It’s that time of year again: fucking cold. If you failed to find a steady hookup to start this winter, you’re gonna need to brave the elements to pass the time.
Our goal was to figure out how to brave the weather when that three-month trip to Barcelona is just out of the budget. Whether you live out west, on the East Coast, or around the world there are plenty of common practices to make winter skating a little less hellish.
Layering is the most important. Start small and build up.
Aaron Herrington: As far as my tricks of the winter trade go, I always have long johns or thermals. Of course, gloves are a must. Not the typical cotton or wool gloves, but something a little more utilitarian. You can buy these black gloves at Home Depot for $4.99. They have a rubbery material on the palms and fingers, and they’re windproof so if you fall you don’t hurt your hands as badly in the cold.
My feet sweat a lot too, so when I skate in the winter I bring multiple pairs of socks. Mid-session I’ll change my socks and I’ll feel my feet instantly warm up. If I’m gonna go to a spot for the day I’ll bring two to three pairs of socks. When I get there I put on a clean pair of socks before I skate, just because any moisture from the last hour or two could affect how my feet feel.
Brian Anderson: I’m always an advocate of a zip hoodie. I lived in San Francisco for 12 years, and speaking of weather, around 4 pm that wind comes from Twin Peaks down into the Mission and you need that zip hoodie. I like flannels that have an insulated lining in the sleeves. That’s pretty important because if you wear a long sleeve and then a long sleeve flannel with lined sleeves, it’s less clammy. I’m a big fan of this layering too: zip hoodie and then a wool jacket. If it’s snowing, think about the Pacific Northwest, that’s why people wear wool. It’s forgiving in moisture.
Get The Blood Flowing
The most elusive of skate prep, stretching is just one of those things that we should all do, like eating greens or brushing your teeth.
Aaron Herrington: We should always be doing this no matter what, but stretching is amazing in the winter because our muscles are particularly tighter from the weather. Think about our bushings and our trucks, they’re always tighter when you try to skate in the winter. I think of my muscles and joints the same way, so I actually stretch more in the wintertime than I do in the summer. This is more on tour, and not so much in public, but when it’s cold out me and a couple of teammates will jokingly parkour around and get the blood flowing. Jumping jacks are great too. Find different ways of warming up that aren’t just grabbing the board and trying to do flip tricks.
Brian Anderson: I’ve always stretched, maybe because I’m tall and my back is always in need of straightening out. I always have to lie on the ground and straighten my spine out. Over the years I became hip to the foam roller, those things are pretty crucial. No matter how old you are, in the winter barometric pressure can make you feel more pain in your bones and the muscles around your bones. You gotta apply some pressure to your hips and vertebrae to relieve that in my opinion.
Gosha Konyshev: I don’t really stretch, I warm up more by pushing around and doing little tricks to get a feeling for the conditions. Depending on the weather I’m gonna skate differently so it’s better to get used to it first.
Have an alternative board set up
Think out of the box when it comes to setting up a board in the winter.
Brian Anderson: I love keeping a rainboard. Unless the streets are filled with a foot of slush, it’s always great to have a board that’s set aside for all seasons. I spray paint the top for aesthetics but I realize now that it seals off the veneers from foul weather a little too. I’ll wd40 the bearings once in a while, and I’ll even use a little olive oil. I picked that up one time when my bearings were all screwed up in Spain and I asked a restaurant for a side of olive oil [laughs].
Gosha Konyshev: I set up a board as I would normally. Softer wheels and a wider deck are more stable in snow and ice. For griptape, I staple a rubber doormat onto my deck as a replacement for snowskate grip because it’s too expensive to ship. Sometimes I just use that without regular grip underneath. That was more for the last winter part I put out. I like the extra grippy feeling so I don’t have to think about slipping. At some spots, I can’t even stand on the ground without slipping.
Aaron Herrington: If you are having trouble applying your griptape in the cold (the tape doesn’t stick well to boards when it’s too cold out), here’s a funny winter hack. I take a razor blade and score the top of the board, I’ll make these light deep cuts into the wood. That way the griptape has something to stick to other than the polished veneer. I do around 300 scratches. I score the board from nose to tail roughly 100 times, and I do the width of the board the same. Also, if I chip my board and the grip doesn’t tear off when I take my chip out, I’ll use crazy glue and fill in the chip.
