Torey Pudwill is one of a handful of skaters that’s managed to remain in SLS since the beginning. Being a veteran gives him an interesting perspective on the contest and what it represents. 2017 is a special year for Torey in SLS. He had an injury that sidelined him for most of the 2016 season but he came back strong this year. His effort took him all the way to the Super Crown World Championship. We caught up with Pudwill to get his thoughts on the spectacular year that he’s having and how he went about pulling off such an amazing comeback. One thing is for sure, Torey will be going all in in Los Angeles on September 15.
What’s it been like skating SLS after coming back from your injury last year?
At first it was just kind of weird getting back in the mix with all the changes, additions, and progression. In the beginning, it was intimidating. I was sort of intimidated to skate my best. Then I sort of started getting my contest groove back. Sometime around mid-season, I started to get my confidence back. I knew that I could do better in the contest. As my confidence built, it was like, “ok, I’m back. I don’t need to doubt that anymore. I can now skate my best at these contests.” It went from being intimidated, to building my confidence, to ok, I’m doing better. I’m going to these SLS contests able to skate my best.
How did it feel to be back in the arena in front of a huge crowd after taking a year off?
It feels good being in the arena. You’re not thinking about that when you’re actually skating the contest. You show up and it’s really cool being in the arena. It’s really quiet until it’s game time. Once it’s game time—and the contest starts—that’s when you feel that shock and the impact of the crowd and start realizing why you’re there. But to me it’s not about competing against all your friends. You’re there supporting skateboarding and all of the people that are there supporting skating. It’s a really good feeling having the energy and the crowd together. You don’t get that all of the time. If you’re skating the streets, doing a signing, or a demo, you’re not going to get that energy. You don’t want to force yourself to skate a contest when you just want to go skate. So the energy of the crowd is good. Just that feeling of this is for us, all eyes on us. This is our court, let’s play.
After taking a year off and coming back in with a fresh perspective, are you approaching the contest any differently this year?
I’d say just kind of getting my groove back this year. I somewhat found a way to compete and actually care about what I’m doing in a contest. I’m not so worried and feeling like I don’t know what to do. Before, I wasn’t really sure about what would score what I needed. So I would just go for it. Now, it’s like, “ok, I’m at a contest, I need to be focussed on that goal. I’ll see what the other dudes are doing.” Now, I need to figure out and know what it’s going to take to actually make it to the Finals. That last contest when I was on the line to qualify for the Super Crown, I was like, “ok, it’s not about winning the comp. It’s about staying focussed so I can make it into this next round and be able to make it into the Super Crown.” Having a strategy is new to me. It’s important to have a game plan going into the contest, thinking about what could happen in any scenario, and already knowing how it could go.
Did you expect to make it to the Super Crown? Coming back from an injury and going all the way to the championship is pretty awesome.
I had a goal. I wanted to make it to the Super Crown. I didn’t know how possible that was until I actually saw that there was potential. Once I saw that there was a chance, I knew that this was something that I was going to try to make happen. Not that I actually practiced or trained for it, but I wanted to take it seriously. I didn’t want to just compete for the sake of competing. I wanted to do well just for myself. I just wanted to be in the mix and let everyone know that I’ve been doing this for a while now – but I’m still doing it.
You have been doing it for a while. You’re a veteran of SLS. How has the contest changed and progressed since you’ve been competing?
It’s changed in a lot of ways for sure. The changes have benefitted the goal of coming up with the truest way to judge a skate contest. Changing the format, changing the courses so that they’re not so sectioned off. And having it set up so that everyone can do what they do and it’s not just a big gap and a rail—they’ve done a lot with the changes to the designs of the course. It got difficult a couple of years into it. I’d say that it started off a little bit easier. The way they have it now is the most fair way that skaters can compete. You’re putting these points on skate tricks. Let’s be a little more realistic here. How does that make sense? It’s taken a lot of time to sort of nail that. There’s no dictionary that says, “this is how you run a skate contest. This is how you give people the points. SLS had to create that. With the scoring system and all the changes they’ve made, it’s actually a really comfortable legit contest. Before, it was like an anxiety attack. Now it’s a little bit more laid back. You can skate the way you want to skate instead of it being, “man, I’m forced to skate SLS and this shit is going to be tough because I can’t skate everything and Nyjah’s going to win because he can.”
