Alex Perelson has been whispered about for years as the young talent that just might be the future of vert. But for a long time, despite his talent, Perelson had a hard time even getting full-fledged sponsorship. All that changed in 2009 when Perelson became the youngest skater in history to join the 900 club. Perelson, just 18 at the time, stuck one of the most elusive tricks in skating to win the Maloof Money Cup while competing against icons including Bob Burnquist, Bucky Lasek and Pierre Luc Gagnon.
Now, with a solid list of sponsors and his first major video part on the horizon, Perelson is taking it all in. I spoke with Alex while he waited for a flight to Rio for a contest, having just returned, to California the night before after a few days in Orlando, Florida for a demo. Some life.
For the benefit of some of our audience who may not know you yet, tell me about when you started skating and how vert came into the picture.
I started skating vert after having been skating for a few years. I started skating at 8 or 9-years-old. I mostly skated at the Mission valley skatepark and a little bit of street with older friends. I think I started skating vert around 11-years-old when there were really heavy sessions on the ramp at Clairemont, when the park moved over there. From then on I was really into skating vert.
What do you think sparked your progression and kept you interested in vert as opposed to street in the beginning?
Watching people who I thought had cool styles and making friends with people who were there all the time helped a lot. I skated with Danny Mayer a lot.
After learning the basics on vert I kind of fell in love with it because of the feeling of it. I could go back and watch old videos and see tricks I'd never seen before and then try those. It was just way different and I liked it a lot.
Who were the Clairemont locals back then?
Jake Brown, Peter Hewitt, Al Partanen and Neil Blender would go there, too. They would skate the bowl a lot but they would skate the vert ramp, too. They were really cool to skate with.
Things really started to take off for you after you stuck the 900 to win the Maloof Money Cup contest in 2009.
It was really cool to have that win and that trick but I think it messed me up. I do badly at a lot of contests and then I show up and win one and then I go straight back to getting last place at all of them, you know? It messes with my head a little bit.
Well then, what was special about that particular contest that allowed you to compete at such a high level and pull the 900?
Everything at that Maloof contest was cool. The ramp was really good, the sessions were fun and the weather was nice. I'd wanted to do the 900 for about a month prior to that. When I went to Maloof, it was a jam format so I thought I might be able to pull it in the contest. At events like that where there's a ton of people and all this pressure from the contest, it makes it a lot easier to make a trick than on a normal day.
Yeah, because on a normal day there's not anything to distract you and there's not crazy pressure. But at the same time, at a contest, the energy is so much higher than a normal day at the ramp with just you and a couple of people.
You're going to have your first video part in the new Real video, "Since Day One," which premieres at the end of this month. How has working on that video part been going?
It's been cool. I've had a long time to film for it and my part is done now. It's a short one, about a minute and 40 seconds. But it's so different from what I was used to doing. It was cool to decide on things to try and have however long I want to try it. It was frustrating sometimes but most of the time it was really cool.
Are we going to see mostly vert skating or are we going to see a mix of parks and vert and maybe some street in your part?
It would have been cool to get some street but I don't have any of that. I would say it's mostly vert but a lot of park footage, too.
Since Max Schaaf is the other vert rider on Real, have you two gotten together to skate or film at all?
No, he lives up north so we didn't really get to film together. He's got one of the best styles, though. Max doesn't skate a lot of the big contests so that influences the way he skates. He doesn't need to go and do a bunch of 540s in a row so that's why his skating looks a lot different from everyone else.
Of the other riders on Real, whose part are you most excited to see come premiere time?
I'm really excited to see everyone's footage; they're all amazing. I went on a couple of team trips and it was so cool to see the guys skating really hard on street. Justin Brock got four gnarly tricks on film in one day and it didn't even seem that hard for him.
I do like watching Jake Donnelly skate a lot. He can pop a nollie flip so high, it's unbelievable to me.
You have a younger brother that skates also. Does he skate the same kinda stuff as you?
He skates a lot at Washington Street skatepark. He doesn't skate too much vert but he's trying to get into it.
Since you're two years older and started skating first, was there ever a point where you didn't like him tagging along to skate?
No, he's way cooler than I am.
I know last summer, you skated X Games a day or so after a pretty heavy slam. Can you take us through that?
I was skating the old DC ramp at night with Marcelo Bastos. I was trying to do a 720 and that's when it happened: I fell and my tooth went through my lip. I had to get some stitches and it kind of freaked me out on spinning 720s. It didn't knock me out but it was weird, my face was all numb. There was a puddle of blood on the ramp. It sucked.
Once the Real video is in your rear-view mirror, what else have you got planned for this year?
I want to keep filming more and go on some trips. Volcom does a skatepark trip every year so that should be cool. I'm trying to skate with my brother a lot, too.