Cameron Talbott and the Rise of the Grassroots Amateur
In the heyday of what was then called “Aggressive Inline Skating” there was a natural order of things: you placed well in local competitions, got some flow sponsorships, and then maybe, just maybe, you’d land yourself a spot on the am team. Ever hopeful for that professional promotion and the end all be all definition of success, signature product.
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Those days are over. There are no circuits, no points accumulated, and only a few serious up-and-coming amateurs to speak of. Anyone can upload an edit to YouTube, and gain some respect. However, companies within the industry don’t really have enough green to rationalize promoting more than a few of their seasoned pros, let alone novices that might not even be that marketable.
Today, there is a new genus of go-getters. Bladers that find a way to contests, produce fantastic online material, and scrape by at some job just so they can show the world what they have to offer. People like Tony Rivituso, Adam Bazydlo, and Brian Bina are grinding tough and making it look good. Through proper networking and raw talent, these dudes have been making waves throughout the industry and showing everyone how it is done. It’s not a glamorous lifestyle but they’ve risen from their respective base cities in Las Vegas, Atlanta and Chicago to create this classification of “grassroots” amateurs.
Cameron has been doing this better than most for quite some time. He goes real hard at everything he does: works a job in nursery, walks his heeler, plays basketball on Missoula’s recreation league, blades with Kellan, and is about to represent blading at Evil Kinevil Days in Butte, Montana. He’s a humble, fun-loving dude that has been representing his sponsors hard since the day they picked him up. Making a slew of online edits every year since his first coverage in Daily Bread’s Coming Up in 2004, Cameron has been hawking his laid-back attitude and blading everywhere he goes.
While speaking with Cameron, we discussed the idea of what might motivate a young person to pursue blading beyond everyday recreation. Today’s professionals hardly make enough (if any) money to live off of and the most anyone can hope for is a flight to competition. So, with the main tender being free product, what do these aspiring amateurs have to push them? It’s a whole new beast and an overwhelming one at that. You pile up your array of tricks, fine tune your style, get a solid filmer to document your moves, and, in the end, you might not receive much more than some recognition from the global online masses.
In an industry with little cash flow to speak of, what can companies offer in return for premium video content? If you blade hard enough and work well with people, you could possibly land a team manager position or design job with your respective sponsor and that’s where some real change can be made. Bladers working with their sponsors to make the company better. Young minds producing fresh marketing and creating new rollerbladers.
And in case you missed it, here’s the latest edit Cameron put together for his wheel sponsor, Circolo. Props to them for supporting a rad blading individual…
Photos by Brian Sorg and Alex Sugiri
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I just had to respond to Cameron’s article with something of my own. Such a good insight! Loved this article!
“As being a sponsored amateur with a signature pro product in the market, I find my self motivation to come from within. No matter if the ranks change and I get pro status on all my sponsors, it will not change me. I will always try to improve myself and work towards that goal that I set in mind when I was young. It’s something that will never leave my head. I still will approach it how I do now. Constantly progressing, meeting new people, and sharing this passion that I love. I don’t need money rollerblading. I would love to have it and make it my full time job, but in today’s world the demand isn’t there. However, I will still continue to skate at the level until I can’t. I am so grateful for what rollerblading, and my sponsors have given me in my lifetime.
A conversation spiked this evening that involved “where would your life have gone without rollerblading?” I responded one word “nowhere”. It gave me everything, friendships, life lessons, drama, heartbreak, pain, happiness, and most of all passion. Rollerblading owes me nothing. I owe it everything……sorry for the sentimental shit haha