Erick Winkowski Interview

Winkowski photo1 750pxThe board is inspired by Nolder but the trick is all Hosoi—Christ air across the gap at the Sunset Cliffs DIY

So you recently turned pro. When was that exactly?
Last summer.

Your amateur shape came first and the dominoes fell. How did you come up with that board shape?
I took an old Monty Nolder board, the one with the tikis on it. That’s the front of it. I had an original one and ended up selling it for a couple hundred bucks. I skated it first. I had my fun then sold it. The tail is a Jeff Kendall board.

What board did you originally fall in love with that inspired you to keep riding ’80s shapes?
Oh! Ray Bones Rodriguez, Powell.

How did you discover that?
That’s the one I skated from Seattle to San Diego.

That’s a good way to get to know a board.
I actually bought it. It was one of the boards where I went to the store and was, like, “This one’s fuckin’ sick!”

Winkowski photo2 750pxFront board pop out in Clint Walker’s backyard

Was it a reissue?
Yeah. There was a couple boards under our ramp in the mud. I would first grab those. I remember one was a Lucero board. It had, like, three good plies—two of ’em fell off. I still set it up. I was just having fun with those boards until I went to Garfield High and dropped in on the bank to wall. It was the thing I just liked to do. I went there one day with my friends Pat and Josh. I did it a couple of times but it started to rain. I was, like, “One more time, one more time!” So I went up there and did it again and my board split in half.
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On the kink in the middle of the big bank, right?
Yeah. It just couldn’t take one more. It split and I did the splits. I remember sliding on my chest for, like, 10 feet. I had holes in my sweater and shit. After that I was, like, Fuck! I’m not gonna skate those boards anymore. Those are fucked up. So since I had a job as a dishwasher, one of the first boards I ever bought with my own money was that Powell Ray Bones board. We were getting to leave on that trip and I was, like, I need to choose a good board to skate 2,000 miles. I had my heart set on a Lance Mountain but the shop didn’t have it.

Critical decision when you’re about to skate 2,000 miles! Was it all popsicles before that?
My first board was a little Tony Hawk Birdhouse board. I skated for Welcome and that’s when I started skating kind of shaped boards. After I had enough of Welcome and was, like, “Screw that.” I never wanted to pay for a board again, really.

Winkowski photo2.5 750pxHo-hos in legit pits? That’s all Winkowski

That’s when you started digging under the ramp?
Right when I told the dude, like, “Fuck you.” I hung up the phone. I went under the ramp, found the shittiest board and was, like, “I’ll ride this thing!”

Skateboarders should be able to skate whatever. All you got is driftwood in front of you? Better make it work. How long did you live in Seattle?
That’s like my other home. I lived up there for a year, came back here for a year and then went back there for a year and a half.
Winkowski photo3 750pxThanksgiving morning tuck knee out of the SD Convention Center fullpipe—beats waiting around for that turkey to cook

Garfield High was basically your skatepark, yeah?
Yeah. I was a night-time guy. I would get off work at 11:30 and just go to Garfield. 
Grab a beer and just hang out. Just me, music and Garfield. For hours. Eventually, I would kind of get bored and go to Capitol Hill and just bomb hills. But that’s all I skated for a couple of months straight. I wouldn’t even skate a skatepark, just Garfield.

You and your homies skated every nook and cranny of that place. What else you guys get into in Seattle?
We got into everything. It was kind of chaos. We did whatever we wanted. We had a house, a bunch of friends and we had ramps. It was always around skateboarding.

Winkowski photo3.5 750pxSmith Vert to fakie before the coping is set—Erick can’t wait! 

You’ve been skating Barrio Logan since it was born, right?
The first park I went to was Paradise Hills but it was connected to Barrio because it had the same name: Charles L. Lewis Memorial. Barrio is the second. When I heard that one was alive and I saw it was concrete, I was so happy. I just feel so good there. It’s the environment and everyone there. I try to get people to go there but they’re scared.

Because of the hood factor?
Yeah. The way I see it, though, is if you’re minding your own business nobody’s gonna mess with you. That’s what I like about the place: no one messes with you. I realized, damn this place is sick! I can do whatever I want. It’s when your scared lookin’ around, that’s when they know. They’re, like, “What the fuck’s up with you?”

Winkowski photo4 Sequence 750px 2xErick’s favorite bowl in the world—alley-oop pogo over the channel at Memorial Skatepark keyhole. The only thing missing is a “This guy” tag

Never had one problem there. Tell me this, have you ever spray painted the keyhole?
Oh yeah.

