With the recent release of the Sk8 Skates video, 1987, we take a look at the Winnipeg scene, through the eyes of Sk8 owner and Canadian skateboarding legend, Colin Lambert.
Colin Lambert. Geurts photo
Turning It Back To 1987
Words by James Morley
Photos by James Morley and Tyler Geurts
“Man, skateboarding is so rad,” exclaimed Sk8 Skates owner and team rider Colin Lambert during a session this past September. “We hadn’t met before today, but thanks to skateboarding, you arrived, we met up, and we’re already out shooting a photo. What else would make that happen?” A few weeks earlier, Colin had contacted me to see if I would be interested in flying out to hang out and shoot with the Sk8 Skates team in Winnipeg for a week to help document the creation of their upcoming video project, 1987. Always open to travelling and skating with new people, I quickly agreed and made plans to ditch school at the first opportunity. Arriving to t-shirt weather (which was a pleasant surprise based off of what I could see from the plane), Colin’s observation got me just as stoked as I was to be shooting our first photo together on my way home from the airport at 9am.
Josh Thorvaldson, Feeble. Morley photo
I really didn’t know what to expect from the trip before I arrived, having never been to Winnipeg or met anyone on the Sk8 team before. After a couple of sessions, however, my flight was quickly extended. And, to my delight, it produced a whole slew of sick skate photos. My experience in Winnipeg formed a really amazing impression of the city and its skate scene, and it definitely put the city near the top of the list of future trip destinations. It also got me stoked to see 1987, and showed me why everyone else should be psyched to see it as well.
Cain Lambert, Railslide to fakie. Morley photo
The first thing you notice while skating in Winnipeg is how unique it is compared to other Canadian cities. The city itself is a bit smaller than a lot of other urban centers throughout Canada, and it is noticeable. Between the short driving times to almost any spot and the constant run-ins with other skaters, it definitely feels like a closer scene than many others. “Winnipeg is a bit smaller than Vancouver or Montreal, and it makes for a tighter community,” says Colin. “It’s a bit different from other places. A lot of other cities are kind of cliquey, where there are different groups that don’t skate with each other. It’s really tight in Winnipeg, though. Maybe it’s because we are always forced to skate together at our indoor park all winter long, but we continue to skate together all summer too. Everyone is friendly with everyone else, so all of the skaters have each other’s backs. It makes for a cool scene.” This couldn’t have been more evident while I was out there. It seemed like no matter who I ran into, everyone was down to skate with each other, and nobody was ever stand-offish or dismissive of other skaters. It was very different from some of the other skate scenes that I have encountered.
Keiran Zimmerman, Backside Tailslide. Morley photo
While the weather during my trip was perfect for skating, it was definitely seen as one of the main factors for productivity out there. With some of the coldest winters in Canada and blistering hot summers, it sounded like skaters out there really don’t catch a break. And, as I’m guessing from my time out there, a lot of the spots feel the harsh changes in weather just as much. A lot of the spots were rough or cracked up, or they were made of some sort of different material than you would otherwise be rolling on. “Winnipeg spots, and the running joke about things being ‘Winnipeg spots’ comes from the number of spots we have that just have things wrong with them,” Colin continues. “ Pretty much every spot lands onto cobblestone, or it has a cobblestone run-up. Or it will have a big crack right in front of it. The spots themselves are good, but there are a lot of things wrong with them.” This doesn’t seem to stop anyone, however, as the group of skaters out there are some of the most stoked to skate and productive dudes I’ve ever met.
Austin Thomas. Geurts photo
We would go out and skate everything, whether it was perfect or far from it. Everyone was really down to jump on handrails too, which is different from a lot of skaters I’ve met. “That’s what I grew up watching,” says Colin. “Watching Zero videos, I was always stoked on Jamie Thomas and Jon Allie – guys skating big rails. So, for me, that’s what I enjoy skating. I guess for the rest of the guys it might be the same thing. We do have the most perfect handrail in the world in Winnipeg, and – knock on wood – it has never been capped or anything. Having the Woodsworth 9 stair rail definitely makes you want to skate rails.”
