Sammy Optiks: Set Your Own Standards
We met Sammy Optiks on a Wednesday night in Amsterdam just before Winterclash. The energetic and friendly Englishman was on hand at Café de Kroegtijger for our JUST BLADE 2 screening, and quick to lead us out into the night for further adventures once that was wrapped. That night we learned a good deal about his history with the English scene, as well as his impending wheel release from Lade Goods. We managed to keep in touch since then, angling for some photos in order to do a profile… and that’s just what we’ve done. Steven Steinmetz met up with Sammy in Amsterdam for a quick session (see above) and wrote these questions, while Owen Peters and Sammy teamed up back in the UK for the rest of these shots. We think you’ll agree it’s another solid BLADE LIFE worth learning more about. Enjoy!
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What up, Sammy! Great to talk to you again! Congratulations on your new pro wheel from LADE Products!
Hello Steve, yeah, good talking again — was great to catch up at Winterclash this year!
Tell the readers where you are from and how long have you been blading?
For the readers that do not know me, my name is Sammy Optiks, I am thirty-four years young and have been skating pretty much my whole life, and skating aggressively for the last fifteen plus years. I have grown up in Leeds, West Yorkshire, and I currently reside in Manchester. I roll for Lade wheels, Death wax, omg inline media, and Sliqx anti-rockers.
How is the blading scene there?
Manchester has a fantastic blade scene, and such a high level of skating. I skate mostly with Matty Vella, Rob Dalton, Alex Burston, Brett Davies, Lee Devereux, Johnny Quale, and the list of talent goes on. And since moving here seven months ago, the Manchester scene has welcomed me with open arms.
And as for growing up in Leeds, we also had a great scene. Yorkshire, in general, is built up of little towns and cities close to each other, so when I refer to the scene in Leeds it really consists of heads from all over Yorkshire. There is some major talent: Rich Breeds, Mark Binge, Jemz, Form York, Blade life Gregg, Matt Keaton from Halifax, Joe Atkinson from Ponty, and myself from Leeds. The scene has changed over the years, but there are a lot of young kids skating in the Leeds area now which is great to see. They do a Wednesday night skate weekly that is always a good session, and fun to see the younger bladers out in force pushing our sport!
You have been consistently putting out content on Instagram, and you dropped an edit recently that was all street skating. A unique departure from the current culture we see on social media of mostly park skating. How do you find your spots and choose your tricks when skating street?
Thank you. I’m so picky I annoy myself when it comes to choosing clips and edits to put out on social media. For the last three months, I haven’t been able to skate as much as I wanted due to the poor English weather. I have also had some bad injuries, so I haven’t been able to push myself and film as much as I wanted.
Park skating is not my thing. I have nothing against it, and I enjoy it sometimes, but I don’t enjoy skate park as much as I enjoy street skating. I have grown up skating street. I feel like rollerblading is all about being outdoors and exploring, finding new spots, new challenges and being creative. There are no perfect spots up north, so you make do with what you see, and work out a way to skate it. In my opinion that’s half the fun.
Most of the time, I skate around till I find something that makes me think I could do something that would look dope. I feel like if I skate a perfect spot, like for instance the classic Stockport ledges, everything has already been done there, which makes it harder to film something unique. I like to search out new spots, or a spot that I can only do a few tricks on, this way I only need to land one of those tricks in my mind to get satisfaction and a clip I am proud of.
What do you feel are the advantages of riding anti-rocker when street skating? Have you always ridden anti-rocker?
I love skating both flat and anti. It is not like I have a set trick in mind and then decide that a flat set up would be better. I feel that sometimes I have to switch up my skating to keep it fresh. For example, some people change their dress, or modify their trick vocabulary. One month you may want to skate hammer tricks, then the next month it’s all bout curbs and getting tech. I feel if you have been skating for a good length of time you are constantly looking for new ways to make things feel fresh or looking for new challenges.
For instance, I feel that if you are having a bad skate for a week or two, then you are not skating the right style and need to switch it up till you find what fits. So yes, sometimes I like to change my setup, switch my style by using a different frame or wheel size. Maybe try a new skate. It depends on how I feel and what I have available. The main feel for me is a solid skate with minimum sound. I am really enjoying skating the Triggers right now, as they feel solid and have a good flex to them, plus they look dope. I switch it up when I feel it needs to change.
Street skating is hard on our wheels, especially in the streets of the UK with rougher roads and sidewalks. You said you are riding Sliqx anti rockers so is that why you choose a 59mm 88a profile for your Pro Model LADE products wheel to make it an anti-rocker setup?
I like a 55-62mm ratio for my wheel setup. 60mm is my favorite size and Lade offered me 59mm. The main thing I wanted in my signature wheel was a softer feel. I have always enjoyed skating a softer wheel, especially when skating street — the sound and the cushion they provide along with the grip feels great, even on the rugged streets of the UK. My signature wheel is 59mm 88a with a fresh Sammy Optiks Kool Kat graphic!
Tell the readers about that graphic like how you came up with it and what it means to you? You chose a unique color scheme too!
There are very few companies that pay attention to up-coming talent, so I feel it is important to promote yourself and your skating as much as possible, and that’s what my Kool Kat represents. I felt that I needed a way to promote myself, to push myself, and I needed to create an image to represent me as my own, regardless of sponsors. Rollerblading now a days has so many different styles, and the people who participate in our sport have a huge variety of categories to follow and feel a part of. I think this is amazing, and to have grown up around this culture and see how diverse the sport has become, I feel blessed. But I think no matter what side of rollerblading you are on, or enjoy the most, or what skill level you are at, having a goal and something to push your own self, something to work for is key. My logo is just a means for me to better myself. It is a symbol of my skating, even if a company chooses to sponsor me and I use the logo, the symbol still represents me. If I moved sponsors the logo is still me regardless. I designed it so I could always have something to work for, and something to associated with my skating, so it would be more recognizable.
The color scheme for the wheel is unique as well. I wanted a splat of vibrant colors, mainly something that would stand out and was a little different to the standard designs that already exist. Plus being a ‘90s kid, I wanted a kind of old school feel to the design something fresh.
What can we look forward to seeing in the future from you, Sammy? Do you have any plans on traveling for an upcoming section or heading to any competitions in the future?
I’m always down for traveling, meeting new people, and skating new spots! In my opinion, that is what rollerblading is all about! As far as competing in competitions, it’s not my thing. I have never been into competitions. In that atmosphere my skating feels forced. However, I love watching and being part of the vibe. Supporting my friends that do compete. That being said, I will definitely be at most of the UK jams this summer and will be returning to Winterclash again next year.
For the rest of this year, I think I will be heading back to Barcelona in the next few months for a few weeks to chill with the crew, relax, and skate. Hopefully film some new stuff. I plan to let things naturally evolve for the rest of the year, enjoy skating my signature wheel, and pray for good weather!
Just mega love to everyone I skate with, all the people that have already ordered my wheel. Thank you. Big up to Lade products, Death Wax, Sliqxs uk, and omg inline media for showing me love and helping me push myself. Love to the home brew and those close to me. And big up ya self, ONE mag, and every other platform out there putting out rollerblading content. Skate and enjoy, don’t sweat on what others do, push yourself to be better!
Interview by Steve Steinmetz
Photos by Owen Peters and Steve Steinmetz