About two weeks ago word came in from Steve Steinmetz that new generation Bay Area shredder Gene Steagall was coming to town — and that we should expect an edit and pics. Well, Steve didn’t mess around or make empty promises. With three solid shots and an edit that shows Gene laying down his repertoire on a mix of the city’s spots over two days, this Blade Life shines a light on the the up-and-coming talent today’s bay area crews are cultivating. Take note: the new Bomb Squad is set to, um… explode.
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Gene how long have you been rollerblading and where do you currently live?
I’ve been skating since 1999, and I’ve lived in San Jose, CA for the past two years. Who are the main people that you skate with in the bay area? I skate with a lot of different people around the bay. I like to skate with Matty Schrock, Victor Arias, Sneaky, Sean Keane, Bj Bernhardt and anyone else who is down to skate. They push their own limits and encourage the people around them to do the same. Instead of blading with a certain crew I like to mingle among the many bay area crews and skate with everyone that is down.
When you blade with various crews how does that affect your blading? Is there any differences between crews when you go out in the bay?
Actually, it affects my skating a lot. I find myself getting more juiced and it makes it easier to huck myself when others are doing the same kinds of tricks. When I am unsure of a trick or can’t picture landing it, my friends encourage me by telling me I can do something easily, which boosts my confidence and allows me to focus fully on proving to myself I can land the stunt. Every crew is different in the bay and they all skate differently. Crews like JSF and Flithjuice are stunt oriented and other crews are always finding the new spots. I like the diversity of blading styles in the different crews — there’s always something new to skate and everyone will look at spots differently.
Do you feel that kind of encouragement has been a key to your success as one of the more stunt-oriented bladers in the bay?
Yeah, I do feel it has been a factor in my recent skating. I have a lot of internal motivation to do these tricks. I like that feeling of landing a trick that I have never done. That feeling and excitement is what fuels my fire. I also want to make a name for myself. Having my name come up when people talk about what tricks have been done on a big spot like the Deer Valley drop rail is another motivation. I like to one-up whatever has been done on a particular spot and prove that harder tricks can still be landed.
What gives you that focus and drive when you want to do a difficult stunt?
My focus comes from visualization. When I come up to a big spot I first visualize what tricks I can actually do on that spot. Then I go from my “safe tricks” and try to think of something that I would really be happy with on that spot. The drive comes from wanting to land that trick so bad at that moment that everything else gets blocked from my mind except landing that trick safely.
Visualization is extremely important when trying something difficult. Can you explain to the readers your visualization technique? Do you think about body movement, foot placement, that feeling before you lock, or is it more of a POV-type of visualization.
The visualization and realizing what could go wrong really help boost my focus. When I visualize myself doing something, it usually plays in a POV-type of video in my head before I try it. Everything you mentioned is really important in visualizing. I try to imagine the things that have the highest chances of going wrong and I try to think of how I will react to that type of fall. I imagine how jumping onto the lock would feel and try to find the right balance and speed I will need for that trick. All that together really gives me a preview of what I’m really going to try. Sometimes this visualization of my tricks happens before I even put on my skates.
Does the same process hold true for the various technical switch-ups and exits off the tricks?
Most of my switch-ups are more muscle memory and the same with my spins out of tricks. Sometimes I need to spin out of tricks to make them work because my weight is a certain way. Other times I just go with whatever landing will feel the best.
How do you come up with your more technical switch-ups; is there some kind of method to the madness?
I usually try to think of switch-ups that work with my tricks and the way that I prefer to spin. I like to think of new ones myself by stalling them on a crack in the ground when I’m wearing shoes. I also study other skaters switch-ups. I really look up to Korey Waikiki, Victor Arias and Josiah Blee for their switch-up superpowers.
Word. Those dudes are amazing! So who do you currently look up in blading? Do you have an older blader mentor that helps you out?
I looked up to a lot of people when I was growing up. I looked up to Pat Lennen, Bj Bernhardt, Brian Shima, Casey Bagozzi, Scott Moore, Vinny Minton, Joey Chase and Chris Haffey. Bj Bernhardt is my blader mentor — he is always juicing me up to push myself and is just all around the best dude!
Bj Bernhardt has always been an amazing blader. Glad to see that he’s still inspiring a younger generations of bladers to push themselves. How else have you been been pushing yourself lately outside of blading?
Yeah, he’s still really got love for blading! It’s sick! Lately I’ve been on the academic side of things. I’m in my last semester at SJSU and I’m about to graduate in December with my B.A. in marketing. It has been a long time coming but it feels good to finally see the finish line!
Do you feel like the education you have gotten through blading has helped you in your academic life and this transition into getting your B.A.?
It has helped in a way, but it’s definitely not the same type of motivation. The focus does help though — it keeps my eyes on the prize even if I think I can’t get through it. So yeah, I guess blading has helped me with the motivation to finish school so I can skate more when it’s done, and before I start looking for a career.
Balance is a key to staying on point when landing tricks but how do you balance school, work, social life and still find time to blade?
I just try to keep my priorities inline! Skating means a lot to me but school always has to come first until I graduate. I usually find myself skating on the weekends mainly. I work at Aggressivemall.com so that helps add more skating into my life. It’s hard to balance everything but I just try to go with the flow.
How long have you worked at Aggressivemall.com and what do you do there?
I’ve worked there on-and-off for the past three years. I am now responsible for producing and editing all their videos for Youtube and Instagram. They give me full creative control so it’s really nice to turn my own visions into reality and see the response they get. I always try to progress and try new things when making an edit. All the guys in the warehouse are super chill and it’s always a good work atmosphere. There is always something new buzzing, whether it’s a new edit or new product. I really enjoy working for them and it’s always nice to have access to any part I need quickly.
That’s awesome. So when you’re not blading, working at Amall, or studying for school, what do you do on your time off?
I like to hike a lot and take photos. I like to go on adventures to new places where not everyone goes. I like to hang out with my girlfriend. I’m always looking for new places to go or trying to plan mini road trips to go camping.
Road trips like your very impromptu trip to Southern California with your girlfriend. How was it skating in San Diego? What was your favorite part of that trip?
San Diego was sick! I didn’t have a favorite spot, but it was all amazing to skate and see. I’d say my favorite part of the trip was trying surfing in Oceanside with my girlfriend. Also just chillin’ by the beach and exploring a new area.
Yeah, that’s that Southern California lifestyle we get to enjoy. What does the future hold for Gene Steagall?
I’d like to get a job in the marketing field soon after I graduate. I hope to travel more for skating before I have to start a career. Most of all I just need to make enough money to support my skating and lifestyle. I don’t need anything fancy though.
Awesome, I think those are all great goals to have for your future. So you said earlier that you have been blading since ’99! What first got you into blading as a kid and what kept you coming back?
I can’t say what really got me into blading. I remember I tried a pair of skates from a friend and then a skatepark opened like a mile from my house. It’s the thrill of doing new tricks and progressing that keeps me going. It’s also given me some of my best friends.
Yeah, Belmont skatepark — I remember those days! Gene, you have become one of the up and coming legendary bladers from the bay by doing stunts that rival an era of blading that some people only see get to see on Youtube. Your dedication to progression through pushing yourself to your mental and physical ability is unmatched and unflinching. Always down to huck yourself, get creative, or do something technical. Any final thoughts and or shout outs?
Hell yeah, thanks so much man! That means a lot! I’d like to thank my parents and whoever has supported me. I also gotta give a shout out to Aggressivemall.com for giving me a great job and Razors! And I’d like to thank ONE magazine for giving me this opportunity! Peace!
Interview, Photos and Edit by Steve “I did it my way” Steinmetz