The Follow Up: Kevin Kowalski
By Chris Gregson
What’s up, Kevin, what are you doing?
Just at my house, hanging out, getting my day started.
Alright, let’s run through the basics—age, where you’re from and sponsors.
I’m 27 years old, from the Oregon Coast and I’m sponsored by Blood Wizard, Converse, Rockstar, Independent trucks, Bones wheels, Bones bearings, Mob griptape and CCS.
Quite the list you’ve got there.
Yeah, I appreciate them all.
Rip ’n’ Ride ’Til U Die, Frontside Invert ’Til U Cry Photo: Aguilar
So you grew up on the Oregon Coast skating Lincoln City and Red’s house. Were those some of your first introductions to skating tranny?
Yeah, definitely. I started going to the Lincoln City skatepark when I first started and I met Red shortly after. Just being around there, skating, hanging out and seeing how he was doing it was a big motivator and got me stoked.
That’s a crazy person to be around for that long, in the best way possible.
Yeah, it is.
For some people who may not know, what’s your brief description of what Red has done for Northwest skateboarding and just skateboarding in general?
Definitely started the skatepark process and provided skateparks around the area and the world.
The gnarliest parks, that’s for sure.
Yeah. The gnarliest parks and they all flow and skate really good. It brought up a lot of other skaters in that aspect and definitely helped us out with what it is we’re doing. I can’t thank him enough for that.
New lines at the ‘Side, frontside fastplant off the fence Photo: Brook
I mean, even the Vans Park Series and these contest courses are basically designed after Burnside, Washington Street and these DIY parks that Red and Monk and those dudes were fully responsible for.
Yeah, definitely. I think it all kind of started at Burnside and went from here. Then yeah, the Northwest especially got skateparks everywhere that were brought to you by him. Definitely the contest series and stuff like that that’s going on now was influenced by that.
He did your fuckin’ backyard.
Yeah, even like the backyards—my backyard. You know, having concrete in your backyard is definitely something that was inspired by him and you can’t really thank him enough for that.
So let’s talk about your backyard—fuckin’ gnarliest bowl of all time.
Yeah it is.
Let’s talk about the shape of it.
Well, the shape of it was kinda based off of a grim reaper scythe. That was the original idea, but if you look at it it might be kind of hard to tell. There’s spots that could assimilate it in a way.
How did you and Red come up with all the obstacles and things in your park? Was it like an all-at-once idea or was it a piece-by-piece type thing?
It was definitely a piece-by-piece type thing. I had some ideas kind of planned out that I drew on a napkin but once it was started and laid out we added features as we went.
I remember one time we were up there and we had too many people digging. We were supposed to be digging out one doorway and we had two separate crews digging at two separate parts and then you had the great idea to say, “Fuck it, let’s just make it a double doorway.”
Yeah, definitely. I wasn’t sure what to put in that section. I had a couple different ideas. It was either gonna be a clamshell, a doorway or just a pocket and then I randomly came up with the idea to do a double doorway which I’d never seen before and I thought it would be a really sick feature to add.
The double doorway was begging for a hurricane so Kevin made it rain Photo: Brook
Fuckin’ scariest thing ever. I’ve still never grinded over it.
Yeah, it’s pretty scary and hard to skate but it’s fun. It’s sick.
How often can you skate your park with the weather up there?
You can skate it quite a bit, actually. It’s in the trees and there’s a lot of shade. It does rain here a lot so definitely in the spring and summertime you’ll be able to skate it the most. Right now it’s actually sunny and dry outside but there are parts of it that are shaded and still wet. But, you know, there’s different ways to get it dry through a blowtorch, leaf blower, towel or a squeegee.
How was it having that Rip Ride Rally come to basically your hometown skatepark? I think you definitely showed everyone that you grew up skating there and you basically won the entire contest, all events except for one of them. How was it having everyone up there at once and celebrating Monk and all that? That was really cool and I feel like everybody got to see how gnarly you really were. Footage doesn’t always do those parks justice, you know?
