Interview with Dave Mirra

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STACK: What was it like riding in Estonia? Mirra: It was great, man—really cool being over there. I know that people in the States hear about being in part of Russia and immediately think it's nuts over there; but it's pretty Americanized, so we had fun going out. There are a lot of guys from Europe in our sport, so we had some good riders at the event. It may not have been all the top names from the Dew Tour, but there were enough good riders that if you placed in the top three you were definitely riding well.

How did the competition go for you? Mirra: I felt good. I went out there and rode without expectation. It was probably the calmest I've ever ridden at an event. I just was rolling around and things started happening. It was pretty awesome, because for so long I got so nervous. If I didn't ride close to my best, I'd get really bummed out. Instead of this being a huge contest to me, I just went out and rode. This event was just really fun and chill—more like go out, have a good time, and if it feels right, do some good stuff. If not, don't.

So nerves have been a problem for you in the past? Mirra: A little. You get nervous about injuries. When you're riding, you don't have a lot of time, so if you aren't feeling good, you have to step it up right away. It gets nerve-wracking, because you have to do a certain number of tricks in a certain amount of time.

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Interview by Josh Staph

STACK: What was it like riding in Estonia?
Mirra:
It was great, man—really cool being over there. I know that people in the States hear about being in part of Russia and immediately think it's nuts over there; but it's pretty Americanized, so we had fun going out. There are a lot of guys from Europe in our sport, so we had some good riders at the event. It may not have been all the top names from the Dew Tour, but there were enough good riders that if you placed in the top three you were definitely riding well.

How did the competition go for you?
Mirra:
I felt good. I went out there and rode without expectation. It was probably the calmest I've ever ridden at an event. I just was rolling around and things started happening. It was pretty awesome, because for so long I got so nervous. If I didn't ride close to my best, I'd get really bummed out. Instead of this being a huge contest to me, I just went out and rode. This event was just really fun and chill—more like go out, have a good time, and if it feels right, do some good stuff. If not, don't.

So nerves have been a problem for you in the past?
Mirra:
A little. You get nervous about injuries. When you're riding, you don't have a lot of time, so if you aren't feeling good, you have to step it up right away. It gets nerve-wracking, because you have to do a certain number of tricks in a certain amount of time.

How did you get started in this sport?
Mirra:
I truly believe things happen for a reason, because there was no plan or anything on my part. It was more like I grew up riding a bike and loved it. You get interested as a kid, and then you get addicted to it. I couldn't quit. I got so into it that I wanted to go to contests and give it my all. It turned into a hobby with benefits, then a job and now a profession. It's nuts how that worked out.

Did you ever imagine the sport would take you this far?
Mirra:
Back when I was a kid, even if I made it to the highest level, I didn't think it could take me this far. The sport has evolved a lot by becoming more mainstream. There are so many more opportunities and endorsements available; it's on a whole other level than when I was younger.

Where do you see the sport going in the next five to 10 years?
Mirra:
There are a lot of opportunities for TV events. The best thing we can do is get organized, then really get on track with what each athlete is worth. I don't know if that will happen soon, but the sky's the limit because the talent is out there. Younger kids are coming up; it's almost like there are two generations in the sport right now.

In the early days, was finding a time and place to ride tough for you?
Mirra:
No. I always made time, so I was ready to ride.

Did anyone ever doubt you or say that you were wasting time by riding so much?
Mirra:
You know, I heard a lot of negative stuff from kids I went to school with. Some adults were very positive and supportive; but there were others who said, "You're wasting your time," or "What are you going to do—ride that bike forever?"

Do you remember the first time you pulled off a big trick?
Mirra:
Oh yeah, for sure. I was just in New Zealand for an X Air Contest, and I went and did this trick that's pretty much a full-twisting, no-handed backflip. It still gets me psyched; it's what keeps me coming back.

Are you always hungry to come up with a new trick to wow people?
Mirra:
I think because I'm getting older, it's not always about that next trick—or even that next contest. It's more about the experience. I don't feel like I always have to win anymore. So many good guys are out there that if I win, it's amazing. I'm in a different mindset. I'm just going into this season with a calm mind and not worrying about winning everything and scoring on rides. I realize I can't control everything that happens, so I'm just going to make the best of it.

What kind of athleticism does your sport demand?
Mirra:
Definitely a lot of athleticism is required, but we really don't have a training regimen like other sports do. For us, it's more about going out and riding. We don't have access to professional trainers, but I'm sure if the sport were more structured, we would have more training. It's tough to go out and find a trainer when you can go out and win a contest without doing any of that.

How has your body held up under the tremendous stress of riding?
Mirra:
I'm dealing with an injury right now. I dislocated my shoulder in New Zealand, and it stinks because it's nagging. But it's not something that's going to stop me. I just have to get it looked at it and nurse it. I always try to get back to the bike as quickly as I can. Injuries are a setback in any sport; but for ours, it's tough because you get rusty. I always like to be dialed. I hate taking time off, then coming back and going through the motions in those first couple weeks. To come back and not be dialed kind of sucks.

What are the biggest obstacles you've overcome in your career?
Mirra:
Just dealing with the situation that I've been dealt is overwhelming. A lot of people and things can get in your way; then there are those people who support you. I decided when I was younger to surround myself with positive people, and just go out and work hard. The mental aspect of our sport is brutal; being strong at every contest throughout the years and keeping yourself in check is hard.

What does it feel like when you pull off one of your more difficult tricks for the crowd?
Mirra:
It's awesome because the crowd helps you get into that mode. When you feel like you've pleased them, it's pretty sick. It's amazing to know you've pulled it off in front of all the fans, other riders and people at home. You get a lot of respect for that. The connection between the riders and fans in our sport is huge. Contests wouldn't be nearly as much fun if it weren't for the arenas—or even skate parks—that are filled with people who appreciate what we do.

What are you most proud of regarding your career?
Mirra:
It's hard to pick one moment. So many mean a lot to me, but I am proud about following through with what I wanted to do. It feels great to be where I am by fighting through the obstacles and always believing it was possible.

You mentioned the evolution of your sport and new opportunities for riders. How much of that do you feel responsible for?
Mirra:
I don't know how much I am responsible, but I was there and did my part. And I am still here competing; I got first in New Zealand and third in Estonia. Those were pretty rad contests, so I am really psyched to remind myself that I'm still legitimate. I helped out a bit here and there; and I was there through it all—even when the pro class had only four guys. And now I'm here for the most progressive year ever.

What are your goals for the next couple years?
Mirra:
I'm not planning much—just to raise a family and ride, man. I'm not going to analyze much, just go with the flow and have fun. I've tried to predict things in the past, and it backfired. So I'm just going to chill. Whatever happens, happens. I have a couple hobbies, like golfing and bowling, but family time is my biggest thing.

What can you take from your experience to help a young athlete?
Mirra:
The main thing is just keep it fun and don't let people get in your way. It's the typical thing people will tell you, but it's important to be yourself and have fun.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: ACTION SPORTS | MOTIVATION | DAVE MIRRA