Three-time X Games gold medalist and skateboarding professional Paul Rodriguez Jr. (P-Rod) is set to release his newest shoe with Nike next month, the P-Rod 7: a cupsole shoe with Lunarlon cushioning. A vulcanized version will follow.
The son of comedian Paul Rodriguez, he enjoys competing but sees it as no laughing matter. Last month at Street League at X Games Barcelona, P-Rod was in first place before Nyjah Huston defeated him at the last second to take gold. Normally that would be a tough loss to move on from, but Rodriguez hopes to capitalize off coming so close to victory.
With Street League Kansas City happening this weekend and X Games Munich just two weeks away, the Tarzana, Calif., native spoke with XGames.com about how he handles such a hectic contest schedule and its effect on his street skating, in addition to the knowledge he's gained designing shoes for the past eight years.
XGames.com: This is your seventh time designing a shoe with Nike. What have you learned going through that process so many times?
Paul Rodriguez: Each time I learn a little more about how to improve it as far the function of the shoe, with what I want it to do and how I want it to feel. Each time Nike has improved their technology, so I have more to choose from. Also I learned how to better work with the designers over the years to trust their instincts and trust what they think will and won't work as far as design goes. There have been times when I haven't been interested in the designs and ended up going with their gut feeling anyway, and it worked out really good. Nike has hired some of the best shoe designers in the world. They are shoe designers for a reason, and I skate for a reason. So I just stay in my lane when working with them.
I read there is an anatomical booty inside. Did you specifically request that for this shoe?
Inside there is no booty, there's just the Lunarlon insole. Lunarlon is really the key part of the P-Rod 7. Lunarlon is actually all about impact and protecting your feet without being too big and bulky.
This shoe was your thinnest one yet. Why is that?
I've always been hesitant about making a shoe so thin, because I tend to skate for a long time and your feet are important to that. So I kind of really focus on protecting or preserving them. When you're in your early teens you can take more abuse and get away with it. That's why I think a lot of people skate vulc because vulc allows you to have a lot of board feel, which people really like. I really like it, too, but I don't want to sacrifice the well-being of my feet for that. For this shoe I made it thinner to help accommodate that board control need without sacrificing foot protection.
Supposedly this shoe has 360 degrees of impact protection. I wonder if you still jump down stairs or if you're feeling old?
I'm definitely not feeling old. I jump down stairs all the time. That's probably one of my favorite things to do -- jumping down stairs. Impact protection is important because when you have heel bruises it kind of makes jumping down stairs and gaps not that fun. The longer your feet are [protected] along with your knees and ankles, the more you get to jump. Know what I mean?
Most pro skaters would call you a beast or an animal. So in this P-Rod 7 commercial involving a double-decker tour bus called Skate Safari Tours, are you some kind of endangered species in the urban jungle? Why has a skate safari tour bus been following you around?
That's a question you'd have to ask the tour company because I don't know why they've been following me. I appreciate the compliment of being a called a beast or an animal; that's something every skater strives for -- to be a beast on the board. I don't know if I'm endangered. I'm pretty sure there are some upcoming baby beasts out there that will soon be full grown kings of the jungle. I'm just helping keep the beast breed healthy and making sure the door is still open.
Speaking of baby beasts, you almost defeated Nyjah Huston last month in Barcelona at Street League at X Games. I think had you landed one more trick out of your misses, you would have won. Does your strategy change from stop to stop?
The game plan is all dictated by the course. Each course is different, so you have to change your style and your moves to adapt to the course. Ultimately it's not rocket science. You have to do the highest possible scoring trick that you can if you want to win. You have to break it down to be that simple. If you want to win, you have to take some risks and put it all on the line because Nyjah and the rest of the guys who are always at the top don't play it safe. Playing it safe is going to get you a safe position, which is fifth, sixth or seventh -- somewhere in that zone. I hope to win my fair share.
This year you have more opportunities to win your fair share because there are more X Games and Street League stops. What's your opinion of having more contests to skate?
I enjoy contests, and especially with these contests with all the opportunities that they provide as far as exposure and financially, the more the merrier. It does get in the way of focusing on street skating, which is what I fell in love with first. For those of us involved who have the opportunities to be in these contests, it would be crazy not to want to skate as many as they have.
That makes a lot of sense. Where are you at mentally going into Street League in Kansas City?
Spain was a great confidence booster. So I'm just trying to stay on point and stay on my board. As long as I'm healthy, I'm going to give it my best, and whoever wins, if it's not myself, I'm going to make them really work for it. I'm just going go out there and put it all on the line and make whoever wins really earn it.
You were saying the contests take away from your street skating. Do you see yourself taking some time off in the winter or making any calendar changes next year to better prepare for X Games and Street League 2014?
Calendar changes are always a challenge. Along with the desire to street skate and do well in competition, there are also sponsor obligations like tours and demos so it becomes a bit of a scheduling nightmare. I don't know that I'll make any grave changes other than to focus one day at a time so I don't feel overwhelmed. I just take each day as it comes. I put my best effort forth each day and let it all take care of itself.