Big Sets, Small Boards: The Petar Stanchev Interview
You probably know Petar as the little person fuckin’ up Macba in your feed. His pop and flick are revered across the globe. Not everything's on the 'Gram, though. Read how this coffee-addicted Bulgarian made the move to Barci in his search of a clear head and epic terrain. As seen in our January ‘23 issue.
Interview by Ted Schmitz
Photos by Roger Ferrero
From iconic Barci steps to the cuts of Catalonia, Petar puts on one hell of a performance
Hey, Petar, where did you grow up?
I was born in Bulgaria. When I was seven years old, I moved to Rome, Italy with my parents. I moved to Barcelona five years ago. But yeah, I’m Bulgarian.
How old are you?
I’m 27. My birthday was yesterday.
Happy birthday! Why do people call you Stewie?
It’s my nickname, like Stewie from Family Guy. When I started to skate in this little city near Rome, we were like a family, the crew of skaters. And I was the kid because all the rest of the them were five or six years older than me. I was like the baby and also a little person. So they called me Stewie like the show. It’s cool, but a lot of people started to think it was my name, so I had to explain it a lot. I changed my name on Instagram to my real name to help. It’s still my nickname, and that’s fine, but I like my actual name more. It’s Petar, which sounds better.
Petar puts down a high-impact hammer, crooked grind
How many languages can you speak?
Four: Bulgarian, Italian, English and Spanish.
That’s amazing. Every time I meet people outside the US, I feel so stupid. What videos did you grow up on?
I started skating in 2009. I watched Fully Flared a lot. I love it. Later I would go back and watch the old videos.
There’s a lot of good Barcelona footage in Fully Flared. What made you want to move from Italy to Spain?
Basically just because Barcelona is amazing to skate. In Italy, living in a small town near Rome, there were no spots. I went on holiday for two weeks with my homie to Barcelona and then we just decided to move here. We moved the week after we got back to Italy. It happened super fast.
How long did it take you to make friends and get in the scene?
I already had friends from Italy when I moved to Barci, so that helped. I skated with my Italian friends a lot, at the beginning.
Caffeine-fueled varial heel
Was it intimidating the first time you rolled up to Macba?
Yeah, at the beginning it was little bit, because skating in Italy, you just skate with four or five homies. Then moving to Barcelona and going to Macba, there are 40 people watching you. And everyone is super good, going really fast. They’re skating the ledge and everything. But the people respect you, so it’s fun. I like to skate with a lot of people now. I just skated Macba a lot because I lived ten seconds away. It was like my garden.
That’s an amazing location for an apartment.
It’s good for skating, but it’s pretty noisy, so it’s not so good for sleeping.
Yeah, that might get in the way of other stuff you do. You make art, too, right?
Yeah, I like to paint in my free time. It’s like I have to express myself or I’ll explode. I’m scared of free time. I like to be busy all the time. If I’m not skating or working, I like to be painting. I’m never bored.
What do you do for work?
Like a lot of people in Barcelona, I work in customer service. I work for a scooter sharing company and I’m in customer service because I can speak Italian, Spanish and English. So if someone has a problem, they ask the company and I sign on to the chat in the app. I work late—from 11 at night until 5 AM.
Damn! You gotta get some sleep after this interview.
I’ll go to bed at 5 AM when I finish working and I’ll wake up around 2 PM.
When you got into skating, were there other skaters that inspired you?
Yeah, of course. It was just my homies in the beginning, and they helped me find a small board. My first board was an eight, which was super big for me. And then my homie gave me a small one—a seven-point-five, and eventually a seven-point-two-five. All my homies supported me from the beginning and they helped me learn and have fun.
Kickflip frontside 50-50 for the homies
So you weren’t really motivated as much by seeing like Pancho Moler or Jason Acuña—it was more from your friends?
I started skating with my friends, and it wasn’t until years later that I saw Pancho. They showed me his tricks and I thought it was cool to see some things were possible, but I was already doing it. I was already having fun with my homies and not thinking about, Oh, he can do this so maybe I will try it, too.
That’s sick. What size is your board now?
It’s still a seven-point-two-five. I’m not sure how long it is. I think 28 or 29 inches—but 32 is too much.
