The Follow Up: Sascha Daley
Our great neighbors to the North have blessed us with many things through the years—early on with beaver pelts and salmon, later with Neil Young and now Drake. Thank you. But in our world of skateboarding, Canada has been producing generation after generation of epic pros since the birth of our craft. Sascha is now one of those native sons with a pro board. I strongly believe he will make the North men proud, and although he’s living in Spain now, his heart will always be on the island with mom. –Cole Matthews
Sup, Sacha! You’re in Barcelona right now?
Yeah, just got in.
So where are you from?
I'm originally from Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. I was born in Victoria which is the southern tip of Vancouver Island, and then when I was two years old. My family moved to the central valley of Comox and I stayed there until I was 18.
Sascha even found a way to make bank skating gnarly—ollie over the rail into the lil’ wedge Photo: Riera
Why did they leave Victoria?
It was cheaper than Victoria and it was also the new place to raise kids. There was a vibe during that time, and people from Victoria were migrating north to that valley to start new lives, escape the city and own land.
I know you still go back as often as you can, right?
Yeah, I make it point to go back whenever I can see my mom. I’ve been gone in such large stints over the past years that I gotta take every opportunity to see them. It’s, like, “See you guys in six months,” and then, “See you guys in another six months.” And they’re, like, “Alright, so we see you twice a year now?” And they're getting older now, so I want to see my family as much as I can when I can.
No stranger to flying long distances, Sascha spreads his wings and sails off this boardslide with a shove it out Photo: Riera
Do you still help out your dad with the fishing business?
Yeah, I did last summer and the year before. I plan on going this summer too, but last year, my dad retired. He worked at that place for 22 years.
How were you helping? What did you do?
Basically my dad, for the last 22 years, ran a fishing lodge in remote northern BC. It was in the middle of nowhere—no towns or anything close. It’s the type of place where if you get hurt, you need to get airlifted out. The lodge pretty much took care of everything the guests needed. Like, as a guest, you could just show up with the clothes on your back and we would take care of everything else: all the equipment, all the gear, all the supplies. That way, they could just focus on having a good time and taking in the experience. When I’m up there, I'm a dock hand. So I'm on the dock taking care of the guests with everything from getting the fishing line out of their prop, fixing their radio, fixing their motor or whatever else they need. My job is to help the guests, but also to greet them and even see them off. Oh, and we would also weigh their fish and shoot photos of them with whatever they caught. Then we’d record it, fillet it and freeze it to make sure it makes it back with them. I would tend to the guests mostly, but sometimes during the season, things would happen. Last year I was filleting a fish and all of sudden the water just stops. I had to Skype my dad and troubleshoot it with him to fix it.
The dockhand reels in a huge frontside 180. Nothing fishy about that Photo: Riera
You ever run into guests that were terrible people?
Oh yeah, absolutely. Some were awful. But all in all, most were sweethearts. People will just lie about things sometimes, or people can be competitive for no reason—it’s weird. For example, there’s cool couples and shitty ones. A normal couple would catch, let’s say, four salmon and then they come back to the lodge. We’d say, “Who caught these fish?” so we can record them and put them on their tag. It’s so we can track how many fish they caught. And they’d would say, “Oh, we’ll just split them evenly between us, we live together and they're gonna end up in the same place.” But then you have other couples where the guy is, like, “No, no, no, that's my fish! Tag that fish as mine! I got the bigger one. She didn’t catch that, c’mon!” And the wife would say, “Yeah, I only got the little ones today. It’s true, Bill has the big fish.” It's weird, for sure. It’s not a competition. Just a lot of dick measuring, you know?
Switching gears here, do you feel like the Barcelona lifestyle is a better fit for you than Vancouver?
I don’t know really. I came here when I was pretty young with my mom one time. I was super stoked and kinda got hooked on Europe right away. That kinda set it off for me. I knew at a young age from being such a skate fan and watching all the Girl videos—I remember watching Harsh Euro Barge—that Barcelona was the best place to skate in the world. It was cool. I mean, my parents split up and mom asked me if there was one place in the world I’d like to go and I chose Barcelona, to skateboard. She was, like, “Okay, let's go.”
So how long have you been there now? And do you feel like you fit in?
I'm going on two-and-a-half years here off-and-on. And yeah, it's so ridiculous, I feel so comfortable here. I know where everything is, I know a little bit of Spanish—not enough, I don’t know a lot, but I guess it’s the bare minimum. I have a big group of friends too. As soon as I get back to the city, my phone blows up way harder than it ever has my whole life in Vancouver. There's a good group of filmers to skate with and a ton of countries that are close by to visit—I feel good, dude. I have a weed sponsor too! Right when I land off the plane, I go to the shop and pick up a gang of weed, it’s cool as fuck. The spots are great, but one thing I don’t like is the lack of healthy food options. For whatever reason, it’s impossible to get good greens or fresh produce in Barcelona on the regs. But I feel really comfortable here.
