out some rad dudes. Knute Neby and Billy Owens blow me away every time I skate with them but all of ‘em are fast, talented, and give us big guys a run for our money. Tulsa’s Alex Jones and Bryce Noe have been killing it as well.
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Race/freeriding?
All of them kill it at freeriding; we’ve been struggling to get all of them racing but the Tulsa boys hosted their own outlaw a couple weeks ago and I hear OKC grom Kyle Calvert walked away with a fat cash pot for first. Alex Jones actually podiumed at last weekend’s Triple Theat race (aka the Drunkle Threat Outlaw World Championship). Knute has been doing really well at races, himself, hanging with guys with an easy 50 lbs heavier at our first race of the year on a longer, faster road.

What are the events on the local calendar?
Our third time racing the “triple threat” is went down this last weekend. It’s a narrow road with three tight corners – not super fast but a really good time for everyone and some good practice for the groms. Texan Seth Gouker has organized Oklahoma’s first sanctioned race in Davis City going down March 7-9th. Really hyped on that one and all the people it will bring out.

How did you do in the race?
Haha, I actually blew it in semis after being super amped on all my practice runs and heats leading up to it. With a narrow road and everyone going really hard it got a little hairy and it was interesting to see who made it without flying off the road.

What’s your favourite race on the calendar?
So far it’s been the Machado Outlaw hosted by Kyle Ramsey. A huge crew of rippers meet up in eastern Oklahoma to skate fast roads in the middle of nowhere. Tent cities, friendly park rangers and stoked farmers. This years should prove to be even bigger and more excellent. IMG_0480

What is the track like?
Machado itself is maybe ¾- 1 mile long, has a gnarly righty “crash corner” and the faster guys hit right around 50. A few sections have some mean bacon pave that’ll toss you around and it gets really hectic in a pack. Last year, the event started in Arkansas with a bunch of group mobs down a long, fast, Arkansas classic with pristine pavement ending in a park before we moved to the actual race hill.

Where would the Oklahomies be without KR?
Kyle’s had a huge influence on the scene in terms of organization and exposure. He’s the guy making sure downhill skating will be around in Oklahoma for a long time and that nobody’s blowing it for the group. Most people you run into on a hill are hoping to eventually get themselves hyped or picked up by sponsors. Kyle is always looking to get the scene hyped and to help out his buddies first. Get him ryled up with some kooky shenanigans though and you’re in trouble. He knows how to make sure everyone is having a good time.

Have you done any skating outside OK?
I spent a couple years skating with the locals in northern TX, but never did anything too exciting. Last year was the first time I’ve travelled to hit big roads, road-tripping to New Mexico with the Stillwater crew. ABQ has some of the most hospitable locals. Arkansas and Missouri have some hidden treasures as well, in terms of both roads and skaters. Hitting new terrain has been excellent and I’m hoping to travel further and more often this year. IMG_0336

Was it scary the first time you hit a big outside hill?
I don’t think I would have noticed if it were.  It was effectively the fruition of all of the hours we had spent on our skateboards, musing on the kind of skating we’ve seen in videos. When bigger roads presented us with the opportunity to utilize  we were just relieved to be doing what we spent so long imagining.

Are the rules different on bigger roads?
Definitely not. Staying in your lane is definitely a much bigger deal when you’re skating roads with corners versus our straight-as-an-arrow home hills, but the smile-and-wave, skate-like-a-ninja mentality is important no matter what road you’re on. Same goes for any other de facto skate rule.

Who else is in the Stillwater crew?
Dave Atess, Gerrit Hoover, Matt Millis and Blake Pesetsky are the guys that are skating most often and doing the bulk of the travelling. Kavon Zamanian counts even though he’s moved back to Texas.
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Who is Kavon?
Kavon Zamanian is a Texas boy who spent a couple years up here in Stillwater. He’s the brains and hard work behind Red Dirt Media and slays both in front of and behind the camera. Back in Texas and missed up here, but he’s been doing some cool stuff down there.

