Nike SB's "All Eyes on the Skies" Article
The original plan for this article was to write a story likening going on a skate trip to joining a cult. We attempted to tie in the recent solar eclipse and make a pseudo-spiritual connection between skateboarding, mob mentality and the wonders of the cosmos. The result: a confusing, rambling mess of words that would have made any high-school creative-writing teacher dry heave. The solution: get Mike Sinclair on the phone and ask him how the trip was. Thanks for saving the day, Big Pink!
So you’re the junior TM at Nike, correct?
Yeah, you could say that. I will help with anything but my focus is on the up-and-comers.
Malto eclipsed this hubba with a nocturnal front shove nosegrind. Lights out
Do you have a different corporate credit card than the senior team manager, gold vs. platinum?
No, I use my own card and do my own expenses. I’m getting really good credit thanks to Nike.
You just have to keep track of those receipts, huh.
Carlos Ribero backs up Malto with a nollie heel crooked grind
Keep off the grass. Keep on the backside double flips. Luan is a rule follower
Do you actively scout out kids for Nike’s skate program? When you’re out on trips, do you have your binoculars in the stands at the skatepark?
It’s not like that—and I might be screwing myself by saying this—but I watch every single direct message video that’s sent my way. Every single one. I used to reply to every one of them, but then it got outrageous. But I try to send something back to everyone. I recently got a video from a grown man doing freestyle tricks on a curb, saying he was homeless. I didn’t ask him, but how was I supposed to send him a box if he was homeless? In the middle of his tape, he started playing wallball. I replied, “I love this,” but that was it.
I wonder where he charges his phone?
I was wondering the same thing! It looked like he was on the side of a Walmart or Target. Maybe there were some free outlets. He’s a grown man, homeless and trying to get a package. Is he making these videos in his tent? There’s so much more he should be doing with his life, but hey—
Looks like a flyin’ Hawaiian but it’s actually a boosted Brazilian. Luan Oliveira, nollie inward heelflip in KC
Have you ever put someone on directly on through a DM or an emailed link?
Directly put on? Never. But straight to direct flow, through me, so they’re not going through reps or a friend at a shop? Absolutely. Sometimes you see it right away. You can tell the dude is sick; everything about him is sick. Maybe in the ’90s people might’ve gotten put directly on because you couldn’t actually see them or talk to them, but it’s a little bit more of a process these days. Start them out small, see how they are, get them in the van—that type of thing.
It seems like when you acquired this new gig you also inherited a whole new slew of online shit talking.
I feel like someone is always talking shit about me on the Internet. Hell, there’s probably somebody shit talking me right now.
Red bike, yellow shoes, cloudy skies, hot moves—Karsten Kleppan feeble grinds in Chicago
Do you think people are more likely to talk shit to you rather than to a pro skater because you’re floating in between the two worlds?
Oh, 100 percent. Dudes have told me that they shit talk me because I’m like the fuckin’ coach. When something is wrong or they don’t like the brand, they’re shit talking the coach. But it’s, like, there’s more to it than me, stupid. I’m an easy target and I’m coming to realize that. Seeing my name attached to something, like, “This company sucks because of Sinclair,” used to affect me more but they really have no idea. They think I control the money. One of the biggest shit-talk storms was the Forrest Edwards misunderstanding about me not paying him his per diem. That was my mistake but he didn’t fill out the fuckin’ paperwork to get his check. I don’t know what to do other than just go to the ATM and give you my money because you’re too fuckin’ stupid to fill out a form. So how am I to blame for that?
Speaking of riders, what’s it like spending all of your time with these kids? A lot of them are half your age.
For the straight up-and-comers, yeah, they’re half my age. They show me what it’s like to be a kid in this current day. Right now, it’s totally different from when I was a kid. I feel like they’re more advanced in life skills than I was at that age. I would be eating a McDonald’s hamburger and didn’t even think to complain. They have these nice restaurants that they like. They have these other things that they need to get them through the day. Those things never entered my mind. If asked, I would’ve gone on a skate trip back in the day even if I could only bring a shirt and four dollars. I would’ve been fine; I would’ve never asked anyone for anything. I had a skate tool that lasted me my entire childhood. One tool. I probably still have it. These guys tighten their trucks and they might as well throw the tool out of the window, whether they mean to or not. It’s definitely a different world that we live in now.