Where did you get your first small boards?
My first board was from my local skateshop, but then they ordered one from a distributor for me—a seven-point-two-five Antihero. That was the first small board that I learned everything on. I learned how to kickflip, shove it, 50-50 and I started to enjoy skating more. I thought, Okay, with this I can kickflip, so I can do anything.
What size shoe do you wear?
My size in Europe is 32, and in the US it’s a size one.
How do you get shoes?
Danny Wainwright used to help me find shoes, sending me boxes. And then when those ran out, I bought some Dunks that Max Geronzi saw me wear. He showed my stuff to Colin at Nike and then I got a text from him to see if I would be down to wear some SBs. My first Dunks were not the skate shoes, just normal ones. So he sends me shoes and I love them. He asked me if I was down to film something with Enrique, and here we are eight months later. It’s great.
Steep-bank fakie crooks, the dude’s got a deep bag
You have a “Forever Young” tattoo. What made you get that?
It’s a reminder to enjoy yourself like a kid forever. Age is just something people create. I’m scared of people that say, “Oh, I’m too old to do this.” I never want to be too old to do something. It’s a message for me to remember that it’s never too late to do something.
Well, you skate like you’re forever young. You jump off some big shit. I feel like in Barci you can be any kind of skater. What made you go toward the high-impact stuff?
I just do it. When I see a spot and I’m hyped, I don’t think about the size. If my homie jumps down the three block with a fakie ollie, why can’t I? Sometimes I’ll skate a small ledge to learn something new or hard, but I like to go fast and 50-50 a big ledge.
Awesome. Have you had any major injuries skating?
I fell off a hubba and cut my head open, but nothing too crazy.
You’ve got a video part in the works. You’re already sort of Instagram famous—as in, everyone I know knows who you are. Do you feel a lot of pressure to put your skating out in a legit video as opposed to just posting?
I don’t feel the pressure. I just go two or three times a week with Enrique and he understands the kind of a spots I like to skate. I’ll say, “I want to do this trick,” and he’ll show me ten spots around Catalonia, so it’s fun. A few months ago I stopped filming for the ’Gram and started saving tricks for the part and it has just been super fun.
50-50 down and out
Do you go out on solo missions or do you roll out with the squad?
Because I wake up late, a lot of my homies are already too tired for a mission. Sometimes I go out with a big crew, though. Even when I skate alone, I don’t feel like that ‘cause I’m with Enrique.
Do people or security guards treat you different from your friends when you get kicked out?
Yeah, but maybe it’s an advantage, because they don’t get aggressive. A guard will say, “You can’t skate here.” And I’ll ask for another try and maybe they’ll let me. Even if they say no, sometimes I go back five minutes later and they never try to grab me or anything like that. They respect me. So sometimes I get treated different, but in a positive way.
That’s kind of awesome!
Yeah, because sometimes I go with Max Geronzi and the security will come out and be super aggressive with him, but never with me.
What is the condition that makes you shorter than most people?
It’s called achondroplasia, also dwarfism. But to describe it in English, you just say “little person.” Maybe there’s some more technical ways to describe it medically, but I’m not going to the hospitals and asking doctors how to say stuff. And I don’t think that much about it, because I live first person in my body. In my mind, I don’t have this thing. I just think some people can do things that are maybe harder for other people, but at the end of it, I just do what I want to do.
Yeah, that makes perfect sense.
Imagine if you’re in my body—maybe you see that the hand is a little different, but it’s just your hand. You don’t know how other people see their own hands. So I never think, Okay, I can’t do this because I’m a little person. Because I forget that I am a little person. When I go skating, I’m not thinking about this. If I see that Tiago can do big ledges, then why can’t I do ledges that are big for me?
I think that’s the experience every skater goes through, which is that you only know skating through your own body and with your own skateboard. It’s totally personal trying to figure out how to kickflip. I understand you have a radical coffee habit. I imagine that helps with the late nights?
Yeah, I drink a lot of coffee. I have a coffee pot—the Italian one for espresso.
How many coffees a day do you drink?
