Ben Carter Interview

Ben Carter, Carousel
Ben Carter, Carousel

When you think of ‘kids that skate good’ in freestyle, you probably first think of places like Japan and Romania. Well, the UK is now also harbouring young talent – and I thought it important to first of all give recognition to their achievements and ability, and second to try to get an idea of what might make freestyle hit a bit more with the younger generation.
Ben Carter, 14, from Bristol is a newcomer to freestyle, and the rate of his progression has been hard to ignore. The types of tricks he’s landing and sequencing together are no small feat given his short time on the board so far. Ben gave up some of his skating time to talk to us, so we could try to get an idea of why, and how he is doing it…

UKFSA: How long have you been freestyling, Ben?
Ben Carter: I have been specifically freestyle skateboarding for one year but skating for a total of two years.

UKFSA: You have progressed fast for one year. Not only are you doing some difficult tricks but you’re also learning them fast. Recently you’ve mastered carousels, broken fingers, and a myriad of fingerflips. Where are you learning your tricks from?
Ben: I’ve learnt a few from Mike Osterman’s and Tony Gale’s trick tips, but I get most of my inspiration for learning new tricks from just watching skate videos – Marvelous 2 is for sure my favourite to watch!

UKFSA: Oh yeah, Toshiaki and Masahiro might be my two favourite skaters to watch, I watch that DVD all time! Please tell us about the moment when you became aware of freestyle, how did you find out about it?
Ben: Well when I started skateboarding I had no idea that freestyle even existed until I saw one of Mike’s YouTube videos, I was completely blown away. After that I was just trying a few freestyle tricks here and there until I really got into it.

Ben Carter, fs varial finger flip
Ben Carter, fs varial finger flip

UKFSA: A lot of people, myself included, start out freestyling on street setups. They tend to find out about, and make the jump to, freestyle boards later. Was that the case for you also?
Ben: It definitely was. I was freestyle skateboarding on my street setup for a few months before I got my first freestyle board, it was very expensive but it completely changed my skating. I remember my first one was the Moonshine Tony Gale board, it was great!

UKFSA: Purpose built freestyle boards can make a lot of difference. What setup are you riding now? And do you mod your boards, like bushings, extra washers, wood screws etc?
Ben: I’m currently riding the new Never Enough Zappy Concave with Independent 109s and some 95a Seismic wheels. I’ve finally got round to getting some harder bushings and I’m riding with riser pads. I really can’t ride without riser pads anymore. I really need to get some wood screws for my board though, I do so many caspers.

UKFSA: Yeah, caspers will eat through your board. I really like frontside caspers at the moment and they even chew up the wood screws in no time! How are you finding the harder bushings?
Ben: Really strange right now coming from riding some much softer ones.

UKFSA: You get used to them, I fear for my ankle ligaments skating freestyle on soft bushings nowadays. One thing that surprised me when I switched to freestyle boards was the number of different shapes of the decks. Have you found that perfect shape yet?
Ben: I don’t know, I’ve loved all the boards I’ve had so far. If I had to pick one I would say my favourite one so far is the one I’m riding right now (the Never Enough Zappy Concave). But to be honest I don’t really think about what I ride, just as long as its built for freestyle I’ll have a great time on it.

Ben Carter, Broken Fingers
Ben Carter, Broken Fingers

UKFSA: Do any of your friends skate, and do they freestyle?
Ben: I’m trying to teach a few of them and they seem to enjoy it but I think if I were to quit (which I’m in no way planning to) they would quit as well. I did teach one of my friends to do a tail stop fingerflip the other day though. I mostly skate on my own which I don’t mind.

UKFSA: Is there anything that you feel that freestyle, particularly in the UK, needs in order to appeal to a younger audience such as yourself?
Ben: I think that we just need to show more people freestyle skating (through demos or other means) because I feel that a lot more people would start doing it because not everyone can go to a skate park every day or has access to a good skate spot. You can do freestyle skateboarding anywhere, you only need a skateboard and some flatground.

