Interview: 2011 Adrennalina Tour Champion Paul Kent

With rain blasting a large part of the East right now and it being the end of Hump Day I couldn’t resist posting this for everyone to enjoy. If you’re a regular reader of the site by now you should at least know Paul from our coverage of the Adrennalina Skateboard Marathon Tour which wrapped-up on November 5th with Paul being crowned first ever Tour Champion. In addition to his Adrennalina fame most people also know Paul from his Long Treks On Skate Decks video series, the Paskapoo Downhill Rodeo, GreenSkate and eating celery at the steakhouses. You can catch up with him on www.skaterpaul.com. He is sponsored by Orangatang wheels, Rayne longboards, Royal Boardshop, Vega Sport, and rides with various other teams. I got a chance to talk to Paul via e-mail once he got back to Canada after the Adrennalina Championship for a short interview, telling how he first got into distance skating, how he felt about the last Adrennalina race, and so much more. Paul is making a big name for himself in distance skating and it’s pretty clear he’s just heating up, check out the interview below and see for yourself.

STE: Skate The East: Right now you’re living up in Calgary but mentioned to me on Twitter that you’re originally from the East. Where are you from originally and what took you out to the base of the Canadian Rockies?

Paul Kent: I am originally from Cambridge Ontario, just about 45 minutes west of Toronto. My Dad’s family is from Wabana Newfoundland, which is as east as it gets. Anyways, ten years ago the longboard scene in Cambridge consisted of myself, Marcel Robert, and about 14 other super casual carvers. I would have to drive out to Dundas to skate with Mike Civindino our (then) Canadian slalom champ, or to Toronto to ride with their small group of 10-20 odd kids serious with Downhill riding. I felt I had quickly outgrown the talent base as I wanted to learn from more experienced riders. I decided to find riders out west to learn from and I connected with the parts of Jody Willcock’s crew. (Jody is the inventor of the drop deck). I still identify with Ontario as being where I come from and I miss riding my hometown and the escarpment.

STE: In addition to being the recently crowned 1st ever Adrenalina Skateboard Marathon Champion after a stellar season you’re also well known for your incredibly long distance skateboard backpacking adventures. How did you first enter the world of distance longboarding, and what has motivated you to keep pushing and pumping after all these miles?

PK: Well first off Jeff was the first Adrenalina champ. I am the first tour champion. I failed miserably at last years Adrenalina in Hallendale. Haha. But to answer your question, I began riding to work through rain, shine, even two inch deep snow. When I was late I would have to sprint to work on my board. By the time a year had gone by I had cut my work commute in half. I had done well in a Central park race in New York, but it wasnt until the fall of 2007 that it really happened. I was invited to the push race “King of the Forest” in Vancouver by Mike Benda and Rocky. Having no money for a bus, I joked to my friends and family that maybe I should skate there. They didn’t realize I was joking and started helping me prepare. Haha. Then they agreed it was a stupid crazy idea but I was the craziest person they knew. I packed up my hiking pack with lightweight gear and I skated there. I Got to the race and took the top spot of any Canadian, however loosing to Robin (The Leg) McGuirk and Jon Huey. It was a great trip of self discovery, freezing nearly to death at the top of mountain passes and running from wild animals, skating alone in the dark in places where there are no lights. And then a great race where I saw podium. This touring and push racing thing really had captivated me.

STE: You and Jeff Vyain crossed the finish line hand-in-hand to tie the 1st Adrenalina Skateboard Marathon Championship this past weekend, what was your first thought when you finally caught up to Jeff and he suggested you share the prizes and podium?

PK: My first thought when Jeff offered to go splits was “yes, sound offer.” we both earned it, and I still felt it was anyone’s win. I had caught up to Jeff and took the lead, he then caught up to me about a half mile further and that’s when he proposed the prize split. We skated for a few seconds, then I suggested we shake on it before continuing our race against eachother. Now honestly I didn’t consider this to mean we were supposed to cross the finish together. I began surging to the finish. He and then bounced back and fourth for the lead and charged all but feet from the line. I pushed to the fastest speed I could possibly go and Jeff was still beside me. That’s when I reached for his hand. I did it without looking and he grabbed my arm. We both won, literally and figuratively.

STE: What was the general reaction by the spectators?

PK: The spectators were stoked. I think they really appreciate that we’re not easy on eachother and we pushed faster times, yet in the end it’s about camaraderie, helping eachother to grow as athletes, and being stoked for eachother.

STE: You and Jeff Vyain have arguably the most famous “rivalry” in longboarding right now. When did you guys first run into each other and how did you become “best frenemies?”

PK: Our first encounter was online. He wrote me to tell me he wanted to race me. We met in Hallendale and I wasn’t feeling optimal. He won that race, I hung out with him the rest of that night talking at him and sharing technical info with him. I’m sure he thought I was a chump, but I was stoked to have found a true nemesis. Someone to share and help me become better, by sometimes being better then me. I followed what he did online, in interviews and in his community and became certain he was a good role model and ambassador for longboarding and push race. Our next race was the Cheif Ladiga 188 mile and I won, earning Jeff’s respect. At the after party we had a great talk about our responsibility to the sport. That got us off on the same foot.

