Alex tells us about his early days skating in Portland, adventures around the world, developing his pro model with Stalk It and joining These Wheels. Stoked!
Morning Alex, how are you?
I’m doing great, how about yourself?
Rad! How is your week going?
I’m stoked because we got some good weather for the first time in a while. It’s normally pretty rainy here in Oregon, so you have to take advantage of those dry days.
Are you Oregonian?
I sure am!
Fun place to grow up?
Yeah it is awesome here. The coast is a couple hours away, maryhill is a couple hours away, Mt. Hood (snowboarding) is only a couple hours away. We have it all! Not to mention great hills.
Does you skate background make it easy?
Maybe a little. I picked it up fast, but I am by no means a good snowboarder.
How does it help your skating?
The consequences of falling are pretty small. You can practice riding switch all day and never get hurt from falling. It is a good place to learn different slides and movements.
When did you first pick up a skateboard?
I picked up skateboarding when I was about seven years old. I didn’t pick up a longboard until I was about fifteen.
Did the big soft wheels change skating for you?
Hmm, I’m not sure it really changed skating for me. I’d say that it made me realize there is more I can do on a skateboard than just tricks. I had always enjoyed riding my board around, a longer wheelbase and soft wheels just made that easier.
How long did it take you to start going fast?
Not too long. By the time I started to ride downhill I was already comfortable on a board. When I started I was riding a pintail without gloves or anything. That limited the speed I could reach safely.
When did you find the local community?
I was introduced to the local community through the guys at Eastside Longboards. They were my first sponsor and sort of guided me into the local scene. The Portland scene is very welcoming. They have events set up specifically for beginners and there are a few places you can take introductory classes.
How come you got sponsored so early?
I think they saw potential in me and wanted to help me out. I was skating with them a lot, riding fast, and it just seemed like a good fit.
Who were the guys you were learning from?
I learned a lot from the Eastside Team. That would be Robin McGuirk, Eric Hovey, Nick Calafato, Casey Morrow, and a few other guys. There were other skaters in Portland though that helped me progress my skating.
Are there many events over there?
There are a ton of events in Portland! They’ve had monthly races at the switchbacks in Portland (a local spot), and numerous downhill races over the years. Portland is a very skate friendly city so it’s easy get sessions going.
Do you remember the first one you attended?
My first event was a little outlaw in Salem, Oregon. It was timed runs on a really muddy trail in the forest. I won and was super stoked. My first legit event was Danger Bayyear? 8?. It was the year Dalua won. I got to the second round so that was cool.
Were you surprised at the result?
Yeah, I had no expectations of doing well or anything. It just happened by chance I think. There were definitely better riders there.
Was Danger Bay as good as you’d hoped?
It was different than I expected, but in a good way. Seeing all the pro riders for the first time was really cool. I went into the event without any expectations other than to have fun, so having a smooth trip and doing well in the race made me really happy and stoked on skating. I got hooked on racing pretty early.
Who were you most stoke about seeing?
Hmm that’s a good question. Probably Scott “Scoot” Smith. He was the first downhill rider I looked up to. Kevin too I suppose. I was more just stoked to see their riding in person. They were such good riders and I had never seen anyone ride with that much style and speed before. I learned a lot for sure.
What was your first big competitive season?
I’d say 2011 was my first big competitive season. I travelled to Europe with the Otang crew that year and did pretty well in quite a few races. I ended up 4th in the series somehow. 2012 was my first time racing the entire world cup series. It felt like harder racing, but I ended up with my first world cup win and finished off the series 4th overall again.
What were you riding that year?
In 2011 I decided to go without a board sponsor, but rode Otangs. In 2012 I picked up Stalk It Longboards as my board sponsor. I’ve been riding Stalk It, Otangs, and Aera for quite a while, but I’m switching things up for 2014. I’m still with Stalk It and Aera, but I left Otang for These Wheels.
Do you skate better without that pressure?
I’ve always skated better under pressure. I don’t find that it takes away the fun like it does for a lot of people. I would want to do well either way, but I think having the pressure gives me a little push to try even harder.
What is Stalk It?
