Interview by Adrian Day
Ronnie Sandoval is one of the most exciting skaters around at the moment. Fusing old tricks with a modern charge has him sitting as a pinnacle pro and a favourite to watch. I was looking forward to seeing him skate, but he took the hardest slam on his first run that sidelined him from the rest of the contest. Guess it was that anxiety…
Nice to meet you man.
Nice to meet you too!
You’ve been to SA before right? Wasn’t it a P-Stone trip?
Yeah, yeah it was.
And you had the cover of Session Mag.
Yep! Backside Boneless over… uh…
The doorway. Who did you go with? GT, Cory Kennedy…
I went with Cory Kennedy, Raven Tershy, Raney Beres, Rhino, Preston, Pat McLain… I forgot the other photographer’s name, uh GT - Grant Taylor.
Was it a South African photographer?
Yes I think so.
Ah Sam, Sam Clark. So San Pedro - that’s your local spot?
Yeah, born and raised.
And the park there [Channel St]?
The park is temporarily closed.
Yeah I wanted to know why, because it was a barge park?
No, because they needed to add another off-ramp to the freeway, and that freeway was going to be built over Channel Street so they needed to close the skatepark because of safety issues and hazards. Nobody from the city wanted us to get hurt so they closed it down but then now they’re done with the bridge, and so they said we needed to buy the permits back. We raised enough money, bought the permits back. And so now we need… we had everything tested, the concrete samples were fine. All we need are safety blueprints, and we’ll get ‘em pro bono from one of the guys in the office, so now we’re just waiting for that to be submitted, so basically it’s just a waiting game now.
It’s a long process?
Yeah it’s been about three years now.
Robbie Russo is also from San Pedro? You grew up skating with him?
Yeah he was my first introduction when I first went to Channel Street. I went to the skatepark and I seen him skating around and I wanted to do that. I was growing up with Robbie Russo and Oscar Navarro and it was just us three for a couple years. Then some other people started showing up.
With your trick choices, obviously guys from your generation are doing things like Eggplants and Fastplants now. But who or what influenced you to go in that direction at a young age?
Peter Hewitt. He was my first introduction to inverts. Peter Hewitt yeah - he’s the reason why. And then when I got older I started recognising skateboarders that were doing the same exact tricks, but Peter Hewitt was the very first one.
Photos - Acosta
Peter Hewitt is a good answer man. You ride for Krooked - got any Gonz stories? You do any trips with him?
Yeah I’ve done some trips. I went to New York with Mark, and just riding around on bicycles with him [laughs], watching him just skate around town is amazing. The fact that he can still do it and roll like he used to, he doesn’t look any different. It’s just pure fucking stoke with him, feeding off his energy gets the crew going, and he just has a creative outlook on a lot of things, art, photography…
Life in general.
Yeah just life. He’s an all-round badass dude.
It’s kind of an honour to be on his company.
Yeah it is! It’s insane.
Haven’t you got a shoe coming out?
A colourway. It's an Era Pro and a Slip-On. The whole idea behind it is just, I’ve never seen a Northern Lights colourway at all, and it’s just based off of Native American and Hispanic - I’m Native American and Mexican. I wanted to do Native American symbols on it, but we couldn’t do that because we would have got into trouble…
Because it’s offensive or sacred?
Yeah it’s just those symbols belong to Native Americans, which is understandable. So we just embroidered it with ‘RS’ in Olde English, and it has an ollie cap, same as the Slip-On has an ollie cap. Hopefully people like it. I like it, I’ve skated all of them. And yeah, they’re good. I like ‘em.
How do you like this bowl [Malmo]?
The bowl is really good. It’s a lot better when all these other things aren’t surrounding it. Like when it just looks like a skatepark in the middle of a field it’s always the best. But you gotta do all this stuff for the event, so you try to block all this other stuff out so you don’t get gnarly anxiety or get nervous. At the same time the crowd at the contest - you feed off their energy, if they’re feelin’ it and you’re feelin’ it and everyone else is, then that makes the whole thing.
So you think you struggle with anxiety in these situations?
Yeah, I definitely do. I mean I used to not even care about it, I used to skate jams because there was more than just one person skating so it wasn’t all eyes on me. But at the same time once it’s over it’s over and the anxiety goes away so quickly, after the first run. And then just try to get through it.
Do you kind of enjoy it then?
Yeah then it just all becomes laughter.
Are you working on any new video shit at the moment?
Yeah I just finished a Transworld part with Robbie Russo, a Deluxe Transworld part that should be coming out next month, filming for the Vans video - 20 Years of Geoff Rowley - Pedro Barros, myself and Geoff Rowley have full-length parts in it, and everyone else is going to get footage of course, it’s not just about us, it’s about the whole team. Vans is giving us the opportunity, so thank you.
Look forward to it. That’s all Ronnie, nice one.