The third installment of the Vert.nu Legends and Profiles series is the legendary Lance Mountain. The interview was done via e-mail in early June 2010.
Hi Lance, we’d like to ask you some questions on your career as a skateboarder and as one of the innovators in the sport. To prepare for this we asked some of the people you met during your visits to Sweden about things to talk to you about. Maybe you will be able to identify some of those
How old are you?
When did you start skateboarding?
Do you remember what brand of board that was your first?
It was a hand me down board from a friend, oak wood deck, Chicago trucks, clay wheels.
When did you start skating transitions?
Within a year, by 1976 we were riding banks. By 77 we rode the skateparks, pools and ramps
You have visited Sweden on several occasions and most people would agree with us that your visits to the Swedish summer camps in 84, with Claus and Mike, and in 85 with Tony were those that made the most impact. What do you remember the most from that time?
It was an amazing time in skating, because in 1981-83 skating had crashed, ramp skating really took off and we were part of the movement of it growing again. The camp I think was very important to the growth of skateboarding in Europe. Kids from all around other countries came and saw some of skateboarding’s big leaps in progression Mike’s 540 Tony’s 720. They all went home and the fire spread to their friends. Kids in the USA did not even experience that. That impact built the European distribution and scene.
What about the triples with Claus (Grabke) and Mike (McGill), how long did it take for you to nail that one?
Think it happened pretty fast, not to many tries ?
Someone (Hazze Lindgren) told me that you were served fish one day and you said “Ok, let’s head for the pizzeria” and that the fish you got eventually ended up naming the stalefish grab. Is that true?
We would have lunch and dinner in these tins. When we came to open them we would hope it was not the fish. We were calling it stale fish with no head so when Tony made that ( think it was something Gonz tried or maybe showed Tony) trick he called it Stale fish with no head.
We also heard you were something of a connoisseur of British punk music and that you bought a lot of albums when you were here. Do you by any chance have any of the mixed tapes you made back then still in your possession (thanks Hazze for giving us that one)?
A record store was going out of business in town and I bought up about 30 albums from them. Yes summer camp tape 1 summer camp tape 2
Apart from those two visits, how many more times have you been here and when was that?
Not sure 3 or 4 more times
What is your favorite skate spot?
Going to skate it soon.
Any favorites in Sweden?
Only remember the real quick bank walls in the city.
Talking about Sweden again, what was best with Sweden and do you have any memorable moments to share?
Really clean coming from east L.A.
really cool people. Neil Blender and Billy Ruff had gone the year before and Neil told me how good it was. The ramps have bigger transitions and are easier to ride he said. That was the beginning of bigger transitions in the USA.
You were a pro for Powell for several years and ended up in most of their videos. The one that made the most impact on me personally, and probably many more than me, was Animal Chin. What was the most fun part of making those videos?
I was on Powell Peralta for 2 years without a model board and was not going to get one, they put me in “bones brigade video show” and that changed everything. When I was in Sweden Stacy called me up and said people were asking for them to make me a deck and if I wanted to have a model again. So that was a huge blessing, I would not be skating today if it wasn’t for the videos. I just liked riding new places and being silly on camera.
After seeing the latest Flip movie it is clear that you still is a force to be reckoned with on vert transitions. You always did all the inverts and you were one of the first to master the 540 McTwist. How soon after Mike pulled of his first McTwist at the Swedish Summer Camp did you land your first?
I tried it the day Mike made it and killed myself. when I got home I tried everyday for 2 maybe 3 months. Think I made it in Nov.
What about sadplants, there are few people that make them as good you do which is natural as you invented it but how did you come up with that one?
I was doing inverts at this small little transition planter spot called Sadland, trying to stall them I would straighten my front leg out to balance. Neil Blender shot a photo and called it a sadplant.
Name three skaters that have influenced you
Enrique Esparza, Tony Alva, Neil Blender
Who is your favorite skater?
Too many to mention. All the greats, I still look at the magazines I grew up on and think how good the guys before us were. And many many after us, New guys that have what they had.
Being a professional skateboarder must take it’s toll. Have you had any serious injuries during your career?
Ankle in 89 arm in 2008
What do you look forward to in skating nowadays?
Anything with friends same as it always has been.
Are you the funny guy making practical jokes as it appears in most of the videos you have been a part in?
Some quick ones:
Ramp or Pool? Pool
Wood or Concrete? Concrete
Above or on the coping? Both
Indy or Tracker (as that was the major question during the 80s for most skaters): Come on everyone knew it was Independent
Old shool or new school? No School
Frontside or backside? Skateboarding is nothing without both
Indoors or outdoors? out
Ultimate wheel size (diameter)? Changes
And finally, who is Lance Mountain?
I would say a kid who wanted to follow the Lord Jesus Christ for what he did for us, and with all my faults was given the desires of my heart. Skateboarding…. and far more.
Thank you Lance for taking the time to answer all of our questions. Good luck in the future and hopefully we will see you back in Sweden one day.