Riley is a super stoked skater from Calgary, he tells us about his adventures around the world, moving to Vancouver and signing on for EDGE. He loves green but swears he’s not Slytherin.
Credit: Fox PhHi Riley, how are you?
Hey man I’m super good! Things are pretty rad right now.
Stoked for the weekend?
You have no idea. The last few weekends have either been spent driving across Canada with furniture, or obnoxiously long airplane travel, so having one finally free for time with friends, relaxation, and a beer or two is not bad at all. Mega stoked.
What makes a perfect weekend?
A little bit of everything I think. Sunshine, good hills, maybe a small party at the end of it all. I’m no stranger to a get-together here or there. Good food for sure as well. Pretty much everything pleasant makes for a perfect weekend. No drama: just riding skateboards, eating good food, being around cool people, and at least one night’s good rest.
Credit: Ben Holysh
Where are you from?
Born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It was a pretty good place to grow up. You get awesome hot and sunny summers paired with snowy winters. A really good mix of climate for when you’re a kid. Having grown up now and gotten really into longboarding, I’m totally over the cold and the snow.
Credit: George Mackenzie
How did you get into skating?
Back in the beginning of highschool for me (I guess like 8 years ago now) was when I really got into it. My brother was two years ahead of me at the same school and he decided to build a board in the woodshop as a project. Once he completed it, I got it under my feet and fell in love. It wasn’t long after that I had my hands on my very own, and from there skated all the time.
Does he still skate?
I really wish he did. Taylor and I would skate together for the first year or so but as soon as he graduated high school and shipped off to college he focused all of his time and energy on his studies, and longboarding fell to the wayside. He talked to me for a while about getting into streetluge but that never culminated. I hook the guy up with some gear here and there to try and convince him to get into it again. We’ll see how that goes. Where I am in life at this point is kind of indebted to my brother. Who knows what I’d be doing now if I hadn’t been pushed in this direction by him. Thanks bro!
Credit: Matt Harris
How did skating together shape your relationship?
It definitely brought us closer as brothers when we spent time skating. I still wish he kept at it, who knows maybe we’d be some crazy skilled downhill duo. Oh well what can you do! He just didn’t get as hooked as I did I guess.
Are there any downhill bros right now?
Well of course! I’m sure there are many rad sibling like teams out there practicing and riding together. As far as big names though I’m not sure.The Rogers Bros. are what come to my mind most. Really nice group of guys and they put out the best street luges in the business. It’s going to sound cliche, but longboarding creates this kind of family atmosphere for me. Anyone who skates downhill is a brother or sister of mine!
Credit: Diego Cardenas Sedano
Do you remember what got you hooked?
Well there’s the obvious rush of hormones like adrenaline that go along with it. I wouldn’t call myself an extreme adrenaline junky, but the feeling of it is pretty effing cool. I picked up so many new friends because of longboarding as well so that kept me coming back. I watched a lot of YouTube videos of skating back then (primarily Coast Longboarding Evolutions clips) and everything they depicted was something I wanted to learn and do one day. Here we are now, racing just like the guys in the videos from 2005-2008.
Credit: Julieta Feroz
When did you start meeting people through your new hobby?
I rode mostly by myself or with my brother for about a year and a half. I spent the time trying to learn super basic slides and because no one was giving me pointers it took me a bit longer than I’m proud of. Back in 2007, the possibilities for longboard manoeuvres weren’t quite discovered widely yet, so about 10 people in the whole world were doing stand up style slides. I was just trying to master a puck down coleman and pendulum slide. After I discovered the magic of Internet forums, I met some new people and the learning curve took to a steep upward trend.
Credit: Credit: Diego Cardenas Sedano
What did the Coast videos spark in you?
The speed, and the fun of it. It instilled an idea of the lifestyle and it was something I dreamed about every day until I achieved it.
Was the lifestyle different from your existence then?
Way different! I was a dorky video game kid who played tennis and didn’t really go to any parties (I guess I attribute that more to not being invited but oh well) or do anything really exciting. I didn’t get into skating for the parties by any means but they’re a lovely byproduct of the lifestyle. Everything about it, the sport itself, the people, the excuse to travel, it’s all wonderful.
Credit: Anna Baines
Do you enjoy skate parties now?