Stalk It is the board company I’m riding for. I picked them up as a sponsor in 2012 when they had just created the company. I liked what they stood for being a “green” company and they genuinely wanted to support the skate community. The first couple years with them we were trying to figure out who we were as a company. Now for 2014, we are going to have a full line of boards. Keep an eye out, they are rad.
Was anyone else racing on their boards in 2012?
Not in 2012, we weren’t selling downhill boards yet. In 2013 a couple riders were, but we hadn’t really gotten into the market yet. That’ll all change for 2014! I’ll have to send you one!
Why didn’t you go with one of the existing brands?
I almost went with a very popular board company, but for reasons I won’t explain, I didn’t. I think a lot of board companies don’t treat their riders too great. I wanted a company that made me feel like I was part of the family and supported me. I didn’t want to just be handed a couple boards and expected to go advertise for them. That’s not how it should work. Riders in many ways are undervalued in skateboarding.
“…I didn’t want to just be handed a couple boards and expected to go advertise for them. That’s not how it should work. Riders in many ways are undervalued in skateboarding
How should riders be treated by their board sponsor?
It seems like a lot of companies are doing away with having a core team, and trying to create a whole bunch of “ambassadors.” Many of these riders are people the company doesn’t actually know, but they agree to promote the company in exchange for a small amount of free product. I’d rather see a company support a small team or riders that they know and are friends with. It shows that the company actually cares about their riders and wants to support them.
Who is behind Stalk It?
Lane Segerstrom in the owner. Stalk It makes surfboards, snowboards, skis, and skateboards. I’m in charge of a lot of the skateboard section of Stalk It. We’re still a small company, but we want to expand the team in the coming years.
Is it just you and Esaja on the skate team?
For now yeah, there are a couple other guys we have flowed boards, but we aren’t expanding the team yet.
What kind of personnel would fit?
Friends that shred. A skate team has to feel like a family. I have a few guys in mind for the team, but I’m not telling haha.
North American guys & girls?
How Green are you guys?
Stalk It is incorporating a material called CornBoard into their boards. Basically, they take the corn stover left over after a harvest and make it into a press board. They can then put a ply of that into the boards. Other than that ply of CornBoard, we use Maple for the plys. Some boards have more CornBoard than others.
Are they all made locally?
The boards are all made in house in the USA. That way we can make sure we are producing quality boards. Not that cheap Chinese made stuff.
Have you figured out who you are as a company?
We’re getting there, but that’s a never ending process.
So 2012, your first year riding for Stalk It. Where did you skate?
Australia, Europe, North and South America, and Africa. Lots of traveling! It was fun though because I made a lot of friends and had a lot of cool experiences.
Did it feel special skating in Africa?
It was definitely a cool experience. I stayed with Raoul Van Den Berg and Murrey Chandler. They were excellent hosts. I didn’t get to stay long, just enough time to race at Hot Heels and do a little sight seeing.
What events did you hit in Europe?
In 2013 I hit Kozakov, Peyragudes, and that’s it. 2012 I hit Kozakov, Peyragues, and Teolo.
That follow cam with 3heads was sick. How fast was that speed check?
Thanks! The speed check in the video actually wasn’t all that fast. The film car goes slower than the riders so we were just cruising behind it. The speed checks without the film car were the fastest.
What do you enjoy about skating in Europe?
They have the sickest roads around! Hairpins for miles! Literally. It’s a completely different environment than skating anywhere else. Each continent has their own style of road building it seems. Europe style is good.
What has been your most fun year of skating?
This past year for sure. The more I skate, the more I progress. Skating just keeps getting more and more fun. I made a lot of new friends last year and feel that I learned a lot too.
In what ways did you progress as a human, and skater?
I’ve been a skater for over 14 years now so skateboarding is all I know. I think that traveling and having the experiences on the road really helped me grow as a person and a skater. You learn to skate different terrain and are exposed to different cultures. It really opens up your eyes to how other people live.
What pushes your hunger for progression?
I think this is true for everyone, but I just want to be the best that I can be. Progressing my skating is just part of being a skateboarder. It’s fun, challenging, and it gives me a way of expressing myself.
