Fast and fearless, Ryan Sheckler performs tricks that can only be called delirious. It’s hard to believe that such thrill-seeking action was introduced at just 18 months of age, when Ryan first started paddling around on his father’s skateboard. “I used it as a surfboard, Ryan recalls. Then [I] started figuring out how to stand up on it.” The rest is history.
Ryan’s impressive inventory of international achievements includes a streamline of more than a dozen AST Dew Tour titles, plus becoming the first back-to-back-to-back champ [2005-07]. He hasn’t slowed down, either, but let’s downshift. At 13, he turned pro and claimed his first of two X Games gold medals, making him the youngest gold medalist in the games’ history. He followed that up with more gold glory at the Gravity Games, along with a pair of World Cup of Skateboarding titles. Perhaps his greatest feat: reaching teen idol status [kidding]—though anxious eyes have been watching him on his MTV reality series, Life of Ryan.
“I’m so used to being in front of all these things, used to people talking to me and following what I’m doing that it’s not a sudden surprise that […] people know me,” Ryan says. “It’s not like that. This is my life. This is how it’s gradually been going. I take everything as a blessing.”
Monster talent aside, the La Palma native is also blessed with SoCal good looks and an East Coast attitude. On a typical day, you can catch him on his board, looking breezy and all smiles, which he partly attributes to nonstop Lil’ Wayne spins. But make no mistake, under that airy vibe is a guy who’s compulsively committed to his game. Take, for instance, his aggressive approach to learning the Kickflip. “I did a hundred a day until I couldn’t skate anymore,” he says. Good thing hitting the board is far from cumbersome, as is his skate style, self-described as “just fluid. Everything works real nice; everything goes together real nice. I try to stay away from the sloppy style.”
This smooth rider disregards the gamble his body takes every time he hits a ramp, since to Ryan, it’s a worthwhile risk. “You fall,” he says pointing to his left elbow, which he’s broken six times. He then pulls up his right sleeve to show the healing progress of his right elbow. “I just got full reconstructive elbow surgery 10 weeks ago,” he says, adding, “It’s worth it, though. I love it.”
In his Game of Life, the action sports star is anything but boring, as we found out when we caught up with Ryan to hear him throw down his reactions to life on and off the skateboard.
PUTTING THE I IN TEAM
I played baseball, and I was always so bummed out when my teammates would do something wrong. I tried to race go-carts, and I would always get in crashes, because I was just too crazy. [Then I] found a skateboard, and it saved my life. It made me really focus all my energy into it, and I think it was just a thing that I could do whenever I wanted to. I could learn at my own pace, get as good as I wanted; and [I] could really learn something for the first time.
Always. I have no fear on the skateboard at all. I can’t—you can’t; you get hurt.
Jesus Christ, definitely my main role model. My family, and there [are] a few skaters. I would be nowhere without my family, absolutely nowhere. They support me. My mom quit her job to be my manager. It’s great that they actually believed in me and knew it was going to happen.
PREPARING FOR A CONTEST
Preparing for a contest is usually pretty mellow for me. I normally don’t skate for about a week up to a contest, because when I get … back on it, I skate way better and [I’m] just so focused. I’ll take a good week off and just relax—go to the beach, go surf, make sure my cardio is up—then get to a contest and go for it. I’m normally really relaxed though. I used to be real nervous, and I’d get real bad butterflies.
TUNING OUT BY TUNING IN
I like listening to music. I listen to Lil’ Wayne all day long of a contest, no matter what. Wayne gets me going, and I get on the course and just smile. It’s all about smiling. If you see me out on a course and I’m not smiling, [I’m] probably not going to do that [well] that day.
I got the new Rick Ross album, which is amazing. “Yacht Club” is my favorite song. I just got I Can’t Feel My Face, the new Juelz Santana and Lil’ Wayne mixtape. I got everything. I love Guns N’ Roses, The Cure, Motley Crue, Motorhead, all of it.
HITTING THE WEIGHTS AND STAYING IN SHAPE
I weight train [two or three times a week]. I ride road bicycles; I try to ride at least 20 miles three times a week with my trainer. I do a lot. I definitely like to keep in shape and stay healthy and stay fit. It just helps me with skateboarding.
WHY HE WEARS STRETCHY JEANS
The most important thing for me is pushing. If the jeans are too tight, it limits your push. [Then] you can’t get enough speed, [which] actually limits a lot of the tricks. Stretchy jeans [allow you to] push and have room to move and actually fall. A big part of skateboarding is falling, so you want to be able to make sure you can get out of it.
TRAINING FOR A TRICK
I don’t know if it’s necessarily training; it’s just practice. [I] just do it over and over and over. Every trick is a variation of a different trick, so you can just learn how to get your feet right and learn how to pop. [The] first real trick I learned was the Kickflip when I was seven, which is basic, but it’s real hard. The Kickflip is the variation of every other trick, so once you get the Kickflip, then you start moving on to your other tricks.
There’s nothing else like it. To be able to go from place to place, jet-set all over the world and do something that you love to do is unbelievable. It’s a blessing.
ON HIS FAVORITE TRICK
The 360 Flip. It’s not hard; it’s not easy. It’s just a visually appealing trick.
ON DESIGNING THE RS BY SHECKLER CLOTHING COLECTION
I went in my closet, picked out all the clothes I like to wear and grabbed all the different colors and brought them to Wicked Fashions and said, “Alright guys, here we go. This is what we’re going to do. This is how I want the t-shirts to fit, I want the sweatshirts to fit, and this is exactly how the jeans have to fit.” The design process is crazy. [The designers] came up with tons and tons of graphics and showed me all these ideas. I [went] through with a pen and x’ed them out if I [didn’t] like them and circled them if I [did].
ON HIS FAVORITE PIECES FROM RS BY SHECKLER
There’s actually a letterman’s jackets that is insane. It’s all black, and it has red and white stripes at the bottom with [the] RS logo. All the shorts; I love the shorts. Everything, basically. It’s basically out of my closet and into the stores, so it’s cool.
ON LOOKING AHEAD[I’ve] got … my movie with Dwayne Johnson [The Rock], Tooth Fairy, which comes out in December. Other than that, just skating, filming and having fun.