Omar Hassan – Juice Magazine State of Skate Interview

Omar Hassan

Name: Omar Hassan
Hometown: Costa Mesa, California
Age: 42
Sponsors: Vans Shoes, Black Label Skateboards, Rock Star Energy Drink, Volcom Clothing, Independent Trucks, OJ Wheels, Bro Style Grip, Layback Beer and Attic Skate Shop.

What set-up are you riding now?
I ride an 8 3/8” board. It’s crazy because, over the years, I grew up on almost a 9” and it went down to an 8” and now I’m riding an 8 3/8”. I ride Bro Style grip tape with Independent trucks, Bones bearings and OJ wheels.

What’s the most fun DIY, skater-built or renegade spot that you’ve skated lately?
Grant Taylor’s secret spot.

Have you ever built something to skate?
The pool in my yard, but I didn’t build it personally. I haven’t really built anything myself, but I’ve skated a lot of cool stuff that people have built.

Who do you like to skate with the most these days?
It’s pretty random. I go on lots of trips, so it’s pretty much the whole team on Vans and the whole team on Volcom. I skate with Josh Borden a lot on a regular. I’ve be skating with Colin Provost a little bit and Al Partanen, Darren Navarrette and Peter Hewitt. It’s just guys that live in the area that I usually call up and hang out with.

Coolest skateboard graphic you have seen lately?
I guess it might seem pretty selfish, but John Lucero has been coming up with some pretty cool graphics at Black Label that I’m stoked on. He just came up with this series where he turned all of these models into these really ugly characters. The way he did it came out really cool because they’re all old models that he created a little flair to and made them look ugly, but still cool.

What’s the best thing you’ve ever skated in a skatepark?
I like Burnside’s hip a lot. Even though it’s been there forever, it’s one of my favorite obstacles. I like a launch to a nice friendly bank landing. That’s probably still, to this day, one of my favorite things to fly around and fly over.

Who are your favorite skateboarders of all time?
There are so many. Mark Gonzales is probably my favorite skateboarder from when he was kind of coming up through the Vision days and he lived here in the Newport Beach/Costa Mesa area and I got to be part of that time he was coming up and when he was transforming and changing skateboarding. Even before that, Duane Peters was living in Costa Mesa as well and he was always our local hometown legend dude that we really looked up to a lot. Through the years, I got to skate with Danny Way a lot. He’s another huge influence from the late ‘80s to the ‘90s. For the newer kids, right now, there’s a kid named Daan Van Der Linden from Denmark. Daan Van Der Linden and Grant Taylor are really pushing the envelope right now. I’ve always liked skating everything and I like all around skateboarding and I think those kids are really opening doors to show kids what’s cutting edge and cool nowadays. Pedro is one of my new favorite kids out there as well. He can skate any obstacle and he’s really diverse. He can skate all terrain stuff really well. He’s pushed the limit in transition area, but when it comes to having knowledge of street skating, he’s well rounded too.

Is there anything that hasn’t been built to skate yet that you’d like to see built?
Nowadays with all the skateparks, it seems like there is a lot of stuff out there and a lot of different kinds of obstacles and there’s not one thing that I think should be built, but there are lots of obstacles that I think are really cool that each park has to offer. There’s nothing I could say that you could create that would be that much different because it seems like everything has been done almost. I’m sure there’s something way out of the box. One thing I think is cool is, when I was a kid, I used to look at old the Skateboarder magazines with people in skateparks and when parks were gone for awhile and it was just backyard ramps and street skating, I never thought that parks were going to come back the way they have. Now it’s cool to skate all the obstacles that they are remaking from back in the day. I think it’s rad that there are so many skateparks and options now. I always dreamed about skating all those old parks and now there are a lot of obstacles that they are building that are bringing back that whole skatepark vibe and mentality.

Best road trips you ever took?
I think some of the trips to Australia have been really awesome because they didn’t take out a lot of the old skateparks there like they did here and skateboarding never really got illegal there. Some of my favorite places to skate are some of the old skateparks in Australia that are still existing. Vans sends us on trips there every year and it’s always fun to skate in Australia because the weather is good and the parks are really cool. Pizzey Skatepark and all those parks from the late ‘70s and early ‘80s are fun to skate because I think they are a little more challenging and they have history too. It’s cool to skate stuff that has been pre-existing for that long.

