Michigan’s Mikey Blair just received his first ever pro wheel and you’ve probably never heard of him, but all of that is about to change.
Back in 2008, SixWonSix released their second team video Blood, Pride and True, which featured sections from respected professionals Don Bambrick, JC Rowe, Cameron Card, a selection of local heroes and a young up and comer by the name of Mikey Blair. Card put in a solid performance, Bambrick’s section was pretty tame by all accounts and Rowe’s appearance was so minimal it was infuriating. However, Blair came through with a solid four minutes of technical rail skating, big gaps and a selection of stunts that were all perfectly accentuated by the fact that he held impeccable control over every one of his tricks. It seemed like this appearance was going to be the catalyst for another Midwest champion to take centre stage in the blading industry, but SixWonSix gradually fizzled out and we never heard from Mikey Blair again.
That all changed at the start of 2013 when Blair emerged once again to produce a solid street edit for upstart indie company Haunted Wheels. Over five years had passed since his last notable section and, for all intents and purposes, the blading community had forgotten about him. After all, people drop out of our sport with every passing year, never to be heard from again, so it was not unreasonable to assume that Blair had followed suit. It turns out he was just nurturing his talent. The Haunted edit displayed a more mature, slickly dressed Blair dominating makio variations of all descriptions, coming up with some interesting grind variations and piecing together well-considered lines on the streets of Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids, Michigan. It became rapidly evident that he hadn’t gone anywhere; he was simply a tiger waiting for his opportunity to pounce.
“2014 is going to be the year everyone finds out who I am.”
“When the industry took a downhill turn, I still liked skating, but I just focused on having fun instead of trying to push myself. Plus I was heavily involved with school, so I was just trying to focus on that. Now I feel like it’s the perfect time. I have been skating great and I feel like I am ready to skate better.”
It turns out that, in addition to strengthening his ability as an all-round skater, Blair has also been completing higher education. He recently graduated from Grand Valley State University with a degree in psychology, which he plans to put to good use in the future. Regarding his post-education career, plans, Blair advises: “Hopefully I will be able to work with troubled youth or stuff like that.”
In the meantime, Blair has decided that he will simply enjoy the intermittent period between completing further education and striving towards his chosen career path by taking his skating as far as he can. Alongside Don Bambrick and Brian Weis, the guy that appeared alongside him in the exceptional Not Cereal park edit a while back, the trio have spoken at length about filming each other in order to create some high quality video content. If all goes to plan, it could be the year that Blair becomes a household name in the blading community. Who knows? It could also be the year the Bambrick raises a defiant middle finger to the companies that tossed him on the scrap heap.
“I see Don all the time actually”, says Blair. “I skate with him every Wednesday at Modern Skate Park. I always see Don and Brian Weis. A bunch of skaters always come out to that. Me and Don and Brian are trying to work together and start filming together, and start doing a bunch of stuff, which I think is going to be great for all three of us.”
Despite the fact that Blair has been out of the blading limelight for quite some time, 2014 marks the release of his first ever pro wheel for Haunted, which is currently stocked in every major blading retailer in the USA at this moment in time. Many will undoubtedly question if it was a wise move to put a relatively unknown skater’s name to a product, and Blair seems just as surprised as anyone about the honour, but the company owner seemed pretty confident about the decision.
“A buddy of mine started the company and he just put out that first wheel”, he begins. “I didn’t even consider the idea of having a wheel, but he brought it to my attention because I’ve been in the public eye with rollerblading before. I don’t know if he thought it might be a good fit. We just kind of talked about it and got the design going, and it ended up happening. I’m pretty happy with everything. I had to fight for that design!”
In addition to making up the ranks of the Haunted team alongside amateur rippers Gabe Talamantes and Cody Lampman, Blair has recently been added to the Xsjado roster. It looks like things are finally starting to fall into place for the Michigan native and his excitement about having the backing of a major skate sponsor is palpable.
“I just got on the Xsjado team, so I should be doing a lot with them. They’ve been sharing pictures of me online, so I’m going to keep sending them material. Hopefully things will get bigger with them and just keep growing.”
Blair is currently working part-time doing what he refers to as “simple, mundane work” for a local bread company. The good news, both for him and ourselves, is that it frees up a lot of his time to skate and film. It also doesn’t hurt that one of the strongest scenes in the Midwest is just a couple of hours away. “Detroit has a great scene”, he advises with a tone of obvious pride. “There are always people skating all the time and there’s a great community, so it’s almost like family.”
As he looks towards what promises to be an eventful 2014, Blair asserts that he has never felt more motivated to push his blading as far as he can. Recently picking up a new sponsor has strengthened his motivation further and he teasingly hints that a new edit can be expected in the near future.
“I’ve got this wheel that I’m excited about, which I’ve got an edit coming for. It’s pretty much already done. I feel the most motivated ever, so I’m really excited about it. All the clips from this interview will be in it and more. Since it’s winter here in Michigan, it put skating on hold apart from park skating. When the winter clears, I’m going to put something out that I’m super proud of.”
It doesn’t end there. Apparently this is just the first of several edits we can expect from Blair in the next six months, including a further promotional edit for his wheel, a park edit, and support edit for his new boot sponsor.
“I’m planning to release a couple of edits for this wheel, I’m filming a park edit at the moment and I want to do another summer edit for Xsjado because most of my clips are on Valo skates at the moment.”
In addition to a plethora of edits that will quickly be making their way onto the internet, Blair will be striving to make a name for himself at local events Motor City Classic and Delta City Open, as well as this year’s Blading Cup. You may also find him at Pow Wow. After all, he is adamant that 2014 is going to be his year.
“2014 is going to be the year everyone finds out who I am. I feel like I’m ready. My skating is at the point where I feel like I can only keep progressing. I’m exciting to show people what I have to offer. “
Words: David McNamara Photos: Sean Macgowan
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