Now in his early 30s, Chris Cole has been pushing the envelope of what's possible in skateboarding for over a decade. With a new video part to accompany his newest shoe, XGames.com caught up with Cole to talk about shoe progression, his take on contest skating and how important it is to support the core of skating.
XGames.com: With your new shoe out, how do you feel about the revival in technical skate shoes?
Cole: I love it, I absolutely love it. I think that we as skateboarders really need to utilize technology in our skate shoes. Even if it's just cushions in your shoe, how many jumps do you have down eight stairs in your life? It's the same as beats of a heart. There is a countdown, depending on who you are. And I think that if you can soften the blow just a little bit each time, it will make a difference in the long run.
Do you have anything specific to your new shoe?
Absolutely, there are three things that I love to point out. The Dual-lite technology, which is two different types of Uni-lite that go through the foot and a softer Uni-lite that goes through where the footbed is in the heel area. And then a harder bit of Uni-lite that helps to cushion your foot when you jump down stairs. It basically just crushes away perfectly so you don't get heel bruises. It's great for jumping down stuff, but you can still feel your board when you're skating ledges and stuff. It also has a new technology, which is a no-sew technology, which basically bakes on a rubber concoction on the shoe and creates panels that attach with no seams. When you have shoes with seams, they rip and then the panels catch the grip tape and start to open up. So that stuff is really exciting. And it also has a sock liner, where the tongue is actually built in down the shoes forefront. It feels like it's part of your foot, just like a slipper.
When kids seem to want new shoes constantly, do you worry a lot about making sure the shoe is super durable?
Definitely. There are a lot of kids out there that want to keep up with the Joneses and get new shoes, which is unfortunate in this economy, but I have always wanted to make shoes that last a very long time because I didn't come from a wealthy background. That's my customer base and that's who I'm making shoes for. Because it has the technology, it has a higher price tag, but that's why it's even more important to make sure it lasts as long as humanly possible.
It seems like lots of companies are just making basic shoes to move units so it's cool that you want to make a shoe where you can get used to it and learn once you're comfortable in it.
Why get used to things over and over and over again when you could get used to tricks with the gear you're comfortable in? This shoe is designed to help your skating.
What's your take on making product specific video parts?
I think that it's kind of the way to go if the company isn't doing a full video but you're out there stacking clips yourself. For me, I was really excited about the shoe coming out and I had a lot of footage so I wanted to put them out together. I think it really shows your commitment to that product. But I don't think that everyone has to do that -- I don't think it will be the new industry standard. I think that when people do drop a part just for a specific product, it says a lot about it.
How is it dealing with the level of progression as you get older and the demand to keep up is harder on your body?
It's heavy. It's really hard to stay on my board as much as everyone else does. So I really rely on knowing that when I get on my board I know what I'm doing from so many years of experience. And when I am on my board, I make the time count. I want to get as much time on as humanly possible so that my reaction time and senses are keen. When it comes to contests, I will always have my staples that I feel comfortable with and that I like but I try to showcase something new that I've been working on if the courses permit it. I've also been going to the gym and trying to take care of all my ailments. For instance, if you ride regular foot and your back foot is always up on your tail it's going to work certain muscles and limit hip mobility so I'm trying to work out certain muscles to fight that.
It's pretty interesting because you have sort of seen both sides to it all. There are still a large number of skateboarders that are very anti-contest, but you grew up being about as core as you can be.
Skateboarding really is an enriching sport and it has helped a lot of people's lives, it's definitely helped ours. So the more skateboarding that people can see on TV, with the right skaters, the more kids will see it and they will start skating because the other sports didn't speak to them. And I think that's awesome, that's what we wanted to do anyway -- inspire kids to want to skateboard.
Do you still think there is that stigma that comes along with being a contest skater or has that wavered?
I think it's wavered in the non-core. If you're the dude that wins contests, you end up being the winner in the mainstream. It's like when the Steelers are in the Super Bowl, how many Steelers fans are there? But when they are not, who is running around wearing a jersey? It's a big difference, but you get the point. I still think that if you're skating only in parks, not putting out parts, never doing tours or demos and just working to beat other individuals, then you're skating contests for you, you're not helping skateboarding. You're just taking from skateboarding. But then there are the other individuals that support the mags, the videos, the skate shops and the core, and skate contests on top of that. The only reason I started skating contests was because my wife brought it up. Since I was good as skating demos she asked why I didn't just skate contests too and Jamie [Thomas] said the same thing. So I started doing it and it turned out I was pretty good.
So you think it's cool to skate contests as long as you continue to support skateboarding?
Yes, absolutely. There is a whole industry of people that are bleeding for this. They own skate shops and they will never drive BMW's and Mercedes. Instead they are going to be nickel and diming it every time they go to Target. But instead of going out and getting a job that pays more, they love skateboarding and they continue to support the scene. We need to support that.
At this point, you have achieved a level of fame that was unfathomable while you were coming up, because it only existed with someone like Tony Hawk. Do you still enjoy the skating and everything that comes along with it, or do you ever miss just skating?
I still have the same feeling about skateboarding. You know what I do miss though, is that time. That time back when I was a bit younger but was on the level of skating that I'm at because I miss that fire and that energy. At this point, I'm 32, and if I went 68 goes at a tre flip down Wallenberg, I would be properly hurt for a proper amount of time. There is a difference in your body's structure. Yesterday I skated around New York all day for some press stuff and now my hamstrings are really sore and I don't know why. That doesn't happen when you're in your late teens.
Do you feel a lot of pressure to try to maintain that level from when you still had something to prove or are you beyond that and looking to do what is just natural progression?
I just do what I'm going to do, and the people that dig it are the ones that I want to dig it. But if you look at the entire body of work, I am always trying to put out stuff the way a band puts out a new album. If the band is good, they're progressing their sound and doing something different but they are also giving you what you started listening to the band for in the first place. I like to do that too. I'll have my staple tricks in there but I'll also try to give you some new stuff that you wont have in any other part.
That's a good outlook. Now, to cap things off, since you grew up in rural Pennsylvania, what advice do you have for kids out there who are coming from all over, that want to make a name for themselves in skateboarding?
Learn everything and love what you're doing now, because these are the best times of your life. When you grow into what you hope to become you'll always look back on those times. And don't stress about being the best, because you don't have to be the best to be in my position.