Bare minimum of Spanish and the bare minimum of width on the back lip ride up, Sascha gets by however he can Photo: Riera
You been finding new spots out there?
I mean, everyone wants to skate new or original spots, but I think I'm lucky in some ways because Barcelona has a lot of ledge skaters. A lot of people don’t really hit the handrails as much, so I can kinda skate a lot of the handrails out here a bit easier than in the States, because those spots have been fucking murdered and some of the rails out here just look super cool too. You either have to skate something new or do something new in a city filled with skaters looking for spots.
Who did you grow up skating with?
Just a bunch of dudes on Vancouver Island: Curtis, Miles Olsen, Dan and our locals. Some still skate, but most of them don’t. We had a really good scene there. We had a rad shop too.
Well, what's the story? How’d you get off the island?
Okay, at some point I realized that Vancouver was the spot to go to—there's spots, filmers, photographers and there's life there. There's a whole fucking city there. So from a young age I knew I had to get off the island, which kinda sucks because looking back, I’m, like, Man, the island is the shit. I knew it was cool I just didn’t know how special it was. After my friends encouraged me to get sponsored, I wrote the local shop a letter saying, “I will try so hard for you.” I got sponsored and eventually started working at the shop. It was like a family almost. We had a little skate team with some older dudes and young guys. I was one of the younger guys and the older guy who ran the shop, JD, knew a lot about skating and he would show me all the old Girl videos and kinda schooled me. He’d be, like, “You know who this is? That's Rick Howard! You’re blowing it if you haven’t seen his part in Goldfish!” But he let me work and one day the team manager for Supra Distribution came in, and he had started a new board company called Manual. A few weeks later, I'm in Vancouver for a Taekwondo competition with my dad. On top of skating he wanted me to do one structured thing with him, which was Taekwondo. After the tournament, we went to Hastings and I ran into Jeremy Ricketts, the rep from Supra Distribution who owned Manual Skateboards. I skated with him and had a really good session. Eventually I said to him, “I love your brand. Is it okay if I send you a sponsor-me tape?” After he got it and watched it, he called me and said, “I'm gonna send you a box. Welcome to the team, bro!” I couldn’t believe it. I was 15 or 16 and my parents didn’t buy me boards. That dude Jeremy was so cool too. There's been a few older skateboarders that have come into my life that have been almost like mentors to me. Like, in different stages of my life one led me to an opportunity and another mentor and then another. It was JD to Jeremy Ricketts, to Jeremy Petit to Danny Marshal, to Jamie Thomas to you and then Jon Miner. And I remember everything I learned from each person, you know. It helped me out. I like that saying “It takes a village to raise a child,” because in my case it's true.
He might not be doing Taekwondo anymore, but he’ll damn sure put a rail into submission—frontside noseslide Photo: Zaslavsky
When did Canadians become so cool?
I think we're alright. I don’t really give a shit anymore. I don’t really care about anything when it comes to other people liking or disliking things, to be honest. I don’t care whether it's about my skating or where I'm from. I think it’s probably the international thing, though. It also might have to do with the internet giving so many places an outlet to be seen. You can actually see into the scenes now a lot easier than before. As it turns out, most people are pretty rad! People just want to travel now. They see all that stuff and want to skate. Those barriers are broken now.
Did you have a Canadian hero’s growing up?
Dude, fuck yeah. When I was a kid my favorite skater was Rick McCrank. He won Slam City two years in a row. He’s awesome across the board. He’s the best contest skater; he’s hilarious; he’s like a goofy funny guy and all his video parts are gnarly and fun. But also a lot of other guys too: Ryan Smith, Paul Machnau, Gailea Momolu, Mike Hasting, Appleyard and the list goes on. There's so many dudes when I was growing up that were on fire. It was almost stronger back then than it is now. They were superstars. Colin McKay was one of the most respected revolutionary vert skaters of that time. Danny Way and Colin McKay went hand in hand. I really liked how they skated vert and I got to see them skate a lot at the DC ramp when I lived there for six months. I had a microwave, a shower and a couch—it was fucked.
Continuing the legacy of gnarly Canadian skater, Sascha makes the motherland proud with this 180 to fakie 50-50 Photo: Gaberman
So your life has changed a lot since then?
