Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Longboarding for Peace

Michael Brooke, has created a movement, which he hopes one day will help bring joy and happiness to some of the most volatile and dangerous areas around the world. Whether it's the ongoing geopolitical war in the Middle East or if it's the rough neighborhoods of Houston, Texas, he has found a way to help kids in these communities become more confident, and has given them an opportunity they would not otherwise have.

The foundation is called Longboarding for Peace. Michael first started off by flying to Israel with $10000 worth of gear for the local children to use. The major goal here was to help show this younger generation within these areas that there was no differences between Arabs, and Israelis and that we are all human beings and we should all get along. By having everyone working together, without the bias of religion, the children eventually learned to balance and also roll around on these boards, all with each other's help. Michael saw this amazing transformation and ever since has been on a path, sharing the importance of harmony and understanding, throughout the entire world. By giving these types of opportunities to less fortunate people around the world, Micheal hopes to decrease the amount of pain and suffering that goes unseen in parts of the world.

This is just one of many missions that Michael Brooke has accomplished recently, and we just want to say that we couldn't be happier to be involved with such an amazing cause. Longboarding for peace is only possible from donations so please go show them some support and e go follow them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

 Read more about Longboarding for Peace HERE

 Here is a manifesto from the man himself.
Longboarding for Peace is a movement forward.
We embody the spirit of all that is good and pure about Longboarding.
We empower people to step on, step up and make great things happen in their communities.
We strive to increase joy and happiness, and decrease pain and suffering.
Our goal is to build a global Peace Army of 50,000 people.
Each of us will commit at least one act of kindness every single day.
This will generate over 20 million acts of kindness per year.
Through kindness, camaraderie and the true spirit of Longboarding,
we'll make the world a better place.

 Check out some of the pictures of recent Longboarding for Peace trips.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Billy Bones Selfie - Landyachtz

Billy is a fun guy to skate with. Whether he's at the park, a hill, or a parking lot it's a guaranteed good time.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Katie Neilson Q and A

So how was your 2013 season?

 2013 was great!  I started the season knowing I didn't want to be overly competitive and just do the events I wanted to do. I also wanted to skate and get involved in some cool projects that would have more of a lasting effect than a World Cup Season would, I think what I mapped out worked great! 

What were some of your favorite events this year?

This was my first year at Guajataka in Puerto Rico and that was a wild event! I've never seen a race course with that many people scattered on it before. Ponce in Puerto Rico was my kind of road too. One of those places where you’re just on the end of traction, hauling ass but not quite drifting.  I even got to go back to Puerto Rico a second time in April to compete at a smaller event and get a better local feeling in San Juan, which was super cool too.

Back in North America, I had a blast at the 2 Maryhill events I attended, both the Festival of Speed and the She Ride. I also had an undeniably good time at the Mayhem of Danger Bay and Brittania. My favorite trip, hands down though was the road trip from Vancouver to Southern California and back for the Catalina Classic. Catalina is already on my to-do list for next year!

Did you go on any awesome trips?

Yes, aside from all the madness I just mentioned, the highlight from this year would have to be my trip to Israel with the Longboard girls crew!

Israel? What was happening there? How long were you there for?

 I was there late August/early September with 13 other female riders and a production crew filming OPEN. The movie is directed by Daniel Eutera who was documenting our experiences exploring and skating throughout the country. There are a lot of fantastic downhill runs there, I had a blast and I skated pretty good when it was my turn on camera, so I'm excited to see how the video comes out.

What was your favorite part of that trip?

My favorite part of the trip was just the general van life that I am so accustomed to.  I ended up driving quite a bit which is awesome, because I am a race car driver at heart. I get a lot of satisfaction in not only mapping out the skateable roads, but the ground I cover behind the wheel as well. We had some really cool locals showing us some great spots, I think the road that led to the sea of Galilei was my favorite spot to skate. Another cool thing about driving around living the van life, is that you get to see and hear a lot of history that way.  I wasn't raised in a political family nor do I have ties to a region so it was interesting to see firsthand what was actually happening in Israel.

Also, on the way home I had an 8 hour layover in Rome. I was lucky enough to meet up with my new friend Mary, who happens to be an awesome Facebook fan. She picked me up with her brother and gave me an amazing tour of the Vatican City at midnight. That was quite the experience. 

Did you smoke lots of shisha?

 Lots, no, but on our day touring old Jerusalem a pack of us went to go get some coffee in the Arabic quarter and the guy there hooked us up with a hookah of his own special blend, it was delicious!

