Taking It To The Street for the Love of Skateboarding

Ryan Chisholm at the SYS Skate Park. Michael Heller photos
Ryan Chisholm at the SYS Skate Park. Michael Heller photos
Ryan Chisholm at the SYS Skate Park. Michael Heller photos

By Gavin Menu

Patrick Chisholm filmed his first full length “part” as a bona fide street skater in 2014. The standard-length four-minute clip shows the then 12 year-old from Sag Harbor ripping rails at Marine Park, leaping the length of monumental stairs at the Old Whalers Church and sliding from the back roof of Sen Restaurant to the concrete below.

Clearly this is not a pursuit for the weak at heart.

Patrick grew into the sport alongside his older brother, Ryan, a rising senior at Pierson High School who at the age of 17 reigns supreme at the Southampton Town skate park near the Southampton Youth Services building in North Sea. But while their roots are local, the energy of a street skater, the brothers soon learned, is fueled not by tony side streets in the Hamptons, but in the urban sprawl of New York City, where every rail, staircase, platform and monument is a potential target for these daring skaters.

“It’s much more exciting,” Ryan said about skating in the city, where he has produced videos alongside friend Jeremy Egosi of them skating the stairs of St. Patrick’s Cathedral before a sea of tourists, through subway tunnels and below the iconic Brooklyn Bridge. “You’re mixing skateboarding with culture, which is pretty cool. It’s harder in the streets because it’s not perfect so you have to be concentrated and confident because there’s a fear factor.”

Patrick agrees the sport can be grueling at times.

“I take ice baths sometimes if I get too sore,” said the now 14 year-old. “It is really physical and I’m a lot younger than Ryan, so I’ll probably start feeling what he’s feeling when I’m his age. He spent two years of his life with a boot on his foot. I broke my foot. That part of it is not so much fun.”

XO Cover Summer 2016 FINALStreet skating first came to popularity in the early 1980s, when skaters broke free from the confines of drained out pools and fenced-in parks for the open streetscapes of New York, Los Angeles and other urban areas. Still, when most people think about skateboarding their vision drifts to ramps and half pipes, where skaters like Tony Hawk rose to fame in vert skateboarding.

The Chisholm brothers, meanwhile, are quick to correct anyone who thinks their pursuit is chasing the likes of Hawk or other big air skaters, who make a living on ramps rather than roads.

“This is street skating,” says Patrick. “It’s more technical. You have to flip the board more, grind more.

“When you start out you learn ollies and kick flips and you can kind of set forth from there,” he continued. “You get the foot placement right for an ollie and then you learn the 180 and then you just have to turn your hips and do a kick flip and put the 180 together and build from there.”

Both Ryan and Patrick were sponsored locally by Wampum, a shop in Bridgehampton , and they continue to search for new sponsors. Patrick, in particular, plans to follow in Ryan’s footsteps during the coming years and compete in big street skating tournaments in New York City, with dreams of one day competing alongside the likes of Nyjah Huston, the reigning Street League Skateboarding champion, or Paul Rodriguez, also known as P-Rod, who admitted to sleeping with his skateboards as a child. The Chisholm brothers seem to share a similar love for skating the streets.

“The way to make it in street skating is you have to film a part, make a four-minute video and send it to companies, get sponsors, get coverage in skating magazines,” said Patrick, who has been more active with competition of late since Ryan also plays baseball and is turning his attention toward college. “And then, eventually, there’s big street competitions for the top pros.”

“A buddy of mine has started a skateboard company and he wants to bring me on, so I’m going to start to skate a lot again,” Ryan added during a break at the town park earlier this month. “For now,” he added, looking around at the park, which is in need of repairs but has all the necessary obstacles, “this is all we’ve got. And honestly, I love it.”