It’s been such a rollercoaster of ups and downs. There’s been times when I was living in California knowing Mystery was kind of falling apart and then I got let go from DC Canada, which was my biggest check at the time. After that, I quit RDS. There were so many points were I had no money to live and no sponsors—sometimes I even had sponsors and still no money. Anyone in their right mind would have been, like, Dude, give it up. C’mon, it's over. I had those thoughts too. I went through some depression and partied way too much because I was bummed out. But then I told myself when I was young that everything from here on out was extra. I was content with what I've been able to do. I didn’t come into skating to get anything out of it other than the actual act of skateboarding. Sometimes to avoid a fucking huge let down—like my lifelong dream isn’t coming true—I’ve been careful about putting so much weight on that. I just tell myself to be happy for what you get. And so many times I thought, This is it. Then I’d just find myself in situations realizing, Oh shit, I'm still here. Okay, it's not over. And each time is different, but I feel strong right now—pretty happy too.
What’s giving you the confidence now? Being healthy? Living in Europe?
Dude, coming up in Canada is a process. First you gotta come up in your hometown, and then you come up in your city and then you come up in your country. But back then, if you come up in your country and you live in the States, you’ve made it! Unfortunately in Canada, once you’ve come up, you gotta start all over in the States. But for me, when I was working at the shop, every time I was running up the stairs to get a box of shoes to sell to someone, I’d be imagining grinding this huge rail inside the shop. I’d tell myself, Okay, I'm not gonna be here soon. I'm gonna be out in a van somewhere. I guess the dream is buried deep in me. But getting healthy doesn’t hurt either. It came in as I got older. But I had ankle surgery after my Mystery part. It was fractured really bad—there was a crack that never healed. They told me that I would need ankle reconstruction surgery if I kept jumping down stairs, which is not true now. But once I had the surgery, I committed myself to paying attention to my diet and my body.
If you think this frontside board to fakie is gnarly, just wait until you see the ender in his part! Photo: Riera
How’s it been filming with Miner?
We vibed right away. He came to Spain a while ago and I met up with all those guys. He seemed funny, like the type of funny I could get along with. So coming out to California to film for this part was the real first time we spent time together and really skated a lot. Dude, I knew he was good when he was younger, but I had no idea how good he was—he fucking ripped. He’s in love with skating. You can see it in his old parts and in the videos he makes. Brian Gaberman too. Both of them are amazing. Those dudes were legit-ass pros. So not only does he film the gnarliest skaters, but he has a history of making really gnarly videos. If you’ve been into skating for the past 15 years, you religiously watched This is Skateboarding and Stay Gold. I felt like I really had to put on for this dude. It's cool because there's appreciation and respect. I know he will try his best, so I want to try my best too. It doesn’t get any better than that. You get to skate with someone you admire and respect while also just hanging out and having fun. When you film a line with Jon, you know he’s just charging. The dude just had hip surgery and he’s out there filming as long as it takes. It’s so sick.
You got any war stories from this part?
There was one thing—the gap to lipslide I did toward the end of my part. We found that rail and we didn’t have a photographer the first time, so I totally used that as an excuse. We decided to come back in a week, but a few days later I rolled my ankle and had to get back to Canada. I kind of got triggered from not trying it. I had a weird anxiety attack about it. It was like I needed it. So three months later we all drive an hour-and-a-half away and we got everybody with us. We have a photographer and it’s a classic situation where you don’t want to waste everybody’s time. No pressure, but you better do this or you’re gonna feel like shit. So everyone gets set up and I start throwing ollies near it. But to get on, I actually had to just try it. I couldn’t even toy with it so I was so scared. Damia just looked at me and said, “Dude, you're good. Believe in yourself.” I asked him to take me to the hospital if I got hurt and he said, “Yeah, but you’re good. You got this.” And just because of the way he said it—so calm and blunt—I believed him. I just thought, You know what? you’re right. Then I went for it and it was on. It's funny because I was too excited. I needed to focus. The fish was on the line but not in the boat yet. I had to talk myself into focusing each try because I was so worked up. After like 15 tries of telling myself not to be afraid or overconfident, I rode away. That was the best fucking feeling in the world. That trick stood out because I was terrified.
Kezar gets some lip service from Mr. D. Congrats on the part, Sascha! Keep ‘em coming! Photo: Gaberman
What are your plans now that the part is done?
Heal my ankle and get clips. I’m just trying to stay happy and healthy. That part was cool, but I want to progress and in my heart, I want to go after an Andrew Reynolds Stay Gold type of part. Something that is defining, you know? I don’t want to stop. I just want to keep skating.
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3/12/2018Sascha weaves through an appealing ledged landscape before hopping onto a sketchy bannister.