Posted By: Gavin Sheehan
The film festivals are gone and its time for skiers and snowboarders to reclaim the hills for their own purposes. And there’s only one real way to do it… slap an obstacle course on the side of one and rip it a new one.
The SLUG Games return on Saturday up at Brighton, bringing out some of the best our state has to compete in various competitions. And remember to grab your rental tux and cheap corsages as it all plays out to this year’s theme of The Prom Jam. Gearing up for the event I got to chat with SLUG‘s Sports Coordinator and pro-skater Adam Dorobiala, who you may remember from last year’s chat about SLUG’s 20th Anniversary. This time we chat about his career and experience with the magazine as well as the events this weekend, plus his take on extreme sports as we look at his body of work throughout.
Gavin: Hey Adam! First off, tell us a bit about yourself.
Adam: I am action sports coordinator at SLUG Magazine, I teach skateboarding in the summer at Spocks Skatecamp and if its dry out and I’m not working, you can find me skating around the city.
Gavin: How did you first take an interest in skateboarding and other extreme sports?
Adam: Maybe I can accredit my father for that. He would always take me up to Mt. Hood in Oregon while he windsurfed and up to Snowbird to ski/snowboard with him at a really young age, so it was just natural. Skateboarding looked so fun and interesting that I got a board and started from there. I figured it was about the same as snowboarding (which I was getting bored of) the only difference is falling on cement. I would spend hours and hours in my front yard building and skating the sketchiest ramps ever. Completely obsessed, its just so damn fun.
Gavin: What was it like for you first learning to board and hitting up skate parks?
Adam: I wont lie, it took me a minute to figure out. Ultimately I think it was the lack of skateparks that made skateboarding easier and easier. I would have to skate to my friends houses and from there we would have to skate to a spot, so I think all the time clocked on my board to and from spots made me more comfortable with how to ride it. We covered so much land each day back then, sometimes I wonder why I even need a car today. Now, with all the parks everywhere, I feel like kids just get dropped off and don’t really take the time to learn how to even push their boards. They see the X-Games and play the video games that just make them want to learn tricks and not the basics.
Gavin: What drew you to do local competitions and demos, and what’s it like for you while participating?
Adam: I have never really been that competitive so I would just go to the competitions to see how they worked. Only recently have I entered some competitions, and they can be fun but at the same time there is a level of egotism that goes along with them. That’s why I don’t like to compete, it seems like only a few people go to have fun and the rest are there to prove a point, and that’s not skateboarding to me, that’s a team sports mentality in my opinion.
Gavin: What kind of gear do you prefer to use when skating?
Adam: Obviously I like riding Sevenfold decks (if I run out of those then Salty Peaks boards are the next best thing) and softer wheels. I like softer wheels because they are stealth mode, super quiet and they grip better so you can skate faster without slipping out when you try to make quick adjustments. My trucks are kinda loose, although I tightened them up a bit just to see what it felt like and have stayed with it. My very first pair of skate shoes were a pair of Adidas organic shoes made out of hemp, way back in the day, and they were so good that I skate Adidas as much as I can nowadays. And other than that, as long as it rolls, its good enough.
Gavin: How did you come to get involved with Sevenfold Skateboards, and what’s it been like working with them?
Adam: I got involved with Sevenfold after a trip out to San Francisco with the Salty Peaks team to film for the skate video “Makin’ Moves.” Caleb Orton had been skating for them for a while and we ended up staying at Jimmy Nelson’s house (marketing manager for Sevenfold) for a few days. He showed us around, took photos and apparently Jimmy liked my style and thought that I would make a good fit on the team, so he got in touch with me after the trip and told me they were thinking about bringing me in on flow. After Jimmy had talked with Chris Opilla (owner of Sevenfold) and all the other people making Sevenfold happen, I got a call. I was planning a trip to go skate Maui so I gave them all the footage from that trip and made my first podcast. I took five or six trips out to S.F. last year to meet up with Jimmy to skate, talk, discuss ideas for graphics and film for other podcasts. You can find those podcasts online at SevenFoldsSkateboards. Its been about two years now and I cant complain. I really like skating for them, they are true to the scene and always help me out.
Gavin: You also gained an interest in photography, how did that artform catch your eye?
Adam: Not sure really, I guess it’s in my genes or something. My grandfather was an avid photographer, and my uncle as well, I think photographic eyes are just part of the Dorobiala genetics. Plus its really fun.
Gavin: Education wise, you studied photography at SLCC as well as the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. What persuaded you to seek out a degree for that, and what eventually led you to not finishing?
