Words: Rob Brink
After his victory at the first Dew Tour stop in Boston last month, we gave Bucky Lasek a call to see how he felt about it. We also inquired about his thoughts on gearing up for the Portland stop this weekend and also being positioned to win his third overall Dew Tour championship. The byproduct of that conversation was a slew of other discussions… including the long lost VW Corrado, screaming children, vertical skateboarding’s immortality, street skating, Tibet, NASCAR and more. Yes, indeed, on or off the board… Bucky’s always worth paying attention to.
I thought of you just the other day because I saw an Old VW Corrado like you used to have.
Ah you did? That’s funny I was just having a conversation in the last couple weeks about the Corrados. They’re getting rarer and rarer—a dying breed.
Yeah. So what are you driving in for fun these days?
I have a BMW M3. I’ve had it for six years now.
What’s the most played out interview question you get?
Probably asking how I got started.
People still ask that? I have your first Powell Pro board hanging on my wall. Sealed. The one with all the cartoon people in the stadium. It’s dated 1998. Did you ever think in 1988 that 20 years later you’d be pro still and winning contests?
No. I never really look into the future that far. It’s kind of hard to accept… hard to get that perspective going. It’s always easier to look back than it is to look forward.
If you had to guess right now what you’d be doing in 21 more years, what would it be?
Hopefully retired and watching a session going down in my bowl.
What was the big paycheck for a contest win in 1988?
I think I won $500 bucks in my first pro contest.
And then how much do you get for winning dew tour in Boston?
I think it was $15 grand.
If you could pick one guy to knock out of the contest to make it easier for you to win, who would it be?
It would definitely be Pierre. He’s mister consistency. Him and Andy.
Do you feel like winning the first Dew event is a good sign or do you think winning that makes it harder to go to the second stop and having to maintain the lead?
I think it’s harder to win the first one. You don’t really know with the first contest, so it’s always so nerve-racking going into it. Knowing that you’ve got to do good. I guess once you set that pace it gets easier.
You also won Pro Tec this year, right?
Yeah. I won Pro Tec and Bondi.
Oh nice. You’re the first guy to win Pro Tec other than Rune and Omar, right? They kept going back and forth.
Yeah. They skate that thing all the time. I basically had to put some time into it. So I was skating it a lot before I won.
So does something like that come as a more proud victory because you put a specific amount of effort into it prior?
Well, I think it’s a different contest so it’s a different vibe. There is no bad win. Whenever you’re winning, there’s nothing bad about that. I don’t really think one’s necessarily better than the other. As long as you’re still winning.
Are you ever bummed if you don’t win something? Or if for some reason you’re not in the top three or five in a contest?
Yeah, I mean, it stinks, you know? You spend all this time skating and trying to do good. Especially last year. I did well pretty much the whole year then I fucked the last contest. But it’s not like, life-ending. It’s said and done and you move on.
Do you think Chris Miller should be bumped up to the pros for the Pro Tec contest? He hasn’t lost yet, right?
Uh huh. I think he could definitely do good. I think he has the lines but I don’t think he has the bag of tricks. He’d be top five.
Before you drop in for a run that ends up winning a contest… can you feel it? Do you know?
A lot of times you know you’re capable of doing it. You know you can make your run—you know you’re stoked on your line. The only thing that sucks is I’ve had times when I’ve skated great the whole weekend and then when it comes time to making a run, I bail every run. It sucks because you could fall on a frontside air and that just totally blows you away. You’re thinking, “Okay well I didn’t fall on my hard trick but I fell on a frontside air…” so it’s definitely a mind game.
You’ve won two overall Dew Tours. 2005 and 2006… I’m assuming you’re confident you could do it again this time, right?
The level of skateboarding is so high right now. Anybody can win any contest at this point. They could have the ride of their life… there are so many things that can pan out. It’s not like I’m out to win the championship. I just take it contest by contest and if it happens it happens. If it doesn’t then I’m not stressing over it. It seems more like in the vert world, because there’s less guys and they’re all really good contest skaters, that almost any one of them could win on any given day. Whereas if you go watch a street contest you know there’s certain guys who aren’t going to win… they’re just going to do their thing, you know?
Right. So, who would be the guy to prevent you from winning this year?
Most likely it’s going to be Pierre. That’s his bread and butter, you know? He hasn’t been skating all these other concrete contests and he hasn’t really been skating a lot of Mega Ramp either. He’s just been skating vert so he’s pretty on point right now. He’s the machine right now.
How are your knees? You’ve had a bunch of surgeries over the years…
Yeah. It comes and goes. I’m good now.
Because you won Boston are you pre-qualified for Portland?
Yes, I go straight into the finals. The top three go straight in. So that’s nice. I don’t have to stress over putting together a qualifying run and then putting together a finals run. In Boston, we didn’t really have a lot of practice time and the little bit of time I had, I had to put a qualifying run together and then with barely no time I had to put a finals run together.
