Matt Burke: Blue Sky Longboards

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.

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Skate: Giovanni Lategano

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.”

Leon Vincent skating the all new "Chakra". Photo: Ross Earhart

Leon Vincent skating the all new “Chakra”. Photo: Ross Earhart

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.”

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Matt Burke after winning his first skateboard competition at 8 years old

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.

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Skate: Daisy Johannes Photo:Christian Barnard

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.”

Colleen Pelech Photo: Grace Moon

Colleen Pelech
Photo: Grace Moon

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.”

Max Allesandri skating the all new "Chakra". Photo: Ross Earhart

Max Allesandri skating the all new “Chakra”. Photo: Ross Earhart

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!

Skate: Jason Quinn Photo: Christian Barnard

Skate: Jason Quinn
Photo: Christian Barnard

Broadway Bomb 2013: Mark Your Calendar

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UPDATE: Check our full Broadway Bomb 2013 Weekend post now!

The scent of spring isn’t even in the air but we’re already hearing some rumblings about the 2013 Broadway Bomb. The push race down one of New York City’s most famous streets has absolutely exploded in popularity over the last couple of years, growing by the hundreds and swelling to a far larger size than ever envisioned. Last year nearly 2,000 participants descended upon New York to race through the streets with throngs of other longboarders and New York City traffic.

While the City itself launched a court and police battle to halt the event last year, in the end NYPD ended up offering police escorts and stopped traffic at intersections to help protect both motorists and skaters alike. Still, it had everyone wondering — what would happen in 2013? The answer to that question has, at least in part, been answered tonight on the Broadway Bomb’s facebook account, run by one of the organizers of the event, who we’re choosing not to name. On it it told everyone to mark their calendars for the second Saturday in October and thanked the NYPD for their cooperation. That’s October 12, 2013 for all of you too lazy to look at a calendar (I was at first too, don’t worry). Obviously it immediately got tons of likes and comments from people far too stoked to skate again this fall.

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The question regarding just how “official” the event will be this year is still in the air, however. While in the comments the Broadway Bomb account later noted that there would be “More police escorts,” we can’t help but wonder if that just means there’ll be more police on hand this year, as there were never any official police escorts in years past as far as we know. Either way, we’ll find out soon enough. We’re too stoked for the weekend of skateboarding that surrounds this event every year and can’t wait to hear more as the date draws closer.

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Stay tuned for any updates as the season progresses! We’re on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and all that jazz. 

UPDATE: Check our full Broadway Bomb 2013 Weekend post now!

 

10 Tips for Surviving the Broadway Bomb

If you’re planning on flocking to New York City this weekend to take place in the Broadway Bomb, especially if its your first time, listen up cause we’ve got some tips to help you survive! If this is your first Broadway Bomb make sure you’ve already read up on the weekend’s full set of events over at our Broadway Bomb 2012 post. Make sure you stay up to date with everything else related to the Broadway Bomb as we gear up for the weekend by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter.

1. Stay aware

As my high school water polo coach used to tell us, “Keep your head on a constant swivel!” Unlike any other event when you’re skating in the Bomb you’re absolutely surrounded by skaters constantly. With all that pushing and all those people bodies and boards go flying regularly, and if you’re not paying attention to what’s going on with other skaters around you it’s only a matter of time before you join them. It all comes back to this one, so make sure you’re keeping yourself in check and know what’s going on around you at all times.

2. Be in the front or in the back, not the middle.

It’s way easier to avoid a lot of hazards that come with skating in such a big pack if you just decide to either stick to the front or the back. The front is the better choice as the pack will keep you moving fast and if you get tired there are always skaters behind you to keep you motivated. If you can keep the real leaders of the pack in sight you’re also sure to avoid getting lost. Which brings us to number 3…

3. Know the route!

Make sure you double check the route before you go, maybe even triple check it. Take a look at the map and figure out where the turns are — WRITE THEM DOWN!!! (You won’t be able to do it on your phone mid-race or while you’re lost…I’ve tried.) It sucks hard when you get lost, especially if you take a group of skaters with you since you looked like you knew what you were doing…There are turns and people do get lost, so pay attention and know the route.

4. DON’T SKITCH!

This speaks for itself. It’s a cardinal sin of the Bomb and isn’t tolerated. It’s also hella illegal in NYC so if you’re seen doing it, it becomes a bad look for everyone. This is a longboard push race…erm flashmob…not ” who can hold onto the taxi race flashmob.”

5. Communicate with other skaters

This goes along with tip Number 1: Stay Aware. While being aware you should also communicate with other skaters to help each other out. See an NYPD road block ahead? Let everyone know. Turn that people might miss? Stop so others can see you. Board coming at someone? Give them a heads up.The more you talk, clap, yell, etc the better and safer the race will be for everyone.

6. Pedestrians

Pedestrians, they are everywhere and of all varieties during the Bomb so you’ve gotta watch out. Getting frustrated and trying to cross the street, trying to get a closer picture, stopped on the side, the cute girl of your dreams that distracts you — you’ve gotta be ready for it all and you’ve gotta be ready to react. Don’t hit the people and be nice to the ones trying to high-five and take your picture, it’s too fun!

7. Check the intersection before blowing through it.

If you’re not a regular city skater take extra precautions when going through intersections. New York has lots of one ways, cars going fast, corners, etc. so before you just blast through an intersection make sure you’re not going to go splat on the grill of a car, either. Again…be aware.

8. CARS!

You’re gonna have to squeeze through them and avoid them because they do not move when you run into them and they hurt like hell when you get hit by them. If you’re skating in the opposite direction of traffic at the beginning make sure you watch out for cars that haven’t stopped yet and for cars coming across the intersections that might not see you (and that you might not see). Cars are not your friends.

9. COPS!!!

I hate to say it but this year it looks like we’ll be going back to working around the NYPD rather than with them. Despite them being super cool and stoking us out by shutting down intersections and escorting us down the entire run, it sounds like this year they’re not as down with the Broadway Bomb going off. Without the distraction of Occupy Wall Street all eyes will be on us, as we’re surely one of the biggest events going down on a calm Saturday afternoon. Police are police and we can’t offer any legal advice whatsoever, so if you find yourself interacting with them use your best judgement.

Do your best to not end up like the poor sucker in the video below, and read our post from last year about HOW TO STEER CLEAR OF TROUBLE WITH THE NYPD (aka avoid being arrested)!!!

10. HAVE FUN!

This is the most important part of the Bomb and the final major piece to your survival. As long as you have a ton of fun skating with one of the most eclectic groups of skaters you’ll ever meet and don’t end up in cuffs you’ll have one of the best times of your life no matter where in the pack you finish.

Good luck to everyone that’s coming down, stay safe and have fun! Can’t wait to see you all!

UPDATE: Again we’re in no way condoning your participation in this event/flashmob nor are we the event/flashmob organizers. These are common-sense pieces of advice for skating in a city at any time, not just one event.