Dude they are awesome. It’s great knowing most people when you go to a party. Ever been to a party and you know maybe one human? They just aren’t as good. Maybe I’m not the social butterfly I should be. Anyway, the ones in really unique places are my favourite. The official planned parties are always best because it gets everyone in one place. For example, the Danger Bay campsite. Pretty much a 72 hour party with everyone in the same safe environment. Hell yes.
Was anyone skating in Calgary back then?
Yes of course. The scene in Calgary is way bigger now than it was then but that’s just the nature of it and the changes in the industry. Back then I would say there were probably less than fifty guys and girls doing any kind of downhill or sliding. Who knows how many people just had a board for cruising, but serious downhillers weren’t too common. This is in a city of 1,000,000+ citizens.
Credit: Tyler Peckham
Who are the local OGs?
Paul Kent, Aaron Christensen, and Ross Baradoy are the local OGs for sure. Paul and Aaron still live in Calgary and operate the Learn2Longboard summer camp, something I’m stoked be involved with as well. Ross moved with his wife to Switzerland a few years ago. Paul was the first guy to be doing stand up slides in Calgary. Also a rad tech slider and the best pusher the world has ever seen. Aaron is a really fun time and a great friend.
Credit: Tyler Peckham
When did you get to meet the community?
My first chance to meet the community came when I attended my first weekly ‘Saturday Night Ride’. Skaters from all over town meet at a coffee shop in the beltline on Saturday night and we take a train up a big hill to the University of Calgary. We skate, sometimes get chased out of parkades by security, and have an all around good time. You can get a turnout of up to 60 riders some weeks. After the parkade shenanigans at the University we cruise downhill through town, and end it all with a Chinese Downhill style run down Tenth Street to the best pizza in town: CPU.
Credit: Mike Lewis
We’re you still riding your home made?
So my first board actually wasn’t homemade. I opted for a complete from the local shop Red Nik: a Landyachtz Chief fiberglass pintail with Randal 180mm trucks and pink Kryptonics wheels. I did however get into making some homemade drop decks in woodshop with my brother after we got the downhill bug and wanted some different performance than a flexy topmount. They ended up being total crap without concave but we did them entirely ourselves. Laminated the wood in our homemade press and everything. There was talk of starting our own company ‘Harris Longboards’ too. We worked on a silk screen for putting our logo on the bottom of the boards and even went as far as making stickers out of address labels. It was a pretty legit fantasy. We never sold a board.
Do you remember the first time you went fast?
That all depends on what ‘fast’ means. To me, the first hill I bombed was fast. A whopping 30kph or so. Back then I wanted to hit hills before I could really control myself, that being footbreaking or sliding, both of which I could not perform. I would search for hills that had long run-outs or uphill sections at the end to do the stopping for me. Once I got the stopping thing figured out I wasn’t restricted by what hills I could hit, and starting going much faster.
Credit: Logan Bickerstaffe
What was the hardest lesson to learn?
I’m not even sure. Longboarding distracted me from my friends at high school so looking back now maybe I could have been a bit more present with them, but oh well! The ones that really matter to me from high school I’m still in touch with, so it’s all super good!
Credit: Taylor Harris
What other adventures did you have in those early days?
Other than just skating not too much. I was still an innocent teen just stoked on riding. Not too much shenanigans.
Where did the downhill bug take you?
Downhill has done so much for me. I’ve been to Australia, all over western Canada, the US, Peru, Colombia, and Brazil, and all because of longboarding! So many opportunities because of my amazing sponsors I just feel so blessed. I don’t think I would have visited a number of the places I’ve been if not for longboarding. As I said, it’s a wonderful excuse to get off your ass and actually travel.
What was the first race you attended?
First race for me was Danger Bay 7 in 2008. It was a complete longboard and party culture-shock and I’ll never forget it. First big trip ever without the parents at the age of 16 also. Stoked my parents have supported me in this journey. They know I’m staying as safe as possible and not getting into trouble! Back then I had a raggedy white, green, and black suit!
Credit: Tyler Peckham
What had you learnt by the end of it?
I learned that riding a track with no fear of cars or uphill obstacles was probably the greatest feeling for downhill. You could take whatever line down the course you wanted and there would never be a car or anything large and fixed to make a good day turn terrible. It was awesome. At that point I had achieved what I had been watching on YouTube for years prior. It was a dream literally come true.
