Catching Up With Ryan Sheckler

Sure, he had his own MTV show and was basically the face of skateboarding for a decade…

But most people know Ryan Sheckler from the cover of Monster Children #43 where we Photoshopped him kickflipping an impossibly large gap back in 2014. Who knows, maybe his whole career’s been fake. Maybe he doesn’t even exist. Maybe he’s a corporate AI skate robot sent from the future to expedite the progression of skateboarding to an unrealistic level and destroy the culture from within. Or maybe he’s just a normal guy we called to chat about all sorts of things from the past 10 years, including the 10th anniversary of his etnies Marana pro model shoe, his new skate brand, recovering from injuries, and his very obviously Photoshopped cover of MC. You decide…

Photo: Joe Termini

Hey Ryan, how’s it going?
Good dude.

Are you down in San Clemente?
Now, we’re down in Tehachapi, California over at Woodward West.

Oh, sweet. Just for the weekend?
No, I believe this is week 2 of camp. We’ve been here for three days. We’ll leave here tomorrow and take a tour bus with a bunch of kids and go to Woodward Tahoe. I just launched a board company, Sandlot Times, so we partnered with Woodward to cover five Woodward locations. So we’re hopping on a bus and going from location to location. It’s super rad. These kids are young and they rip. It’s motivating.

Do you sort of see yourself in them at all, when you look back at your career?
In a few of them, I do. Mostly in the tenacity in wanting to land tricks and pretty much not caring about tomorrow. They just want a trick and they’ll try it all day long. They don’t care how sore they are. They don’t care about eating. These kids skate all day long. Then skate all night long. Then they go to sleep, and I don’t know how long they’re sleeping, probably not that long. And then right at breakfast they’re already jumping down the biggest obstacles at Woodward. It’s pretty rad, to say the least.

Photo courtesy etnies

I wanted to talk to you about a few things, obviously, like the 10 years of the Marana and just catch up on everything you’ve been up to these past 10 years. When you enter the design process on a signature product, are you looking at the longevity of the product as you create it? When do you know it’s going to hold up in the future?
It’s through trial and error. In my first process of creating shoes, I wanted to make something that I wanted. I was like, “I like this design, I want it this way.” And sometimes it works and some people like it. But sometimes it’s a really niche market where you’re pretty much the only one who likes it. So I’m not saying the product will fail, but maybe it won’t be in as high demand as you thought it would be. With that in mind, you have to take in a lot of consideration, like, what type of shoes are skateboarders wearing right now? What are they looking for in a shoe? The Marana was my seventh pro model. I tried six different pro shoes before that that I thought were good—and they were good. But going into the process of the Marana, I wanted it to be streamlined. I was like, “This shoe has to be different. It has to be able to withstand skateboarding at a very high level. And it has to be durable. And it has to look good. And also, the weight has to be right. It has to be a light shoe.” So it took us awhile to get it dialed. We did a lot of testing.There was a lot of science and technology that went behind the Marana. I think it just proves that if you do something right and you take your time and you really have other people in mind and it’s not just a selfish design, then it’ll stay around. So it’s not really surprising that the Marana has been around for 10 years. It’s pretty much the only shoe that I’ve skated for the past 10 years.

Oh, wow. So you still skate in it?
Oh, yeah. That’s my go-to. I’ll wear other pro model shoes just to show support, but I’m super used to the Marana. I’ve done most of the gnarliest tricks I’ve done in my life in that shoe. I go to the gym in that shoe. I used to go out in that shoe. It’s like an all-purpose sneaker.

Photo courtesy etnies

I know when you created it you said you wanted something super durable because you were skating huge shit and Street League and tons of contests. Now, 10 years later, are you still looking for those features in a shoe?
That’s a good question. The jumping still happens in my career and what I’m looking at. But it’s not all I’m looking at. All I used to look for was the big drop, big gaps, some roof that I could fling my body off of. But now I’m looking at spots a little differently. Like launch ramp spots or things I could get towed into. Weird cutty ditches. Just a different side of skateboarding. You don’t always have to jump. And I don’t think I realized that until I started getting hurt. I was like, “Oh, every session where I skate, I don’t have to go to a 14-stair. I can skate a little ditch or curb cut. Skateboarding’s fun. I don’t want to get stuck in it as the jumping guy.” But that was cool because it played its role in my career and it was dope. But now when I’m looking at shoes, it’s kind of like I said before. I’m not selfish with it. Right now, maybe I’d like a little lower profile shoe. Maybe a cup sole. Personally. But at the end of the day, these kids are still jumping and getting gnarly. And they’re getting way more technical.

