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Interview with Txus Domínguez, CEO of Zutskateparks

August 10, 2022

Zut. It's the Basque word for ‘vertical’, which can be used for almost all kind of stuff that's vertical. Even that too, explains Txus Domínguez with a naughty smile. CEO of Zutskateparks, a Spanish builder, who started his journey with La Kantera and since then has been involved in the construction of more than 100 skateparks all over the place. If we want to guess how skateparks will look like in the future, this is one of the guys with a crystal ball. His prediction? A mix of styles at the same spot.

  • "I like skateparks where everything flows. A good chaos."
  • ZUTSkateparks
You have been involved in the construction of more than 100 skateparks in many countries. Did it all start with La Kantera?

It all started when I was a kid and started making wooden ramps. We did that because of our natural restlessness. Then came La Kantera and before I knew it a thousand copies were made of it and I told myself: ‘I have to do more’. The La Kantera bowl was my first project of this magnitude and I never stopped since.

Do you keep finding mistakes made when building skateparks?

It’s a shitty thing. Designing skateparks is quite cool, but working with some city halls can be crazy. For many of them it’s just about politics. They don’t care if it has real quality or not. Sometimes the most important thing is to make it just to show off. Yes, they are some who think logically, but most of them think differently.

How is that?

It happened with me. I was asked by an architect to design a skatepark in Madrid. He was handling all the talks with the City Hall, but because he didn’t know nothing about skateboarding, he told me a public tender would be held, respecting the criteria. A bigger company came, presented a smaller price, and won the project. Two months of hard work went to the gutter.

So, is it hard to compete with the majors?

The thing is many of those majors are general constructors, they are not specialized in skateparks. Yes, they are very good companies, but I’m talking about those who reduce the price sometimes to half of it, killing the market. And why do they offer so little to build it? Because the workers are poorly paid, they do not have the necessary skills and the result mostly turns out to be a disaster. That is when they come to me, to try to solve the problem. Doing that, will increase the final cost and it will end up being much more than before others tried to reduce the price to "win" the project.

How do you think skateparks will look like in the next 15/20 years, considering how the skate scene has evolved since the 80’s?

I hope skateboarding continues to evolve in the next years. We saw what happened in the last 40 years with the appearance of half pipes, bowls; simple circuits that became more complex. Now we see a mix between street and flow. I think it works fine at the Olympics. This could evolve to something… I don’t know if it could be a blend of big and small, a mix between bowls and street… you name it.

Are you working on a new skatepark concept?

I’m putting pure skate aside and working with surf and skate parks. They are organic shapes with "dunes". It’s not just for surfers, people who think that are wrong. They are transitions from where they can jump, there is a street line too where they can ride and do some flips… I have made that in Galicia. You have dunes where you can do some snaps, it’s easier, it’s like doing a coping with no grinds. You can do grabs and whatsoever. It’s a place where surfers can do aerials, grabs, where you can do fast street, mixing all these lines and styles. I made one of these in France, an indoor park where the under-20 surf national team works. I’m now building one in Galicia, with miniramps that turns into mini dunes at the rear, where the corners are curved. Everything flows.

Everything mixed…

I don’t like "linear" skateboarding. The street section at the Olympics looks nice, but it looks better to me if a rider gets out his board, flows around and doesn't stop. It’s like in the old days when we had total freedom on the streets, when everything was improvised, a good and nice chaos.

So, more transition and less street…

Surf/skate parks are growing everywhere, but I can’t say if this will be the future. Let’s see. There’s a park in Stockholm I would like to visit, it’s like a dish, they mix many concepts.

From the first draw to choosing materials: what is the ideal skatepark for you?

Well, I have to say there was only one time when I had total freedom for that: when I built the bowl at La Kantera. I drew it without showing it to anyone. That was the one I like the most. Since then, there’s always some things people ask to do differently, and I have to respect that. That’s why I sometimes joke: give me the Arrigunaga bowl and downhills and I’m happy with that (he laughs).