Credit: HDH Mag
Were they scared you’d come home with a Mike Tyson tattoo?
My mother is actually very anti-tattoo haha! But no they aren’t worried. By all means, every mother in the history of the universe worries, but they continually saw I was being mature and responsible so the trips were really easy to make happen with them. Stoked they instilled the trust in me so early.
When you get a tattoo, will it be a Harry Potter lightning scar?
You know I think you’re mistaken. I never get flack for looking like Harry Potter. It was another blonde haired chap from the series and films (who shall remain nameless for my sake) that would ever inspire a Hogwarts themed tattoo on my body. But I’m not really into tattoos. I don’t think I could decide on something to be there FOREVER. Too much commitment for me.
Are you committed to skating?
It’s my life man! It’s my source of pleasure, and now my source of employment also. When I’m not travelling and skating, doing all that great stuff, out here in Vancouver I’m busting my ass at Landyachtz HQ!
Credit: Riley Harris
Is your bench next to Nick’s?
At the moment I’m assembling boards in the warehouse, but we have plans to put my business school brain into action for them!
What’s the feeling like in the office/warehouse?
It’s super welcoming. Everyone there is friends with one another. It’s awesome to be working at something you’re passionate about and genuinely want to see succeed. They want us to have fun at work. If I’m having fun at work, I’m going to work way harder. It’s a great mantra.
Is it a huge industrial complex?
I wouldn’t call it huge by any means. It’s the perfect size. I don’t really know how to describe it. It’s an interesting place each with it’s own quirks. Whether that be in the office upstairs, the warehouse, the woodshop, etc.
When did you and LY get together?
I started riding for Landyachtz in October, 2012. It’s been effing awesome ever since. They put out rad gear and the team is crazy, fun, and awesome. Stoked to be a part of it all! Now I’m here working for them! Who would have thought. Life = awesome.
Were you sponsored before that?
Yeah I was actually. A small company from Calgary called Sayshun Longboards was helping me out. Sayshun is no longer in
What did joining LY mean to you?
It meant the world. My first longboard ever was a Landyachtz, so it felt kind of like a dream. I was already hanging out with the Landyachtz team the most at events when I was with Sayshun, so it was a natural transition. Plus I enjoy riding the gear Landyachtz puts out much more than the stuff Sayshun was selling, so it was a mega bonus.
Is there an initiation ceremony?
Everyone earns their place on the team but there wasn’t any standardized initiation or anything like that. There’s some exclusive agreements and clubs inside the team, so being included in those feels like I’m fully initiated. Every Friday at Landyachtz the owners buy a couple flats of beer for the employees, commemorating a hard weeks work. If it’s your first Friday Beer Day you’re required to shotgun the beer, to fully initiate you into their workforce.
Credit: Dawn Moisenan
When did you get to race outside Canada?
I think the first race outside Canada for me was the Maryhill Festival of Speed in 2009. Every year there seems to be a new ‘thing’ about the event. For many years before I started attending it was antiquing, the act of throwing handfuls of flour in other people’s faces. In 2009 it was an all out airsoft gun war. I didn’t wish to take part and I just feared for my eyes. After that the event was moved close to Independence Day so fireworks battles are the new thing.
Credit: Jon Huey
Was it as good as you hoped?
I thought the riders there would take it the most serious of any event I’d been to, with it being a World Cup and a great venue. But it ended up being so much more. The riders take it seriously but pair that with a CRAZY party. Caught me off guard the first time.
Does your gentle disposition clash with DH’s love of shenanigans?
Not usually. I get into some harmless shenanigans from time to time also. If anything they complement one another.
What has been your favourite year of skating?
Definitely 2013. I got to the most new places and met the most new people. It was a dope year for me. Spent the large part of it travelling with Elena Corrigall, who is just lovely.
Credit: Sebastian Leon Prado
Who is Elena?
Elena is a ripper. She and I spend a bunch of time together, travelled all over skating and hanging out! We do so much together and most of the time we’re completely inseparable. She’s the IDF Women’s World Champ for 2013. She’s one of my best friends.
Credit: Sasa Pedroso
She’s your Hermione?
If I was Ron Weasely, then yup!
Would you rather be ginger or a rollerblader?
Both. I’d pull it off.
How did you meet?
