Vans Canada just recently welcomed Vancouver’s Russ Milligan to their team of rippers and it was awesome when I read what Vans Canada Team Manager Alex Forbes wrote about it –
“He’s been holding it down for a long time, he’s not only an amazing skater, but his humble attitude and personality fit perfectly with our brand and the rest of the team.”
That statement said a lot, and it gives respect to Russ as an individual, but also to Alex and the way he wants to see Vans Canada represented. I have a good relationship with Alex and he says a lot of the same things to me whenever we are talking on the phone or by email. He is always appreciative of all that I create and do for the world of skateboarding in the province of British Columbia, and he expresses these feelings constantly. It’s not just about being the best skateboarder any more, it’s about being a solid role model for skateboarding itself.
In the 1980’s and 90’s it was about being hardcore, and some teams today are still all about that. Look at Emerica, Baker, Shake Junt and Krew, these guys just wanna party, and they want the world to know it. It makes the younger generation a little jealous to see kids get hooked up with a team where they can live in a mansion and party like Axl Rose or Billy Idol all day long, as long as they get some tricks on film they’re good. But how far is that going to lead you, and how accepted will you still be as the world evolves around you? Let’s look back at the 80’s – The Bones Brigade was probably the biggest Skateboard Team in the history of skateboarding, Tony Hawk, Steve Caballero, Lance Mountain, Tommy Guerrero and Mike McGill, plus add in Rodney Mullen and Kevin Harris representin’ the freestyle world. You most likely have still to this day never seen any footage of these guys partying, and that doesn’t mean they never partied, some of them did I’m sure, but they kept it behind the scenes. They were making big money and weren’t flaunting it. And still to the day you hear all of these names in the industry in positive ways.
Now you look at Christian Hosoi and Duane Peters, and even Natas Kaupus. These guys were just as big a part of helping skateboarding evolve through that era, but where are they now? The guys that used that hardcore image to get more likes, maybe weren’t liked for as long, or by as many. And these 3 are all legends to any skateboarder from those times, but they just weren’t humble enough to utilize all of their skills. In the 90’s it was still about being hardcore, except now people were bringing it to the streets. Skaters were fighting security guards and spitting in people’s faces. Mohawks and dyed hair took over and the image of skateboarding was on the edge of acceptance and could go either way. If it wasn’t for those humble guys continuing to be the representatives in the public eye we might have lost all respect from society and would not have all the luxuries we are spoiled with now.
So think about this as you are growing up and plan your “dream future” of becoming a big name Pro Skater and ask yourself what the companies are looking for in their riders. Russ Milligan got on to Vans for more than one reason, he’s an amazing and consistent skateboarder with a huge array of tricks and mad switch pop, but his attitude had to fit with the image of the Team that the Team Manager is expecting from them. And if it didn’t, they wouldn’t have chose him. Times are changing, I say it all the time, so chill out a bit and instead of doing it all for you all the time, do it for skateboarding as a whole. Maybe it’ll get you somewhere…
And that’s from someone who was all about being hardcore and loved to party growing up but made some big changes in life to become accepted by society and be able to share his skills and devotion with the rest of the industry to help build us up to where we are today.
Now check out Russ Milligan killin’ it in the streets – humbly