Cornered | David Gonzalez
Feb 25, 2013 12:16 PM CST

Regardless of who you think should have won Thrasher’s Skater Of The Year award, it’s hard to deny that SOTYs all share a special something in common. It’s that undeniable Thrasher-ness about them that sets them apart and transcends even their most noteworthy of skateboarding achievements. It’s an attitude, a style and an approach to life that truly defines them as global ambassadors to a magazine that’s united skateboarders globally for the last thirty years. John Cardiel defined it, Tony Trujillo defined it, Grant Taylor defined it and this year it belonged to a five-foot-four Colombian powerhouse named David Gonzalez. CCS caught up with David just a few days before the awards ceremony to see just how it feels to be named Skater Of The Year.

So how does it feel, David?

It’s probably the best feeling I’ve ever felt in my whole life. It also feels like a huge relief. It was something that I really wanted to get since I was a kid, but I didn’t know if it was going to be possible. I thought it was possible, but there were definitely times when I thought it wouldn’t be. This whole year I thought it could happen and it’s just crazy that it did. It’s the best thing ever.

We’re you gunning for it this year?

Yea, that was my deal. I was just trying to do my best, but at the same time I was really trying to get that trophy. I definitely wanted it. I felt like I was in the position to do it so I figured why not try my hardest this year to get it. Then it happened.

You seem to have a pretty die-hard allegiance to Thrasher and the mentality of the mag seems to be really similar with how you are as a person. What is it about Thrasher for you?

That was the key. South America is all about Thrasher. That’s all we’re about. We don’t see any other magazines down there and so I grew up around a lot of Thrasher kids who were always reading and looking at the mag. Even their T-shirts are so sick. Anybody that doesn’t know what you do when they see you with a Thrasher shirt on will still think it looks sick. That’s why I always wear Thrasher gear. It’s natural for me. I play in a band, play a lot of music and skate all the time. I live the skate life. That’s what Thrasher is about.

This year was one of the most intense SOTY elections of recent memory. What did you think of some of your competition this year?

It was gnarly. It was too much. There were too many good guys. There was a time when I was like whoever gets it, gets it. We’re all skaters and doing our best and eating ****. This year was really tough. Guy Mariano? He’s a ****ing legend! Guy Mariano has been on video since before I was born.

So you watched Guy when you were growing up? What did you think of his part in Pretty Sweet?

Oh yea, I’ve been watching him forever—from the early Blind videos and then in Fully Flared. He’s such a good skater.  His part in Pretty Sweet amazing. The whole video was too good. When the video came out I knew Guy was going to get SOTY. He’s Guy and he did a switch three sixty flip nosegrind down a handrail. He’s a full on legend. He’s definitely a SOTY.

Does it make things awkward or uncomfortable for you at all that there was so much debate about Guy deserving it this year as a legend and here you are just coming in and taking it?

Not really. I don’t think Guy really cares that much. He’s a skater too. He deserves it for sure. It’s just a trophy at the end of the day. I think skating in contests and doing the video helped me get it this year.

Yeah, so what was it like charging a solo video like that for Thrasher this year? You did it all in six months, right? What was it like handaling something so gnarly so quickly?

I was so angry because I got surgery on my ankle right before the video. I was so pissed with myself. I didn’t care. I just wanted to do whatever it took to make a video in six months. All I did was skate. I got back in the fire.  I watched skate videos all day, learned new tricks and learned new techniques. All I did was skate.

I know Ewan [Bowman] and [Michael] Burnett had a huge hand in getting it all done with you. What was it like working with those guys?

I was alway going out with those guys. There was nobody else going out on the session. I wasn’t going out with anybody. Sometimes I’d roll with one homie, but mostly it was just me, Burnett and Ewan. Those guys did so much for me. Burnett knows the spots and Ewan is on the angles. It was great teamwork.

What about that monster triple kinker at the end?

When I got there I knew I was going to try it right then. They only had one camera, but I was like, “I want to do this right now”. I didn’t care about the cameras. I wanted to do it right then. We ended up getting kicked out and went to another spot where I got a couple of tricks, but after that I wanted to go back to the rail. When we got there the gate was locked, but somehow we opened it magic style. I was like, “this is for me and I’m going to do it”. I had been looking for a rail like that for so long, but I couldn’t ever find it. When I saw that rail it was perfect and exactly what I’d been looking for.

How do you manage that fear element when you roll up to something like that? You know there’s danger there. What goes through your mind?

I’m addicted to that feeling. That’s why I want to leap. That feeling. It’s that angry adrenaline. I’m like, “**** you!”. For me, fear, there’s something I really like about it. If you slam, I like it. I love being scared. I’ve been skating rails for so long, so for me jumping on rails is very natural. I used to be more scared, but I’m more confident now and I also know how to fall. Sometimes I get lucky and sometimes I don’t. [laughs]

Yea you do seem to be unusually nimble and agile when it comes to getting yourself out of dicey situations. Where do you get that from?

I used to do gymnastics all my life growing up. Since I was a little kid that’s all I did. I was full on formally trained as a gymnast—like from noon to five every day with a trainer. A lot of skaters grow up surfing before skating, but for me, before skateboarding, it was all gymnastics.

What about your size? Is that an advantage for you or a disadvantage?

All the things I do are for my size. I can’t go up because I’m too short and I go too high because my ollie isn’t that big. But I can go down whatever! I also don’t fall as heavily because of my size. I have monkey style.

Let’s talk about Flip, Volcom and Globe for a bit. You seem to have a strong allegiance to these guys. I take it that’s not a coincidence?

I figured that out years ago. I’ve been riding for them since I first arrived in America. It’s always been the same. I like to stick with them and it only gets better. I have a great relationship with all my sponsors over the years. It’s sick to be still around. They take good care of me.

Do you think it’s harder to make it as a pro skater here in the states being from a foreign country?

Oh, totally! You don’t even know. You’ve got to figure so many things out. First of all, for me, I had to learn how to speak english and learn how to associate and communicate with everybody. The rules here are different, but over the years you get used it. For a lot of people it’s very hard. A lot of people can’t take it, give up and leave. If you come here to have fun and enjoy it, you’ll be fine.

What’s it like going back to Colombia after living the life you live here in Southern California?

It’s a trip. It’s so crazy how much my life has changed in the last five years. I go back and see my old homies and it’s like nothing has changed. You don’t really have many choices there. There’s no money, there’s no jobs and so it’s hard sometimes. There’s so much war and crazy **** there. I live in Long Beach and everybody thinks Long Beach is the ghetto, but for me it’s like heaven. It’s the top part of heaven. I come from Colombia. The real war country. A lot of **** goes down, but it’s a ****ing beautiful country and I love going back.

What’s up with your music these days?

I just do it for fun. I love the feeling of playing music. When you’re playing so loud and you’ve got four guys playing at the same time you get this connection that’s so sick. That’s what I do it for. It’s so fun. I would love to get a serious band together one day and play at demos. That’d be sick.

Where do you go from here?

For me getting SOTY is a reason to get even more gnarly. I’m going to go for it forever.
I want to do Possesed to Skate 2 and I want to keep learning more tricks, getting better and better and going higher and higher.


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