Elena and I met a number of years ago through a friend. We both skated back then also. We were friends but never got super close until about 3 years ago when we both attended a dinner with friends and she swept me off my feet.
Credit: Riley Harris
Does love make skating more fun?
At first I thought this was a question about lovemaking and I was a little surprised by your forwardness! Now that I’ve actually read the question I can answer it the way you’re looking for…. It’s a double-ended sword my friend. It makes skating WAY more fun, but I can’t help but worry if she were to ever hurt herself you know?
Were you there when she crashed in Brazil?
I was in the run with her! I heard some commotion going on behind me and just as I looked back I saw her go down. I stopped immediately, The point of that run was to practice together, why go all the way down without my skate homie? I’m glad I did stop however because she was injured from that crash. I’m glad I was there to help right away. It was all pretty hectic but it got sorted and she’s doing super well now, not to mention held onto her World Title!
Credit: Fruke Alves
What is it like skating together?
It’s a blast. I especially like draft training and bump drafting. You know, for the view. She brings a positive attitude to all the skating and it’s awesome to see her excel and beat some boys. Really sick. One day that boy is gonna be me.
Where did you get to visit last year?
I went all over British Columbia, California twice, Washington, Peru, Colombia, and Brazil. At the very end of the year we we’re in Australia. That tripped spanned a little bit into 2014, it still totally counts though.
Credit: Simone Mondino
Is California your favourite place to skate?
I haven’t been to the mountains of Europe yet, but California is definitely my favourite place so far!
What setups are you loving right now?
Right now, I’m loving the Wolfshark. It’s pretty damn cool. Got myself some Bear Precisions and either some Zombie or Boss Hawgs for Freeride, and Biggie Hawgs for downhill. So legit. I might tinker with setups this year though. Landyachtz’ new Hollowtech is super cool, plus some new trucks are in development. Top secret stuff though!
New precisions or Pandas?
It’s a secret man! Something like never before…
What gave you the biggest smiles last year?
I think my birthday for sure. I spent my birthday last year in Colombia, racing the Festival de la Bajada. Elena had a bunch of secret plans for me including impromptu cake and numerous beer shotguns. I think it was the best day of my life to date.
You’re darn tootin’!
How is 2014 going?
It’s been swell! Kicked the year off in Byron Bay, Australia with thousands of others on the beach. Spent another month down under and since then I’ve been running around getting life sorted for everything here in Vancouver. Big changes in 2014 and beyond I hope!
Is life different from Calgary?
Vancouver is a much different city than Calgary. The climate is more temperate and the population is much more dense. Way easier to get around on a bicycle here, and much more culture packed into a smaller space. It was a good move.
Credit: Riley Harris
What are your plans for the future?
I’m still figuring that out. I want to create something awesome for myself and those around me, so that’s the plan for now! I really want to get to Europe this summer so hopefully that comes together. That and Colorado. Those places both seem epic.
What do you do when you’re not skating?
I watch a bit of TV here and there, I ride a single speed, and I like going to the gym. That kinda hip shit I guess.
Pick 3 numbers between 1-19.
10, 14, 5.
10 – Who’s your favourite skater?
14 – What is Victoria’s Secret?
Wikipedia tells us that “Victoria’s Secret is the largest American retailer of lingerie and was founded by Roy Raymond in 1977. 2012 sales were $6.12 billion with an operating income of $1 billion.”
5 – What’s the scariest thing that’s happened to you?
Accidentally bringing a knife to security hidden inside a tiki statue in a Costa Rican airport when I was 14. That or being jumped by Brazilian transvestites in Rio de Janeiro.
Are you and Billy in the same knife club?
I’m not cool enough yet. Maybe one day. I’ve achieved so many of my dreams already I can only hope this one comes true also.
Riley! Thank you so much for this. I had a lot of fun. You’re a good kid. Resist the vegan lifestyle. #TeamBacon.
Any last words?
Stay in school and eat your vegetables. Also shout out to the sponsors for putting awesome gear under my feet and offering me rad opportunities to skate and see new places! Thanks to Landyachtz Longboards, Bear Trucks, Hawgs Wheels, and Hammer Tape. I’m also super stoked to be the newest addition to the EDGE Board Shop Pro Team, so shout out to them also! Hells to the yeah!
Credit: Molokai Productions