Chris Cole won the Street League Skateboarding Super Crown last Sunday and has been on a victory tour ever since. The Pennsylvania native worked extremely hard to get there, not only beating a field of the most elite pros in street skating, but also making personal sacrifices along the way, focusing solely on family and skateboarding. Whatever Cole did, it paid off. In 2013 he achieved two personal milestones: winning his first Street League at X Games contest in Munich, Germany, and taking home his first Super Crown Championship trophy in New Jersey. This season he skated in a dominant fashion, placing no less than second in five of the season's seven stops.
In a phone interview with XGames.com, Cole talked about what he plans to do with his winnings, which Street League course he felt was the most challenging and what words of wisdom he received from Paul Rodriguez that made it mentally click for him in 2013.
XGames.com: As far as your skating goes what was different for you this year?Cole: I think the major difference with this year is that I had a lot of stuff on my plate but less than last year. My family and my friends took on a lot of what I normally had to do just to afford me the time to skate. They believed I could win this thing, but I wasn't skating enough. For me the issue was always that I need to be on my board as much as humanly possible. That's what most of the competitors do because their lives are just skateboarding, so they can be on their board all the time, but I can't. I have a family and I have things that I have to do and I can't be on my board all the time. So they afforded me the time and took everything off my plate so that my brain was in a good spot. If I needed a flight home, they took care of it. If I needed my emails answered, they'd do it.
What was it specifically that was keeping you off your board?It was running a business last year that kept me busy, but then you have all the things that skateboarding brings to you that keep you away from skateboarding. At a certain level you start to get endorsements and you have to perform for those endorsements. For instance, if you have a clothing line, you have to design it and you have to meet with the designers to figure out what's going to be the best thing. There are all these things that you must do that take you away. My days are sectioned off because I have kids and in the morning I have to take them to school and even if my wife is doing some of it, I am too. That is the hardest part about staying on your board, breaking down time and figuring out when you're going to be on the board and for how long.
What were your thoughts when you heard the X Games and Street League were expanding globally?It was exciting to see an expansion and I was stoked because more stops give you more chances to rip, skate differently and to not just be focused on one style and having to bang that style out. You can showcase different parts of your skating with more stops and that's cool. If the course has a quarter pipe you can do quarter pipe tricks which may not be the best scoring tricks, but it's OK because you have another stop. So when I saw the schedule I was thinking this summer my life would be nothing but family and skateboarding -- anything else had to go.
What is the hardest thing for you to overcome with contest and the Street League format?The hardest thing to overcome while actually physically skating the contest is to not play it safe and believe you can actually make the trick that you're going to try. That's hands down the hardest part because it's a leap of faith. At the final stop I could have done a transfer bluntslide on the Hubba, which isn't by any means an easy trick, but it would be something easier than a 270 noseblunt or a kickflip back noseblunt. It would be easier than that and it's hard to tell yourself, "I need four tricks and I'm only able to fall twice and I have to make those four tricks really good -- like outside of my comfort zone good." You have to just believe you're going to do it because if you don't believe you're going to do it, you're not going to do it.
After two unsuccessful stops you got consistently better as the season progressed. Did you make any adjustments after not qualifying in Brazil, and then placing eighth in Barcelona?I did make changes and the main change happened with everybody affording me time to skate. Actually it was mainly two changes that I made. I made it a point of skating with friends. For a while I was skating alone because I skate alone all the time. That's how I grew up skating for the first few years. I always loved skateboarding and nobody else skated so that was that. There were huge parts of my life, and my formative skateboarding years, where I skated with the best crew of friends ever. That's where my skating really blossomed to a point where I could make a career like I have. So I started making a point of driving up to L.A. and skating with Mikey Taylor and P-Rod and basically trying to skate with Mikey as much as possible. That totally helped so much.
What did you get out of skating with Paul Rodriguez and Mikey Taylor?P-Rod said a bit of information that I think a lot of people have been telling me anyway, like I know my wife told me this, but P-Rod said, "Believe in your abilities." He didn't think too much of it when he said it, but Mikey and I were both floored like "What an incredible quote!" We latched onto it pretty heavily and we would always quote it. And it's true, man. It really changes the game.
How did the win in Munich feel -- with the 360 flip 50/50 down the Hubba?It was a moment where I was really talking myself down before I went for that trick. My nerves were so high and your body doesn't want to move because it's in shock basically. There's only one way to win and that's to go hard -- that's the only way to make it. Once I actually made it, I didn't really think I fully had it. P-Rod could switch tre any day and he did it a billion times in practice, so I was telling myself that he could take it because I didn't want to celebrate too early. When I won I was so psyched. The pressure of never winning had finally come off in one moment. It was the win to get off the weight I was carrying around about that win, which needed to happen in order to create more wins.
What do you remember most about the last X Games in L.A.?It was the most difficult course for me and most of the dudes, ever. It's funny because these courses are designed for the most optimal amount of tricks to be done -- they're really well designed. The slightest change in a course can change the tricks drastically. Having a course like that, it just threw everybody for a loop. It's not that we need to skate the same obstacles over and over to rip, it's just that on a course like that the caliber of moves goes up a few notches. You can't do insane tricks on a flat bar that sticks out pretty far past the stairs. Everybody was staring at it like, "Whoa, this thing is insane." I got second place, but I feel like I fell into second because I managed to stay on my board. The only dude who knew how to skate that course well was Nyjah [Huston].
Which course was your favorite to skate out of all seven stops?My favorite to skate was the Super Crown. It was a beauty. The other course I had a really good time skating was Barcelona. We just had bad weather in Barcelona and it affected me during my run. It blew it for me, but that was a great course. When they make the Hubbas and handrails smaller, it's more skateable like the Super Crown was. I told Joe C. that this was the best Hubba and handrail they'd ever done in the history of Street League. I appreciate the rail and Hubba this size because you saw the tricks that went down. The tricks that go down are not a testament of the dude's guts and how big you can go, it's a testament of a person's technical skateboarding ability. That's what I like to rely on. I don't like to rely on "How brave are you?" It's tough to get reckless on big Hubbas. You're going to get a bluntslide but on this one you're getting a switch flip back tail. When the true skateboard fan shows up, he or she wants to see moves. They don't want to see us front boardslide, they want to see professional skating.
Let's address a rumor: Are you leaving Zero Skateboards?No I'm not. Is that a rumor? Maybe because I wasn't on that tour this summer. I heard that rumor because a lot of the other pros in Street League are leaving their board sponsors and spray-painting their boards and I wasn't on the Zero tour this summer, which strictly has to do with the fact that I don't plan these tours. The show must go on, Zero has to go on tour.
What are you going to do with your $350,000 prize winnings -- buy a new house?I try not to allocate that money ever because the god's honest truth is I was skating for a win. I was skating for this chapter in the story of my life. The money part I realized when I was getting the trophy.
What I'm probably going to do is invest that money into a retirement fund and my will. I want to put the money away and make it make me more money -- that's kind of it. I don't have any big plans but there is something I will do. It's never fun to just grind away and put away all that money. You have to do something for yourself, not something crazy, but something little for yourself, so what I'll probably do is take a little vacation. My family had such a hellish summer dealing with me being gone so I'm going to go to Hawaii with them.