Adam: Well, a college degree is something that you are supposed to have nowadays, supposedly. And since I was excelling in my photography, I figured just go to school for that. I won a photo competition in my senior year of high school, well first regionals and then state (didn’t place at nationals), which gave me a scholarship to SLCC for one year. I rolled with that and then did the same competition again at the college level the next year for SLCC, I won state again and went to Kansas City for the nationals and placed third. This gave me another scholarship to SLCC as well as a voucher to some school in Boston for 2500 dollars or something. I ditched the Boston voucher and went back to SLCC to finish up my Associates in photography. In my final year at SLCC I won again and headed to nationals one more time and placed first at nationals. They offered me a few different scholarships and I decided to take the 30,000 dollars to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. At first it seemed like a great idea and I thought I was gonna get my Bachelors easy as pie, that was not the case. The Art Institute didn’t accept all my credits and the scholarship was pretty chincy compared to how much it was going to cost to finish up there. The teachers were pretty bad, not to boast or anything but they would give me shit for stuff they knew I was right about and it was just all around bogus. I thought about it for a long while and then decided leaving would be best for me. I took a greyhound from there to visit my extended family in Buffalo, New York and then another greyhound to Knoxville, Tennessee to spend some time with my grandparents and aunt on my way home. It was a way better way to spend my money than paying for some snobby unsuccessful photography telling me what I already know and having to pay some ridiculous amount to hear it. I’ll just wait things out until I get an honorary degree somewhere, although I wouldn’t mind teaching photography one bit.
Gavin: What eventually led to you getting involved with SLUG Magazine?
Adam: I had just gotten back from the east coast and I was getting back together with some friends and one night we just happened to go out skating and Bob Plumb, senior skate/snow photographer for SLUG at the time, came too. I won’t bore you with the the whole story (as it can be seen in the other interview I did for you last year) but it ended out working out just fantastic.
Gavin: How were things for you filling that position and basically learning the ropes in publishing?
Adam: I had never really had an office job, so that was odd at first, but being able to skate to work is the best. I knew the programs we use pretty well before starting, but it was all the stuff that goes into getting each issue out was a shock to me. Deadlines make or break so much of our content and then all the little things you do in the office to make shit work is crazy. I guess I am desensitized now, but when I first started it was definitely tough.
Gavin: From your viewpoint, how is it being both a writer of the skateboarding scene while also being an active participant?
Adam: Its not too bad. Sometimes you get people asking you to come skate when really all they want is for you to do an interview on them. Sometimes I feel like people think that I am just a writer, not a skateboarder, and there have been instances where I have to show them that writing is just something I do when I cant go out and skate.
Gavin: How did the opportunity come about to be the Sports Coordinator? And what’s it been like for you holding that title and the work you do?
Adam: I think it was more like the opportunity was created by all the newer action sports staff starting to pitch more and more ideas and slowly when we got more pages Angela just figured it would be better to give me that title seeing that I was mostly running that section of the mag. I like what I do here a lot and am glad I have great people to work with that are creative and talented in what they do. Lately we, Chris Swainston (photographer and writer) and myself, have been getting into design so we can design the skate pages to look exactly how we see them in our heads and that has been another great thing. It takes stress off of Josh Joye (issue designer) and lets us make sure that the layouts turn out just right for every story we run.
Gavin: Speaking of events, The SLUG Games return to Brighton this week. Tell us what you got planned for it and the events you’ll be holding.
Adam: Yeah, The Prom Jam, February 6th, its all themed around high school prom. We are going to have obstacles that you may find at a school dance to shred on and after the competition is over, we are going to have a dance at the Alpine Rose at Brighton. Its gonna be pretty fun and funny to attend, if its anything like what we have done the last few years, I imagine there are going to be lots of awesome shenanigans.
Gavin: A month from now you’ll have Beat The Pro up in Park City. What have you got lined up for that event?
Adam: Its going to be round two of last year’s Beat The Pro competition. I don’t want to give out too much info about it but just know that round two is gonna be twice as action packed and gnarly as last years Beat The Pro.
Gavin: A little state-wide, what’s your opinion on the way skateboarding is handled by the city and state? And is there anything you wish you could change?
Adam: You can skate the Library downtown on the stipulation that “your wheels cant leave the ground.” I find that a lot of places are like that with some lame ass rule ruining our fun, but that’s fine really because not listening to stupid rules is what we do best. That and fucking shralping around like a pack of hungry wolves. I don’t know if I would change anything really, maybe when people tell you to leave they coul
not mention where the closest skatepark is. We know where the the skateparks are, there is a reason we are not there. I would change that and those damn rent-a-cops that think they are hard asses.
Gavin: Do you see any major changes on the horizon for snowboarding or skateboarding?
Adam: Its hard to say. I feel like things change on a daily basis. Mostly I see smaller companies making a big difference in the industry taking customers of the bigger businesses and distribution companies out there. That and everyone getting burlier and burlier as to what can be done on their shred sticks.
Gavin: What’s your take, both good and bad, on the way "extreme sports" are presented nowadays with the X-Games and time on ESPN?
Adam: Overall I think its probably a bad thing. You have kids watching it that want to be like these guys competing for the money or fame rather than going out skating and not thinking about all the corporate bullshit. I always tell kids I teach skateboarding to, just go out and have fun and eventually something may happen but don’t rely or expect it to, that just creates bad attitudes and inflated egos.
Gavin: What can we expect from both yourself, as well as future events throughout 2010?
Adam: Our skate comps this year will definitely be something to watch. They get better year after year and this year should be no exception. There is a chance we might be getting an underground training facility/secret skate park that we might eventually open up in the winter to do a winter skate comp. As far as what you can expect from me this year… more of the same but better, faster, stronger, harder. I am having fun doing what I do best and hope to continue having fun as much as possible this year traveling and skating whenever and wherever I can
Gavin: Aside the obvious, is there anything you’d like to promote or plug?