“Progressing my skating is just part of being a skateboarder. It’s fun, challenging, and it gives me a way of expressing myself”.
Aside from skating, do you have other ways to express yourself?
Yeah, I like to spend a lot of time outdoors. Rock climbing is a hobby of mine. As is hiking and doing adventurous stuff like that. Mostly just skating though haha
Are friends your best thing about skating?
They are definitely a big part of it. One part of skateboarding that I love is the community. I have friends all over the world and we all share the same passion of skating. I also have my friends in Portland that I skate with all the time. They’re the most fun guys to ride with for sure.
What’s your role in the Portland community?
I actually live in a small town just outside of Portland called Happy Valley. I try to help film and progress everyone’s skating. I’m gone so much that I can’t organize events. JP, from Portland, is probably responsible for the biggest growth of the scene here. He help organize so many events it is crazy.
Who are your favourite people to skate with?
My friends in Portland. I skate with them the most and we help push each other. I also really enjoy riding with my friends from other countries. I don’t get to ride with them much so when I do it is a cool experience.
Is downhill skating changing?
Oh yeah. It’s growing a whole lot and with that growth comes change. People always seem worried that it is losing it’s core family aspect, but that core family will always be there no matter how large it grows. As long as you skate for fun, it shouldn’t matter why other people skate.
“As long as you skate for fun, it shouldn’t matter why other people skate.”
You mentioned earlier you were switching to These this year, why the change?
These wheels is leading the charge when it comes to wheel design. They see the importance in having a high quality product. Another big reason is that These wheels has a really tight knit team. I am friends with all the riders and that makes skating/travelling with them a lot more fun. I feel like an important part of the Team.
What setup will you be racing this year?
I’m going to be riding my Stalk It pro-model, These Wheels, and Aera Trucks.
The Tongue? The AT? The AT TACKER?
Right now it’s just called the Alex Tongue pro-model.
Can we call it the Bacon Tongue?
Hmm bacon is Pat’s thing, but you can call it whatever you’d like.
What are the tech specs?
It is a top mount with small flares in the concave above the wheels and very mild W concave.
Wheelbase: 28-30” (might change soon…)
There will be three different versions of the board available in 2014.
Will you be riding Stalk It in 10 years?
I probably won’t be sponsored in 10 years, but I will still be riding and most likely on a Stalk It board. They’re such high quality boards it may even be the same board I’m riding now.
What opportunities have being part of this family given you?
Stalk It has been a huge supporter of me. They really believe in me and back me 100%. They’ve done everything they can to help me and my skating.
What are your plans for this year?
For 2014 I’m going to try and race the entire world cup circuit as well as hit some independent races and freerides. I’d like to get some videos filmed too. Keep an eye out for my upcoming These Wheels video.
Who are you working with on the video?
I’m going to be working with Kevin and other filmers from These. I’m not totally sure yet, but it should be a sick video.
What do you do when you’re not skating?
In the winter I attend school at Portland State University. I’m getting a degree in marketing while skating. The two go together well. I also keep in shape and skate a whole lot if the weather permits. I’m usually skating if I can whether it be at the skatepark, or hills.
Pick 3 numbers between 1-20.
1, 11, 20
1 – If you had to be a bad guy in a movie, who would you be?
I don’t know. Maybe Darth Vader or the joker or something.
11 – Justen Ortiz asks: if you could combine 2 animals to create the most deadly animal on earth, what would those two animals be?
A human and a T-Rex. Imagine a T-Rex with opposable thumbs. It’d be unstoppable.
20 – Lyndsay McLaren asks – what is your dream skate destination?
I’ve always wanted to skate something in Asia. Find some amazing road that no one knows up. I’m still on the lookout for my dream road. I’ll let you know when I find it.
Too tripped on this conversation bro. Thank you for time, stoked for this first chapter of the Alex Tongue biography!
It was my pleasure! Thanks for the interview.
Any last words?
For sure. Thanks for the interview. Shout out to my sponsors: Stalk It Longboards, These Wheels, Daddies Board Shop, and Aera Trucks. Also a shout out to my parents and everyone who has supported me over the years!
Follow me on Instagram and Twitter @alextongue
”These” photos by These™ wheels