Some of the best skateboarders in the world are converging on Vancouver this weekend. And Calgary’s Riley Boland is among them.
He’s trying to let that sink in.
“I just feel honoured to be involved because it’s such a big contest,” said the 28-year-old, who is one of the select-few invited competitors at the Van Doren Invitational, set for Hastings Skatepark on Friday and Saturday.
“It’s like the biggest contest since Slam City Jam for Canada, which has been almost 10 years now,” he added of the defunct North American Skateboarding championship, which ran in Vancouver for many years but hasn’t been staged since a one-off in Calgary in 2006.
“This is the first big bowl contest. It’s awesome. It’s exciting.”
Boland, who rides with his signature braids — (“I just always had my hair long and I just started braiding it, probably as a joke the first time. But it was actually amazing for skateboarding because my hair wasn’t on my neck or in my eyes, so I’ve run with it a long time now, probably since 2008.”) — has matured a tonne from the 12-year-old kid who just started skateboarding with neighbourhood kids in southeast Calgary.
Fatherhood will do that.
His son Kai is now 16 months old.
“He’s skateboarding, kinda,” says the Calgary tailor with a chuckle. “He doesn’t push yet, but he can ride. I hope he likes it.”
Becoming a father has made Boland savour his chances on his board even more.
“You don’t have as much free time to go hang out at the skatepark for eight or 10 hours now,” he said. “Because of that, I only get to skate for an hour or so a day or less. But I feel more driven during that time, so I like skateboarding more than ever now.
“It feels like I’ve skated more now than the years leading up to having my son.”
You Tube videos are a testament to Boland’s creativity where he can be seen performing many jaw-dropping airs and catapulting off the side of cement walls.
In Vancouver on Friday, he will get four 40-second runs to try to impress the judges and move on the semifinals. Success there would land him in Saturday’s finals, where the top skaters will go for their piece of $75,000.
“I guess I just do big airs,” he said. “But everybody’s going to be doing big airs because it’s a bowl contest. I do this one air over the spine that’s different.”
Realistically, though, he’s not expecting to win against such a tough field.
“I just really, really enjoy being a part of it because it’s such a big thing and everybody is the best skateboarder (around),” he said. “It’s just awesome to be involved, watching everybody kill it.”
NOTABLE: The final day of the event will be webcast at vans.com on Saturday, starting at 3 p.m. Calgary time.