Are there any skate-related charities that you support?
Well, Steve Van Doren seems to have us supporting stuff all the time. Actually, we’ve been doing this thing where we go to Guantanamo Bay to do a demo for the troops’ kids there. They have a skatepark on each base, so I’ve been to Guam and Japan and Guantanamo Bay before. It’s a cool place to go and do a skate demo because those kids have to live there with their parents and their parents are doing a lot for our country. For them to even have skateparks and support skating is cool. That’s one of the things that we do to give back. Steve Van Doren always seems to have us doing something to help others, whether it’s kids with special needs or supporting the military troops kids that are on those bases and never get to see skateboarders outside of the base. When we get to go there and skate with them, it opens their minds to what skateboarding has to offer and they can see new tricks and different ways of riding that they don’t get to see every day. You’d be surprised how big skateboarding is in places like that where people don’t get to go. You also have Pedro Barros in Brazil and he does a lot for the community there. It’s rad to go places like that and see what people are doing in Brazil and what Pedro creates for the skate scene there. He’s got the backing and he gets to create really cool skateparks and he’s got a full compound in his yard that he built for everyone to skate. Supporting a crew of people in Brazil like that is rad because they may not have the money or the means to be able to afford it. It’s really cool to go to places like that and see what they’ve done for skateboarding and how much they support skateboarding.

What music have you been listening to?
I like all different kinds of genres. I went to that Punks Not Dead fest and it was cool to hear all of that music. The Dickies and Bad Religion were playing and I grew up on all that stuff. I like certain types of hip hop music too. Guys like Tupac will always be relevant to me. I like reggae as well, like Barrington Levy and Gregory Isaacs. Every mood that you’re in is what music is about to me. If I’m chilling, sometimes I’ll just listen to reggae. If I want to get hyped, I’ll listen to punk rock. In the generation I grew up in, you didn’t necessarily have to be a punker or into rap or into reggae. You could be into everything. It was all diverse.

What do you consider the responsibilities of a professional skateboarder?
I think the responsibilities are to represent skating in the way that you see it, as far as being your own individual and having your own individual style and being more of a leader and not a follower. You do what you do in skateboarding and try to progress skateboarding without mimicking or trying to be someone you’re not. That’s what I think is cool about skateboarding. Everyone has their own individual style and technique. It’s not something contrived. It’s something that’s being you. If you can show your personality and your skateboarding skills and be cool in both areas, I think that’s what being a pro skateboarder is. I don’t think it’s about winning contests or having the best video part. All of those things are good to do, but it’s a combination of everything. Having a good personality behind some skills goes a long way.

Which skate shops do you support?
Well, there’s a local shop here, Attic Skate Shop and it’s a buddy of mine. He grew up in the same area and he’s kind of a ma and pa skate shop. He doesn’t really deal with too many corporate companies and he’s got a lot of hardgoods. I think he keeps it stocked to the point where it’s all really good hardgoods and he sells to more of the local kids. Everybody knows about him and he’s got a good underground base of kids. It’s right across the street from the Costa Mesa Skatepark, which helps. I’d rather support a real shop with a guy that is actually into it and is in the field doing it all the time than a shop that you ride for strictly for money. I try to support them and they support me and it’s a homie situation.

Favorite skate photo of all time?
There is one that Anthony Acosta took of me in Puerto Rico. I’m doing a stalefish in a bowl and it was a really cool spot. It was kind of in the favela, so it was kind of dangerous to go into there. These guys built it in this favela area so it’s built on the beach in a really special setting and I think he captured the moment and the vibe when we were there. He’s a great photographer as well. It’s one of my favorite shots I’ve had.