UKFSA: Favourite skaters?
Ben: Oh I’ve got so many! I’ll only name a few. Masahiro Fujii, Toshiaki Fujii, Reece Archibald, Tony Gale, Denham Hill, Mike Osterman and Yuta Fujii.

UKFSA: Tips for sticking a carousel? (For a friend, haha)
Ben: Haha, I just held onto a wall to start with and then just slowly let go until I finally did it. I would also recommend wearing a knee pad because my knees had completely turned purple by the time I landed it! I’m pretty sure Mike did a good trick tip on them.

UKFSA: Will we see you in the Am’s at any competitions in the future?
Ben: Hopefully, I’m probably going to try to go to any competitions that I can, they look like so much fun. I might be able to go to one in Germany at some point, I go there every year.

Reece Archibald takes Gold in Euro Freestyle

Reece Archibald at Euro Freestyle contest in Germany
Reece Archibald at European Championships (Photos courtesy of Euro Freestyle)

September saw the second Euro Freestyle contest in the picturesque town of Brandeberg an der Havel, Germany. Christian Heise and co have been hard at work prepping for this years contest since 2019’s European Freestyle Championship, and in a year that has had not much else going on, we can’t understate our gratitude for their efforts.

Two UK competitors made it out of Manchester ahead of tightened covid restrictions to make the trip over – Never Enough rider Reece Archibald and Alex Foster of Late Tricks. If you’ve been watching the contest runs on YouTube, then you have Alex to thank for that (more on Alex and Late Tricks in a future post).

Reece could not make it to 2019’s Euro’s due to ongoing illness, and was sorely missed by all. Reece is an absolute blast to skate with and always brings the stoke, that’s why we couldn’t have been more pleased to find out that he had placed first in the Pro Division. Were I talented in the art of writing I would tell you the story of Reece’s triumphant return to the contest circuit, to take gold in the European Freestyle Championships! But alas, I am not. Instead I caught up with Reece after he took some well deserved time off, and this is what he had to say…

Reece Archibald Ollie Airwalk at Euro Freestyle
Reece Archibald, Pro Division, Ollie Airwalk

“Incredible contest with incredible skaters. Thank you to everyone in the community who reached out from last year to this year to get me rolling back. What I’m most thankful for is that not only my normal body was back but skateboarding was too. Regardless of placement I knew skateboarding would be with me before and afterwards.

The true free beings of the style please just keep doing what your doing, but push harder. There may be a point you’ll be unable to do it physically and you’ll honestly miss it crazy.

In short I was off the board for 6 months due to undiscovered diabetes type 1. For around 3 months I was almost entirely immobilised and required family and friends to do a bunch of stuff for me.

From October I had a stabbing pain in my abdomen and a range of problems with my organs. Which was eventually confirmed diabetic nerve pain from high blood sugars.

Frequent hospital visits, scans, operations, medications I grew used to. Just getting up and sitting for half the day was progress. I was drowning in a world of pain and misery on so many levels that my body and soul felt constantly under distress. Skateboarding felt impossible.

On regular nerve and bowel medication I was phasing back into work. I had lost about 15kg of weight and my concentration was wack. When it came to skating with the pain my muscles were so wasted that things didn’t spin, and everything hurt afterwards.

I didn’t know I was diabetic until mid may. For a couple of weeks I had been vomiting, having ice cold showers, getting lost and couldn’t quench my first. I ordered up a glucose machine and found my readings were through the roof. I was placed in a resus bed for a DKA. A DKA happens when your blood sugar is very high and acidic substances called ketones build up to dangerous levels in your body

I was hospitalised for 3 days. I kind of know the checkpoints to get out early. The whole experience was awful but incredible. I’m continually learning about the condition and lifestyle. A lot of mixed emotions and time thinking about it all but making steady progress.”

