A few hours in Ottawa
Fun day in Ottawa with a few members of the massive Empire squad. Not a bad day! All photos @danmathieu Share thisTweet
I was at the Castlegar, BC, Skatepark one afternoon when I received a call from Daniel “Alien” Nelson. He told me that the entire Emerica team was planning to do a tour, and was going to spend a night at his house. With his recently built DIY park in his front yard and his connections as a previous Emerica Canada skater, it made sense—but what I didn’t realize was that it was the entire Emerica team coming, not just the Canadian skaters.
For two weeks I had a hard time falling asleep at night due to being so excited. I grew up in a small community twenty minutes outside of Nelson, BC, which only has the population of about 10,000 people. In other words, I grew up in the woods. I found skateboarding through old Concrete magazines and the first real full-length I watched was Stay Gold. Now, when you’re in this position, and you hear that the dudes who were a big part of the reason you started skating are staying ten minutes up the road from where you were raised, you have mixed emotions. Shock, disbelief, nervousness, and stoke are just a few of them. Once it started to sink in that I was going to be hanging with the Emerica pros at a private party, I figured I’d contribute by making an ancestral dish for the event called borscht. It’s a vegetarian soup which is very finicky to make, and with the help of my grandmother, mother, and aunt, we put together enough borscht for 20 people.
I showed up early on the day the guys were supposed to stop by. We spent the day setting up the house, food, and a space for the band called Toaster to play as well. Closer to evening, people started to skate Alien’s park and local DJ team Smoke and Lazers were playing. Around fifty of Alien’s friends showed up for the potluck and skate session. At around 8PM, the first tour van arrived. I started trippin’ out. The next van showed up shortly after, and the entire team was there: Reynolds, Figgy, Spanky, Jon Dickson, Provost, Leo Romero, Zach Allen, Victor Aceves, Christian Henry, Erick Winkowski, Alexis Lacroix, Skylar Kehr, Keiran Zimmerman, Bucky Gonzalez, Kyle Seidler, Tim Cisilino, Noel Paris, Tyler Holm, as well as Kevin Lowry, who had jumped into a van when they left Calgary.
Everything seemed to happen at once after that. Alien had installed giant LED lights off his porch to light the park, so with those on it made skating after nightfall possible. He’d also build an 87 foot long flat bar from his park down the driveway, so one after another, everyone started to challenge the never-been-done rollercoaster of a rail. Nobody made it to the end that night, but Christian Henry made it just past half-way.
It was madness: people were skating the channel gap between quarter pipes, as well as grinding the doorway flat bar which connected the two. Alien went missing for a little while; then I heard a faint rumble coming from behind the house, and then saw two lights. Alien had brought out his bobcat for those brave enough to air up and stall the top of the bucket before rolling back into the steep transition. Skylar Kehr and Colin Provost started going for it. The live band was jamming as hard as ever, Colin got into a couple of Axle Stalls, and Skylar was getting close to a Nosepick. The crowd was getting hyped from both ground level and the deck. Eventually Colin rolled away from the Axle Stall, and Skylar came in right on queue to back him up with the Nosepick.
Eventually things started to wind down a bit, so I thought it was my chance to take Reynolds aside and see if he wanted to do an interview. He was down, and graciously sat with me for nearly half an hour to discuss Emerica, trends, and how to take care of your body. Click on the photo to read the interview.
Alien had prepared a 22 foot long dinner table for all of the potluck food, and had strung Christmas lights along it for ambient lighting. There was everything a skater on tour could ever imagine: salads, shish kabobs, veggie burgers, fruit, snacks, 250 cans of beer, $500 in ribs, a Texas Mickey of Jack Daniels, Scooby snacks, and a copious amount of BC grass. Alien lit the bonfire with a blowtorch and everyone just casually hung out and ate on the deck or around the fire. People were done skating, and the party was in full force. Alien’s mom, Karen, being the veteran skate mom she is, made an Emerica Stay Gold cake for everyone to share, complete with Twizzler trucks and marshmellow wheels.
Eventually, I got ahold of Jon Dickson, and between spliffs he sat down with me to talk about joining Emerica, switch flips, and being sober for two years now. Click on the photo to read the interview.
It was getting closer to morning, and I eventually retired to my car to sleep. After an hour of realizing there was no way I’d get comfortable, I decided to head back to Aliens house to chance finding a place to lay my head. Alien let me sleep in his room, and I was so tired I ended up falling asleep on his dog Jack’s bed. Never again will I let that happen.
Three hours later I was the first one up. People started slowly rolling out of bed, and Jon Dickson was the first person I saw that morning. Alexis Lacroix woke up with some yoga, more spliffs were rolled and lit, and coffee was on. Breakfast was cooked, and by 9am most people were up. Since nobody had grinded Alien’s entire flatbar yet, Alien took it upon himself to start trying. More and more folks started jumping on it, and eventually Christian Henry was the first to roll away with a back 50-50. I got the photo, but nobody had a camera on to film. Christian did it again after a couple more tries for the clip and I got a second angle.
When everything was said and done, the park skated, the rail grinded, the beer drank, and borscht eaten, I can say that meeting the individuals who constitute Emerica has really opened my eyes to how human and humble such big names can be. The Emerica team was kind, looked you in the eye, and took time to get to know you a little. These men were, and are, so much more than Frontside-flippers and big-rail-chompers.
Story and photos by Spencer Legebokoff