Did you enjoy all the prayers on the loudspeakers?
Enjoy? Not really, but it's not like it bothered me either. Being from Vancouver I'm pretty exposed to a wide range of cultures so it was just background noise even though come to think of it, I did have a rooftop moment with multiple loudspeakers and bells chiming that was rather epic.

What was the weather like there? Did you get a little sweaty in the leathers?

It was beyond hot!  I flew straight to Israel from Southern California so I was pretty heat adjusted upon arrival, especially since the van I was driving around in got double as hot as the Israeli sun.

Plus, those who know me, know that I'm pretty much dressed head to toe in black all day, every day, so I was cracking jokes that I had been training for the heat my whole life. I tried to put on some lighter colors for filming though. When I wasn't skating I spent a lot of time in board shorts and tank tops; I won't skate anything serious without jeans and a t-shirt or my leathers, I guess it's a comfort thing but I also don't skate slow roads. You should have seen how much road rash all the other girls were getting on their hips and bodies. That’s what happens when you hit the pavement in short shorts and a small girly tee. I like going out and dressing up but when I'm on the roads I'm dressed for the occasion. The only leather skate I did we had to be at the hill around 5am so luckily it wasn't too hot yet. That was the desert run in the south, there's going to be some good footage there. 

Did you go float in the Dead Sea? Do you float really well?

Yes!! The Dead Sea was awesome! With that road rash on all the girls I just spoke of it was quite the feat for most of them to get into the water. I just jumped in and  watched them flinch as they entered the saltiest water they'd ever been in. Truth be told, all of these girls are all tough as nails and they turned out to be fine with it. I was expecting some screaming.  You really do float there, it was an amazing experience just kind of hanging in the water and moving around wherever you wanted to go with very minimal effort from your arms or legs.  I made the mistake of wiping my eyes with my hand very briefly and had to walk back to shore doing the blind walk where your eyes are closed and your hands are in front of you making sure you don't hit anything, it hurt so bad! We were there at 9am and the water was already so hot, I couldn't imagine what it would be like in the afternoon.  I can tolerate insanely hot baths and showers but I don't think I'd want to be in mid-day. 


Any sketchy moments while over there?

On board, the worst was when Marisa was filming a shot and there was a car slowly approaching her while she was bombing at high speed. We screamed and begged for it to stop because she was on course. No joke, this guy just straight up accelerated into Cami as she stepped in front of him. Luckily she didn’t get hit, but she was serious about stopping the car in its tracks. I've never experienced anything like that before. I guess the reason why the guy wasn’t going to stop was because it's 'common' for terrorist groups to use females in distress as a disguise on a roadside attack. Once the car stops then the real bad guys jump out of the bushes.

  Still though, the sketchiest thing was the actual fact that we were there right when Obama was threatening to strike Syria, the neighboring country. In return, Syria warned they would 'Put Israel in flames' if the US Army did go forth with an attack. We were in the south while that was going on and we could hear the fighter jets practicing and monitoring the area, it is the loudest sound I have ever heard coming from the sky. It's like a drag racer beside you, but you can't see where the noise is coming from. Once you even hear the first whisper of the jet it is safe to say it is absolutely nowhere in your field of sight. After that you have this minute or so long hiss that just progressively gets louder and louder to the point of pretty much shaking the ground and then gradually declines again. Hearing something faster than the sound barrier was an unbelievable experience and a little frightening at times.  I remember whispering to Amanda in our room one night, no matter what happened we would get home together, even though as a rule of thumb no matter where you are, you follow the vibes of the locals. Fortunatley for us they weren't really all that worried.

What did the locals think of you guys skating?

I think they were pretty stoked, they have a fairly big scene there. Funny thing is, when a bunch of girls show up to your local spot and shred it so hard, probably harder than anyone else, you’re going to have a good time watching it. Aside from skate locals, I don't think there were really any problems with citizens minus that one ordeal with Marisa, usually people just want to watch because they are curious what you are up to.

Did you go check out where Jesus was born?

 Nope, but we did go to the western wall in Jerusalem where many travel to say prayers and leave a page of prayers behind for their loved ones. We did get to hang out in the sea of Galilei (which is actually a fresh water lake) where Jesus walked on water.  Foreigners are forbidden there but skateboarders are forbidden in a lot of places.  We saw a beautiful sunset there. 

Did you skate with Jesus?

 No, unfortunately he didn't appear while we were in the country. I did however, have a couple really good soul jams, where I just skated on my own in my mind and enjoyed every minute of it. 

Did you shotgun any beers while you were there? Did you shotgun beers with Jesus?