This one is a no-brainer: covered spots or indoor parks are ideal. Anything under a bridge or parking garages will work too. Salt can be your friend.
Gosha Konyshev: Salt cleans a spot perfectly. If there is a lot of ice, I’ll get the cheapest salt, and the chemical reaction takes half a minute. Sometimes you can find free salt in the street. The salt trucks leave little piles here and there. Sometimes I’ll bring a brush because after you get rid of the ice, you need to clean any rocks that got mixed in off the spot. One time we had an idea to build a kicker out of snow. I built it for three days and added water to get it hard and icy so it wouldn’t break. I added water and snow, let it freeze over the snow, and then repeated it the next day.
Brian Anderson: I go to LES park because it’s wide open and it’s right by Labor Skate Shop. The brick ground is always great because you can slide out on your butt regardless of the temperature. If it’s really cold out, I’ll do some axle stalls and fakie rocks, and test it out with a fakie flip on flat. I got frostbite on my index fingers when I was younger working in a restaurant cutting tomatoes in the winter, and I also got mild frostbite camping while cleaning out my tent really early in the morning. My index fingers will turn white really easily, so I have to take my hands and put them in a fist inside my gloves to prevent my fingertips from going white. If they go white and start to turn yellow I really gotta put them in my armpits or go indoors. I think it’s a little bit of age but also my circulation.
Also, if you got a car it’s a whole other world. Bring a snow shovel in the trunk. Freddie [Gall] has a blow torch. Dig out a spot, dig out all the ice, and then fire up the propane tank and dry the whole spot out with a blow torch.
Your board is gonna get wet. It’s not the end of the world.
Aaron Herrington: If it’s lightly raining, or it’s wet outside, I’m not afraid to ride my cruiser board and skate around to look for spots, but I’m not gonna put on my hard wheels and go push through the rain like that Kyle Leeper clip where he’s skating in the rain. I skate a board for a while so I’m not super concerned if it gets dirty or damaged, I’ll skate chipped boards for a week or two. I don’t even believe in waterlogged boards, I don’t think that’s a thing, as long as you bring your board back inside and dry it out. It’s wood, houses are made out of wood, and they face the elements all the time. When I get home I try to mat my griptape with an old towel and then I put it next to my heater. Honestly, most would say that would warp your board but when it’s wet it’s not gonna warp it, it’s gonna dry it out.
Gosha Konyshev: Nothing really happens to your board in water. It gets dirty, but you can dry it. It won’t last forever but it works. There were times when it was difficult to get boards, but now everyone can get boards easier, so it’s normal to change boards more often. When we were kids it was scary to mess up your board, but after skating enough in bad weather, you realize that it doesn’t really hurt your board. I skated through the rain but my friends don’t. It’s funny. I can understand if you got an expensive board, sometimes I don’t want to ruin a nice set up so I have two.
Get inspired and work on other shit.
Aaron Herrington: When I was younger I was into indoor rock climbing and I’m starting to get into it again. I bought a membership at a gym and that’s how I’m gonna stay active this winter when I’m not skating. It’s fun, and you can kind of find lines like when you skate. I’m not gonna talk about climbing like I know all this shit about it because I don’t. If you have hobbies, winter is a great time to dive into them as well.
Brian Anderson: I just started playing guitar. I’ve always had an interest but I had an acoustic for many years and I just never got rid of it. Brad Staba gave it to me as a birthday present about 20 years ago. I just got an electric guitar and amp, so I’ve been learning chords and doing scales. It’s pretty awesome because I love to write. It’s been a year and a half since I’ve had alcohol or smoked cigs, so I was already writing in my sketchbook and journal for decades, and now I’m writing in a little different kind of way because I changed my way of living without alcohol.
Gosha Konyshev: I use my guitar as medicine. I also listen to music to relax. But I still stay involved in skateboarding as much as possible. We have a little factory, so if I’m not skating I’ll start to press decks and make veneers, molds, and shapes. I also help others film or edit footage.
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