What’s your tag?
I write, “This guy.”
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Any interesting stories? Is that why it’s all repainted? I miss the tags.
I miss the tags, too. That’s why I tagged in it ’cause they repainted it. Rhino told me we were about to film a day-in-the-life thing and I knew the first park we were going to was Memorial. I didn’t want to film in some clean-ass bowl. The night before I went through all my stuff and I only had gold paint. I took it anyway and drove my sister’s car over there, parked right in front of the keyhole and hopped the fence. I remember I was in there drawing the Coronado Bridge and the last touch I was going to do was make mountains in the background of everything. And before I could do it I looked up and seen a cop cruise by. My instinct said, “Wait. He doesn’t see you yet.” If I ran he would see me, for sure. I waited until his door cracked a little bit and right when that happened I jumped out, hopped the fence, threw the spray paint in the bush. I just see lights shining through the park. I was, like, “Fuck!” As I’m running to the right, I saw these bars but I hopped ’em. I rolled over them and ended up on a roof and just laid flat. I thought somebody had to have seen me. I hid next to the air conditioner until five in the morning. I heard them going through the school next to the park for hours. They never looked on the roof. Five in the morning came, I hopped back over that fence and got into my car and just drove back home. A couple hours later Rhino hit me up to go skate. We went to Memorial the first thing and the cops were there and the park was closed and we couldn’t skate it. We went back right before dark, hopped the fence and got a little session.

Winkowski photo4.5 750pxErick climbed off the roof long enough to snag this one-footed Andrecht to fakie

Here’s the point: let the graffiti roll. It changes all the time and I think spray paint rides good.
I think it looks so sick! If you were to see a whole park, even if it has pool coping, it’s not the same if you were skating Potrero or something— just all lit up.

That alley-oop pogo rock over the channel, how did that come about?
I’ve always wanted to do that. I always thought that would work perfect in the keyhole and one day I just felt it.

Right. That’s large. Did you slide a bit?
I was expecting to but right when I stomped it, it just went back in.

That’s ruthless, like some WWF wrestling shit. Were you on mushrooms when you did that?

Winkowski photo5 750pxFastplant out and over the trash pit, no psilocybin needed

Were you on mushrooms when you did the pop shove it down that big six?
No. But I ate some the day before. That’s almost like I’m still on ’em a little bit.

Just enough to get weird.
Just feeling relaxed and in the mood to be really stoked.

The photo of you snapping out of the cylinder downtown, I’d like to eat mushrooms and just watch that go down.
That thing was fun. I found that at night. We went there and security kicked us out. I told Rhino I found this sick spot. We went there the next morning and did it.

Here’s the part that sucks: you’ve been out for three months now. How did you get hurt?
I tried to 50-50 a kinked rail and I jumped off at the kink. It was too steep. It was super short. It was a nine-flat-nine. I was trying to use the kink as a launch and I launched off it wrong the wrong way. I was just in the air. I really don’t remember how I landed. I just remember getting into it and immediately lost control. Then being on the ground and in shock ’cause I didn’t remember the slam.

I saw the photo of the attempt. That was some more wrestler lookin’ shit—straight off the top rope.
Well, I’m glad I broke it on something cool instead of walking or something stupid, like, “Oh shit, I just stepped on a ball!”

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How have you been spending your time? What’s the next few months looking like?
I’m just hanging out with my dog, riding bikes. Trying to get my legs back and kind of planning on skating to San Francisco in the future sometime. I haven’t been on a board for, like, two months. I just want to be on a board for two months straight as soon as I can.

How you feel about contests? Any of them appealing to you?
I like contests. I think it’s cool. I just like skating different stuff. It’s just a whole different vibe but I’m very down. I want to do it as much as possible because I’m not used to it and I like to do things I’m not used to. I just know if I keep going to contests I’ll enjoy ’em more. But right now it’s just a little weird.

Winkowski photo6 750px50-50 to ambulance ride

That’s the process. You’ve got to get out of your comfort zone.
That’s something I always admired about some people that I’ve never been really able to do. I see people skate in front of other people. I’ve never been really able to do that. I can skate in front of people who I want to skate in front of and then there are times where I feel like skating and don’t care who’s around. Lately I’ve been working on trying to not care who’s around and just skate because I don’t like thinking too much.

Tampa concrete looks like it goes off.
Every year it gets gnarlier and gnarlier. This year looked the gnarliest. I was, like, Damn! Everybody was doing crazy-ass shit!

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How do you feel about handling some more rails like the one you left off on? You got some others in your sights?
I’ve been lookin’ at some big-ass rails! But I’m not gonna do the one I fell on. People have been asking me and I’ve been, like, “Fuck no.” But I’ve definitely been looking. There’s a couple rails by my house that are pretty big. I can’t wait to grind a big rail again.