Oh man, I didn't really drink on that trip so I didn’t really have the opportunity to hit a shotgun, the boys might be a little bummed to find that out.  We only really went out drinking one night there and I was the driver so I wasn't drinking anyways.  We did however, get Michaela, the sweet little grommet of the trip wasted that night, and her shy little attitude disappeared a little bit after the fact calling the evening a great success.  

Did you skate in any place that you really shouldn’t have been skating?

Swimming in the sea of Galilei was the actual only forbidden place we entered. The dancers and freeriders got to skate on a rooftop in old Jerusalem that had the most amazing view of the city behind them, the New York Times used that roof top for their future Israel piece and as far as I know, no skateboard has ever been up there before. 

Who had the worst bail on the trip? What happened?

The worst bail that I saw with my own eyes was Jenna Russo from Australia, she is one of the coolest chicks ever, seriously. Anyways I was shuttling a run at a downhill spot we had been filming at all morning so when the second van of girls showed up wanting to skate I had no problem getting behind the wheel for them.  Jenna just kind of miscalculated how fast this one left was and smacked the pavement with her t-shirt rolled up resulting in a gnarly belly rash, her belly button looked like an eyeball on a face after that. Another super bummer bail was Amanda going down on one of the first shots of the first day when someone took a bad line shutting down in front of her.  She was wearing jean shorts and hit some gravel on the side of the road basically eliminating the skin from one of her thighs, it's a good thing she had her G-forms on to protect her knee caps.  She absolutely killed it for the rest of the trip considering what was lingering on her leg, you'd never know by her performance how hurt she was. 

 What was your Israel set ups?

I brought 2 boards with me. My go-to downhill set up is a Wolfshark on medium wheelbase, precision grizzlies, biggie hawgs and yellow barrel venom bushings top and bottom front and back. For cruising around the streets I had my super stock, super awesome ripple ridge with me. 

If you could sum up your Israel trip in one word, what would it be, besides awesome, cool, amazing.

 It might sound corny, but OPEN. Going to Israel meant I was going to confront situations and ideals face to face and potentially uncover information that could turn me into a believer or holder of faith or an activist or who knows? Anything. There was just a potential to turn me into something vs. all the other places I've gone to skate before that were just hills with no real century old underlying issues conflicting the roads.  It was truly a rewarding experience. Obviously I didn't see Christ and maybe I didn't get to see some major issues of humanity up close, but I think the message that lays here is just that I was ready to see some things if I had to. Hard to explain.  

We, or at least I live a blessed life via faith in my family and because of this I've never really felt threatened by anything, nor felt the need to look for that faith in someone or something else. For example, I can call home and MY Father is always there for me. To willingly place myself in a situation that could become uncomfortable was confirmation that I really did some growing up this year.

What’s in the future for Katie Neilson?

Who knows. I'm a family girl at heart and skating will always be with me but I'm getting old, my clocks starting to tick on occasion. For now I'm just trying to develop a solid base for that future and the first layers of that base are really starting to come together.

Who is your favorite girl skater?
 Ooh tough one.  Amanda Powell is an all-around hill killer. Another rider I really like after the Israel trip is Cindy Zhou she rips!  On that note, I'm so freaking stoked Elena jumped on board the EH TEAM this year because she killed it, obviously, and totally has the right attitude to deal with everything. There aren't many girls on the Landyachtz team so I am super stoked that she is a part of it. 

What are you most looking forward to, for the next season?

 Um, just a continuation of what I am up to right now. One of my main goals for this season was just to have a good attitude amongst all the other girls. A lot of them are getting really fast but don't have a lot of competition experience yet. I just want to make sure that everyone maintained the awesome attitude that they did throughout this last season. The girls I started racing with aren't racing anymore for that exact reason and I think it's important for me to keep showing up to races and showing my support. I've gone plenty fast down plenty hills and I'm not worried about my capabilities, in fact I'm more comfortable with myself than I ever have been. It's just that I'm finally getting beat off start lines now and the women's field has reached a point where the start is really important. More than anything I just want to stay on my board and preach 'slow down before you are going to fast' so that as these fast girls get into heavier racing, they do it safely.  I've been at this for a while now, I'm not going to fall in a race heat anymore and I don't want anyone to take me out either, that's why I'm a little selective with the events I participate in or how heavy I push off the start line.  I've had some injuries that these girls haven't, and hopefully won't experience.  Don't mistake me though, just because my interest isn't in being seen as the fastest doesn't mean I've lost my touch ;)