The clouds roll in as Hugo rolls away (from a crooked grind)
Who was on this trip to the Midwest? This one wasn’t a bunch of kids, huh?
Guy Mariano was on the trip. He had a broken toe, but he just wanted to come along. I got to hang out with him for the first time. He’s super down to Earth, funny and such a skate rat. I loved getting to know him. Karsten Kleppan was the biggest surprise of the trip for me. I got to see it live. Sometimes seeing it live will sell it for you. He’s so good in person, he’s rad and his style is on point. I’ll be a fan forever. Yuto Horigome is a kid I’ve been working with for a little bit. I know how good he is and he’s working on getting his visa so he can live here for the next five years. Obviously going back to Japan whenever he wants, but we’re just trying to showcase how amazing he is. He’s the most well-rounded, most relaxed skater I’ve seen in years. He’s effortless, smooth and cool. It’s funny to hear him learn English on the daily. I was walking up a hill and was getting winded. I didn’t know he knew this, but he told me, “Mike, you need vegetable.” I just started laughing and then he said, “Yeah, no more pizza.” He’s hilarious. Theotis dislocated his arm or elbow at a demo, so Carlos Ribeiro flew in and destroyed it in a quick day or two just to have another dude in the van. He’s really, really good. Luan Oliveria is just the most consistent skater. He skates so fast and you wish you could do what he’s doing. Not many people in the world can do what he does. He can skate around a street spot or a skatepark and do all these tricks before you land your first kickflip. Hugo Boserup is all smiles and destroys it all. He seriously skated everything we went to. I was super impressed with his skills and even more so with how kick ass of a dude he is in general. He brought along the good vibes and a good sense of humor. Malto was there, too. He invited us to see his condo and we got to check out the handrail he grinded in his Pretty Sweet intro. He took care of us in KC, laid out a BBQ spread, the whole deal. He went all out. Malto is the nicest dude ever. He’s a legend.
What’s the biggest difference between going on a Nike trip versus going on a trip with a hardgoods brand?
The biggest difference that I’ve noticed traveling with Nike as opposed to a hardgoods brand is that the budget is set. The budget is there; we know what we can pay for and do; we know what we can eat. Although I do love both ends, with a hardgoods brand, it’s, like, “Oh shoot, we might have to cut this trip short. We might run out of money because the last demo guys didn’t pay us. I don’t know where we’re sleeping tonight.” On these trips it just feels more professional and it’s a good feeling. All you have to worry about is the skating, not where you’re going to sleep at night or how you’re going to get gas. Things like wondering how I’m going to get home never pop into my head on a Nike trip.
It relieves a certain level of stress.
Yeah. Dude folds his ankle on an old trip? You get him some ice and tell them, “Hang in there, bud, we’ll be home in nine days.” On a Nike trip? We’re good. We’re sending him home, getting him a pillow and checking up with him on the flight.
There's a playground across the street but Malto opted for this balance beam. Nollie crooked grind in Nebraska
The kids that you’re traveling with, especially the up-and-comers, are literally children? Do you ever think of them as your kids? Do you ever get fatherly with them?
On occasion, but not on this trip specifically. But I do trips with all of the up-and-coming kids—kids you’ve never heard of—to ones that are about to turn pro, and I’ve absolutely given them fatherly advice, almost telling them how to act. Sometimes it’ll be, “Don’t talk to that guy like that or else he’s going to punch you in the face, and we don’t want anybody punched in the face.” Just all kinds of stuff. I could go on for hours about it.
All eyes on the guys. Carlos Ribeiro, demo-duty switch back Smith
What about this trip in particular? These guys are not children but is there anyone that was particularly difficult to deal with?
