Dave Chesson Interview
I first met Dave Chesson when he was about 14, him and Pete King would come and skate at my friends mini ramp now and again and I’d often bump into him out street skating. I was about 18 at the time, just passed my driving test so those two seemed like little kids to me, we didn’t really hang out but they were always around. My earliest memories of Dave would be him with huge jeans, little wheels doing flat ground tricks I couldn’t get my head round, late flip this and that. A few years later and many of the people I skated with had moved away or stopped and I ended up skating with him and Pete most days, the stories from those times could go on forever. Dave went on to be sponsored by Vans, Rookie Skateboards, Howies and others and lived the sponsored skater lifestyle for a good few years. I never thought we’d still be friends now or that this teenage lunatic I once knew would become a father of 2 and run his own business, if I’m honest I thought he’d be dead by 21! – Nic Powley, Owner, Skate Pharm.
So firstly just start with how you got into coaching skateboarding?
Just doing demos with various companies at different events over the years. It would usually be some teaching workshops in-between demos on a mini-ramp or street course of some description. From the Dingly-Dell-Upon-Tweed county fair to teaching people how to skate at the Formula One Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi.
I was also doing private lessons the time, so when that grew into a full time job I decided to start my own company. There’s a lot of bureaucracy, boring red tape, admin etc that comes with it, but that’s just all part of being a grown-up.
It just seems to have been growing from there really. I could never have predicted this would be my job back when we were skating dirty underground car parks 20+ years ago.
Although you’re now a fairly sensible dad of two you did/do have a reputation for being a bit of a party animal, stories of your antics have passed into skateboarding folklore, you always weren’t afraid of really hurting yourself on a skateboard just for the fun of it. Do you therefore find it somewhat ironic that you teach kids in pads and helmets how to skate properly without killing themselves?
I cannot deny, in the past we did embrace reckless abandon with gusto.
Doing stupid, dangerous stuff and slamming hard is all apart of growing up though isn’t it?
The thing is, any skater knows, once you’ve been skating for a while, wearing pads doesn’t really stop the serious injuries you tend to get when your skating at a certain level. Most would agree that it’s generally the ruining of ankles. knees, hips etc with which all the padding in the world wouldn’t stop. Especially with regards to street skating (Obviously it’s still a good idea to pad-up if you’re skating a 12ft Vert Ramp or Bowl.)
The most ironic thing is, the worst injuries are the ones that even dressing up as the Michelin Man wouldn’t prevent.
I do think that as you learn to skate, you also learn how to fall or slam. Being an absolute beginner then it is beneficial to wear pads as you haven’t got the hang of running out of tricks or slamming properly. So in that respect, helmets & pads etc do help to a certain degree.
What’s the funniest thing you’ve been asked at a lesson or by a parent?
There was one time I was asked by a woman in her 20’s if her having an ‘overly large cup size’ would hinder her ability learn how to ride a skateboard. I initially thought it was an elaborate joke, or I had somehow found my way into a bawdy 70’s sitcom.
She ended up skating for a while after I think, with no boob related problems as far as I know.
Do you bore your pupils to death with tales of when you were a sponsored skater?
I don’t think ‘bore’ is the right word to use. Do I sometimes enthral the budding young shredders with tales of adventures and shenanigans gone past? Then yes, if they ask and time permits, then stories will be regaled. Much to their wide-eyed wonderment might I add.
Do the kids ever comp you out and win?
Occasionally there’ll be someone who clearly skates a lot in the group. It’s actually nice to get a good session going and to have the chance to throw down some old 90’s moves.
Do you find that kids have a natural tendency to push mongo?
Not really. One of the first parts of teaching skating is how to stand and push yourself on a board properly. I have found though, that if someone does already push Mongo, then it’s really hard for them to un-learn it and to push properly.
What’s the hardest part about teaching kids to skate?
I guess it would be the first time they drop in on a proper ramp. Overcoming that natural fear of committing to throwing yourself sideways into, what looks like to them, a massive steep hill, is a lot for some people to overcome. The fact of the matter is, you’re almost certainly going to fall or take a slam at some point. That’s just part of skateboarding though, isn’t it. Falling off, getting back up and doing it again until you finally make it. Picking someone up after a nasty slam and telling them that ‘Sorry, but that’s probably not going to be the last time that happens’ can be a bit hard at times.
I guess when you’re in schools and stuff there’s people there that don’t really want to learn to skate, that must be fun right?
Occasionally you do get some kids whose parents have coerced or talked them into taking part. For them I just try to get them to take it nice and easy, at their own pace, or just sit and watch. The thing is, skateboarding isn’t something you can ‘make’ someone do. If you try and force some one to do it then their just going to hurt themselves and they’ll end up hating it.
Can you imagine what you would have been like if some middle aged guy had come to your school and started trying to teach you to skate, how much grief would you have given him?
Middle aged?? I’m in my thirties! ;o)
Haha, but yes, I see your point. Although, being as I was one of the very few skaters in my school, I think I would’ve been quite happy to have someone come in with some kickers and flat bars to have a session with.
Finally there’s been a lot of talk about skating going in the Olympics, what’s your take on that?
It’s been said many times before this. The Olympics needs skating more than skating needs the Olympics.
If and when it does become part of it, nothing about core skating will really change. It’s a bad analogy, but you still get gnarly football hooligans arranging fights between rival teams, but you still have the squeaky clean image of football being the family orientated beautiful game. Skateboarding is, like it or not, very much a part of mainstream culture now. You still have a multitude of different aspects to it regardless of how popular it’s become. One nightmarish situation is skateboarding becoming compulsory like Rugby or Football in school. Imagine that. Kids bunking off skateboarding to go and do something edgy and rebellious like Squash or Rollerblading.
I’m just picturing Street League in tracksuits in my head. It’ll never happen though…….
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