How’s it been skating with the new blood? Yuto and Dashawn came in hot. What’s it like having these ams come in and shake things up a bit?
It’s a shock seeing these dudes at the top of the league. The way that SLS has progressed skating in the last seven years has inspired those dudes to skate the way they skate. The consistency, just throwing a trick out there and going for it has progressed the way people skate and look at skating. It has for me, especially at the contest. It’s completely different when you skate street. The battle becomes different when you’re trying to film a trick. It’s cool to see their hunger, doing tricks at a contest first try that you’ve never seen before. Skateboarding wasn’t like that before SLS started. So it’s really cool to see. You’ve got dudes that have been in this for a while. You’ve got dudes that aren’t in it anymore. And then you’ve got these dudes that aren’t even pro at the top of the league. It’s like, “ok, where do I fit into this now. I’ve gotta keep progressing my lane.” I’m from a prior generation. I’ve been hungry. I’ve been fed. I’ve made it. These dudes are trying to get their chance. SLS has given them that shine. So it’s dope that it inspires all ams, all kids that wanna get sponsored. You wanna be a part of the game? Dude, go for it because you can end up in SLS. Those dudes did it coming out of Arizona and Japan. You can be from anywhere and make it happen if you want.
You’ve accomplished so much in skating from going pro, to having signature products, to having your own brand. How high is winning Super Crown on your list of career goals?
To me, it’s like contests can go either way. To take it to the top and actually win a contest, it just depends on if it’s good day or not, even for the other guys. The way I look at it is that I got a chance to be in SLS. I got chosen to remain in the league for this long. Regardless of if I lose or if I win, being in SLS is an accomplishment. To win SLS, would just be a bonus. It doesn’t mean as much to me as it might other people. What it does mean is that I care about all of the people that support me and have put in the energy to help me get this far. I’m never going to be the dude that’s not going to show up. I’m there. Win, lose or draw, you just can’t give up.
Do you do anything to prepare for these contests, especially Super Crown?
Dude, I do absolutely nothing to prepare for the contest. I might skate Biebel’s park for a couple of days. But that’s what I do anyway. It’s more like when I’m there, I’ve gotta do what I’ve gotta do to have my body ready for it. You can’t be mentally ready for anything if you physically can’t handle it. Trying to really feel 110 percent is the preparation that’s going to get me to skate the best in the contest. I don’t like skating skateparks, especially new ones. So it’s more so about, “can I handle this course or is it going to beat me up.”
You’ve been there all year and are skating Super Crown. If you were placing a bet, who would you say is going to go all the way this year?
It’s tough to say because it comes down to the course. The guys regardless of the course that got a shot at it that I think are in there are Shane O’Neill and Nyjah. I’d like to say Evan Smith. He’s a winner in my book. But he won’t be there. I know Nyjah’s hungry. He’s hungry every contest. He doesn’t hold himself back in the least. He’s fully committed to win. And that’s the attitude to have. It’s really who’s committed to win this thing. It could be me. It could be Nyjah. It could be anyone.
After Super Crown, what do you have going on for the rest of 2017 and the start of 2018?
I just have a really busy schedule when it comes down to work on Grizzly and also just filming for my other sponsors. I’ve got an X Games Real Street part in the works. I’m just going to keep continuing to connect with all the skaters and try to travel so that I can be there supporting the movement that’s there right now. And pretty much just continuing to skateboard. I’m going to keep progressing. I just want to keep skating. That’s what I want to do.