Yeah, definitely. It was an event for the books, that’s for sure. I think it was mostly a celebration of 20 years that the Lincoln City skatepark has been there and we were also celebrating some of our friends who have passed away like Jake Phelps, P-Stone and Monk. So having everybody come up here and throw an event that was a lot of fun and have a bunch of different contests going on, it was a really good time. Definitely a memory to remember, that’s for sure.
Gettin’ up in Lincoln City, Kevin back noseblunts on the high dive while Red lifeguards Photo: Brook
That was one of the sickest contests I ever went to. So let’s talk about this recent video part that hopefully everybody watched before reading this interview. How long do you think and you I have been filming for this video?
It’s definitely been a long process. Some of the footage that’s going towards my part could have been from the past three years. A majority of it has been filmed recently but there’s definitely some stuff that I’ve been working on for a long time that I was really happy to see go in there. I’m happy to have it come out and share it with everybody.
Let’s back track a tiny bit, how did you end up getting on Blood Wizard? I know you were getting Element boards for a little bit and that wasn’t really playing out.
Yeah, for sure. I was skating a lot with you, Tom Schaar and Greyson Fletcher, going on some Element trips and stuff like that. A little bit of time went by after that and I’d always been a fan of Blood Wizard and everybody over there. I’d been on a Blood Wizard trip before back when I was skating for Lifeblood and I think that you mentioned to me a couple times that it could be an option if I wanted it to be. I definitely considered it and thought about it a lot and appreciated the offer. So after some time and filming with you a bunch I think we both decided that filming a part for Blood Wizard would be a cool thing to start working on. And they were working on a video at the time, too, so I was looking forward to contributing my footage to that video and having a part in it.
Well, you’re one of my favorite skaters, always have been, and I’ll speak for everyone when I say that we’re all stoked to have you on Blood Wizard. You fuckin’ got the last part, dude.
Thanks so much, man. I really couldn’t be more stoked on that.
Have you ever not had the last part in a video you’ve been in?
Yeah, I haven’t had last part before but I have had a few different last parts.
Backside boneless in a space shuttle fuel tank. Skateboarding isn’t rocket science. Or is it… Photo: Brook
For all those reading, go do your history and watch this dude’s old parts ’cause they’ll blow your mind. You’ve been doing a lot of contests your whole life. I remember seeing you skate X Games when I was 15 or something. It’s crazy how long you’ve been able to make it happen. Is that kind how you got the money to build your bowl?
Definitely. I’ve been skating the contests for a really long time, even like the amateur series stuff when I was a lot younger. I also started skating some of the pro contests and doing the Vans Park Series and the X Games, Dew Tour and stuff like that. I definitely got to save up a little bit of money from some placings and winnings and they all got pitched towards my skatepark in my backyard. I’d build a little bit, run out of money, have to wait another year, build a little bit more, run out of money then build a little bit more. It finally got finished and I couldn’t be more stoked and happy about all the contributions that I got in order to make that happen.
I feel like a lot of skaters out there just take their winnings and go party it away, so it’s pretty sick to see that you were that motivated and created this insane bowl in your backyard out of your hard-earned winnings.
Yeah, definitely. It’s paid off in the long run, that’s for sure.
You got a cover out of it, so fuck it. Alright so back to the Blood Wizard part—I filmed you do your last trick, that natural loop line in Irvine. Let’s talk about how that went.
That was definitely a spot that I found out about and went to quite a few years ago. Going there I thought it might be possible to loop it but I never really went back and tried it or thought about it too much. But when I knew I was working on a video part, that was an idea that crossed my mind that could be really cool. I had skated it before and kind of knew how it felt so I had an idea to make a line out of it where I grind the rail and loop the pipe at the end. It took a few different trips to go there and make it happen. It was a lot to clean up with the leaf blower and a broom.
