Veterans of Vert - Brian Wainwright
Brian Wainwright is the reigning champion of vertical roller skating. This multidiscipline skater combines his love of quads and skateboards to create the ultimate skating style. His style is defined by smooth airs, infinite spins, grinds, and slides and his "desire to go big, skate powerfully and fast." We catch up with Brian to find out more about his incredible career on quads.
What drew you to aggressive quad skating?
I was drawn in by what was known at the time as "Vertical Roller Skating." I'd loved to ride skates on occasion but did not get my skates until, as a skateboarder, I started seeing pictures of Kenny Means, Fred Blood, Duke Rennie, Pete Stewart, Randy Staleker, Greg Oneal, Dale Calvert and others in Skateboarder Magazine. It just looked cool, and I wanted to try it!
Was the progression from Skateboarding to Quads natural?
Yes, I was excited about it, and it felt good right from the start. I've always switched back and forth a lot. In the beginning, I rode in a parallel stance. For several years when I'd first started roller skating, we had just begun to have vert ramps to ride, and I had not transitioned my skateboarding onto vert so I just really concentrated on my roller skating. Now they coexist very peacefully and fuel each other.
What are your favorite moves?
Carving concrete bowls, beyond that Frontside grinds, Tweaked backside airs, 540°'s, Airs to Fakie, Fakie frontside 360° grinds
What trick unnerves you the most?
540°'s on concrete.
Can you tell us about some skaters who inspired you?
Duke Rennie, Fred Blood alongside others featuring in the Skateboarding magazine. When I got to watch Jack Kent skate at Marina Del Ray, it made total sense, and I began to try and skate side stance after that. Skateboarding in general. Micky and Steve Alba were early heroes, Christian Hosoi, Lance Mountain, and Jeff Phillips style and approach among others guided me through the '80s.
Were there many female skaters who have stood out to you over the years?
I believe I saw a few pictures of Becky Howe in Skateboarder Magazine; I had a postcard of Becky hitting the cones in Venice side stance, a friend that visited California in '84 sent that to me. I didn't find out it was Becky until just recently. After years of riding, when I started meeting other people from around the east coast, I heard about Delourdes Booker from some friends that used to ride the Get-A-Way Skatepark in Huntsville, Alabama. (Google it, you will be amazed) They told me about her charging the 3/4 capsule and getting way up there in the over vert! A little later, I started hearing stories about Irene Ching; years after that, I got to meet and skate with her on several occasions. Irene rips! It has been a pleasure to know her and get to skate together once in a while.
"My goal was to share vertical roller skating with as many as possible."
What is the highlight of your skating career so far?
My four championship titles; 1987, 1988, 1989. I broke my leg in my final qualifying run in 1990 and came back in 1991 to win again. The sponsorship of these events was pretty thin, so the reward was more about the accomplishment, the good times with other skaters and getting to travel around Europe. The highlight happened years later when I hit the road full-time in '98 - '01 with the Van's Warped Tour around the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia. During that time, I was fortunate enough to be a visiting Pro at Camp Woodward in Pennsylvania and travel with Chris Edwards and his gang of happy bladers on the D-Tour for several years. When I wasn't officially touring, I did my best to hit the road on my own. My goal was to share Vertical Roller Skating with as many as possible.
What was it like to skate at a competition of that level?
It was a real thrill, meeting skaters from all over and seeing their styles. I would get pretty nervous before my runs, but after the first couple of walls, you get into a groove. It was always a real treat to ride with so many other roller skaters and be at the same event as so many of my skateboard heroes.
Who was your biggest competition at these events?
The first three years I would have to say, Jimi Scott, after that, guys like Thomas Kalak, Martin Broich, Jay Tubb, Marcos Longares & Rene Hulgreen were bringing the heat.
What do you think has changed from the sports last peak to its current state?
Most people I see now are riding in a parallel stance. I think they are missing out on the carving sensation that is available when riding side stance. Getting low and powering through a carve is fabulous! Having a distinct frontside and backside as well as fakie (or switch) adds to greater possibilities and distinction between tricks. Kenny Means showed us the way, and for pool, park and vert skating, it works well!
What do you hope for the future of this sport?
I would love to see it continue to grow and push the limits of what is possible on skates. I want to see products designed and manufactured, enabling greater access to the gear needed to push those limits. I think it is fascinating to see so much interest growing, everybody adds their flavor, and that makes roller skating more and more enjoyable.
What keeps you motivated to keep skating?
I still have a whole lot of fun when I skate. When I am on my way to the park or sometimes even the day before, I get that giddy excited feeling, and I can't wait to ride! We have a new park in Apex, NC, that is great. I also really enjoy the Marsh Creek park in Raleigh because it is deeper and steeper. There are several backyard spots around the area that I like as well.
"Be ready to get beaten up a bit, stick with it, and you'll be rewarded with fun!"
Keep up to date with Brian's latest movements:
Youtube Living Dead Skates
Brian's Previous Interviews