HUCK talks to long time Vans team rider about skateboarding, designing parks and not wimping out!
Interview: Ed Andrews
Photography: Chris Johnson
HUCK: So what are you up to at the moment?
Marc Churchill: I'm just filming and getting some photos done to send over to my board sponsors Creature in America.
I understand you are Head of Design for Gravity Parks. What goes into making a skate park?
I don't like to design a park without first speaking to the people who are going to be using them. I get their ideas, show them some images and design it around what they are after. Some may want a big 17ft pool; others may just want some blocks and rails on the flat. Everyone has their personal preference and it's about trying to create a happy medium.
Is it difficult not to have a skate bias?
Sometimes. Because I'm a skateboarder, I will want to make it as good to skate as possible. But then I like to skate a lot of BMX stuff like big transitions, so it's quite easy to please those guys as well.
Will we be seeing any snake runs anytime soon?
I actually designed one the other day but it's hard to sell stuff that not many people know about. Often you are meeting up with 12 to 15 year olds who have never even heard of them. They are usually after some steep flat banks, a rail and a block on the floor.
Some skaters really object to skate parks as they feel that there are trying to restrict them by keeping them in one area. How do you feel about that?
Well, skateboarding was born in the streets for when the surf was flat. But these streets would have flat banks and things they could imitate waves with. Parks are good places to go to train though. You aren't going to knock any old ladies off their Zimmer frames there. There are hardcore skaters who say they don't like parks but secretly they want to session that perfect ledge.
You used to present a TV show called RAD about 10 years ago, teaching kids how to skate. Looking back, how do you feel about that?
I really enjoyed it. It felt like I was giving something back. People would come up to me and say they learnt how to ollie or grind from watching RAD. I'm really proud to have helped people.
You've been on the Vans team for while now, why do you have such staying power?
I dunno, they must be stupid! (laughs) Nah, I'm so stoked to have been on Vans for about 13 years now. It's great being involved and watching these skaters turn from little nippers to proper grown up skaters flying around the place. Really, I've just tried to be an all-round skater and try everything!
And how have things changed?
It's definitely got a lot more popular in the last ten years. With more parks, there's been more access for people to get involved. But also things like Tony Hawk's video games have helped show people what's going on in skateboarding. It's definitely changed the public's perception and gained more respect. When I started skating, people looked at you like you were some kind of freak, but perhaps that's how I wanted it to be!
You had quite a serious car accident a few years ago, did that make you reassess skateboarding and the risk of injury?
Well, it made me think that I'm never going to get that hurt skateboarding so why not try that rail, why not try that massive hip transition into a bowl. Your body is remarkably strong so don't be a wimp, just try it!
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