Story by Ozzie
Photos by Rhino
Many things can be said regarding Bucky Lasek. Inventive, perfectionist, driven, and incomparable are just a few. He doesn’t quite accept the mantle of professional skateboarder any more than he accepts his skating performance on any given day. When asked how he deals with his public image, crowds and the media he answered wryly, “I just push all that away….” sweeping his hand aside in a nonchalant gesture.
A child of Maryland’s watershed seaside towns, Bucky was raised on the enormous steel vert ramp known to a few as Chesapeake Hell ramp. Asked about skateboarding then and now he replied, “Well, back then it was only skateboarding. There wasn’t all the other adult problems to worry about. You got out of school and rode your skateboard. It was all about skating.” It doesn’t seem much has changed.
In 1997, after the Birdhouse team extended their invitation, Bucky moved his wife to California and set up house in Carlsbad. It was a chance for him to really work on tricks and lines again. Back East, Bucky had been riding about three days a week. “We would drive the hour and a half to the Philly Park and skate there. In the winter, we moved the sessions to Cheap Skates (in Quakertown, PA) where it was warmer.” There were a number of great vert riders to session with including Tom Boyle and Derek Krasauskas.
After migrating West, Bucky started skating the Encinitas skatepark or the Escondido ramp and began driving himself to learn more difficult tricks. He began to string difficult combinations together like his back-side 540, front-side 540, airfakie and switch front-side 540. When questioned with regard to learning switch, Bucky’s secret of success is found in his mind. “If I can picture myself doing a trick in my mind, usually I can physically pull it off.” When questioned with regard to his motivation, he quickly answered, “Whatever I do, I always have to go to the end with it…give it all I have or it isn’t worthwhile to me. I simply try to better myself constantly.”
Skateboarding is something that really cannot be explained to most people that haven’t experienced it. Bucky once called it “…a cult.” Someone else… “a minor religion”. It is these and more. Skateboarding consumes, and skaters can be consumed by it. For a while Bucky languished in Maryland as the industry fought within itself while small minds and smaller wheels dictated the sport’s direction. He rode infrequently but didn’t seem to be losing from his limited riding. “I rode street and tried to acquire my street skills. I also rode mini-ramp and all that but…you have to make a living. A person has to eat.”
During this time, Bucky experienced the dark dreariness of injury. “I was actually running out of a trick and my knee twisted and felt weird. Then, you know how you put your foot down, then kneeslide? Well, my knee just gave out…that was the most pain I ever felt in my life. I had no insurance and just holed up in my apartment for a month with my knee looking horrible! I didn’t think I’d ever skate again”. Rehab, eventually got Bucky back on track along with some time off and as everyone who skates knows, it feels great to be back.
Bucky talked about the weird days in the ‘90s. “There was a period of time during the early ‘90’s that everyone rode tiny wheels, but it really didn’t matter because vert guys were only concerned with technical lip tricks. When someone would try to go higher than two feet, everyone would be like, “oh man, what’s wrong with this?” We both laughed at the memory. I quickly added, “you gotta give credit to the Philly street guys, because Oyola and Fred Gall made their sponsors manufacture bigger wheels; they hated riding wheels less than 55mm”.
Ever since moving to Carlsbad, Bucky has stood on the deck at least three times a week determined to push himself. Through his intense drive to learn new tricks and push the level of skateboarding higher, he has placed himself at the pinnacle of vertical skating. With skateboarding at its current level of insanity, you pretty much need a 540 and a flip trick to qualify…of course the run has to be smooth and consistent; utilizing the entire ramp. “Definitely,” Bucky agreed, “I just ride to my best level, then it’s up to the judges. People get ripped because judging skateboarding is difficult…you have varying styles and all these elements.” It’s a definite fact that people do get judged unfairly, but it’s also a fact that people who break down previously unmakeable barriers get ahead.
When we last spoke, Bucky had just finished a session at the Escondido vert ramp. I asked him what he worked on, and he jokingly answered, “Falling”. When we discussed disappointment, he had this to say, “I get mad as I drive home. I’m thinking over it, what I did, what I didn’t do, and I can be very critical of myself. Skateboarding is so mental. I just rationalize it out. I think that if I do my best that’s as good as it gets for me. Some days I can’t make things happen, but it’s that way for everyone. This way it doesn’t eat me up”.
No one can deny that Bucky Lasek’s determination and natural ability have placed him at the top of skateboarding’s vertical echelon. With a string of contest victories this year and a successful place in the Birdhouse nest, Bucky seems to have made the right choice in moving West. But then again, with Bucky, it’s more than choices…It’s a mental thing.
Bucky Lasek proudly endorses Birdhouse, Independent Trucks, Airwalk Shoes, Ezekiel Clothing and Arnette Optics. Bucky wishes to thank his family, the Hawks, Derek and Kevin, ProTec helmets and his agent ‘The Familie’, along with anyone he’s encountered in his life that influenced or supported him in any way. He also thanks those of you who are influenced by him. Bucky says…”you better keep skating.”