The Kingpins of Skate

“That kid’s going to get killed.”

The precarious knot of traffic seemingly leaves no alternative for the Santiaguino youth whizzing by on nothing but a few maple planks dipped in polyurethane: a skateboard.

 Ignacio Gallo: Backside Tailslide (Photo by Americo Bastias)
Ignacio Gallo: Backside Tailslide (Photo by Americo Bastias)

Luckily, that kid probably won’t get killed. The kook-a-kook-a-kook of skaters, and their long-boarding cousins, echoes throughout the entire city, not just the locales relegated by city planning. They are equally at home on the streets, moving as if they had morphed into one of the motorcycles that weave through traffic alongside them, a skill acquired through the desperation of necessity, as they are in the parks, practicing tricks.

Americo Bastias from www.kingpin.cl spoke with us about general skate culture in Chile as well as what Kingpin means to the Chilean skating scene.

The name Kingpin references the bolt that attaches the truck (the metal axle for the uninitiated) to the deck. The project was founded in 2011. According to Bastias there’s one guiding force for the initiative: “We like to skate and we hope that everything we do has that stamp.”

 Revolver Love (Photo by Marianne Fuentealba)
Revolver Love (Photo by Marianne Fuentealba)

Kingpin aims to show what otherwise might be hard to find out about the skateboarding scene in Chile. Topics include videos featuring up and coming skaters, new spots, photographs, and skate news. It looks for the “B-side” or underground of Chilean skating.

In the United States, skating evolved from an underground offshoot of surfing to a consumerist frenzy dominated by the biggest brands and brightest stars. The cool-factor often comes from the gear and the culture that gear perpetuates. Obscure brands like Coda Skateboards and industry monoliths like DGK and Nike imbibe the culture with its defining flavor. Although globalization allowed Chile to import skateboarding itself from the United States, the incredible distances and tariffs between the two countries has stalled the importation of most brands and the consumerist trends associated with them.

 Photo by Americo Bastias
Photo by Americo Bastias

Perhaps Bastias’ sentiment “skating is in the streets” stems from this reality. It’s a youth movement with a rebellious-street identity. As of yet it is untainted by globalization, but mostly only because it really doesn’t have a choice. While purists may argue this is for the best, there is a downside. Bastias cedes that skating here is not as technically advanced as in the States. A part of this is the difficulty of exchange between the two countries; traveling from the United States to Chile just as long a distance for talented American skaters as it is for fresh new American products.

However, he points out that another issue may be a lack of practice spaces. There’re a few parks in Santiago, and none are really impossible to get to (Parque Bustamante is right next to the metro stop of the same name), but it seems a lack of spots to practice makes it difficult to elevate.

Despite these limitations, Bastias outlines a typical day of shredding in Santiago. “Usually it’s on the weekends. It begins with a nice, sunny day and a desire to skate through the center of the city with the goal of finding innovative ways to skate in Chile.”

You can find out about some of these spots on the Kingpin website here (http://kingpin.cl/spots).

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