The Return of Terror-Firma

4 minute Read
Terror Firma Logo
Even for the Pro’s, freestyle is a passion far more than it is a living. All too often in life, reality rears it’s ugly fins, and the joy of the concrete surf quickly becomes awash under the torrent of life. It’s in those situations, the premise of dry land and some solid ground can make a huge difference for anybody feeling a little lost at sea. That’s why we were delighted to hear about the return of Terror-Firma, a project run by the UKFSA’s own Denham Hill. We caught up with Denwad to find out a bit more about where Terror-Firma has been, where it is, and where it’s going..

“Terror-Firma went dormant in July 2019, but production stopped on any clothing a bit before that. Cash flow was an issue, I’d lost a few jobs and had to gain a few more, and survival was more important for a time.

We’re currently only selling through Social Media channels, but there was an Etsy store set up for a while. However, this all went through a print on demand service which left us with no profit whatsoever, let alone any to donate! Head to our Facebook and Instagram pages to keep up to date, once more product is in there’ll be a more digestible shop format on the way:

Click here to visit Terror Firma on Facebook

Click here to check out the Terror Firma Instagram

Through previous clothing lines we managed to donate to Marius Constantin and Turi Zoltan, I also set up a funding page for Ethan Young to get him out to the Round Up but unfortunately he wasn’t able to make it. Still, I hope he’s been able to use the cash for decks and other gear he needs. The donation pot has started to build again thanks to a kind clothing donation from Burns out in Germany, and currently stands at £70 so that will be donated as soon as the next run of product comes in.

Terror-Firma was born of a few things; bitter resentment, a need to support freestyle and a desire to destroy some of the outdated stereotypes surrounding freestyle. The whole idea is to re-invest profit from our products to freestylers worldwide or causes that support freestyle. It strives to promote the more aggressive, high octane freestyle that exists and aims to generally take freestyle out back and rough it up a bit. That’s not to say we won’t support more “floaty” freestylers, I just feel that there’s another take on freestyle that has yet to be explored.

The whole point of Terror-Firma though as mentioned, is to support freestyle by giving back to the scene. The industry doesn’t support us financially and most likely never will, and I was frustrated with the fact that some of the best freestylers I know had to put themselves out of pocket to get to contests and skip out on essentials just to skate. I think that’s bullshit, and I also think that the fact no one has made an effort to do anything about it sooner is also bullshit. It’s not just about contests though, it’s about helping dudes out with gear or other projects that support the growth of freestyle. We hope to work with as many freestyle factions as possible.

Moving forward, the aim is to grow Terror-Firma to a point whereby we can sponsor and fund freestylers on a long term basis. However, there’s a huge amount of work to do and I’m thankful to everyone who has offered help in one way or another.

It’ll probably not change the way freestyle is viewed by the industry, but when the industry turns it’s back on you, you should smash it on the head very hard with a brick while it’s not looking.”

The UKFSA has Arrived

The UKFSA General Meeting, originally planned to be held at LS-Ten Skatepark, Leeds on Sunday, 26th April, 2020, was instead held via video conference. The meeting was a great success, and within it, the aims and working practises of the UKFSA were fleshed out and refined by democratic process. An Official Management Committee was inducted, and the following roles were established by vote:

  • Chair: Tony Gale
  • Secretary: Aaron Watts
  • Treasurer: Alex Foster
  • Officer: Reece Archibald

We also welcome Matthew Smithies, Michael Erskine and Denham Hill to the Committee. The UKFSA will now set out to meet its goals by promoting the growth and development of Freestyle Skateboarding as a discipline within the UK. You can learn more about the organisation on the UKFSA About Page.

A Bump in the Road

With the current global crisis that is the COVID-19 coronavirus, we have decided to delay the next General Meeting until the situation is under control. The Spring Sessions Event in Darlington is also cancelled. Hang in there, chaps.
Stay healthy, and wash your hands.. a lot.