Downhill longboarding is difficult. Maybe not so much anymore for those like Fireball Supply Co. Team Rider, Shane Sussman, but rest assured - the dedication needed to get to become one of the top riders in Orange County is evident in his abilities.
While it’s not uncommon to see Shane spending hours on end drifting and tucking down mountains ranging from Malibu to Glendora, we managed to get a few minutes of his time in between runs to chat about the learning curve, finding the appropriate-sized hardware and filming with the VCDH crew.
Big hills = bigger shadows. Photo: Ben Solano
Fireball Supply Co.: In preparation for this interview, Andrew Pham told me that you were one of the quickest learners he’s ever seen take to longboarding. How were you able to pick it up so fast?
Shane Sussman: I think there's three main things that helped me learn to skate. The first is location. Being in SoCal, there's tons of amazing hills to skate, as well as a lot of variety.
How often you skate is also really important. If you don't skate enough, it's going to be a lot harder to make progress.
The last thing is skating with people who are better than you are and who will push you to get better as well. A huge motivator for me when I was learning to slide was seeing my friends go skate roads that I couldn't hit yet and wanting to be at that level with them. Also, a huge part of skating for me is the feeling of progression. Being able to take a line or do a slide that I couldn't do before is what keeps me going.
Not only do Dragon stickers look rad, they compliment certain helmet colorways perfectly. Photo: Jeff Suchy
FSC: What’s the best words of advice you would give to someone whose trying to get into downhill but can’t seem to get the hang of it?
SS: All the things listed above. I've also always thought that it's better to start really slow and get the basics down well and make small, incremental steps. I think this will make you much more skilled in the long run. If you're getting stuck, try taking a video of yourself and see if you can tell what you're doing wrong, or ask for advice. Everyone takes time to learn, so don't worry if it seems like you're not making a lot of progress.
Shooting at the perfect angle keeps the top secret hill bombs hidden. Photo: Turner Williams
FSC: What’s the difference between skating Malibu and skating Glendora?
SS: Malibu and Glendora roads are pretty opposite of each other. Glendora taught me to hold my tuck through corners and take good grip lines. Most roads in Malibu, you barely have to tuck because of how steep they are and they taught me a lot more about controlling drifts.
FSC: What Fireball/Dragon gear are you rocking and why are you into it?
SS: Right now I'm riding Dragon Bearings and Spacers, and Dragon Hardware. I love the bearings because of how good of a seal they have which makes them last a really long time, and the hardware is great because it comes in a set of all different sizes and kinds so I have enough for all my setups.
What's more beautiful: the views at Blacks or Shane's approach to them? You be the judge. Photo: Ben Solano
FSC: Of the events in the downhill scene you’ve been to, which one(s) stand out as your favorite?
SS: Even though I've only been to a few events, my favorite so far would definitely be Tepe and Tacos. I've been both years so far, although the second year I was broke off and couldn't skate.
Kicking out and dodging pucks at a Malibu slide jam. Photo: Ben Solano
FSC: What’s it like filming with Kyle Peterson and VCDH?
SS: Kyle is great to film with, you can tell he loves when the skater is really stoked on their footage. He's had people from all over the world visiting SoCal in front of his lens, and I'm looking forward to all the runs we're going to film together in the future!