Josh Thorvaldson, 50-50. Morley photo
After seeing what the scene was like, I couldn’t help but wonder why a lot more of the locals hadn’t blown up like many others people throughout Canada. It is beyond evident that the skateboarding talent is there, and a lot of the dudes that are putting in work surely deserve to be getting more recognition than they are. “In terms of sponsors and stuff like that, it’s definitely harder for us in Winnipeg because we’re not really around the industry,” says Colin. “We’re not there at the distributions seeing the team managers on a daily basis; we’re a name at the bottom of an email or over a phone call. We’re not around it 24/7 the way people in Vancouver might be. So it definitely makes it tougher for our guys to get coverage. Also, besides Dan Neufeld, we don’t have any other photographers in Winnipeg, whereas in Vancouver you could call up any number of different photographers to go and shoot something. Out here, a lot of the time we’ll either fly out a photographer or go on trips to shoot all of our photos. Specifically with the Sk8 team, we hook up guys that really are stoked on skating and skate a ton, so they would still be out jumping down things and filming whether sponsors are involved or not.”
Tyler Geurts, Frontside Rock. Morley photo
The Sk8 Skates team itself is a unique and diverse group of people that were awesome to be around both on and off the board. Between rolling to spots with two or three cars full of people, hanging out together every night, and the constant jokes, I’ve never come across such an entertaining and welcoming community. Even when I extended my flight and ended up staying in Winnipeg for an extra few days of rain, I was still totally psyched to have stuck around to hang out with everyone, even though the last little bit of my trip mainly consisted of beers and lengthy GTA V sessions. I can’t say for sure, but I don’t know of any other group of people that would have made my time in Winnipeg so enjoyable as a whole.
Brock Gruhn, Kickflip Nose Wheelie. Morley photos
All of these factors have led me to believe that the Sk8 Skates’ newest video is going to be awesome. Knowing that the skating I saw happening for 1987 was only a portion of what the final product will be, I’m confident that the project will really make an impression on a lot of people. “The video is going to feature footage from Brock Gruhn, Mitch Hancharek, Josh Thorvaldson, Jamie Mospanchuk, Cain Lambert, Tyler Gaucher, Austin Thomas, Tyler Geurts, Evan Sinclair, Bill Acheson, Russell Staats, Kyle Nickoshie, Mitch Lavoie, Ryan Miller, Jared Arnason, and myself,” says Colin. “I think Jared Arnason and Kyle Nickoshie will both surprise a lot of people outside of Winnipeg. Those two guys haven’t really had big video footage yet, and neither of them have had a ton of coverage outside of Winnipeg. I think a lot of people have seen Jamie Mospanchuk skate, seen Cain skate, and seen me skate, but this will be Jared and Kyle’s first big parts, and I really think that they’re going to blow people away.”
Jared Arnason, Nosepick. Morley photo
Aside from the high level of skating that will set the foundation for the video, this will also be the first Sk8 Skates video released since Colin took ownership of the shop. “The full lengths that Sk8 released before, such as Chapter One, Times Change, Third Try, and Shred, were all basically the previous owner’s videos,” says Colin. “For me, this is the first video we’ve put out since I became the owner of the shop, so it’s a new experience. It’s cool to be able to go through the process myself and make the decisions about how to do it all. It’s fun to work together with the team and have a full say about how we want to do it, how we’ll release it, who we want to sponsor it, and all of that stuff. The whole team is involved in the making of 1987.”
Cain Lambert. Morley photo
Through the duration of my stay in Winnipeg, it was evident that this process of teamwork was in effect, with everyone helping out with filming and throwing out suggestions for how they could contribute to the final product. “Dillan Lavalle has done most of the filming for the video, and Jared Arnason and Bill Acheson have done a lot as well,” Colin continues. “In terms of actually making the video, Bill Acheson is doing all of the graphic work, and Alex Doyle is editing the whole thing. Everyone has done their own little trips to film for the video. We’ve done a bunch of trips with the team to Minneapolis, but a lot of people have travelled on top of those as well. Like, I went to China, Kyle went to Toronto – people have gone to a lot of different places to film for this video.
Kyle Nickoshie, Backside Nosegrind. Morley photo
After arriving back home and reflecting on my trip as a whole, I think it is safe to say that the Sk8 Skates guys have a really good thing going out in Winnipeg. The number of times I had friendly interactions with civilians that originated from the Sk8 logo on my hoodie was astounding, and for a group of skateboarders to create such a good relationship with the public amazes me. “Just being involved is what Sk8 Skates is all about,” says Colin. “Everyone that works here skates, and everyone that rides for the shop skates a ton. We’re all there for any video premier, competition, or demo that happens. That’s just what our Winnipeg skate scene is all about. Just being around each other and having a tight community – we’re here to support that.” So, when 1987 drops this spring, do yourself a favour and buy a copy. You’ll be supporting one of the best skateboarding communities in the country, and you will definitely not be disappointed.
Jamie Mospanchuk. Geurts photo