I didn’t set this trip up, but I was honored to be asked to go. Yuto was one of the kids that I dealt with. They knew that I was probably the one that had the best relationship with him so far and he doesn’t speak English all that well. But everybody got along with him. They spoke English to him the whole time. We had Google translate going and he’s picking up words every day. He’s an amazing skateboarder and an amazing person and a blast to be around. Everyone loved him. I was super hyped on that because he’s a dude that’s on the come up for sure.
New van disciple Yuto Horigome with a switch back tail on a corn-fed sized rail in Omaha, Nebraska
What was the purpose or goal of this Midwest trip?
The purpose of this trip was just to get the dudes out on the road, get them out skating, Malto wanted to get back to Kansas City and we wanted to stoke out some shops with demos. Just do a classic skate trip with some of the Nike riders.
You’ve been on the road for a long time. What stands out to you as the craziest shit you’ve ever witnessed on a trip?
Honestly, King of the Road is the craziest because it’s a planned-out thing by someone else. You don’t know what you’re getting into and when you open that book, it’s just, like, “Uh oh, it’s going to get weird.” So that’s probably the craziest thing, but on a normal trip, just the skating is shocking. The last trip I went on, I saw an old friend and told him to come hang out and there’s somebody doing something like a tré flip nosegrind down a handrail. And he’s freaking out like a skate-nerd fan, like a little kid, even though he’s 40 years old. The kid makes the trick and the guy looks at me and asks why I’m not even excited. I mean, I’m super excited but I’ve seen this kid do it already—20 times. I remember seeing Chris Cole tré flip Wallenberg and thinking, of course he can do that. It’s crazy; the level of skating is so high, it’s exciting when something weird happens. This trip I got super excited because I’ve never seen Karsten Kleppan skate in person and I was instantly a fan. Just based off of his approach, his style and how cool he was. That was something new. Going on these trips, meeting all these new people, it’s very cool. I get to see the kids and I get to see some of these other guys that I don’t know much about. Karsten is amazing, which I knew from his video parts, but seeing it in person, I was sitting there like a fan.
Demo all day, street style all night—Luan, bluntslide kickflip out. Now that’s art
Everybody but Sinclair was blown away by Hugo’s stalefish
Do you feel like you’re desensitized because you seen so much insane skateboarding in person?
Desensitized only about being excited. When I watch people’s footage or I’m at a video premiere, I’ll be walking back to my car and I’ll realize I didn’t even clap. I don’t even know if I smiled. If someone had a camera on me, they would think, “This guy sucks!” But inside my head I’m having a blast. I’ve just seen so much, it’s hard to get a reaction. My face is just stone, just sitting there, but I’m really excited and having a good time, because if I wasn’t I wouldn’t be doing any of this. It might be a team rider doing kickflip back tail down a rail for the first time and everyone’s going nuts. I’m just sitting there thinking, sick, I’ve seen that. I didn’t know it was your first time. When I would go on trips with Jaws, he’s really sensitive about getting hyped up or getting a reaction. He was insulted that I didn’t get excited when he did tricks. I’d be, like, “Dude, I’m really excited for you,” and he’d be, like, “Well you don’t show it.” And I’m, like, “Do you want me to jump up and down when you skate? Because that’s very weird for me to do.”
Can he kick it? Yes he can. Karsten, demo duty kickflip
Do you think when you’re on a trip with Nike, property owners are more lenient? Do you think that name holds more weight than touring with a hardgoods brand?
Fuck no. I would never tell them that we’re Nike. I think that would raise too many eyebrows. Whenever they ask who’s in charge, I never say me. I always say, “We’re all traveling together.” They ask us what it’s for or who it’s with and if anybody says Nike, I tell them not to say that. I tell them that we’re all a bunch of friends and we’re filming for YouTube. They can understand that. If I’m in charge and I’m working for Nike, I should know better. They’ll want to speak to my boss and all that other shit. I don’t need that kind of shit. I just play dumb. Real dumb.