I drink a lot of coffees and I get crazy when I drink it. I love it. I don’t know how much, for certain. I wake up and I do one from the pot, but it’s like three espressos—a triple. I drink that to wake up. Later, if I’m skating from the first spot to the second, I’ll get a normal one. But in Spain the coffee’s not as good as the Italian espresso, so I get a coffee with milk. Then at the end of the day before I start work, I get another. So maybe I have five coffees a day? But for me it feels like more because I’m 40 kilograms, so sometimes I get super energy. When I get that crazy feeling, maybe I want to jump off some big blocks.
It literally gives you a boost. Do you want to be a pro skater and travel the world and do the whole show?
Do you travel much right now?
It’s hard because I work, but I went to Copenhagen for a week to film and then filmed a lot on a trip to Gran Canary Islands. But I finished all my allotted days off, so I have to work a lot now. So it’s hard only being able to do two trips a year, but this time it worked out because I finished the part. Enrique is the best because he helps me find the right spot for everything.
Usin' his time off wisely with a wallride
Who makes your boards?
I make my boards.
With my homies, I started Epoca. It started by me doing some T-shirts for my homies with some of my paintings. So I sort of started a company for them. But then I couldn’t find boards, so I decided to make those, too. Basically it’s just a way for us to get boards to skate them—not to sell, really. I skated for another company two or three years ago, but I didn’t really like their vision of skating. I didn’t feel represented by the company. I appreciated the help finding small boards. We are still friends and all good, but it was not my vision. So then I was working, saved some money and said, Okay, let’s try to make some boards for me. And it’s good because my homies chip in, too, so they get some good boards cheaper. We sell a few to local shops like Petshop in Barcelona and RUFUS.
What about your other gear?
I get Ace trucks from the distribution here. I like them because they are low. I’ve tried other lows, but I like the Aces. I also get some Spitfire from the distribution.
You got almost the whole setup. We just gotta get someone makin’ small boards!
Yeah, it’s also cool at the moment making my boards with my graphics. I made this one called “Bombhill Therapy.” It’s a guy bombing a hill and he’s not thinking about anything—like all the monsters in his mind stay behind ’cause the guy is too fast for them. I don’t know if I should do another graphic or not, because I feel like this represents me. When I feel bad I just go up to the mountain here in Barcelona, then I bomb down the hill and forget about everything. I get that adrenaline and it’s like therapy. It’s medicine for me.
I know that feeling. When you have too much time to sit and think, it’s not good. Skating lets you live without thinking, but not in the bad way like drugs.
Yeah, exactly. Also, I never do drugs because my weight is 40 kilograms, and you don’t know how much it takes for something to go wrong. They can be more dangerous for me, so I never do them.
No limits on his all-terrain talents, Petar soars on a lofty FSO
That’s a great position to have.
It’s like with alcohol—my homies have one beer and they’re okay, but I start to feel it on the first one and on the second one I’m drunk. I get drunk faster than others, so it would be the same for drugs. I don’t want to try to figure out if it’s too dangerous for me.
Yeah, fuck the drugs. The skating is better. What do you hope that people take away from your skating? Do you hope to inspire people or be an example for maybe some little people out there, or do you want your clips to stoke people out the same way a Max clip might?
A lot of people stop me on the street or at Macba and tell me that I’m an inspiration and stuff like that. All that is cool, and I like that people are inspired by my stuff, but when I wake up I never think, Okay, let’s go inspire some people. I just really love to do my skating and never think about making that other thing happen. I’m still just gonna do my stuff. I’m killing it for me. So it’s super cool if other people get inspired, but I’m not thinking about doing it for anyone else.
Petar fought for this fakie heel, the homies must've hyped him up
Your purpose isn’t just to be some motivational force. You just want to be a skater.
Yeah, and also a lot of people support me and they motivate me. Like if my homies see me struggle or they see my war, they say, “Right here, you got it.”
That’s awesome. Where do you wanna go for your next trip? What goals are on the horizon?
Of course, I want to see and bomb hills in San Francisco. Max says they’re really scary, so they might be too crazy, but I wanna see them. I also want to travel to other places in the world, not just the US—but the first city I would like to see is SF.
I think you would fit in great. And you would have excellent Bombhill Therapy there. Got anyone to thank?
I’d like to thank Colin, Enrique and all my homies.
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