Why did it take so long to have a sanctioned race?
Primarily a poor number of hills. The stigma of skateboards is pretty rampant in Oklahoma as well, so towns and neighbourhoods aren’t very receptive as they suppose we’re all just a bunch of hooligans carrying spray-paint bottles and trying to get hit by cars. Davis is being held at a Church camp! They seem pretty open minded, so hopefully this event will go a long way in helping gain some appreciation and acceptance from the non-skating community.

Do you have a lot of trouble with The Man?
It varies. We’ve had homeowners throw bags of sand on roads to make them unskateable and, conversely, come out in lawn chairs offering pizza. I’ve been told I was inciting a riot by skating with more than 3 people and even informed that, because I’m occupying the road improperly, if The Man were to “accidentally” run me over, he would then carry the burden of informing my family it was my own fault. We’ve also had authorities stop to watch us, so it’s pretty hit or miss like anywhere else. IMG_1240

What flavour pizza?
We have a Pizza here in Oklahoma called the ‘Big Country.’ You said you like bacon?

Do woods shit in the bears?
Yes.

What are you looking forward to most about the race?
Chilling with all my good friends for three days on a closed road. Racing is going to be a blast but having a big reunion with friends from all over and meeting more nice people is always the highlight to me.

“…I think everyone goes into competition with a little devil on their shoulder hoping to prove something, be it that they’re better than someone else or just to get someone to recognize that they’ve been working towards getting as fast and as technically consistent as they can get.”

What do you enjoy about competing?
I’d really like to say something like “Just getting to test all the skills we’ve developed in an environment that forces us to give 100% no matter how hairy it gets,” but I think everyone goes into competition with a little devil on their shoulder hoping to prove something, be it that they’re better than someone else or just to get someone to recognize that they’ve been working towards getting as fast and as technically consistent as they can get. IMG_0386

Tell me about your 2013 adventures!
2013 was beyond exciting. I left my home hills for the first time and met a lot of guys experiencing a kind of convergent evolution on their skateboards. I celebrated the summer solstice in Arkansas with reggae music and big hills and got poison ivy in my road rash. I won a couple NoCoast local races and fulfilled Dave Gnome’s prophecies of scrubbing out at others. I learned switch toesides and stopped doing switch toesides. Experienced skate-drama on the internet and skate-stoke on the internet and learned that the internet is not where skating happens. Overall I think 2013 set me up for an incredible 2014 and beyond.

…the internet is not where skating happens.

What point are you in your evolution?
The go fast, have fun, forget about switch point. It’s been pretty enjoyable so far.

Who’s your favourite internet drama king?
We like to joke that Dave is the best person alive at the internet, so he probably has my vote. IMG_0323

How has this year gone?
Aside from the cold weather it has been excellent. We’ve had two local outlaws that lucked out with 50*F weather and the winds have been making some of our local hills a little faster than usual so it has been a pretty good time.

What are you looking forward to for the rest of the year?
Definitely looking forward to the upcoming events, Davis and the next Machado Classic, and getting to do more travelling than last year. Warmer weather will mean fun things start happening.

Do you guys have a NoCoast van?
If only. We do a pretty solid job on caravaning but we’re pretty spread out and probably too unmotivated, or unconcerned.

What do you do when you’re not skating?
I have the greatest little boy that keeps me busy, work at a donut shop at 2am and go to classes in between. I may have bitten off a little more than I could chew this semester but we’ll see. IMG_1320

Pick 3 numbers!
4, 9, 12.

4 – Who is your favourite skater?
I’ve always really enjoyed watching guys like Max Dubler and Matt Kienzle. They both kill it on video going way too fast and keeping their hands up.

9 – What song would you like played at your funeral?
“Let Me In Your Life” by Bill Withers. Not for any reason in particular. Bill just kills it and I bet that one would get everybody all lovey and stuff. Right?

12 – What’s your least favourite movie?
A Walk to Remember. Seriously though. Seriously.

Andrew! Thank you for your time, it’s been fun doing this. Looking forward to all the future stoke.
For sure! It’s been super fun. I appreciate you taking the time!

Any last words?
Go skate.

Links.
http://nocoast-skate.com/

Photos by Kyle Ramsey!

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