STE: How do you intend to spend the off-season this year?

PK: I read lots in the winter. Its when I learn about how to train and eat better. I will be doing more weight lifting, some cross country skiing and running. Although not so much as to over-train before the season begins. I also need to do some physiotherapy. Hopefully I’ll get to head to Cali or Van for some downhill skateboarding through the winter. And of course I’ll be back to working a real job.

STE: You’ve said you have a career goal of a 1:20:00 marathon, what other goals for longboarding in general do you have?

PK: My goals are to help the sport grow in a positive and sustainable way, to help produce some world class skaters in various genres, to create a LongTreks film, start a better bearing company, start downhilling in contests again and of course running as close to 1:20:00 as humanly possible. I’m really aiming to break 1:26:00 next year. But it will depend on the course and the weather.

STE: If you could have anything in the world, prepared by the best of the best, what would be your dream pre-race/long skate meal?

PK: My best dream pre race meal would be the best cheesecake in the world, or best in the dream world for that matter! But since I do not exist in the dream world, I’ll stick to sweet potatoes with a garnish of vegan gummy bears, Vega sport optimizer and ginger kombucha. Unfortunately the best of the bests talents would be wasted on pre-race meals as the GI tract won’t tolerate the best foods during these races. It sucks! But if the Best chefs would take a rain check, I’d be glad to have some mean Mali kofta with Lacha prantha after the race.

STE: Best of luck in the off-season, hopefully you get some deserved rest and relaxation before the grind of training starts again!

PK: Thank you very much. Rest and relaxation is in in full effect right now. But physiotherapy and trigger-point therapy begin soon, followed by weights and fitness maintenance. Say hi to the east for me. I miss her.

We’re stoked Paul took the time to talk to us and wish him the best for the off season!

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Review: Orangatang Durian 86a Yellows

Rider Stats: 5’11, 190lbs

Board: TR Custom Blitz w/ Surf-Rodz 45 degree RKP trucks @ 196mm, Loaded Tan Tien w/Surf-Rodz INDeeSZ @ 200mm; Organgatang Durian 86a (Yellows)

This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for a while but have held off for various reasons, mostly because I kept telling myself I wanted to ride them a little bit longer and learn a little bit more about them before writing a post. After riding these since late June I finally feel like I can give some honest insight into these wheels and give them a good, thorough look at.

The Yellow Organgatang Durian wheels are 76mm w/a 45mm contact patch, they’re offset which means that you have a fat outer lip, but still have a nice sized inner lip as well. As advertised they are stone ground and lack the out of the mold feel associated with some of the grippier wheels, meaning they’ll slide much easier out of the box. The lips are also rounded, instead of square, allowing you to initiate slides easier and with more predictability with little to no break-in time and with less effort. The Yellow Durians are an 86a duro, the hardest Orangatang offers and are advertised as “nice and slidey.”

First and foremost I have to say these wheels are great if you want a set that will last. I’ve had these on my free ride boards since getting them in late June with pretty heavy use and am far from seeing any serious signs of coning or wear. I’ve also had to throw them on my commute board a few times and rode them extensively, despite being such a hard duro they still produced a smooth ride, in fact I rode these wheels for the 8.9 mile Broadway Bomb in New York this past October and didn’t have problems with road vibrations at all. They are responsive and grippy enough to make fast, sharp turns, but will also slide predictably and easily for speed checks and slides.

Because they’re advertised as a free ride wheel their ability to slide and behavior while doing so is paramount. While videos and reviews from the West Coast show and talk about a buttery smooth slide I’ve been largely disappointed up until recently at the amount of chatter they’ve produced, most of which is found while first initiating the slide. Once sliding they are predictable and for the most part smooth, although stickier pavement can cause some chatter and make for an unpleasant ride. Although they have a tendency to chatter while initing slides and on stickier pavement — especially in their younger days — for the most part it’s mild, and can be managed pretty easily by slightly changing your weight management during slides. The beating our East Coast pavement takes from nasty weather and winters just doesn’t seem to play as nicely with Oranatang’s hard hard thane as it does out West it seems. The fat lips make them easy to hook back up with the road when you’ve finished your slide and give you enough grip to make sharper turns and carves at higher speed. I have yet to have any issues with them sliding out from under me unexpectedly thanks not only to the large lips but also the large contact patch. While it provides a lot of grip I can’t help but wonder if the 45mm contact patch also contributes to the chatter but haven’t tested the 86a Stimuluses or Fat Frees to get a direct comparison yet.

The two best parts about the Yellow 86a Durians, in my opinion, have been the versatility and the durability. For a rider as heavy as me to skate, slide, and ride these wheels almost daily for the better part of 5 months with minimal signs of wear is unbelievable and can be attributed to the hard duro that the Yellows use. Despite being hard, as a commuting wheel they still are very comfortable and with their nice lips on both the inside and outside of the wheel they turn and respond nicely with the large contact patch giving you extra confidence in them gripping the road. If you’re looking for an all around wheel that you’ll have for a while, the 86a Durians are a great choice — just don’t expect them to automatically make you slide Kyle Chin or Adam Colton, and don’t be surprised if you run into a little chatter along the way.