Totally Boise Interview Series
An Interview with Parker Schmidt - Boise's 18-Year-Old Professional Longboarder
Interview conducted on 6/28/17
If you're not familiar with Parker Schmidt, we believe that's about to change. A recent high school grad, Parker is currently on tour throughout Europe doing what he loves most - longboarding. Having been sponsored by Omen Longboards for over a year, he is finally embarking on his first run of professional longboarding events overseas. We caught up with Parker for this exclusive interview to see how he was feeling about all of it.
Tell me a little bit about yourself - other than longboarding. We'll get to that soon enough.
I’m an 18-year-old high school graduate. I’m going to Western Washington University in Bellingham to study kinesiology and I’m hoping to either work personally with an action-sports team in my later years, once I retire from racing, or I’d like to end up doing personal training with athletes.
For those who don’t know, what’s kinesiology?
It’s the study of movements in the human body. I’d be doing physical therapy and that sort of stuff.
How did you first get exposed to longboarding?
When I moved here to Boise six years ago, my dad bought me a longboard. I never rode it and he got mad at me for wasting his money! *laughs* So I took it down a local hill in the east-end and I ended up falling and destroying my forearms, but I thought it was really fun - so I kept doing it!
Was it one of those "movie moments" when you first tried it? The camera zooms in - the music swells up - and you just think to yourself, "Yes. This is what I want to do."
Yeah, I guess you could say it was like that.. For the first few seconds until I fell. *laughs*
Were you ever nervous to start participating in longboarding events? Or were you ready to dive into this world from the beginning?
I always liked to be competitive when it came to sports. I used to play football and baseball, and I loved that sense of pushing yourself to the brink of your ability. When it comes to longboarding, it’s such a dynamic way of using your body to put yourself over the limit that no one else can experience. It’s like a mix between NASCAR racing, snowboarding and skiing to where it’s all a moment of a euphoric feeling. I was always ready.
With longboarding professionally, it can be seemingly a little dangerous and I assume that's what makes it so thrilling - to push yourself to the edge of what is possible given a certain tool - the longboard. Have you always been interested in this kind of excitement? Could you have seen yourself doing this as a kid?
Oh, definitely. I’ve been skateboarding basically since I could walk. So being able to mess around and be very creative with different kinds of styles always intrigued me - how nobody has a riding style that is the same from one another. Longboarding is always advancing and we like to ask, “How can we push it just a little bit further?” - And we end up finding ways to make the wheels just that much faster, etc.
There are quite a few different skateboarding philosophies out there. What's your personal philosophy when it comes to longboarding?
A lot of people, especially racers - ...we take it more seriously. But that’s why we enjoy doing it. Being able to barely make it out of a corner and feeling that achievement of pushing ourselves to the edge of our abilities.
For a train of thought, we’re trained not to think about what we’re doing most of the time.
You’re trained not to think?!
Well, it comes very naturally! It’s a lot of muscle memory! If you start thinking of what is actually happening... I mean, you’re standing on a piece of wood flying down a mountain at 60 mph! I might have thoughts of like, “Oh, I’m pretty hungry right now. I can’t wait to get to the bottom and eat.” *laughs*
Of all the places you've been able to skate, where was your favorite? Any places you've always wanted to go?
My favorite spot would probably be in Santa Barbara, this run called Gibraltar. It’s this eight-minute-long gorgeous road with barely any traffic that looks out at the ocean. I would stop every now and then and look over and see the edge of the sea and how it keeps on going. It was very pretty.
What I’m looking forward to the most on my tour is going to Austria. I’ve been looking so much into it and Graz specifically, and it just looks so beautiful.
Do you have any advice for young kids who might be getting into skateboarding right now and might want to follow in your footsteps?
Stick with it, damn it! So many kids drop it for other sports! There’s been so many good, young athletes who have dropped longboarding for soccer or something, and you can get so much further if you stick with it. You’ll be able to travel - I guarantee that you will be able to have a company pay for your travel if you just stick with it.
Do you have a certain skater that you look up to?
I don’t think anymore. I definitely used to when I was younger… Oh, I guess Stacey Peralta! The origin of skating in Venice, California is great…
Yeah, that whole “Dogtown” story is incredible!
Yeah! I did my senior project on them. It was really cool. He does a lot of work in longboarding now, too! He makes some of the best longboards in the world.
I guess I do have a few people that inspire me - My team manager, Nate Blackburn, he’s like a father figure to me. When I’m on a trip, he’s always one I’ll go to for some advice. And all my teammates, we all support each other endlessly.
You've been sponsored by Omen Boards for a little over a year now. How did that relationship come to fruition?
It’s a funny story. I met Nate Blackburn at an event like two or three years ago. I didn’t know who he was and I sprayed him with a water gun, or I threw a water balloon at him or something… He retaliated by filling up a water gun with apple juice and sprayed me down right in front of my mom! I was so sticky for the rest of the day. *laughs* Then a year later, I saw him at another event in Seattle and we started talking there. It started from being just a float sponsorship, to being a normal sponsorship, to being a professional sponsorship from them.
And what does that relationship bring to you?
If I’m going on a trip, they’ll always pay my entry fees and give me a board and a back-up board. I can also work personally with them - If they send me a prototype board and it’s kind of wonky in a certain way, I’ll give them feedback and they’ll adjust it to the way I recommend.
Cool! So it’s kind of a two-way road where you’re providing them with valuable information about their product?
Yep! And they just moved their factory up to Bellingham, so I’ll be working in their factory in the winter!
Do you have anything else you’d like to say before we go?
I leave in a week to Europe, I’m going July 9th to August 18th. I’ll be traveling from Austria to the Czech Republic to Italy and all those countries in between. And then I have a race in Canada when I get back… Then I have school orientation. *laughs* So I’m going from five international races to my school orientation.
This is my first year racing professionally at an international level. It’s like… I’m hoping to just do my best. And I’m going for the experience. I don’t really know what to expect! It doesn’t even feel like it’s a week away! But I’m excited to meet all these new people and experience all of these different cultures.