Spin cycle—Kevin gets loopy in a line in McMinnville, OR Photo: Brook
Weren’t you saying afterwards how it felt like you went through a washing machine?
Yeah, it’s definitely a tight loop and it’s a hard loop to get to and get out of. it was really hard to figure out how to get around it staying on your board and riding away from it. But after a few different trips we managed to make it work and I rolled away and we got the clip that we wanted.
As a kid, that was the first ditch that I ever skated in my entire life. So it was insane for me growing up skating that thing, never even thinking it would be possible to loop it, and then to be able to be the one to film someone like you do it. That was pretty fuckin’ epic for me. So thanks for that.
You’re welcome. That’s crazy that was one of the first ditches you ever skated because it’s not an easy ditch to skate.
My mom lived right down the street. So how many natural loops have you done now?
Oh jeez, I dunno. There’s been a few. Probably three. Two of them were in Irvine.
And then what the third one was in Australia, the loop grind.
Yeah I did a loop grind. That was in Myrtle Creek at the skatepark. But the loop that I did was at that skatepark. Those loops were placed there as just like metal fullpipe loops and they built concrete around them, so I guess in a way that’s technically a natural pipe.
The city said the illegal bowl puts the bridge’s structural stability at risk. Kevin’s crail to tail puts that theory to the test Photo: Brook
That’s the beauty of Dreamland. So we were just in Brazil and you took a heavy-ass slam. I’ll speak for a lot of people and say that we’re all really glad you’re alright. I know you don’t remember too much of it, but do you want to explain a little bit of what happened to you?
Yeah, it was in Brazil, skating in a contest and we had some rain delays. My heat got pushed back a little bit. I went out there to start my heat, we were practicing for our runs, I fell and hit my head and got rushed to a hospital where I spent over a week recovering. I woke up and saw my parents there and they told me they came to say hi and I said hi back. I don’t really remember it but I’m glad they came in to visit me. They ended up letting me out and I got a flight home and now I’m here feeling better.
What happened exactly? What was the injury?
I fractured my skull and had some bleeding from my brain. I definitely had a bruised neck and some whiplash. A lot of that all connected, but I got through it and I started the healing process and I’m feeling better now.
That was some heavy shit, dude. Skateboarding’s gnarly, you know? It can happen to the best of us when you least expect it.
Yeah, it’s dangerous and not easy. But it’s a lot of fun and I love it.
Alright, you got any ideas how we could end this? You wanna thank anyone? You wanna thank your parents?
Yeah sure. I’d like to thank all my friends and family who helped me get to where I’m at. Definitely Dreamland, Red, you, Cody, all my friends at Thrasher, all my sponsors, team managers—just about everybody who lends a hand and has helped me get to where I’m at. I can’t thank them enough.
Keep on looping. Alright, well, I’ll talk to you later.
Thanks for calling and doing this interview.
Fuck yeah, that’s what friends are for, bud.
6/04/2021Jack Olson killed the contest circuit for a decade straight, but now he’s dedicating himself solely to the streets. On the heels of his REAL part, he dishes about his home-state love, battling bangers and going pro three times.
5/20/2021Jake Wooten's got a pro board for Santa Cruz and a killer part to back it up. Friend and fellow transition terrorizer Trey Wood hops on the line to talk Jake’s roots, his ungodly front threes and his love for Henry Gartland.
1/28/2021Tony Hawk and Bucky Lasek lock down their turf while Patrick Ryan, Kowalski, Collins, Lockwood and more wreak havoc on an outdoor ‘crete quest. Ride the Lightning.
11/02/2020Three decades of destruction smashed into six minutes. Big ups to everyone who’s chipped in or got broke off under the bridge. Fuel the stoke and build your own.
11/02/2020Burnside’s birthday marks 30 years of spills and thrills at the first renegade DIY. Read how the founders took it from vagrant hideaway to Northwest proving ground in our December ‘20 mag piece.