Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Slapchat: Special Curb Stall Edition, With Kristian Svitak

The ever popular, Truck-Grab Butt Stall

When I hit up Kristian Svitak to do a Slapchat, I figured it would be the the journalistic equivalent of a slappy on a red painted roundy. Svitak’s from the midwest, he came up at the end of the 80’s, hell, he was a teammate of John Lucero and Jason Adams for years. I just sort of assumed that this Ohio-reared shredder would have a deep devotion to the sacred slappy. 

Never take anything for granted kids, especially in skateboarding. When I called him up on the road with my standard list of questions, I got a minor shock.

“I’ve never really had a slappy phase,” Svitak explained. “I enjoy doing them...but this whole slappy thing, my buddies are always trying to get me to do slappies. ‘Hey let’s go do slappies!’ Yeah, that sounds fun, but, nothing against the slappy, but when I think about the limited time I have to skate, I want to do all sorts of things. I’ve got skateboarding ADD, I only have so many slappies, and then it’s like: ‘Is there a set of stairs around here?’”

After reeling backwards and clutching my chest Fred Sanford style, I took a moment to ponder this. There is an important point here: Even though a lot of guys like me are going back to skating curbs and obsessing over slappies, in reality we are actually children of the ollie.

“I started in the late 80’s,” Svitak explained. “By then people were past the slappy, and all the older guys just skated transitions. We tried to learn ollie to grind as quickly as we could.”

Honestly, slappies weren’t really something that defined my skateboarding wonder years either. They’re something I came to in adulthood, I suspect that’s true for a lot of guys riding this curb craze. There’s the temptation to see this as proof of the absurdity of this whole slappy trend: Maybe we're all just a bunch of kooks wrapped up in nostalgia for a past that isn’t even our own. On the other hand, maybe its proof that there is more to the back-to-basics street skating movement than some sort of yearning for 1988.

Likewise, maybe there’s more to this whole curb skating thing than slappies as well.

“You know what?” Svitak mused, “I really like stalls. I want stalls to make a come back. Sure, there’s slappies and all of that, what about stalls?”

Stalls? The perennial black sheep of the curb skating family? The trick of last resort when all you’ve got is a curb or a bench that wont grind no matter how hard you hit it? Nobody gets nostalgic for stalls, do they? Well, maybe that's a problem.  In the space of one statement, the interview had spun off in a whole new direction. A rad one.

I had called Svitak to talk slappies, but he brought the conversation to a whole other dimension. It was kind of like going to your favorite curb and then sudenly finding a perfect wallride behind a dumpster off to the side.

So we preempt this episode of Slapchat for a special presentation: Stallchat with Kristian Svitak:

So, tell me about curb stalls. Why stalls?

It’s such an accessible thing and it’s been forgotten. Kids are always looking for places to skate. What about stalls? You can do stalls anywhere. Think about Ban This. Paulo Diaz, Guy Mariano, Gabriel Rodriguez...those guys doing stalls on a bus stop bench. We used to do that all the time, and, suddenly, it wasn’t cool anymore.

I think people just thought: “if I can slide or grind, why do stalls?”

Maybe, but I skate around and see skate stoppers everywhere. Kids don’t skate those spots ,and I’m like: “No, we can still skate there”. You can have a stall session right in between those stupid skate stoppers.

What makes a good stall spot?

For me, I like doing stalls on anything, but I think the best for me is something about the size of a bench...trying to do a tiny ollie to do a nosepick on something like a parking block feels terrible.

Are you into the pop in, grab and pull-out style stalls, or are you more about ollieing in, ollieing out?

I don’t do too many grab ones. I do nosepicks, but my go to stalls are stuff I saw Ray Barbee do in Ban This or Public Domain.

So how much stall should you actually put into your stalls? How long can you hang out on the ledge before you overstay your welcome and lose style points?

I think the best way is to get in and get out all in one motion. Sometimes, though, you got to hang out up there to bring it back in. Just the way it is.

On the other hand, putting a little delay, a nice bit of stall in your stall trick, can be stylish, as long as you don’t over do it.

Yeah, sometimes that feels really good, but sometimes you have to get in and get out, something like a smith to fakie, that requires a quick snap out.

Did you ever do the axle stall game when you were a kid? You, know, see how far out you could ollie and land in an axle stall on the curb?

Like Natas? Always. I still do that. I do it all the time.

How far out can you go?

I don’t know...as far as I can ollie I guess.

Are you into the combo tricks? If so, how many tricks can you string together in one stall before it crosses the line into ridiculousness?

It’s more out of habit really when it comes to my combos. It doesn’t go much more than maybe a blunt to pivot to 360 shove-it out, that’s the extent of my combos. I don’t do too many ‘smith to rock to feeble to smith again to 50-50...’ I don’t do too many of those... Its like tht early 90’s mini-ramp style, we called it coping dancing. Whatever is fun though, that’s all that matters.

Do you like the flip-in-flip-out stalls, or do you keep them simple?

I like flipping them when I can do it. When I was a kid I used to have a pretty good kickflip backside stall, kickflip pivot, kickflip to tail. Honestly, my favorite thing to skate these days is a bank to curb or a bank to ledge. My go to stall is the frontside heelflip pivot, the heelflip front tail, or heelflip front pivot to fakie.

What about the no-comply stalls?

I love the no-complies. It’s funny you should say this because, I’m on tour with R. Ring right now, and we were in a grocery store parking lot by the Grand Canyon and I was trying to do one on a curb and I kept missing. I used to be a lot better at the no-complies, I used to do a lot of no-comply to tails when I was a kid. I was better at them as a kid than I am now. I feel like it has something to do with the boards now. Like it was better when tails were bigger and more square.

So, who are your stall senseis?

Ray Barbee... when he did that kickflip back pivot on the bench on that bank in Public Domain...Oh my god. When it comes to stalls it would really be anyone who did stalls in Public Domain and Ban This...Shackle Me Not, Hokus Pokus...those are really formative videos for me, but specifically Ray Barbee and that section with Paulo Diaz, Guy Mariano...from Ban This where they are just ripping thorugh L.A., they do stairs, they do rails, and then they do benches...that was areal awesome part.

So, are we going to see a Kristian Svitak stalls edit anytime soon?

I’d like to, but maybe that’s not for me to do. I guess my approach is, when I’m filming I like to do my thing and maybe drop a few stalls sprinkled in...I like the idea of me skating the city, doing some flip tricks, some rails, then throwing in some slappies here or there, a few stalls here or there.

The curb skating trend is more fueled by necessity than nostalgia. You get older, you get busy with life and maybe you only have an hour or two at a time to skate, you’d better have something simple you can session. Curbs are simple, stalls are even simpler, you don’t even need your curb to grind.

My life is full of impromptu sessions. I have a daughter, a lot of things going on. I’m on tour with R. RING right now, we just drove from L.A. to Albuquerque. Three times when we were at the gas station, I was hitting the gas station parking blocks. My go tos are railslides and front and backside blunt slides, but I love doing stalls. I do them all the time.

Kristen Svitak's new models from Streetplant Brand are coming soon. He is co-owner of Landshark Wheels, is sponsored by Airspeed Footwear. He also runs Kill The Kool, a Punk/Skate culture website. Check him out on instagram at @kristiansvitak, @landsharkwheels, and @killthekool. A full length interview by me can be found here.


  1. No comply to tail is my fav. Admittedly, I have way more stall experience than slappy. I get what he's talking about.

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