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

AGP Downhill + Sextagonocopter

AGP Downhill

Some of the AGP Downhill homies — Matt Deitch, Jack Traynor and Jared Henry — somehow got their hands on a “sextagonocopter” for this Metro Wheel Co. edit and the results were gnarly.

Check it out as they make their way down some of the best terrain on the right side of the country. Check them out on Facebook if you get a chance.

-Connor

Team Mids Down Undahhh

Team Mids

The boys from Eastachusetts grabbed the van and headed from one land of accents to another, meeting up with the AGP Downhill boys to skate one of the south’s most gnarly and entertaining runs, both to skate and watch. This video features the Team Mids homies Norm “The” Plante, East Coast Mac, Pete Laugh, and Tom Leary.

Make sure you’re our fan on Facebook, you subscribed on YouTube, and you follow us on Twitter and Instagram, dawgs.

Fall Wheelabrator — 10/27 in Lisbon, CT

Wheelabrator 2013

 

UPDATE: Originally we had the locations as “Libson, CT,” when in fact it’s “Lisbon, CT.” Make sure you get it right or your GPS won’t find the location!

Attending Wheelabrator has become somewhat of a rite of passage among southern New England skaters having been going down twice a year for a while now. The emphasis with the event is that it’s not a contest, nor a nontest, but simply a gathering of skaters for a dope day on varied terrain.

This fall’s Wheelabrator will be going down just before Halloween, on October 27th. It’ll start at 10:30 AM and go until no one’s down to skate anymore, which usually lasts well into the afternoon. Costumes are being highly encouraged, as well as helmets.

It’s a pretty cool spot that features a narrow and fast bike path with some killer turns that are super sketchy and terribly fun in packs, a straight downhill run for people to practice pack runs, and a straightforward slide hill; it has something for almost every rider at almost every skill level. The other dopest part: with the exception of other skaters coming to the event, there’s virtually no traffic.

Plug “Wheelabrator Industries” in Lisbon, CT into your GPS and you’ll clearly see where to go and where to park once you get to the hills.

Check out the official event description:

You’ve been asking for it and now its time for another awesome session! For anyone unfamiliar wheelabrator is NOT a competition, its just a stoke filled session at one great spot that has it all! There are 3 hill to be skated all right next to each other.
A 8/10ths of a mile mellow DH run that is fairly straight and is a blast for huge pack runs.

A shorter narrow bikepath tech DH run that winds through the woods and although it doesn’t get that fast, the corners can get hairy at full speed on such a narrow run

A straight forward freeridee hill that makes a mellow S turn

All of these runs have virtually no traffic!

This is a great event for all ability levels, even if you’re just getting into skating Wheelabrator is a guaranteed good time! Costumes are encouraged!!!

Here’s a video from this past spring’s Wheelabrator:

18-Year Old Skater Killed in NYC

Some tragic news came out of New York City on Thursday afternoon, just over two weeks before thousands of skaters plan on descending upon the city to skate in the Broadway Bomb. 18-year old skater Alexander Ciszewski was killed after being run over by a truck while skateboarding home from school Thursday afternoon in Queens, after losing control of his board while skitching.

18-Year Old Skater Killed in NYC - 2005 GMC Box Truck

One type of 2005 GMC box truck.

Police say Ciszewski was holding the passenger side of a white 2005 GMC box truck (e.g. a U-Haul or Ryder type truck), skitching a ride, on 47th Avenue near 32nd Place in Sunnyside when he lost control and fell backwards, being run over by the truck’s back wheels.

One witness, Jadon Thompson, told the New York Post that “I know [the truck driver] probably saw the guy. He sped up about five miles per hour either to get the kid to let go, or to give him a faster ride.”

Thompson was the first to respond to the scene and called 911, where he found Ciszewski face down and gasping for air intermittently. Ciszewski was rushed to nearby Elmhurst Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to DNAinfo NYC.

The driver didn’t stop immediately, leaving the scene of the crash, although Gothamist reports that the driver came back to the scene about 20 minutes later. Police say it remains unclear if the driver knew the teen had fallen and been run over, and are investigating whether or not a crime was committed.

The news is tragic, but also serves as a poignant reminder that skitching, especially on the sides of vehicles, is incredibly dangerous. When the driver isn’t fully aware that you’re there, and/or isn’t in communication with you, the risk is exponentially higher.

Accidents happen when you least expect them, so skate safe and skate smart everyone.

