THE PROVING GROUNDS
LA COSTA OPEN 2001
WORDS BY DAN LEVY
INTERVIEW WITH STEVE OLSON
INTERVIEW BY DAVE HACKETT
Amidst the muck and chivalry of the ideas of skateboard contests lies a perfect resolution. Slalom racing is the epitome of how a fair skateboard contest can be conducted. It is skater versus the clock. Period. No big sponsors, or team managers acting as judges and unfairly favoring there riders to push sales. You see slalom racing has a finish line not a vip schmooz section. It is kill or be killed. Along with slalom comes the competitive spirit and for skaters this means the regression from adult to child almost as fast as you can say, ‘racers ready’. The trash talk is heavy, the attention to equipment is detailed, and the road to victory is a game of put up or shut up. Among the festering egos and the dangling carrot of first place there is an ethic, an unspoken line to play with. Animosity is always at hand but everyone pitches in and when it boils down, it is still about fun, riding fast, and bonding through the phenomenon of the intangible drive that lives inside every skater and keeps us skating for life.
La Costa is a proving ground for slalom, as Baldy has been for fullpipes, Embargaderro has been for street, Stoker Hill for ditches and the Dogbowl was for pools. Blood, sweat and tears have been no stranger to the hill of La Costa and on November 24th 2001 the tradition was kept alive. Competition was heated from the word ‘go’ and all who were there to witness were restless, feeling the pressure. The qualifying rounds were treated as final runs and no one was holding back. Within any competitive environment there are ‘good guys’, ‘bad guys’, and some in between. It may be a more accurate assessment to say there is the straight-laced professional type racer and the rebellious all or nothing type skaters and the rest are unclassified. This point was expressed at La Costa with the Fat City Racing team (good guys) and Black Leather Racing (bad guys). I almost felt the temptation to throw some jax on the course and yell, ‘Beat it you Val jerk!’ It would have made sense. [Yes, that was a Thrashin’ reference.] As it turns out, Steve Olson of the now infamous Black Leather Racing team brought forth a tremendous showcase of skating while hungover to take the win. This was not to the liking of the competitors but all the same they honored his victory with a check for $1500. Olson was joined in his blacktop annihilation by Black Leather Racer David Hackett. Kenny Mollica, Brad Edwards, Mike Masysey, Charlie Ransom, Gary Cross, Don O’Shei, Henry Hester, John Gilmour, Chicken and Carrasco all left their mark on the hill. Not to be left out, the next generation of slalom skaters are in training and the juniors division showed early signs of speed and style that will give the more experienced cats a run for their money sooner than later. Dylan Gordon and Josh Byrd both had a strong races. Throughout the two days the camaraderie between skaters was dignified and the spirit of skateboarding was alive and well. I looked around and everyone just seemed to be having fun. My only hope is that the skaters out there who have not yet tried slalom skating will give it a shot. Get a stop watch, some empty soup cans, find a hill, set up a course and race your friends. See you on the hill.
LA COSTA 2001
INTERVIEW BY DAVID HACKETT
PHOTOS BY GLEN MYODA
[Phone ringing. It’s picked up by Steve’s 16 year-old son, Alexander Olson.]
HACKETT: Yeah, is Steve there?
HACKETT: Come on, put him on the phone!
ALEX: You’re not talking to him right now, were leaving to go skate Vans – right now.
HACKETT: I need to talk to him right now – put him on the phone!
ALEX: You don’t need to talk to him – you’re just gonna talk to him about slalom.
HACKETT: Hey listen, fuckface! Put him on the phone right now!
[Olson picks up]
HACKETT: Is this The Champ?
HACKETT: Is this Steve Olson the Champ of La Costa?
HACKETT: What did you think about the La Costa race?
HACKETT: Yeah. How much money did you win?
OLSON: Not enough.
“There’s always a shot for anyone at anytime to win.”
HACKETT: What did you do to prepare for the race?
HACKETT: Practiced on what? Smoking cigarettes?
OLSON: Sex! I learned how to pump properly.
HACKETT: Really? So you attest this win to a highly technical honed-in pump?
OLSON: Yes. It’s all in the hips! If you’re hip to it.
HACKETT:How long have you been racing slalom?
OLSON: My whole life – I came out of my mom’s gates racing.
HACKETT: Do you plan on going to the T.L.P. races this season?
OLSON: I’m going to win!
HACKETT: You’re going to win what?
OLSON: The whole thing, unless my friend Hackett beats me.
HACKETT: Yeah what’s up with your friend Hackett?
OLSON: He is slamming!
HACKETT: What’s up with ‘Black Leather Racing’? What’s that all about?
OLSON: It’s the best.
HACKETT: What does it mean?
OLSON: Fuckin’ Dudes with fast hair.
HACKETT: Nice! – Who’s on it?
OLSON: Two people. That’s it? Their initials rhyme with ‘HO’
HACKETT: Who else looked good?
OLSON: Everybody that was there.
HACKETT: Any standouts?
OLSON: No, just stand ups!
HACKETT: Any up-and-comers?
OLSON: No, there’s always a shot for anyone at anytime to win.
HACKETT:How about some of the old guys?
OLSON: Next question.
HACKETT: Do you think any of the guys that skate ramps and street will be competing?
OLSON: Ah, I don’t think so. I don’t think they know howto turn! I don’t know – they could maybe learn. Now let me ask you some questions! What did you think about La Costa?
HACKETT: I thought it was by far the best race ever held.
OLSON: Yeah? What would you have changed?
HACKETT: I would have moved the whole course up the steeper part of the hill and made it faster!
OLSON: Do you prefer a faster course, or a more technical course?
HACKETT: I like both, but I think the faster you go the more technical it gets. Everything must be highly tuned when running a fast course.
OLSON: How do you compare slalom racing to bowl riding?
HACKETT: I think it’s important to learn how to throw your weight.
OLSON: What about the pump?
HACKETT: Oh yeah, It’s all about the pump!
OLSON: Right. If you thrust it – you can hit it!
HACKETT: Yeah, and those who thrust know.
OLSON: Those who thrust – must!