What is your take on girls skateboarding?
Well, skateboarding is not a sport and it’s not something that’s controlled. With the organizations involved in skateboarding, you don’t have to be a contest skater. It’s not super organized so, when it comes to girls skating, it’s pretty mutual to guys skating. There’s no differentials except that one has different genitalia. [Laughs] I think girls skateboarding is awesome and it’s been going on forever and there are a lot of people like Cara Beth. When I was a kid, she was one of the first girl skateboarders to cross that line where she was so good at skateboarding that you had to respect her. She took skateboarding to the next level. Now you see all these girls that skate and she really set the pace of making it so it’s not looked upon as being any weaker or stronger than guys skating. It’s all mutual. I never thought that skating, in general, was going to get as big as it is and I think that girls skating has gotten really big now. Another thing that’s cool is that there are all of these city parks now and, since it’s been so supported by parents and cities, you can go to any park in the world and there is a girl out there ripping. That’s how it should be. It’s cool. It’s not like football or professional baseball. A lot of the girls that are professional skateboarders nowadays deserve to be professional skaters because the talent is there. The girls have really stepped it up. You have Elissa Steamer and now you’ve got Leticia Bufoni and all these girls that are out there ripping. It’s really good for skateboarding. The only other thing that compares to it is surfing. I think girls that surf are really talented as well. In surfing and skating, I think some girls are on the level of a lot of professional guys, so it’s not abnormal to see some girl at the park ripping on half of the dudes there. It’s really cool to see because that’s what makes skateboarding cool and special. We don’t discriminate. I think girl skateboarding is awesome. To each his own. Everyone just go out and rip and have fun.

What skateboarding memorabilia do you have that means the most to you?
This sounds ridiculous, but I have this one Polaroid photo from years ago. I was driving home and Mark Gonzales was at this bus stop with Ron Emory. They just happened to be at the same bus stop together and Mark had a Polaroid camera and he was like, “Hey, can you take a photo of me and Ron?” At the time, I didn’t really know Ron Emory that much, other than I knew he was in T.S.O.L. I was really young, so I took this photo of them, and then I said, “Hey Mark, do you mind if I take one for myself. I want to have a photo too.” So I have this photo of Mark Gonzales and Ron Emory at this bus stop. It’s just random. It’s one of those things that I was always really stoked on more than any board or helmet, just because it was one of those random moments. Being there and being able to have that photo was pretty sick for me. I know that sounds random, but that is one of the coolest things I’ve got.

Who contributes the most to your local skate scene?
Steve Van Doren, obviously. That guy is like Santa Claus to everybody. I think he’s been a huge influence on why there is so much more transition skating going on. He’s down for street skating and he’s built skateparks when no one was doing it. He’s always throwing benefits and events and contests and he’s been a lifesaver for skateboarding. He’s always made sure, that as big as Vans got, the focus and core roots came from skateboarding. I think, singlehandedly, he’s one of the biggest influences in skateboarding over all the years by far, in my mind. He’s the biggest team player.

Top three favorite skate tricks?
It’s not necessarily one trick. I think it’s the way you do it. The way that Jeff Grosso does a handplant is a favorite one for me. It’s style and technique. If you’re going to do a handplant, you might as well do it correctly and do it well. My second favorite would be a front board slide or a smith grind or a lip slide and the way some people have figured out how to sit on it and slide and grind properly. Obviously, lip tricks and airs would be the same. I also like the way things have progressed with how to flip your board properly. I think taking kickflips to board slides or 360 flips and flip tricks is progressing in general. It’s not necessarily one trick or another. It’s the way they have progressed it and perfected it. The handplant and the way you do that is obviously insane. The way you can stand on the lip and ride it properly and the way you can flip catch things and perfect that and make it look good. There are variations of doing that. I’d say it’s the progression of those three things.

Do you think skateboarding should be in the Olympics?
Obviously, we’ve tried over the years to keep away from the Olympics because of the simple fact that skateboarding is always supposed to have been an underground thing and we took pride in it being underground. With the corporate entities involved nowadays, they are trying to take away from that original blueprint of what skateboarding is. Skateboarding wasn’t ever supposed to be organized. Skateboarding wasn’t ever supposed to be bought or sold and nowadays with the corporate entities involved with skateboarding and the lack of knowledge of the history of skateboarding, the corporations are really trying to steal the heart and soul of what we created as kids. Growing up, we were skateboarding because we didn’t want to be part of the football or basketball team. We weren’t doing the traditional sports that everyone was conformed to doing. Personally, the way I grew up skating, it should never be labeled as a sport or an Olympic type activity, for that reason alone, but everyone has their opinion and their views. My viewpoint is that the Olympics never had any interest in skateboarding until the big corporations got involved and now there’s money to be made. That’s a sign of the times with the way it’s going and where it’s going. There will always be two sides of skateboarding so it doesn’t threaten what I do or what I believe in or what skateboarding is to me because there will always be that other side of skateboarding that the Olympics and the X Games don’t understand. Having roots in skateboarding gives you the power to understand it more. Of course, I wouldn’t like to be in the Olympics. At the same time, it’s going to probably go there. It will rule over any decisions we might want. It is what it is. I’m not saying that anyone shouldn’t enter the Olympics or that skateboarding shouldn’t be in the Olympics. I just think that’s not why I or a lot of my peers got into skating. It wasn’t to be an Olympic champion. We were just anarchists doing our own thing and that’s what skateboarding will always be to me and to a lot of people that grew up in my generation and my era.

