Words and photography by Samuel McGuire
It’s difficult writing something new about someone so celebrated, for good and bad, in skateboard media over the years. Ryan’s life is arguably a deviation from The Truman Show, and sponsored since age 7, he’s spent more of it in front of a camera than not. In a confusing world that strangely turns its back on him some years while eagerly anticipating his video part the next, Ryan hovers between a normal kid from San Clemente – who, like you and I, wants to hang and skate with our friends – and the media celebrity he’s grown into. I met Sheckler in the fall of 2010 on King of The Road where we held down the back panel during the whole trip and I got to know him pretty well. I got to see Ryan’s intensity – long van rides of him sleeping to a pit stop spot check and an unexplainable spike in energy resulting in some of the gnarliest tricks I’ve ever seen. He’ll see a 13-stair at the morning coffee spot and get so hyped he’ll start going for tricks and then after landing the tricks, laugh at what a dork he is for getting so hyped he forgot to eat first—which is why it’s so awesome traveling and skating with him; he’s always doing something awesome. That’s the reason we always tune back in. This past week I caught up with Ryan to talk about his life this year, the etnies Marana and his future plans:
Let’s just get right to it. How is the Plan B video coming? It’s coming along very well; we are actually just about to leave for China this week. We’ve been filming a bunch and I’m gonna have a full part. Sometime next year it should be out. It’s gonna be amazing.
It’s the whole team – Danny Way and everyone? The whole team.
Any crazy demos, or big mega ramp stuff planned for those dudes? Nope, just a Plan B video filming trip. Street Colin and Street Danny are coming out.
Street Danny goes hard. Street Danny goes hard in the paint. Danny Way is just a gnarly human being. Have you seen his documentary yet? It’s incredible. It’s sad too, dude, it’s just gnarly; you’ll tear up. It’s gnarly because you think you know he’s gone through so much stuff, but then you see the video and it’s only half the things he’s been through. It’s like, how did he even think of skateboarding with all that stuff going on?
Does he intimidate you? I’ve heard he’s a very intimidating dude just in how gnarly he is. No. I respect his strength and his will power. He’s a complete beast. I love him to death. I think it’s interesting everything he has to say; he’s very animated and it’s awesome. He’s funny.
What’s the story with the Mega Ramp? How did that all go down? That was just Danny telling me he knew 100% that I could do it. I knew I could do it. I just wanted to feel that drop in and have an understanding of what I’m watching when I see the mega ramp dudes go crazy. I just wanted to feel it. He was just like, “Go, you got it. Go right now.” So we went.
You just went right then? Yeah then he dropped in and tried to do a rocket air backflip over the 75 foot jump not even warmed up. I just got so psyched, I dropped in and I ollied it and then I did a kickflip indy.
So once you ollied it, were you like, “alright I got this”? Totally, yeah it was just fun at that point. I probably dropped in on that thing about 10 times. Never hit the QP though; got too scared for that. (Laughs)
It’s got to be amazing to skate with all of those guys. Dude, they are so good. It makes me trip out, like – I don’t know – I got to get on my grind and learn new tricks. Dude, Felipe does shit that does not make sense.
Speaking of tours, where have you been recently that you’ve liked? Um, man, I’ve been so all over the place this year. What was sick this year? Germany, Vienna and Amsterdam were super fun with the etnies crew.
Have you noticed on trips that you don’t have to pack as many shoes with the Marana? Average Tour maybe 10 days? Yeah 10 day tour for sure. I wear them ‘til I can’t wear them anymore. Honestly the past few pairs have worn out on the sole before the toe area because they are built so durable. It’s gnarly. It’s rad, though – you can bring your chill shoe and your skate shoe and you’re good to go.
How did the Marana come about? Was it a team shoe you skated a lot or did you have a lot of say in the design? No, the Marana, we built it from the ground up. So I had an idea to create a new shoe but Kubota and I – well everyone kind of talked about how we didn’t really want to call it the “Sheckler 7”, so I thought it’d be cool to name it after the street I lived on.
Why did you want to make such a durable shoe, especially in a time when vulcanized, small, thin shoes are popular? I just got tired of heel bruises and having a pair of shoes I really liked but only being able to skate them for 4 or 5 sessions cause they would blow out. So I kind of just wanted to go towards that skatepark skater kid who’s just skating everyday and doesn’t have the time or means to be buying shoes all the time. I just wanted something super durable and something like the Marana that, once it breaks in, it’s one of the most comfy shoes to wear that lasts.
I think that kids think Pros skate new stuff every time they go skate, and I was surprised to find out that most Pros don’t. Do you think having a half worn-in shoe or board helps you feel more comfortable to skate? I think that yeah, skating in broken in shoes is probably my favorite. That’s the good part about this shoe is that it lasts long enough for you to get to that point. You skate in it long enough it starts to mold to your foot so you can start learning faster, and then it will last after that so you can feel comfortable skating in it for a while after.
