There is probably not a single Swede who skated during the 80s and 90s that does not know who you are but there are things we don’t know about you. Just look at myself when I asked you what you were doing nowadays when we met in Rålis back in 2001 and you pointed at my Osiris shoes and said: That… Embarrassing, so let’s get started with this.
When did you start skateboarding?
I started to skate in 1976, when skateboarding first came to Sweden and was a total fad.
Do you remember what brand of board that was your first?
Yeah, it was a blue plastic Newporter, with open bearings (you have to be really old to know what “open” bearings were like… hint to the kids, the balls can easily fall out when you take off your wheels). It also had bigger wheels in the back than the front.
Pretty much when New Sport House opened, if you don’t count the plywood that we all used just pile on top of each other in Gallerian, up against the stairs, to create a bank of sorts.
An interview with you would not be complete without any questions on New Sport House and what it meant to you and to Swedish skateboarding overall. What are your thoughts on this 30 years later?
New Sport House meant everything to me; it was the platform that allowed me to build a lifelong career on. We pretty much lived there and we all had the opportunity to develop whatever skate skills that we had, without much limitation. I still look back at that time as one of the fondest memories of my skateboarding life.
This is a very (hard) question; Per Viking was not only the best Swedish skateboarder ever, he was in fact one of the best I’ve ever seen and ridden with! That’s no joke, I’ve skated with the best, like Tony Hawk, Danny Way and Eric Koston, three of the most naturally talented skaters in the world. Per Viking had that type of talent and I spent most of my time trying to keep up. I know that it didn’t seem that way at the time but anything Per learned was a matter of an hour or so; I would spend days and sometimes weeks trying to learn the same thing. In many ways, I credit Per Viking for a lot of my success, since I would never have pushed my own skating nearly as hard without him and consequently, probably wouldn’t have pursued it for a lifetime. While Tobba was a cool kid, he was never really in Per’s league at all.
My first contest was a slalom contest at Gröna Lund. Sweden already had a fairly established scene, with several guys being “known”. I was not among that group, but on the day of the contest, it was raining a bit and the ground was soaked. As it happened, I had Roadrider wheels, which at that time, for some reason, had traction on the ground when it was wet, so I had a bit of an advantage. I won that contest and the helmet that I would wear for years.
Which contest do you remember the most and why?
While I’ve been in countless contests, won many Legends events, the one contest that has always stood out in my mind was the one contest that was held at New Sport House. They only did one of them, it was the Swedish championship and I was lucky enough to beat Per in that contest, by a hair and only because he fell on a trick that he had just learned, the invert. We had already competed in the quarter pipe, the full pipe and the half pipe and the contest was a tie at that point. He was up first in the bowl and I knew that he’d be trying that trick, which I didn’t know how to do and I also knew that if he made it, that was it. I skated after him and took a fairly safe run, knowing that with a fall, he wouldn’t beat my run and that was one of the most intense competition experiences I ever had.
Yeah, I left when I was 16 or so, in 1980. It was me and this kid Rille from New Sport House. I knew that the park was closing and I had to choose between going to college and giving up skateboarding or coming to the States to try to do it for real. The rest is history.
Name three skaters that have influenced you
Per Viking, first and foremost. Also Mark Baker, an English pro skater that came to Stockholm in the early days that taught us what power skating was all about. Having skated a lot with Danny Way, it’s impossible to not be influenced by his incredible approach to skateboarding.
What company was the first to give you a pro model and when was this?
In a way, I had a pro model with New Sport House. It was a board that I designed, we just didn’t use our names on them back then. But the first board here in the States was Uncle Wiggley, the tiny hi-tech board company out of San Diego that I ended up being part of, and which pretty started off my business career. I think that was around ’83 or ’84 or so.
No not really, maybe 10 or 15 or so.
What is your favorite skate spot in Sweden?
New Sport House, without a doubt. But Per and I went to Gothenburg and skated Skateland and some crazy huge indoor ramp, in Fiskebäck I think, a whole bunch and had a blast on those trips and skating with everyone there.
Who is your favorite skater?
There’s so many skaters that are so amazing in so many ways that it’s really hard to narrow that down to just one, that I’m not sure I can do it, so let’s just talk tennis instead; it’s Federer.
Ramp, unless it’s the new Combi or Bucky’s, then it’s pools.
Wood or Concrete?
Wood, unless it’s the new Combi or Bucky’s, then it’s concrete.
Above or on the coping?
Most definitely above.
Indy or Tracker (as that was the major question during the 80s for most skaters)
Indy (though I rode for Tracker for years, then Gullwing)
Old school or new school?
Old School(I know what open bearings are, remember)
Frontside if we’re talking ollies, backside if we’re talking stratospheric airs.
Indoors or outdoors?
Outdoors (though the new Combi is indoors)
Ultimate wheel size (diameter)?
You have been heavily involved in the skateboarding industry with companies such as H Street and Osiris. What made you take the step from being a skateboarder to become a part of the industry and what are you working with today?
Couldn’t really get a job in the 80’s and the UWS guys needed some help, so I jumped in and I guess I never jumped out.
Blasting big airs, skating with my friends, some which I’ve ridden with for almost 30 years, still learning new stuff and just living the dream.
And finally, who is Tony Magnusson?
Just a kid from Tyresö who went for a crazy ride that’s lasted a lifetime. I’ve learned all kinds of things along the way, had plenty of up’s and down’s and got to live the ultimate dream. It’s kind of hard to define yourself this way, so I asked my son and professional surfer Cheyne Magnusson to put down a few words;
“My dad is the living embodiment of the American dream. He’s a guy who left his own country with nothing but a skateboard and a dream and turned that dream into a reality. My dad is inspiration. Whenever times get hard for me I can think about what he went through and how much easier I have it. My dad is a leader. Since the early times of skate videos and skate companies he has always taken the path less traveled, the path of a leader. My dad is the most loyal person I have ever met (besides me). For that, my dad is a great father.”
Huge thanks for answering all our questions and good luck with your businesses as well as your skating. Hopefully we will see you back in Sweden in a not too far future.
Here are some pictures of Tony from throughout his career that he shared with us as well as some from our own Uffe: