When Maddy Balt first visited Toronto from her small town of Brooklin, ON she discovered a skateboard scene she had no idea existed. Over the past few years we’ve witnessed Maddy’s progression at the various contests she entered in Montreal and Toronto and it’s been real good to watch. Here is a conversation between Maddy and Dana Alwazani.
Interview by Dana Alwazani
Photos by Chantal Garcia
Dana: What’s up, buddy? I’m stoked to be doing this interview with you. We’ve all been dealing with a pandemic, what has your lockdown looked like for the past few months?
Maddy: Hey man! Lockdown has been chill, definitely a hectic situation though. Obviously everybody had to put the world on pause, so I kind of did the same. I’m super fortunate, I live in a small town so I have the whole road in front of my house where I can skate. I had a rail built for me, and I have a ledge so I just skated a bunch. I mean, other than that, I just hung out with the fam, went biking a lot and played way too many card games.
That doesn’t sound too bad, what card games?
We played Rummy 500, a ton. Like every single night, maybe twice a day.
Who’s the champ?
We had a final game and I won, so technically I’m the champ, but my girlfriend Shonny won a lot of the games.
Have you learned any special skills or have you just been skating?
No, I haven’t really done anything new. I’ve been spending a lot of time skating, trying to watch more skate videos because it’s a side of skating I’m not too familiar with.
Yeah. Skate video culture can go really deep.
You had to put the movie stunts on hold then?
Haha, yeah the whole film industry is shut down but I was actually supposed to be traveling a ton for contests right now. With the Olympics this summer, I was trying to do all the qualifiers I could, and everything was just completely put on hold. I really just took the time to better my skating. It’s been a nice change to work on new stuff rather than just making sure I have my tricks consistent for upcoming contests.
We met a few years ago and it’s been kind of crazy to see you grow. You came from Brooklin to Toronto and you just kind of started going hard. What was your first impression when you came to Toronto and saw this whole scene? I’m sure it was really different.
It was honestly pretty mind blowing. Again, Brooklin’s a super small town, so I’m a small town kid through and through. So when I came to Toronto, I was weirdly nervous to go downtown. I never really went downtown. But I heard about this girl’s meetup so I went and it was the best day ever. That’s where we met, I met some of my best friends there. And it was honestly just so rad to see so many girls stoked on skating and so accepting. It wasn’t, “Oh, who’s this chick?” it was more like “welcome, we’re stoked you’re here!” And everybody was happy to meet me and I was hyped to meet everybody else. It seemed like it was exactly where I was meant to be.
Yeah. That’s funny, you came through with a bandana and a tie dye shirt and I remember thinking “oh, who’s this?”. The next thing I know you’re doing gnarly stuff on the box and I’m like, “okay, okay.”
Yeah, it was a good time, definitely. It was my first real day back skating in almost eight years. That day got me so hyped on skateboarding and other than snowboarding it’s all I’ve done ever since! It’s funny to think about the Maddy back then, I was such a baby compared to now.
Baby Maddy, for sure. You’ve had a rough go with some injuries too. Are you all healed up now?
Yeah, actually. Knock on wood. I’m pretty much healthy right now. Last year was really rough doing my left ankle. I tore my ATFL ligament and my CFL ligament kickflipping some stairs. Then the day after I was back on my skate for the first time I fell down this steep hill covered in ice, hit the trees and a tree branch went right into my knee. So I was out for quite a while. But yeah, I’m happy to be healthy right now. I guess one of the biggest parts of skating is learning how to get over the mental blocks that injuries come with, so I’m happy to be past that block and progressing again.
True. Now you’re moving on to the mental blocks of going to street league. You went to your first one in Brazil last year, right? Did it feel surreal?
Yeah, that was definitely another eye-opener. I kind of was just standing there like, “What am I doing here, man?” But I’m so grateful for the opportunity and it was a really cool experience to see where the level is at and what I need to work on so I can do better. Those courses are so gnarly and super fast. I’m stoked to keep learning for sure.
Have you traveled to other continents before or at least for skateboarding?
Brazil was actually my first time outside of North America! I was supposed to go to world champs in London. I was also supposed to go to Peru this spring, which is somewhere I’ve always wanted to go. So hopefully next season they keep the same schedule and I still get to go to those places. Half the reason I do these contests is just so I can travel and see the world. It’s pretty sick that skating helps me do that.
For sure, and you’re a part of the Canada Skateboard Street Team now, right? That puts you in a lot of conversations related to the Olympics. How do you feel about all of that?
Yeah. It’s good and bad for sure. I mean a big part of skating is the freedom of it. The fact that now I’m like, “Okay, I have to be doing these tricks and I have to be learning these tricks by these contest dates or whatever” does get stressful, but I’ve also always been a super competitive person. Pushing myself to do the best that I can is a sweet opportunity. I mean, I never, in a million years would have thought that skateboarding of all the sports I’ve played was going to be the one that potentially got me to the Olympics. It seems crazy.
But it’s here, it’s happening.
Go for it. Go for gold, Maddy.
You’re funny! I’m just doing my best out here.
How about street skating, are you still trying to street skate?
Yeah. I mean again with this whole pandemic interruption, everything else is on pause. So I’ve had this really great opportunity to be out in the streets, which isn’t something that I normally get to do as much as I would like to. Wolf Griptape is putting out a video, I believe this fall. So I’m trying to film a part for that. And then L’État Skateboards is also working on some stuff, so I’m going to be filming for them. I’m very fortunate that I get to shoot with Chantal Garcia a lot, we get to mission out and skate some spots. It’s always a good time with the homies.
You’ve got a lot of things going on. It’s sick.
Yeah, working on it!
It’s always great talking to you, do you want to throw any trick challenges or extra words out there for anyone reading this?
I’d love to see a smith grind kickflip out. I’d also like to share that I’ve been working on educating myself on the Black Lives Matter movement, which I think is something everyone should be continuing to do.
Yeah, a lot of eyes are opening up to the political climate, it can get really heavy but it’s something we all have to make a part of our everyday lives. We’ll list some resources below for anyone reading to get involved. And that’s a smith kickflip out. You heard it here. If you’ve got that, hit up @maddy_balt with the clip.