Karsten, frontside 50-50 high to low. Nothing to worry about except skating
Tell me the story of you guys bribing a security guard with shoes in Minneapolis.
I forgot who’s idea that was but it was an amazing one. Hugo saw this hubba in Minneapolis that was right outside of the Minnesota Vikings stadium and we were for sure going to get kicked out. I mean, it’s the newest, nicest stadium in the States. Almost immediately, a security guard walks over and tells us to leave. I had an idea: I walked up to him and told him we were there because of the recent X Games that were held at the stadium. I was just stalling him for time. I told him we were there because Hugo really wanted to be in the next X Games but the only way he could get in was if he got this trick. He was down but only gave us ten minutes while he walked around the building. So Hugo’s battling it and the guy comes back. I told him that he really wanted to be in the X Games and asked him if he could take another lap. Someone else came with him when he came back, so we had to go. We came back later and here he comes again. I can’t remember who it was, but someone paid him off with shoes. He never came back. That was great. We never told him we were Nike SB, we told him to beat it. We were, like, “Here’s some shoes,” He’s, like,“Oh, Nikes,” and we didn’t see him again.
Hugo with the huge o’. Over the top at the University of Wisconsin
Did you guys really not know that there was going to be a total solar eclipse while you guys were on this trip?
I had no idea. I’m looking at fuckin’ skate clips. I don’t know what’s going on in the world. My whole life is about skateboarding. Someone says something about the eclipse and I think, great, we’re having another eclipse. The closer it gets, I’m seeing all of these glasses everywhere. Someone asks me if I have my glasses for the eclipse and I’m thinking, where and when is it? Then Scuba was saying that if we drove this distance in two days, we can see totality—whatever it’s called. I’m just thinking, what are you guys talking about? I’m not on the website or whatever they’re even looking at. But I get my glasses and went along for the ride. So I’m trying to find the hubba or handrail or whatever and someone tells us that it’s happening in two hours and we’re going to be there for it. We got to the park in Kansas City and I couldn’t believe it. I’ve never seen anything like it. I felt fucking weird. I still do to this day. Staring up at the sun, taking the glasses on and off— I’m glad that they only come every 900 years because I don’t want to look up at the sun for awhile.
Wait, were you looking at the sun without the glasses on?
Well, you know, you have to peek for a second. It feels weird looking at the sun with glasses on or off.
He’s just learning English but Yuto’s already mastered the language of shred, switch 180 to feeble. On the come up, indeed!
You’re not supposed to look at the sun without the glasses on, man.
Everybody looked up at the sun without the glasses on. You had to.
I didn’t do it.
We got to the point where it was total coverage. I took them off when it got to that point and then it was the little sliver or whatever—there was still these weird alien lights coming from it and I thought, look at that! But yeah, I still feel a little weird.
Well, if it makes you feel any better, the president of the United States had to take a peek as well.
Yeah, fuck that guy. If anyone should’ve burned their eyes, it should have been him.
Let’s close this thing up, Mike. What do you want to tell the Internet haters out there?
Don’t be so quick to judge. Everything is not that serious. We’re just out doing what you do. Just relax, man. Shit, just go have a good time. Get a job that you like. I’m commenting on pugs on the Internet. What if I was hating on all the pug photos on the Internet? I’d be a loser. Get off it, you know?
1/05/2021Last year was the worst, which means we’ve got an extra-stacked pack of T-Eddys for the skate world’s gaffes and god-awful moments. Plenty of praise in there, too! Don’t get pissed if you made the list.
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4/03/2020Whether as a struggling pro or team manager, Mike Sinclair’s come across almost every character in skateboarding, and even invented a few himself. Wonder who's made a lasting impression in his lifetime among legends? Read through and laugh along.
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2/28/2020Tomorrow’s hottest pros and Long Beach’s glitterati packed into Bradford’s for a first look at the hot-off-the-press Am Scramble video. Check the photos to feel like you’re part of the action, watching the scramblers shine, putting back White Claws with the best of ‘em.