What is your proudest moment in skateboarding so far?
It would be just to see the progression of it all. It’s something that I’ve been able to be a part of, and watching the transition of skating go from where it was when I started as a kid looking up to these guys and looking at the mags to where it’s gone now and watching the progression and how insanely rad kids are getting and how far people have taken skateboarding is insane. To me, a proud moment is seeing Pedro Barros airing the middle of the Combi. Seeing things like that and being able to be a part of it is what I’m stoked on. Those are some of the proudest moments to me. It’s not necessarily what I’ve done. It’s what other people have done and what I see and what I get to be a part of. I’m seeing history happening all the time. Every day there’s someone doing something more progressive and rad. I’m proud of just being there and being accepted and being able to be a part of it all and seeing history all go down.

Omar Hassan Killing it in the 51st state of America. Omar Hassan with a stalefish oceanside in Puerto Rico. Photo by Anthony Acosta


 

ABOUT THE JUICE MAGAZINE STATE OF SKATE:

When we started Juice Magazine 22 years ago, you could count the number of skateparks on one hand and grindable pool coping was mostly a distant memory. Now there are thousands of skateparks all over the world, along with a vast quantity of DIY spots built to skate. In 1993, the majority of skateboarders listened to punk rock or hip hop exclusively. Now skateboarders listen to almost every kind of sound created. Two decades ago, skateboarding related charities were non-existent. Today, there are numerous non-profits giving back to skateboarding in many ways. One of the most important differences between now and then is that, 22 years ago, there was a clear division between old school and new school skateboarding. Now that wall of separation has followed the same path as the Berlin Wall, allowing for an unprecedented unification of skateboarders all over the globe. Great strides have been made for girls that skate as well as the acceptance of skate history and long overdue recognition for skateboarding’s pioneers and its artifacts. At the same time, the current generation of skateboarders is taking skateboarding to new heights, previously unimaginable. As the landscape of the skateboarding industry changes on a daily basis, and the topic of skateboarding in the Olympics rears its head once again, along with the disturbing subject of who controls skateboarding being tossed about by corporate entities, we decided it was time to take a good look at the State of Skate. We asked 20 questions to 100 skateboarders, ages 8 to 58, and found that skateboarding is as diverse as the skateboarders that are addicted to it, no one controls skateboarding except skateboarders, and the State of Skate is savage and strong. Now get out there and skate tough!

JUICE MAGAZINE STATE OF SKATE features interviews with 100 skateboarders including: Tony Alva, Dave Hackett, Chris Strople, Duane Peters, Steve Olson, Dave Duncan, Steve Alba, Tony Magnusson, Pat Black, Jesse Martinez, Bill Danforth, Jim Murphy, Ric Widenor, Lester Kasai, Glen Charnoski, Bryan Pennington, Peter Furnee, Jeremiah Risk, Ryan Smith, Jason Jessee, Omar Hassan, Cam Dowse, Jen O’Brien, Depth Leviathan Dweller, Brett Roper, Travis Beattie, Chris Gentry, CW Dunn, Chris Albright, Charlie Wilkins, Cairo Foster, Pierre-Luc Gagnon, BJ Morrill, Dr. Lenore L.A. Sparks, Sid Melvin, Jesse Irish, Packy Fancher, Greg Lutzka, Jimmy Larsen, Adam Dyet, Luis Tolentino, Greg Harbour, Frank Faria, Ryan DeCenzo, Dave Bachinsky, Johnny Turgesen, Casey Meyer, Edward Sanchez, David Gravette, Ben Hatchell, Brian Geib, Felipe Gouveia, Eric Santos, Kyle Smith, Cameron Revier, Josh Stafford, Justin Grubbs, Etienne Eden Archila, Sanzio Piacentini, Josh Elder, Eddie “Mighty” Moreno, Kevin Kowalski, Otto Pflanz, Jeremy Smith, Adam Wiggins, Jimmy Wilkins, Danny Gordon, Jake Hilbish, Corey Blanchette, Adam Legassie, Nick Santos, Trey Rounds, Curren Caples, Justyce Tabor, Andy Anderson, Sarah Thompson, Coral Guerrero, Collin Graham, Derek Scott, Ace Pelka, Sonny Rodriguez, Jarren Duke, Mikayla Sheppard, CJ Titus, Noah Schott, Emily Earring, Julian Torres, Wyatt Wisenbaker, Josh Forsberg, Nathan Midgette, Roman Pabich, Yago Dominguez, Jack Winburn, Jonas Carlsson, Kiko Francisco, Bryce Ava Wettstein, Desmond Shepherd, Matty Jessee and Luke Kahler.