Looking back at 10 years, just in life, so much stuff changes. It’s such a big chunk of time. What’s been the biggest change in skating that you’ve seen this past decade?
Accessibility. Content. I think the rapid fire of skateboarding content every single day is what’s been the biggest change, for sure. You can flick your phone on, click Instagram, and see what people are doing, and it’s so gnarly. It’s different for me. These tricks that I’m seeing people do and putting straight on Instagram makes me think, “Wait, what happened to saving clips and putting a part together and having that part live forever?” You’ll see a kid just going off and pretty much his whole Instagram is a video part that would’ve been dope if they put it all together, but tricks disappear. They disappear and they have a shelf life of a day. Maybe if you’re lucky, the whole day or even a week if it gets shared and reposted. But I don’t know, I think that’s the difference that I’m seeing—the lack of the art of the video part.

Photo courtesy etnies

Do you approach injuries differently these days now that you’re in your thirties?
Yeah, I do. I take them really seriously. I want to get back on my board and I want to be skateboarding. Before, there were times when I’d get injured and I’d look at it as a vacation, to be honest. It was like, “Ok, well I can go party. I can do whatever I want.” The doctor would tell me it would be nine months, so I was like, “Cool, I’m on vacation for nine months. I can do whatever I want and hang out while I’m recovering.” I wasn’t really working on rehabbing or going to PT. So I look at it a lot differently now. These injuries I’ve had the past 6 years—I broke both my ankles, broke my back, snapped my ACL, that’s all in the past five or six years and I’ve recovered from all of them pretty quickly. I’m still skating.

The recovery is a full-time job in itself, huh?
For sure. And now being sober, I did all of that without taking painkillers. So you actually really feel it. You feel the initial after surgery, you feel every ounce of getting your body back. It was painful, but you grow from that. There’s so much strength from actually feeling. For a lot of years, I was avoiding feeling. I didn’t want to feel.

One of the Marana anniversary colorways features a photo that Andrew Peters shot for a Monster Children cover…
Yup, one of my favorite kickflips I’ve ever done, because of how Andrew shot it.

Photo: Andrew James Peters

I remember seeing it and thinking it was Photoshopped. It didn’t look possible.
That’s the long side. There’s two options for that one, but those guys talked me into trying that one. And ya know, some of the slams—I think it’s in True and you can see some of the slams—I’m going as fast as I possibly can and somehow did it. But I really love that photo. I really love Andrew. Andrew’s such a stud. He’s a G. Skating with him and hanging out with him was always so rad. I haven’t seen him in a while and I miss that dude. Every time I see that photo, and especially when they put it in the shoe, it brings back tons of epic memories.

What was that trip like? Do you remember it at all?
That trip was wild, from what I remember. These trips all blur together, which kind of sucks to say some times. I’m on my fourth passport. I’ve been traveling my whole life. I’ll show up somewhere overseas or in Europe and be like, “Oh this place is sick. I feel like I’ve been here.” And I’ll look back in my passport and I was. I totally was, but I don’t remember. I feel so blessed because I’ve had such a rad life of traveling and experiencing things that sometimes I forget where I’ve been. But that trip was wild, for sure. We were filming a lot. We definitely were partying a lot. Australia will do that to you.

How long did that kickflip take?
I got it pretty quick, surprisingly. It took a bit to get used to it though. I think I ollied it and then went straight for the kickflip. I think I did it within 10 tries.

Photo: Joe Termini. Shot for Monster Children Issue 43.

And you beat Chima [Ferguson] to it…
Which is just by the grace of luck, bro. It’s definitely a Chima spot. I felt stoked, but I didn’t even think about that. He was probably bummed [laughs].

It’s one of those spots that everyone has looked at, right? Everyone would’ve known about it and wondered if it was possible.
Yeah, it was one of those spots too where those guys took me there so they must’ve thought I could do it. And anytime I go to a spot where it hasn’t been kickflipped, you’ve gotta try it, at least. It’s very rare nowadays to find a spot that hasn’t been kickflipped. And if just a kickflip goes down, you know it’s gotta be big.

So what’s on the agenda for your next 10 years?
Man, 10 years? I don’t even know what tomorrow holds. I don’t know what the rest of today holds, to tell you the truth. But in 10 years, I hope to have a family of my own. I’d like to have a little squad of groms. But I don’t really know what business brings or what the world’s going to do. The one thing I know, though, is that I’d like to have a family of my own. That’s definitely important to me. I’m just down for whatever comes my way. Hopefully I’m alive, and if not, I’ll be in heaven. So who knows.

More info on the etnies Marana here.

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