Matt Burke, founder of Blue Sky Longboards, located in Langhorne, Pennsylvania has been skating since before you were born. Active in the skate community since 1971, Matt has been heavily involved in skateboard related charity fundraising and has spent the last four years growing his board company with the help of his son Noah.
“Pushing Wood and Doin’ Good”- the motto of Blue Sky does exactly that by taking skateboarding and using it to give back to the community.
The concept is simple. Host a 10-mile long push event that consists of 10 riders. Each rider gets 10 people to donate 1 dollar for every mile they push. 10 x 10 x 10 = $1,000.00. This concept allows the chance to raise good money while having a blast doing it. The money collected is donated to hyper local charities to directly impact the immediate community.
Matt, his family, and his skate team have also been active in helping out with other notable charities and foundations such as The A.skate Foundation and Stoked Mentoring. The A.skate Foundation is a non-profit that allows children with autism to be a part of our social world through skateboarding and Stoked Mentoring aims to promote personal development, academic achievement, and healthy living to under-served youth through action sports culture.
What is new with Blue Sky and what are your plans for the future?
“In addition to our existing decks the Lotus and the Contrail, we have just released our newest deck the Chakra. This board was designed by our team rider Leon Vincent aka Leon the Lion. The shape is a single kick, directional top mount for downhill and freeride. The board features a healthy, rear-offset W concave for a nice locked in feel. In the past we have had a lineup of several “entry level” decks that have since been discontinued. We have decided to go with a new direction, take our time, and develop what we like to call our ‘Timeless Lineup’”. Our goal is to have 8 permanent shapes that will range from a push deck, a traditional popsicle stick street deck, to reintroducing our Beefy old school pool deck, among others.”
Can you explain more about your “Timeless Lineup?”
“I want there to be boards in our line up that beginners can gravitate towards and feel comfortable right away and I also want boards that the highest quality professionals are going to want to step on as well. I don’t feel like you need a massive line-up of 30 plus shapes to accomplish that. Ultimately its all going to boil back down to a couple of shapes that are meaningful, that work, that are going to stick around for the long haul and everything else will pretty much fall away. Skateboards are getting bigger and longboards are getting smaller and it’s all converging. In the end, there are only going to be a couple shapes that really last”.
What were you involved with before you started Blue Sky?
“I had previous experience pressing and shaping wood for a snowboarding company called “Summit” when I lived in Breckinridge, Colorado in the late 80’s. At the same time I was very involved in teaching snowboarding. I must have been one of the first 20 people in the world to get certified to by the Professional Ski Instructors of America, and I was a part of the first clinics to teach people to teach people to snowboard. Later in life, my career path had been in marketing for high tech companies to help bring brands to life at tradeshows. Eventually I ended up with a firm that did most of their work for pharmaceutical companies and I hated it, I hated the pharmaceutical industry and just decided to leave the firm I was with. At that point I decided it’s now or never, if I want to pursue my passion I needed to do it now.”
Tell me about your team!
“We have a team of 20 riders that are managed and coached by Luke Ayata. He is on the board of directors for the IDSA and is a founding member of the Concrete Kings and the Shralpers Union. He is also an ex-professional basketball player who has since become and integral part of the NYC longboard scene.”
“Our team includes some great skaters and some of the fastest pushers in the world. They have reached podium at events including the Broadway bomb, Central Park Race, Ultra Skate and Adrenalina. Some notable team riders include Colleen Pelech who previously broke the world record at Ultra Skate in 2013 and was also one of the first two women to accomplish skating across the United States. Clio Sherman and Daisy Johannes are two very talented skaters who I am stoked to have on the team. Giovanni Lategano and Cameron Luke Wilson make up our international team members and are doing what they do best in Argentina and South Africa. Max Allesandri is a very talented freerider who is currently in 1st place in the Mid-Atlantic Freeride Series. Miles Evans took 3rd place at last years Broadway Bomb and has done very well in many other push races”. Joao Pineiro is an amazing push racer from Peru that now lives in NYC but goes back to Peru at least once a year and helps stoke out the community down there with a big push event. Jason Quinn has a dancing style like no one else I have seen. I hope to do a dance board and edit for him very soon. I am just really proud of everyone on the team. They are super chill and just fun to be around.
You have some very talented Push Racers, don’t you?
“We are basically “based” in NYC and because of the strong push scene here, yes we have developed an incredibly strong push team. Long distance push racing is a form of extreme athleticism. It’s growing; the IDSA is working hard to create a collegiate level series. Most colleges have a longboard club and every one of those clubs have been doubling in size and now the colleges are funding the clubs and more skaters will be able to attend these events. It’s a more serious athletic approach to skateboarding. A lot of strategy and preparation is involved, you can’t just jump out there with a red bull and go do it. You’re training, you’re eating, you’re prepping for weeks and months in advance for it.”
What is the Blue Sky Mile Challenge?
“When we first started the company, we produced an event called the “Blue Sky Mile Challenge,” and it brought out riders from everywhere. The thing I am most proud about in that event is that we paid the women the same amount in prize money as the men. We gave out an equal amount of money and prizes regardless of gender. About a year later we exhibited at Surf Expo and some members of the largest company in the industry approached us. They told us that what we did by offering equal prize money changed their outlook on how to treat women in the industry. That in itself was a huge accomplishment for me. Women need more support, and now more events have been honoring equal prize money. If you are going to separate the sexes, then why is the top of one group any less valuable then the top of the other group.”
#Showmeatrick is blowing up on facebook, what’s that all about?
“This page is a personal thing and not a Blue Sky thing. It is devoted to sharing the skateboard camaraderie with short boards and longboards alike. If it helps bring the short and long board communities together, then that’s something really special. I am very happy with how #showmeatrick is going. It helps keep skateboarding fun and helps promote progression. Very notable old school legends as well as modern day professionals have gotten involved, too. This page isn’t about sponsorships, branding, or companies. It’s as simple as show me a freaking trick and challenge a friend to do the same. That’s all any of us really want to see anyway.”
Can you tell me a secret?
Blue Sky and Pantheon Longboards are joining forces to create a single distribution alliance. This is something that I’m very excited about. Jeff Vyain is one of the most authentic and creative people I know in the industry. What he’s been able to do with Pantheon in such a short period of time is truly outstanding. Jeff and I share the same enthusiasm for collaboration. We are excited to work under one roof and focus our strengths for the good of both brands and the skate community. We are discussing ideas that entail everything from complimentary products under the alliance to event planning. The partnership will allow us to simplify our sales and distribution processes, making it easier for shops to order and more efficient for us from a business end. The goal is to continue to keep both businesses family run and to get better at it!