Photo via Bestrucks.com

 

2013 Silverheels Cup at Okemo Mountain

The Hubbub this past weekend in the skate community was centered in Ludlow VT, where nestled in the depths of Vermont’s dark woods and cozy towns with covered bridges lies Okemo Mountain, known by many for its skiing, and by few, until recently, for a road whose level of gnar few dare to attempt.   The 3 mile long, 3344’ tall run, with chicanes, hairpins, and a 50+ MPH straight away sounds intimidating enough as it is, but this king of east coast runs’ is gnarly, as many east coast roads are, because of its pavement.

The Course

2013 Silverheels Cup Sketch Factors

Sketch factor multipliers. | Original photo: Marion Ross

Cracks, pavement changes, and snowcat tracks litter the road from top to bottom.  While skating straight you may at any point find your board drifting sideways from vibrations.  While corning your puck is always at risk of getting swallowed by a crack or pothole.  Speed bumps and tree root humps are a fun intermittent feature.

One does not simply skate Okemo. But on September 14th and 15th a few brave souls did as they raced for the 2013 Silverheels Cup.

2013 Silverheels Cup

While some skaters opted for what they thought would be the safer option, luging that is, people from every group took spills and slams.  Thankfully no one was seriously injured, although there were scary moments, one can’t help thinking back to the legendary “Vermont Massacre” race that occurred at Ascutney.  Despite the injuries and some trips to the hospital, the overall tone of the weekend was great, and everyone who stepped on a board or sat on a luge or drift trike had a great time.  Event organizer Marc Dean once again pulled off a fantastic weekend of riding.

2013 Silverheels Cup at Okemo Mountain

Some of the carnage. | Photo: Marion Ross

Marc, who works tirelessly throughout the year with the mountains event coordinators, sponsors, and skaters was happy with the way the event turned out, wished all those injured a speedy recovery.  “This was the most mentally challenging hills that I have ever ridden. Everyone who rode is due props for showing how good the east coast riders truly are.  A big thank you to Original Skateboards – Lindsay and Sean [Kolvenbach] for all of their help in making this happen,” Marc said.

2013 Silverheels Cup at Okemo Mountain

Skaters coming down the hill. | Photo: Marion Ross.

Sean Kolvenbach, the team manager over at Original Skateboards, said the team “had an awesome weekend, filled with beers, good friends, and fast hills.  Unfortunately that hill had a few to many casualties.  Driving up that run first thing Saturday morning all I kept thinking was, they want people to mob this hill, while smiling in disbelief.  It’s the jankiest run on the east coast for sure. [Laughs] I feel like everyone who skated there this weekend up’d their game a few points for sure.  Stoked to get 2 of my riders on Am Podium though, they survived the hill and stood strong!”

2013 Silverheels Cup at Okemo Mountain

Riders headed back to the top. | Photo: Marion Ross

Despite the condition of the road, by the time pro racing reached its final heats skaters were attempting single slide runs while battling it out for a spot on the podium.

2013 Silverheels Cup at Okemo Mountain

Kai Salam rounds at Turn at Okemo. | Photo: Marion Ross

Video

Team Mids filmed a follow run the day before racing so those who didn’t attend could see how the road is really meant to be skated. Check it out:

Results

Standings from Sundays racing:

Pro Skate:

  1. Niko Desmarais
  2. Tom Wilson
  3. Mac Holmes
2013 Silverheels Cup at Okemo Mountain Pro Skate Podium

Some of the Pro Skate podium. | Photo: Marion Ross

Pro Luge:

  1. Chris Hicks
  2. Dave Aparicio
  3. Bob2 and Bob3
2013 Silverheels Cup at Okemo Mountain

Luge podium. | Photo: Marion Ross

AM Skate:

  1. Will Schroder
  2. Andrew Licata
  3. Jared Beers
  4. Izzy Moreno

Women’s Skate:

  1. Cassandra Duchesne

Women’s Luge:

  1. Emily Pross

Butt Pirate King:

  1. Dave Aparicio

Other Press/Media

  • Article in the local Vermont paper, the Rutland Herald.
  • Special thanks to Marion Ross for letting us use the photos. Check out Marion’s work at her website.

Video: The True Mids Fiends

The word ‘mids’ is getting thrown around these days but shouldn’t loose its origins, or be diluted by the masses.  Its a fiendish word that’s epitomized by two of the original mids users, Norm Plante and Eric Roth.  Check out their new edit, back in the homelands, filmed and cut by Tom Leary.