Lance Mountain cannot be stopped. The man’s been in this thing since the g’damned 70’s, surviving industry pitfalls, trends and everything else that comes with the territory, only to come out swinging today, skating harder and better than ever.
I caught up with Lance to talk about the demise of The Firm, his emergence on Flip, art, pools, his favorite era in skateboarding and plenty more. Have a read, and get acquainted with one of the all-time greats.
After The Firm closed its doors, how did the opportunity to ride for Flip come about? The opportunity to ride for Flip was a main reason to ultimately stop doing The Firm. The industry was changing again. Jeremy had talked to me about riding for Flip for 2, maybe 3 years. I still needed time to finish stuff up, sort everyone out as best I could. I thought I had run my course. I wouldn’t trade that time for anything, the skaters the relationships. Taying involved in a tough time in the industry, when really only 2 other skaters lasted through it from our generation…I really wanted to spend the focus of my time on skating 100%. I was given that support. There are great teams out there but Jeremy was the one who said, You have value as a skater, back at a time when most teams were one style of skating, or riders had the same look. Other teams saw no value in me. The Firm had a very diverse team, I think good skating is good skating in any form. I think Flip saw it that way as well.
You’ve designed a few parks now, advised the construction of Arto’s pool. What are some of the many factors that make a pool highly skateable? What are some of the many construction mistakes that are often made? Backyard pools are great. You find them, you ride them, they come they go. Just like street spots. Maybe one line works, maybe one wall is good. It’s rare to find a pool you can ride for years and something new will happen. So when you build park pools or backyard pools you are not building in the part of the backyard pool you can’t ride. You still build in the challenge that make a real pool fun. You are trying to build something that you would like to ride everyday. [Make them} a lot more easy to ride, really. Not saying I wouldn’t like to build some more realistic pools, but we find those, ride those, [and it’s] still fun to adventure off for that.
Some of the old mistakes as park pools were built in the early 90’s. Some were mostly just the proportions that make a pool work. Depth to width. The amount of vert. The walls not constantly, gradually changing from shallow to deep. It’s easy to draw it on CAD with 2 transition sizes, shallow and deep, perfect 9 ft., perfect 6 ft. Real pools are not like that. There is more organic elliptical changes going on, creating lines and styles, not just shallow end carves below tile for a trick on the face wall. You can see in the way someone skates it, if it is trick-only influenced or if there is still a bit of surfing where finding a line and a bottom turn is the essence.
How is it having your own perfect backyard pool? What did you base the design of it on? What are the rules set in place for those looking to barge it? No pool is perfect. I thought it was the best shape to fit in the area, while having lines like a backyard but skate able to go higher in the a typical swimmer. It’s still only 9 1/2 ft deep. Friends just ask, Can I come skate? Not like in the 80’s where I would come home and 30 guys I did not know were in the backyard, then 2 of them from some other country would stay for a month at my house. There is so much more stuff to ride now, I guess. Everyone else hit me up on Myspace.
Obviously, the older generations are more prone to fan-out and give you a well-deserved nod of respect. Are you ever surprised with how the younger kids respond to you as a contemporary pro? I’m so blessed, it means so much when anyone who skates responds to you. I have and will still fan out on skaters from any generation. I like inspiring skating and love trying to do it as well. Something makes you keep pushing as best you can. There were some years where you weren’t sure if you should keep trying and trying to be a part of something beyond just riding by yourself. Early 90’s were not the years when a skater would think what I was doing was any good. So to have a new crew of kids that might say, ‘I like your video part, it means a lot’. To them [I say], ‘Keep skating, enjoy it how you want. Skateboarding is yours, nd thanks’.
Not long ago I heard Caballero talk about that his lack of stretching through the years has taken a toll on his body, so much so that he can no longer grab stailfish. Are there certain tricks that come harder these days, or don’t come at all as a result of 3 plus decades of skating? The tricks that take that extra will are 540s, big ramps, big handrails…things that just take that extra desire to show off. I’m lazy.
What about pool skating appeals to you more so than vert skating? Do you street skate at all these days? The first photo’s I have of myself in a backyard pool is 1977 everything about it make me fall in love with it over and over. It returns me to that time every time I do it. The hunt, the aesthetic, the crew, drawing lines, the noise, the energy in small groups. For street skating, I mostly skate park-style, street skating. Not real street. I’m backwards that way. Real street is more like pool. Where as ramps are more like street parks.
Did you ever consider stepping to Bob’s mega ramp? I have skated the Mega a bit. I like watching them.
You’ve been in skateboarding long enough to see so many trends and styles come and go? What was your least favorite era in skating? Why? Late 88-90 it got repetitious, boring and we killed it for ourselves by playing the game with the rules set by someone else. The early 90’s were rough industry-wise, but the progression of the skating and the position it gave us as skateboarders now I can be thankful for.
So far what’s been you favorite era in skateboarding? Right now is my favorite. I sure like remembering how it was and felt the first few years, 75-79. lt changed so much then.
Do you do anything to helps stay in shape outside of riding a skateboard? Ice cream.
When do you find time to make artwork? How important is it to you to stay creative outside of skateboarding? I have always done it when I’m hurt. I like to have projects, I’m kind of restless.
You’ve been making artwork and designing graphics for years. How were you first introduced to art? What about art appeals to you? My Father was artistic. He did window displays for Macy’s when he first moved here in the 50’s. We always did art projects, silk screens, models, dressed up in costumes. When skateboarding came along, it played right into it. Photo’s, art and aesthetic from Stecyk, Wes Humpston…Neil Blender is the man. As for costumes, well the interesting ones still dress up.
You’re “doughboy” illustrations have become iconic through the years. When did you draw the first one? What inspired the original doughboy? It was a graphic in 1988? He was plagiarized.
Where’s Cyril these days? Does he still skate? How did you feel when he left the industry? The real Lance, not Jr. lives in Seal Beach, been married to Kellie for 8 years, loves music and skates when he wants. Stoked he is a dreamer like myself. Follow your dream.
What Flip boards have you been riding? A 9.5. I like the stability but can still flip it sometimes. I like the P2. Doesn’t flex out as much when I pump my fat body up a tight transition.
What Nike shoe to you skate in? Blazer. It rules, grips and can ride it out of the box. All my favorite pro’s in the 70s wore it.
What’s the future look like for Lance Mountain? As much as my sponsors will put me on or in. If not, go skate with my friends as many places as possable. Stay involved anyway I can. Nike video part 3, looking forward to the 2045 Olympics. Keep doing the best I can, have fun.
Any last words, favorite quote or both? The things that are free are worth what they cost. There were so many phenomenal skateboarders that came before us that did not have the same opportunities. I want to thank them for laying the ground work for us all. As well, there are so many more skaters today with such a high skillset, it is hard to make it to that highest level. But really what is that? Enjoy it for what it is…a toy. It keeps blowing my mind with what you guys do next. Thanks.
Invert Photo by ARTOPHOTO.
Judo Photo by Rhino.
Kickflip Photo by O’Meally.
Get the goods Lance backs here at CCS.