Other than the obvious fact that it increases your odds of being knocked out… is there a benefit to not going straight to the finals and skating all weekend and working your way up? Like more practice… getting a rhythm going?
It depends on the situation. It depends on if there’s time. I prefer the qualifying and getting my rhythm going. But given the fact that we don’t have a lot of time this next stop, I’m all for just going straight to the finals.
When is the last time you went outside and skated street?
About two weeks ago.
Nice. So do you just cruise?
Yeah. Usually I’ll play a game of S.K.A.T.E. with whoever. I just skated with Alphonzo Rawls and went to Black Box and skated with Dan Murphy Rob Welsh and Jamie Thomas.
What’s more likely these days? A handful of street skaters who can do a trick or two on vert or a bunch of vert skaters who can do a trick or two on street?
I think I’d much rather see some street skaters skate vert than I see some vert skaters skate the street. There’s only a few vert skaters that can kinda get by on the streets these days.
I just read with Adam McNatt in Skateboarder. He said a true pro skateboarder can and should be able to skate vert and street and everything in between. Do you agree with that?
I do, but the only time it really bothers me is when someone who is only good at one thing hates on something else. I think that’s lame. It just shows they know they’re not well rounded.
I was just reading an interview with Darren Navarette in The Skateboard Mag. He was saying that he was glad “vert is dead.” Which, I totally understand his mentality in a way. But for someone like you or Pierre or Bob… you’re doing great and vert is thriving… so I was wondering what your take is on that.
The whole “vert dead thing” is kind of like a big joke to me. I mean, street’s getting dead now too. You didn’t hear? Park skating is in. Street skating is dead. Freestyle is making a comeback. Slalom is in X Games 18 and Olympics are gonna have... You know where I’m, going with that. People just need to shut up and skate…Texas-style. That’s the way I see it.
Would you rather see vert share the same stage in popularity, commonality and media coverage as street or are you okay with it being a little off balance?
I’ve always said that vert skating is like the NASCAR of our sport. It’s got more sponsors and not everyone likes NASCAR. I’m a fan. I enjoy NASCAR. I see street skating as more of a “hush-hush” kind of thing. People like to just skate it doesn’t really have a competitive side. This is a conversation that you could write a book about. It’s all hearsay, you know what I mean? Who am I to voice my opinion? Some things are just easier to market than others. There’s not a whole lot of vert ramps around. They’re hard to come by. I’m not saying that street skating is easier, but it’s a lot more convenient.
So how about having a young guy like Alex Perelson come up in vert? There’s a new hot shit street skater out there every month, but in vert it’s so rare. Is that exciting for you?
Oh I’m stoked for Alex. Alex rips. He does everything and that’s the way it should be, you know?
How important are learning new trick for you nowadays?
It’s pretty important. I get pretty bored with myself. So, if I’m not progressing I’m pretty much over it.
Is it possible to progress without learning new tricks?
For me, it’s just if I’m not learning or progressing then I better be having fun. Otherwise, I’m not really into it.
I saw you you’ve been riding your “Free Tibet” Element pro model. Why was that something you were drawn to as far as a cause or charity to support?
Well, because the Chinese government is just so inane. It’s unbelievable that people aren’t more aware of it because everyone buys all this stuff that’s made in China… and what the Chinese government is doing to these Tibetans is just seriously like, unheard of. They are just like, shooting ‘em. They’re the most peaceful people in the world. It’s kind of sad to say, but it’s similar to what we did to the Indians in America back in the day. So it’s just one of the charities that I support.
Do you bring your family to the contests or do they more often watch it on TV?
Depends on where it is. If it’s in Orlando I always bring them ‘cause we can go to Disneyworld. They’d much rather stay home and go horseback riding or something with their friends. [Baby crying in the background.]
You have three daughters… Does it ever get scary having to support a family off of skateboarding? You’ve adapted to so many different ups and downs in the industry over the years…
Well yeah, but the good thing about skateboarding is that kids are going to do it no matter what the economy looks like. Kids are still going to go out and buy skateboards.
Do you think if you weren’t supporting a family right now, your career in skateboarding might be different? Like you’ve may have been more lax over the years because you would’ve only had to worry about taking care of yourself?
I skateboard because I like to skateboard and I’m just so happy to be good enough at it that I can make money. If I didn’t have a family I would still be skating. I’d probably be skating better because I would do it more often. Being 36 and having three kids is not the easiest thing when you’re competing against 18 year-olds that having nothing else to do but skate, you know?
Do you ever envision moving back to Maryland or is California home?
Nah. I’d say California is home. It’s where every day is 70 degrees. I don’t see how I could ever give that up.
Surely. If you could bring one childhood memory or experience back to your life and have it with you now, what would it be?
Maybe just being 18 again. Without a screaming kid on my hip.
What’s the most strange or outrageous rumor you’ve ever heard or read about yourself?
Vert is dead.