30 Years Of Ripping: An Interview With Benjamin Pellegrino
There is something sacred that lies within a local skate and snowboard shop. Benjamin Pellegrino is the co-owner of Milosport, one of the best and longest-standing shops in Utah. Started by Dimitrije Milovich (founder of Winterstick and namesake of Milo) and Duane Bush in 1984, Milosport has been serving the local skate and snowboard community along the Wasatch Front for 30 years. With shops that have come and gone in Utah, Milo currently serves locations in Orem (started in 1997) and Lafayette, Calif. (started in 2000), along with the SLC shop. Having been involved since 1994 as a knowledgeable participant in the up-and-coming skateboard scene, Benny found a permanent home in Salt Lake at Milosport. SLUG sat down, fittingly enough, on a waxed curb, to get the scoop on Benny, Milo and the history behind it all.
SLUG: How did you first get involved in Milosport?
Pellegrino: I was living underneath George Johnston [current owner of Milosport in Lafayette, Calif.] up at Snowbird, and I had just quit my job. He knew I was a sponsored skater and he skated, too, but didn’t know much about it, so he asked if I could help get things going. The shop was originally on 2000 East and 3300 South and started as a windsurfing shop. The shop carried skis, mountain bikes and sailboats and even catamarans at one time, so that’s where Milo “sport” comes from. Calvin Egbert took over the SLC shop in 1995, and Todd Mitchell and myself purchased the Orem shop 1999. That’s when we found our niche and became totally invested in the skateboard and snowboard industries. We had a ramp in the parking lot, which helped let people know we were into skateboarding. Since then, I’ve done everything from being an employee at the shop to now a co-owner, buyer, bookkeeper, seller and pretty much any other thing I can help out with.
SLUG: Whom were you hooked up with as a sponsored skater?
Pellegrino: I was with Black Label, Thunder and Spitfire. I was one of the original Black Label riders under John Lucero. We skated a warehouse that you had to pretty much pass a test to be able to ride in. I met Corey and Gavin O’ Brian there and got hooked up—that’s when Lucero asked me to ride for Black Label. That was around 1987, and he flowed me decks up until ’94 when I said I wasn’t moving back to California.
SLUG: What was the skate scene like when you first tried to push it?
Pellegrino: It was backyard ramps and street skating. One of the original crews of kids was called The Dirty Hessians, and they were a big part of creating the scene around here. Guys like Mark White, Tom Blosch, Shane Justus—they did the most pushing it. We held contests in [Milo’s] Salt Lake parking lot, when it was still good to skate on, with quarter pipes and pyramids on wheels that we would push out. This was all before the skatepark era, so it was all pretty new and not mainstream. Now, with the parks and backyard ramps popping up again, skateboarding is as strong as ever. I’m stoked to see the older guys and the college kids longboarding, too. I’m just glad that people aren’t fucking rollerblading! Eventually, there is going to come a time when these people, as business owners or parents, are going to vote for putting a new skate park in or say yes to something skateboard-related because they do it, too. I’m sick of people talking shit ’cause, honestly, it’s rolling on four wheels, and that is the essence of skateboarding.
SLUG: Milosport is currently rocking one of the heaviest shop snowboard teams in the industry. How do the shop and the products within the shop reflect your riders, and what influence do they have on the shop?
Pellegrino: They influence the shop hugely. Those guys are always super vocal about what they do and don’t like. We will always try to support the brands our riders are hyped on or companies that they get in with. Stepchild was a company on our radar. We picked them up when JP Walker started riding for them and, subsequently, Brandon Hobush started riding for them. The team set the roots for the shop. Guys like Walker, Jeremy Jones, Jason Murphy, Jason Brown, Dave Downing, Travis Parker—without them, we wouldn’t have the notoriety that we have.