Austyn Gillette is often a breath a fresh air—drawing unique, high-speed lines across the course and hammering out some more undercover sleeper hits like his lengthwise Hubba vault and switch backside noseblunt on the down ledge in Brazil. The day after his 26-hour-assorted-flights return from Foz do Iguaçu, I caught up with Austyn to get his take on the first international Street League at X Games stop. —Mackenzie Eisenhour
How was your Brazil trip?
It was cool. Whenever you go to those events you get to hang out with people you don’t usually get to hang out with. Some people live in New York or wherever and you live out west—everybody is kind of split up so it’s cool to hang out with the people you might not see otherwise. I’m slowly starting to get used to it, but it’s definitely not like a skate trip where you are out in the streets soaking in the culture. Actually though, this was probably the only time I’ll ever do this in my life, but we got to go up in the helicopter over the waterfalls. The falls are basically the border for Argentina and Brazil. That was amazing. Besides that even the locals were telling me I wasn’t seeing the real Brazil. I definitely want to see the real Brazil at some point but without a 26-hour flight.
What did you fly through? How come it took so long?
I don’t know why it was set up the way it was. I’ll just tell you about the return flights. I missed my flight leaving Sunday due to being hungover. Then went to the airport and ended up having to buy a whole new ticket for the next day. Ended up going out that night again, getting two hours of sleep, then getting to the airport four hours early because it was my only ride. Then fly from Foz de Iguaçu to Rio de Janeiro for a four-hour layover. Fly from there to Santiago, Chile for a three-hour layover. Then Santiago, Chile to Lima, Peru, which is a four-and-a-half hour flight. Had a two-hour layover there. Then a nine-and-a-half-hour flight from Lima to Los Angeles.
Yeah. I’ve flown a lot over the past few years. I could have flown to Australia and back in less time than it took me to get home.
At least you can add another four countries to your list of made-its.
Yeah. If being in the airport counts, I guess that is one upside.
Does the international aspect change things? Were the crowds different?
I think they were just more excited. I think they don’t really get these types of events too often down there, especially in Foz, so I think they probably appreciated it more.
How do you approach these things? Do you plan it out or just kind of feel it out when you get there?
I guess I kind of feel it out when I get there, I would say. I definitely practice before I go to any of them. I’ll throw myself down some stairs—which I don’t usually do by choice too often, but as a skateboarder these days you kind of have to. If you don’t, you kind of get forgotten nowadays. I practice on stuff that’s probably half the size. I guess I train my mind how to learn how to stick stuff.
“I practice on stuff that’s probably half the size. I guess I train my mind how to learn how to stick stuff.”
Was that three-stair pretty big in person?
It was probably as tall as me. So let’s round up and say six-foot which is probably a 10 or 11-stair. So not huge, but definitely not something mellow when somebody points a finger at you and tells you you’re live and your skating in front of millions of people. That’s the hard part for me. I can usually block that stuff out of my mind and be in the moment.
Did you know you were going to ollie the Hubba?
I didn’t. I didn’t know until I was up there. I looked at it once we got up to the Impact Section. It worked out. I didn’t know what I was getting into but I just kind of held it out and then realized I had gotten over.
You only tried that one and made it?
Yeah. I didn’t skate the Impact Section at all during practice or before we got up there.
You had the 360 nollie too—the Reynolds.
Yeah. That one worked out too.
I thought the switch back noseblunt kind of came out of nowhere. Had you done that before?
Yeah. I had done it on skatepark Hubbas. But it’s usually not something consistent. I tried it anyways and it worked out.
Another question I have been asking people—I don’t know if it changed anything but this was the first outdoors SLS stop. Did that change anything? Sunshine versus the air-conditioned arenas?
You could smoke. I was kind of nice though. For the first two days most of us had our shirts off for the most part. From P-Rod, who you never see with his shirt off, to Dylan (Rieder) and Ishod (Wair). It was good though. I like being outdoors. There were less people watching too. With Street League stops in the US there must be 20,000 people attending. This seemed a little smaller.
Is it still nerve-wracking?
It’s less nerve-wracking than it was last year for me.