Take 5: Denver pro skateboarder David Reyes of Woodward Copper summer camp
May 31, 2016
You haven't seen a noseblunt done proper until you've met David Reyes.
Now 26 years old, the Denver native is one of the best and most technical skateboarders to come from Colorado. He spent his early years skating on busted concrete and rusted steel at Wheatridge and Cornerstone before the big, bad, burly Denver skatepark opened within waking distance of North High School, his alma mater.
Reyes grew up poor in the weird suburban wasteland of north Denver: no baseball, no hockey, no trips to the mountains for snowboarding. Instead, he fell in love with skateboarding — the one sport he could afford. Slowly, but with plenty of style and guts, he started to outshine the other young-and-hungry kids at the Denver park. His pinpoint command of rails, stair gaps and other street basics eventually led to a spot with one of Denver's hometown skate teams, 303 Boards.
Today, after 17 years of skating and nearly a decade as a pro, Reyes still skates for 303, along with Etnies, Spitfire and the Sheckler Foundation, a nonprofit created by his friend and fellow street skater, Ryan Sheckler. Like Sheckler, Reyes never forget his roots and regularly makes the trip to Woodward Copper to guest coach for summer skate camps. He never had the chance to travel as an up-and-comer, but he's grateful for the opportunity to see new places and do what he loves — even if it's only a short interstate drive from his childhood stomping grounds.
"We're very privileged to be able to do something we put so much time and heart into for a living," Reyes said. "It's a blessing — I never think that I wish I was home."
Before the start of summer skate camps on June 5, the Summit Daily sports desk caught up with Reyes to talk more about the Denver skate scene in the mid-2000s and exactly how he locked down a nasty, almost physics-defying 360 flip to noseblunt worth a cool $3,000.
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Summit Daily News: Summer just started up here in the mountains but you've been killing it all spring, including a tre flip to noseblunt for $3,000 at Skate for a Cause on May 7. How long did it take you to get that trick dialed in?
David Reyes: I mean, I've been trying to learn that trick for a long, long time, like six years or something. It wasn't like I'd been training it — it was more like I'd try it on certain days I was feeling it. I'd try a trick with nose grind, couldn't do it and ended in noseblunt, so I figured why not.
The one on the best trick day took seven or eight tries, but the first one I filmed was for my recruit video on The Berrics (website). I'd try it on any skate rail that seems good from there. It took me a few months to get it on this rail in California, but after that, I don't know what happened — I could land it anywhere.
SDN: What felt good about that rail in California, the one where you first stuck it?
DR: That was when I really started training it I guess. I got close numerous times but I could never land it. I'd just slide out. I went through every stage and phase: get in, jump out; get in, slide off; get in, slip off. And, then, I finally landed one. When you figure out how to do everything possibly wrong, you figure out how to do it right. But, that's how I knew it would be. You just have to correct your errors, over and over.
SDN: Is that the sort of technical street style you'll bring to Woodward Copper this summer?
DR: I'm more about answering questions for kids. If they have questions about getting sponsored or how to land a trick, I'll be there to help. I was a little kid once — a little kid asking all those questions. I just wish I had people who were more responsive. Back then, when I was growing up, it was just street skating around the neighborhood with close friends. That turned into the Denver park opening, and then that's when things started to make sense. I also skated the X Games park at Colorado Mills back when that was around. I would skate everything; the bowl, the ramps, the rails.
SDN: I think the Colorado Mills X Games park was a Woodward Park for a while before it closed permanently. What do you like about the park and skate programs at Woodward?
DR: They bring the whole camp aspect. That lets you know you're there to have fun. You don't just have to skate — you can do the trampolines or fly into the foam pit. Even if you don't feel like skating you have beautiful views. You also learn to be courteous and respectful in a park. They have a small one, so it's not like you'll be there competing with kids who are just so beyond your level. This is a park where you can really get ready as a beginner. You don't have to be intimidated. You can go there, skate, and feel like you can do your own thing.
SDN: Talk about growing up skating in Denver. What was the scene like?
DR: It was kind of split up. You had, back then, all of your crews: the heshers in the Militia, the guys who listened to Misfits and Danzig and all of that. Then, you had Tetrahedron, which were the hip-hop, baggy pants, sagging squad. They would skate ledges and manual pads. The hesh dudes would skate gaps and rails and get blood on their arms, and I was more fascinated with the blood on your arm thing. I was more worried about how you skated, as opposed to how you looked. You get to be your own person that way. You learn to skate because you want to. The other dudes — the hip-hop dudes — felt like they had more of a, "I have to look like the latest style. I can't get myself dirty," mentality. The other dudes didn't really care.
SDN: How did skating with the street crew make you a better skater?
DR: The guys I was with skated rails all the time, and with rails you only need a few tricks: a solid ollie, nollie, fakie ollie and switch nollie, then some flip tricks. I figure, if I can ollie well and kickflip well, I can learn these tricks — the big stuff. I can learn the scary part, I can learn the rails. That made it seem like ledges and manual pads would be so easy when the time came.
SDN: How do you describe your skate style these days?
DR: I'm more well-rounded. I used to only skate handrails when I was younger. I still love them — I skate them all the time — but now I can skate everything. When you learn the harder things right away — the handrails — you can skate manual pads and ledges and gaps much sooner.
SDN: Do you think it's important for young kids — the kids who are just getting into the sport at Woodward — to do a little of everything: vert, street, wood, concrete?
DR: At the moment, when I was skating, I was doing it because I wanted to learn. I wasn't thinking one day that I'll be sponsored and I should only skate this. I was more concerned about skating what I wanted to skate. I didn't need the recognition. When you can learn to skate those basics well, the rest will come. If you want to skate a vert ramp one day, skate a vert ramp. As long as the heart is there you can skate anything.
SDN: Pro skiers and snowboarders spend so much time traveling overseas these days that it's almost overwhelming. Is it the same for skateboarding?
DR: We travel a lot, definitely. The way I look at it is that it comes with the territory. We're very privileged to be able to do something we put so much time and heart into for a living. It's a blessing — I never think that I wish I was home. I mean, I just got a free flight to Europe, but I'm going to complain about travel? That just sounds spoiled, like a sheltered rich kid. I came up from a poor family and couldn't go snowboarding because it was too expensive, even if I wanted to. When I was skating, I didn't have the brand-new Reynolds or the newest Nikes. My mom would get her check, give me $20 for shoes that would skate well — shoes like the shoes I wanted — and these days I just feel incredibly privileged. It's crazy that someone wouldn't enjoy that.
I mean, I understand being exhausted, but I'm never going to be the one who says, "I'd rather be home than in this incredible location." If you're skating a lot, your body and your mind will be so conditioned that you can go from different time zones and different countries and still kill it. You're conditioned for all of this.
SDN: You skate for 303 Boards, a local boardshop in Denver. Why stay committed to a hometown skateshop?
DR: Being from Colorado, I just can't change who I am because I'm skating with pros or I'm considered a pro now. I'm someone who put a lot of heart into something and it got recognized, and I'm not going to change where I'm from because I want to respect that. I know the people who helped me out — I know where I came from — and skating for 303 keeps me grounded. That happened before anything else. All those guys I used to skate with (on the 303 team) live in L.A. now, but I still talk to everyone I was good friends with skating on those teams. It's important to still be a part of all of that. Anytime I can help them, I'm 100 percent down to do that.
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