Yeah I want to try a pair out. You gotta get a pair, man. That’s what’s crazy – they last fore-ev-er.
Let’s talk about Sheckler Sessions. How’d that all come about? Through Red Bull having their own channel on YouTube. They wanted to know if I wanted to be a part of it and I said, “Yeah, sure. We’ll just film whatever I’m doing and give it to you.” It’s been working out nice. No scripts. I just explain where we are at and I just skate and do what we are doing. It’s pretty mellow.
Is it a fun excuse for you to do cool shit you’ve always wanted to do? Yeah, it’s really fun. I try to get everyone involved – all my friends. I got to go skydiving… a bunch of cool stuff.
Was Hawaii your first time skydiving? Yeah, first time.
Scary? Uh, yeah (laughs)
I’ve always thought the scariest part of the skydive would be when you’re hanging by your chute, just high enough to realize how high you really are but with nothing but the chute holding you up. Dude, totally – it was. We jumped tandem so I was strapped to a guy and while hanging there, the guy loosened up my straps so it’d be more comfortable and I thought I was falling out! I lost it, man; it was so scary.
Now that you’ve done that, do you think you can pull off the skydive from space? Absolutely not. That’d be the end of my career. No, I’d skydive again but it’s scary.
So on this past trip to Europe, you got to see Willow turn Pro... I love Willow, dude. That’s my dude. When I first met him I instantly knew he was my homie; he was a friend. He’s a warrior, man. He’s been through a lot and he kills it.
How was it being there when he got surprised with his first pro board? Was it the first time you’d seen Willow speechless? Yeah it really was… cause his family was there and he loves his family so much, which is big for me. He got all amped up. It was really rad to see.
Yeah that was a big moment in his life. And he’s such a rad guy. It was epic being there. Yeah, so gnar. Are you kidding me? It was so rad… well deserved. That nollie tre-flip he did on that double set in Berlin… It’s so gnarly. He does it so good. One: how do you commit to that? And two: nollie tre-flip just seems so not right (laughs).
That’s also where you shot the switch flip photo for the ad. Was there any story behind that? That day was just another… dumb Ryan… I don’t know. First spot of the day.
Before breakfast, dude, you didn’t even eat. I remember because fat boy was cranky and wanted food and coffee. And here you were, already jumping down this 13-stair. Oh my god, yeah. It was really cool. It was at a train station, the main cathedral in Cologne and the energy was really cool, a lot of people around so it wasn’t like I was skating and everyone was watching only me. There was so much going on; me skating just kind of fit in so I was hyped.
Plus, it was at the cathedral, which looks epic. Yeah and I don’t really switch flip much; I haven’t quite figured it out on big shit, so to be able to get one down something big was awesome.
It’s funny because you did another trick before and as I was setting up you were hyped and in passing you looked at me and said, “Are you ready? Don’t mess this up; I only want to do this once.” (Laughs)
And it got so in my head like, “Do I always mess his photos up? Is it a bad angle?” Haha, yeah I don’t really even remember saying that; I was just caught up in the moment jumping down that big set.
So when you started doing the switch flip I was just having a full anxiety attack. I ran over to the bridge and you threw one out, and luckily I had done a test shot with the lens on Auto Focus cause you landed the next one. I was going to take it later and just panicked and heard the shutter go off – you land it and I just had this sinking feeling that I blew it. I didn’t even look at the photo for the rest of the day; I kind of hid from everyone packing up thinking I blew it until I saw it that night. It’s crazy how it works out like that sometimes. Yeah sorry – I don’t even remember saying that at all… (Laughs)
It’s funny cause without you saying that and me freaking out, I might have actually blown the photo... Haha, that’s tight. That’s awesome, dude. Well it turned out super rad.
So this year is your 15th year at etnies; how’s that feel? It makes me feel old (laughs). It’s gnarly, dude – I’m 22, I’ve been on something my whole life. Oh it’s amazing; don’t get me wrong. It’s just trippy to think about it. That’s a long commitment, you know, from both sides. I’m just so psyched things have worked out. I’ve got the support I needed from the Brand; that’s like, on some family shit.
So how did you end up on etnies 15 years ago? I got hooked up through Don Brown. He either saw me at a skate contest or something and he hit us up. I don’t know – I think I was 7 and he told me to go down to Costa Mesa to pick up some shoes. So Shane and I went down there and Don Brown cut Shane’s Airwalks off of his feet. It was gnarly.
15 at Oakley too, right? Yep. 15 at Oakley, which is awesome. I love their glasses. I don’t remember how that started either. I mean, Mark Scurto hooked it up and now Dylan Radloff hooks me up, but I don’t quite remember how it all started.
Two solid brands to be backed by for 15 years... Yeah man, it’s amazing. It’s gnarly when you step back and start thinking about it. It’s like, whoa.