With the upcoming BIG SLAM show, we thought it’d be great to go a bit more in depth with the local skate community here in Calgary. We had the chance to sit down with the Calgary Association of Skateboard Enthusiasts (CASE), and calgaryskateboarding.com Founder, Zev.
By Tammy Paget
[B] Tell me a little about yourself? What is CASE?
[Z] I’ve been skating for most of my life, almost 30 years. I started CASE 10 years ago with a few others. There was a group of us that had been meeting for a while, but we wanted to get more skateparks in Calgary after Millennium Park couldn’t serve the skate community in a growing Calgary. There are 6 new skate parks in Calgary since 2015, with 2 - 3 more being built this year.
CASE does advocacy work - we helped the ramp bylaw get changed to allow ramps on private property, lobbied to have Millennium Park turned back into a 24-hour park, and we’re working with the city to help the bike track and downtown become more skate-friendly. Overall, we’re making Calgary a better place to skate.
[B] As a non skater, what is the skate scene in Calgary like?
[Z] As mentioned, there are 6 new facilities, all top-notch. They were designed and built well, and after construction this year they’re going to be located in all the quadrants of the city. There are some great skaters coming out of Calgary now too.
[B] Without coming out and asking for the BEST spot in the city, are there any lesser known spots that are great?
[Z] “Yeah. Anywhere downtown. There are a lot of public plazas and new construction. Anywhere in Eau Claire, Chalk (Canterra/Devon Tower on 3rd Ave), McDougall Centre, the Planters on 7th St, Secret 8 stairs, James Short Park, and Poppy Plaza. Poppy Plaza is one of the best in the city, but ride with caution as it’s not skate-friendly. The rail by the old BP/Amoco building is well-known but it’s huge. There are lots of great places in the city.
[B] Who are the skaters in Calgary who are propelling the scene forward today?
[B] What about local Calgary legends?
[Z] CASE Board members Paul & Rob have been skating for years. Devon Morrison has been one of the best for a long time. And Dan Robinson—that guy rips so hard and he’s in his early 40s.
There are also the mythical figures - Dillz from Millz with 47,000 followers on Instagram, and Joe Buffalo, the skateboarding nomad. He calls Calgary home sometimes but has been seen everywhere from Montreal to Vancouver.
[B] How has the culture/perception of Skateboarding changed over the years
[Z] Skateboarding is definitely more prominent now. The ramp bylaw changes have been accepted. Skating has been proposed to be allowed downtown. There’s more acceptance of skating now. Whether that’s good or bad? Depends on who you ask.
[B] Where do you sit on that scale?
[Z] I think I’m in the middle. It’s no longer as underground as it used to be. There’s some great things happening though, like the Skateboard Amenities Strategies being accepted by the city. The more outside money and sponsors the more impact it has on the skate community. And now it’s announced that skateboarding will be in the 2020 Olympics. Skating seems to go in a cycle of popularity every 10 years. I think right now we’re still coming up in that cycle.
[B] What has been the most positive change in the Calgary skate community?
[Z] Like I mentioned earlier, the new parks. That and the Skateboard Amenities Strategy being passed by the city in 2011, implemented in 2013. It’s been the roadmap for Skateboard Park terrain in Calgary.
[B] What’s the best skate-night out combo?
[Z] Hitting the Bridge DIY spot and then heading over to Home & Away and checking out the wall of vintage boards, and grabbing some wings & beers.
[B] What about best shop in the city?
[Z] I don’t want to play favourites - keep it independent. The Source, Mission Snow & Skate, Youth Bridage, Royal Boardshop.
[B] What are the best prep technique to learn a new trick?
[Z] Try it over and over and over until you get it. Don’t give up.
[B] Fav skate soundtrack?
[Z] Thrasher Skate Rock Volumes I - III
[B] What’s the best skate video in the past year?
[Z] Local video - Beerstorm II
[B] If you weren't Skateboarding where would you be now?
[Z] Dead or in jail - that’s what everyone says, so I’ll go with that.
[B] If Tony Hawk Pro Skater was still a thing, who would be on that soundtrack?
Local skate rock band Sheglank’d Shoulders (it’s Dan Izzo from Motherfuckers and about a million other bands). And Vancouver band S.T.R.E.E.T.S. (skateboarding totally rules everything else totally sucks).
[B] Do you have any advice for up & comers in the skate scene?
[Z] If you’re going to the skatepark learn some etiquette. There’s an article on etiquette on the CASE website, and lots of great YouTube videos out there.
Don’t just jump in there - learn the rules of the road.