Fuck yeah. Have you been watching an crazy video parts that have got you stoked lately?
I watched Nyjah’s part. He got me pretty hyped. When I watched that I was, like, “Alright, sick!” At least I broke my ankle trying big rails like Nyjah.

Winkowski photo7 750pxBig board, big pop, big stack! Over-the-back 50-50 down a 20-stair

He didn’t get away clean on all his shit either. He took some hits.
That kind of hyped me up to and made me realize it could always be worse. Now if I try some big rails and body slam or get tangled with the rail it’s not as bad as what happened. And if it happens again, it happens again.

What about all these new skate parks in SD? Linda Vista and City Heights. You get a chance to chew on any of those?
City Heights is the sickest! I skated it more before it was finished. I’ve only been there twice since the whole thing has been built. Some of ’em I haven’t been to yet or had a chance to skate because I broke my ankle right when they started popping up. I like City Heights a lot because of the sick launches and spines. It’s just sick ’cause I like to do transfers and shit.

What about the new Washington Street pour?
I went there for Cope’s birthday and it looks sick. That was the first time I saw how it was.

Winkowski photo7.5 750pxDirt don’t hurt

What pour looks the coolest to you? There’s some new avenues into Middle Earth now, for sure.

It opens up the big extension more. Looks like that’s the one that’s calling me ’cause it’s always been so hard to get speed for that.

What if Rhino gave you ten grand in cash right now while you’re all laid up. What would you spend it on?

Winkowski photo8 Sequence 750px 2xWTF?? Erick upping ho-ho ante with an added kickflip. Wish Schneer could be here to see this

That’s a lot of mushrooms.
I don’t need to spend money on those things.

Or a lot of hamburgers. Maybe put some stock in Walmart? Give back a little bit?
Property. I would buy a spot somewhere where I could build some shit.

Yeah, but for ten grand that’s gonna be way out east. Rent an old mine shaft in Julian and just start digging.
But that’s what I would think about— just a spot that no one knows about. A little $10,000 cave.

Winkowski photo8.5 750pxLotta dudes dressin’ like him but not many blastin’ like him! Backside air, Erick don’t care     Photo: Palozzolo

Have you encountered any dudes who skate and dress like you?
A lot! But not as bad as the pictures I have had sent to me. Willis Kimbel was at Oceanside skatepark and sent me a picture and was, like, “You’ve been here 30 minutes and haven’t even said what’s up to me.”

A doppelgänger?
He sent me a photo and it tripped me out! I looked at it and was, like, Whoa, I am there!

They’re, like, “Thank you, Winkowski! More fuckin’ gymnast plants now! Feed me!” How did the ho-ho kickflip come about, though? You won’t see too many kids doing that.
I only did one so far but that would be a sick one to have dialed.

Winkowski photo9 750pxNo nose? No problem! Switch front shove down the six block, disciplines shattered

Do you kickflip getting into it? I’ve only seen the still photo. When does the kickflip go down?
While I’m underneath it I put my toe near the edge and kick down.

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As you’re goin’ up?
I’m already up and all I have to do is kick my toe. It flips and lands right on the same spot. Or it flips and goes somewhere else sketchy. I took it to the head and hands.

It’s crazy because in the photo you’re looking down as it flips. How did it come about? Did you think it up? Or did someone say, “Hey, you got this.”

I slowly already had the idea way back when I did my first ho-ho on the floor, but I was never good enough at ho-ho’s. I just got slowly better at ‘em. Then slowly the idea became, like, I could do that if I really tried. Then I just hit up Rhino. Burnett threw it out there on the Am Scramble. I tried it and was getting kind of close but not really.

Rhino said Jon Dickson is convinced you could do a no-handed invert.
Maybe one day I’ll have to try one of those ‘cause Nolan told me to. And if Nolan told me to— it must work. Nolan comes up with shit all the time and I always think, Nah, I don’t think that will work. But he proves me wrong every time.

You might need the good ’shrooms for that one. The high-dollar cubensis. Is there anything else lingering in the back of your mind? A trick you almost don’t even want to mention?
I don’t have anything too nuts. I have tricks that already have been done that I want to do when I get better.

Winkowski photo9.5 750pxShout out to my dog

Any props you want to give to your homies or a shout out to Mom Dukes?

Shout out to everyone in Seattle. Shout out to San Diego. Shout out to my mom and dad. Shout out to Georgia the dog and shout out to my girl.

Word. Put them brownie points in. Heal up. Can’t wait to see you back on the board, man.

Winkowski photo10 750pxWith that Nyjah part still on his brain, Winkowski steps off the plane straight onto a 30-stair rail with a kink. Try that, doppelgängers!