Could a good skatepark be considered a piece of art?

Of course, because you must be an artist to design that, it takes a lot of creativity to do it. They are like concrete sculptures. But you can mix materials, too, like a plastic artist. I make artistic details at some parks: a dragon’s head, a whale’s tale, etc.

Like an extra?

Yes. If a city hall keeps his word and, in the meantime, they don’t change the project I reward them by doing this art details. It’s a way of saying thank you. What people don’t understand is that drawing a skatepark takes a lot of time and many city halls ask projects for "the next" week, as if this was possible!

Visit ZUTskateparks Find out more about La Kantera

By Manu Silva

How Troubl3 Keeps Making Trouble with Skateboards

June 29 2022 - Interview with Troubl3  “I always have been a troublemaker”. If Andrew, 41, had to pitch his idea, this could be a good punchline. It’s one of those cases where a business’s name is not just marketing, but a character’s extension. "So, Troubl3 is giving the middle finger to a lot of skate shops that do not support local people." Andrew (Owner Troubl3)   VISIT WEBSITE TROUBL3 is a Canadian skateboard shop based in Otawa. It was born in 2018 from the desire to go against the flow. “Skateboarding industry has become a mass production machine. Everything comes from China or Mexico, where people are not paid right. I buy something for one hundred dollars that really costs ten dollars”, he claims. “Then I thought: if I’m going to be a troublemaker, I might do something different. If I’m making a board it’s got to be unique like any skater is. I’m going to make one by one; it’s going to be tougher, it’s going to last more, every single board is going to be different. When you buy, it’s not just a board, it’s a piece of art and an experience”, he adds. This is something “one hundred percent customized”, from size, shape, wheels base, and a “seven veneer deck”. He proudly details: “Each veneer that goes into each deck is hand picked.” He buys local (wood from Quebec, for instance) in small batches, presses, shapes and hand paints the decks himself also, when he can, he promotes local artists to draw on the skateboards. “So, Troubl3 is giving the middle finger to a lot of skate shops that do not support local people who make stuff. They say they are local, but do not buy local”, Andrew reenforces, protesting against the rules of the game. “I always compare skateboards with pizza. I love pizza: a large one costs 50 bucks, the same you pay for a skateboard sometimes. Those skateboards are made overseas, they cost nothing to make, the price of pizza is gone to double, but the price of skateboards stayed the same for 30 years." “I evoke Paul Schmitt’s case all the time: a big name in this industry who shifted his business from California to Tijuana because people want to keep the price of a skateboard at 50 of 60 dollars for eternity. So, to keep his business going and pay his people, he had to move”, Andrew says.   He likes to be different. “Being marginalized is something good in skateboarding”. Although he admits the way he runs business is not sustainable: “The breakeven would be making 250 skateboards a month. Right now, I have had a month when I made four or five, others one or two.” It doesn’t matter. He believes this is the way. And he gives a discount if people really ride them and not just hang his skateboards on the wall. Authenticity is his brand, like the style he prefers for riders: “I like to see the most unorthodox skater. Do you do treflips? Fantastic, so can any other kid. I don’t care, throw your board against the wall, flip it on your head, do a back flip, do something I want to see. It’s different, do skateboarding and not do what others do.” “There’s a kid in Indonesia I started to follow who's skateboarding reminds me of a young Christian Hosoi. When I see the kid skate I can recognize Christian Hosoi’s influence. Can you recognize the inventors of other tricks you see people do at the park?”, he asks. Andrew sponsors five “troublemakers”: Eric Martin (Ontario), Dustin Lawrence (Ontario), Connor Callan aka Meat Feet (Arizona), Luis Uribe (Texas), Shinichi Nichiyama (Japan). He enjoys watching them and supports them the way he can. About his local skateparks, Andrew recommends: Bob MacQuarrie skatepark in Otawa Joel Gauthier skatepark in Rockland Local bus stop where where it's super smooth and is perfect for slappies, now that people stopped using busses, due to Covid, it's always empty and available.

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