Brad McClain, a 21-year-old bowl-skating wizard from Livermore, CA, spent the last three months living in Sweden as well as touring Europe with the Powell-Peralta team. During that time he won the Copenhagen Pro Bowl contest, the Malmo Ultra Bowl IV and placed third at the Baltic Games in Poland. It's a sure bet you'll be seeing more of him. He's quickly making a name for himself with his fluid style and his ability to skate anything.
Powell/Peralta teammate Josh Hawkins thinks the world of him. He says, "It's absolutely crazy how good of a skater he is. He's by far my favorite tranny skateboarder. I'm psyched to have him on Powell so I can just kick back and watch him shred on trips."
Aldrin Garcia, another teammate, is also a McClain believer. He says, "Once we were out filming and we only had a half hour to skate a particular park. Before we got out of the van Brad joked, 'A half hour? That's cool, I'm gonna annihilate this park in one minute.' And he actually did annihilate the park in just his first minute."
That's Brad McClain in a nutshell, and he spoke with ESPN.com by phone about his recent 90-day stay in Europe, the numerous odd jobs he'd held down to support himself and what it means to "Babe Ruth" a girl before a contest run.
ESPN.com: Who are you riding for right now?
McClain: I'm riding for Powell/Peralta, Ace Trucks, Osiris Shoes, S1 Helmets and Bones Wheels and Bearings.
You were in Sweden for awhile. Was that your first time in Europe?
No, that was actually my third time in Sweden. I went there last year for a bowl contest and then I went back in the winter for a vert contest. This was my third time back and I actually stayed for three months, from July 11th to September 19th. I was in Sweden for a month and a half when the Powell team came out and I met up with them. From Sweden we toured through Denmark, Germany and Poland. I flew from Poland back to Sweden and stayed for 11 more days before coming home.
You almost didn't skate the Copenhagen Pro, but you ended up taking first. How did that happen?
It's an invite-only contest, so I wasn't able to skate it but I was already out there, so I figured I'd hang out and skate while it's going on. So I was there a day before the contest when I ran into a friend who asked me if I was in the contest. I told him I had no way in, and he talked to one of the guys from Skatepark of Tampa, because they were the ones hosting it, and they got me in the day before.
The contest itself was pretty sick. There were only twelve guys skating and there was a ton of people there so it was like a big party. I was having a good time that day. I remember Rune Glifberg killing it and also Josh Stafford and Tyler Bingaman. Sam Beckett was there too and he's sick. Alex Perelson was there ripping. Getting first was kind of overwhelming. I was just stoked to be in a contest with those guys, and then to actually get first was more than I could have ever asked for. It was probably one of the coolest things I got to do.
The next contest you won was in Sweden, right?
Yes, two weeks later I was skating in the Ultra Bowl IV contest in Malmo, Sweden. It's a three day contest. The first day is for qualifications and the second day is the semi-finals and then you have the finals on the third day. Some of the same people from the Copenhagen Pro were there but there were a lot of new guys skating too. The whole Lifeblood team was out there. It was a bunch of friends you haven't seen in a while and you all just hang out for a few days and skate.
Where did you go after Malmo?
Two weeks later I met up with the Powell team and we went to Gdansk, Poland where I skated in the Baltic Games. That was sick. It was in a huge arena and it also was a three day contest. The Baltic Games are like a European X-Games, at least that was my impression of it. They had BMX, skating and rollerblading contests. In the corner of the arena they had some random people there doing parkour. That was pretty funny.
I heard you once "Babe Ruthed" a girl before a contest. What exactly is that?
I don't know how to explain it because it's kind of random, actually. It came from a dice bet. The rule is before they roll the dice you can agree to, or disagree with the bet. It's something we do to pass the time on tour in the van. Ben Hatchell said, "If I roll three sixes you have to "Babe Ruth" a chick before your run." I asked him what he meant and he said, "Just point to her before your run." So Ben rolled the dice and won the bet, so when I was at the Dew Tour I was staring at this girl the whole time and when they called my name I made sure she was looking at me, and then I pointed to her to let her know that run was for her. It was pretty random but everyone was really stoked on it. The announcer interviewed me afterwards about it and it was on the loudspeaker so everyone could hear, and the cameras were pointed at her so she got embarrassed and left.
How do the parks in Sweden differ from the US?
I'm seeing a lot of similarities because the people who build parks here are also building parks out there, so it's kind of like a home away from home. I went all the way to Halmstad and the two parks I skated along the way were kind of small but were all really good flowing parks. John Magnusson has a huge influence on the skate scene in Sweden, so he has a lot of involvement in planning the development of parks with the cities, and also getting the right guys to come out and build them.
Where did you hang out in Sweden, at the bars?
Sometimes, but we kept it pretty mellow. We'd just hang out at the house or go to the movies, if I wasn't at the skate park. It was pretty much like I was living there. I was just starting to adjust and I learned all the transportation systems out there. The transportation system out there is so organized and sensible that you can get anywhere if you have a bus card. The bus card works for the train and the bus. Gas costs $12 a gallon out there, so I also had a bike and I would be riding my bike everywhere.
You're an everyday working man, so how did your employers deal with you being gone for three months?
By the time I left I was just working at a restaurant and I quit the pet store because I was over it. I asked them if I could take a leave of absence, they asked how long I was going to be gone and I said three months. My bosses at the restaurant were really cool with it.
I got my first job when I was 14. I was working at a bowling alley, cleaning up over there. I was also stocking the bar when I was 14. I wasn't even drinking back then so I didn't steal anything from the bar. They'd ask me to get certain types of beer and I didn't know what the hell they were talking about.
It sounds like you're jobless now. What's your plan?
Well I just got back from Sweden. Right now I'm in northern California in my hometown of Livermore. I'm visiting my family for a few weeks because I haven't seen them in a long time, so I'm doing a lot of catching up. Then I'm going to go back down south to find a place to live around Camarillo, where I was before, and maybe pick up my old job again.