FOR THE REST OF THE STORY, ORDER ISSUE #74 BY CLICKING HERE…

1 comment

  • Gonçalo July 13, 2016

    Nice!
    Great interview Juice!!! Skateboarding it´s not really a sport and really shouldn´t be in the olympics. Wise words Omar. We need more of this anti-olympics words.
    This is amazing:
    “Do you think skateboarding should be in the Olympics?
    Obviously, we’ve tried over the years to keep away from the Olympics because of the simple fact that skateboarding is always supposed to have been an underground thing and we took pride in it being underground. With the corporate entities involved nowadays, they are trying to take away from that original blueprint of what skateboarding is. Skateboarding wasn’t ever supposed to be organized. Skateboarding wasn’t ever supposed to be bought or sold and nowadays with the corporate entities involved with skateboarding and the lack of knowledge of the history of skateboarding, the corporations are really trying to steal the heart and soul of what we created as kids. Growing up, we were skateboarding because we didn’t want to be part of the football or basketball team. We weren’t doing the traditional sports that everyone was conformed to doing. Personally, the way I grew up skating, it should never be labeled as a sport or an Olympic type activity, for that reason alone, but everyone has their opinion and their views. My viewpoint is that the Olympics never had any interest in skateboarding until the big corporations got involved and now there’s money to be made. That’s a sign of the times with the way it’s going and where it’s going. There will always be two sides of skateboarding so it doesn’t threaten what I do or what I believe in or what skateboarding is to me because there will always be that other side of skateboarding that the Olympics and the X Games don’t understand. Having roots in skateboarding gives you the power to understand it more. Of course, I wouldn’t like to be in the Olympics. At the same time, it’s going to probably go there. It will rule over any decisions we might want. It is what it is. I’m not saying that anyone shouldn’t enter the Olympics or that skateboarding shouldn’t be in the Olympics. I just think that’s not why I or a lot of my peers got into skating. It wasn’t to be an Olympic champion. We were just anarchists doing our own thing and that’s what skateboarding will always be to me and to a lot of people that grew up in my generation and my era.”

    A lot of superstars skaters started skating for the wrong reasons. Never Forget our roots.

    Patinho Feio Skate Zine
    http://patinhofeioskatezine.tumblr.com/

    Reply

Post a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

JUICE MAGAZINE | 319 OCEAN FRONT WALK #1, VENICE, CA 90291 | (310) 399.5336 | [email protected]
Juice is an interview magazine featuring skateboarding, surfing, art and music. Since 1993, Juice has been independently owned and dedicated to the core. Juice Magazine specializes in coverage of core skateboarders, surfers, musicians, skatepark builders, artists, photographers, rock n roll, metal, hardcore, pools, pipes & punk rock. Keep Skateboarding A Crime.
ABOUT | CONTACT | INDEX | NEWSLETTER | INTERNSHIPS | LINKS | SITEMAP | ADVERTISE | LETTERS | TERMS AND CONDITIONS | PRIVACY POLICY
© 1993-2018 Juice Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced by any means; electronic, mechanical, photocopy, or otherwise without the prior written permission of the copyright owner, photographers, writers, or artists named herein. Trademarks mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.