Tyron Ballatine disappears for years at a time then drops a section that blows everyone away, and it looks like he’s about to do it again.
Tyron Ballantine is a blader of exceptional ability that is a joy to watch, but fans of his skating have endured a frustrating ride over the years. As a teenager he joined the ranks of the Valo team and featured regularly on their website’s Clip Of The Week feature before dropping a great split section with Sean Keane in their 2007 team video We Are Valo 2. Then he decided to part ways for the company in favour of Razors and disappeared for a while. In 2010, he burst back onto the scene with an almighty bang, unleashing an incredible online edit for Razors with some help from Adrien Anne. His backside royale to 360 backside royal down a square kink to close the section is the stuff of legends, especially considering most people wouldn’t risk their shins on. We naively assumed this meant he was finally back and ready to prove to everyone that he is the world class skater we always believed him to be. We even ran man interview with him in issue one and discussed how we thought he was set to make a major comeback. He eventually got bumped up to Razors international pro and even though his section in 2012’s Children Of The Future was tame by his standards, we were optimistic that it was simply an indication of things to come. However, Ballantine threw the blading world another curveball when he dropped yet another sponsor and was spotted riding around an outdoor skatepark in USD Franky Morales Carbons.
Despite a few brief clips via Facebook teasing us with the promise of a new part, we had all but given up on any hope of ever seeing another full-length section from the undeniably talented Amsterdam native, but then photos started appearing online of Ballantine with Long Beach blading edit juggernaut Erick Rodriguez and it was announced that he was working on a Blader Gang VOD section. However, the clips that have been teased online have only added to the confusion because it appears that he is once again riding Razors skates, sporting the the second Yuri Botelho pro model in various photos and videos. Needless to say, this raised a few questions: Is he riding for Razors again? Does this mean he is taking another stab at the blading limelight? Is this simply one of many projects planned for 2015?
We got in touch with Erick Rodriguez to see if he could get some photos together from the filming process for this interview and he generously supplied the images you see within this feature. When asked what it was like to film with the elusive Dutch blader, Rodriguez responded: “Filming for this project was intense as fuck. He only was here for two weeks, which put the pressure on us both. I normally don’t like to rush projects, but this dude had a game plan set and knew exactly what kind of spots he wanted to skate. We were able to get about four or five clips a day – all bangers. He’s on that J Bah type shit, dropping hammers for breakfast. Most people rather warm up on smaller spots.”
Tyron Ballantine is the type of skater than can get away with disappearing from our consciousness for extended periods and retain our respect even though he only drops a new street section every few years. Why? Because when he does he inevitably puts the majority of our current crop of elite professionals to shame and he does so with the purest of intentions. The fact that he has walked away from more than one sponsor, and denouncing his pro status for Razors, shows that his devotion to blading doest not extend beyond the mere enjoyment of the activity and his desire to display it to the world in its finest form. He may not be the most consistent skater when it comes to media exposure, but he has proven himself to be exceptionally reliable when it comes to quality.
When we spoke to Tyron he was sitting at home, enjoying the last few days of his annual leave and letting the bruises heal from his trip to California before going back to work.
Wheel Scene: What have you been up to since you got back from California?
Tyron Ballantine: Nothing much. I am still pretty jet lagged, so trying to sleep as much as I can. I have a few more days off from work.
Are you still working in the restaurant?
No. I work in a printing house now, since about three months ago.
Why did you stop working as a chef?
I really like food and I like to cook and stuff like that, but I couldn’t really work with chefs. The situation about having respect for them but they’re not having respect for you, you know? It’s kind of hard to work with people like that. If I have respect for you, I would expect some respect back, and that’s not what was going on in the kitchen.
In other words, you got tired of dealing with angry head chefs?
Yeah, kind of. (Laughs)
I’ve been there! So you’ve just wrapped up filming for your VOD with Erick Rodriguez. How did you guys first meet?
That was back in 2007 or 2008, I think, when Ryan Many and ERod came to Holland for… They were actually going to Berlin, but they stopped by in Holland and they didn’t have a place to crash. I didn’t know them at all, so I was like, “You guys can stay at my place and drive to Berlin after.” That’s how I met them.
I am guessing that would have been for Winterclash?
Yeah, the Winterclash in Berlin. I don’t really remember the year.
When did you decide that you were going to travel to America and make a VOD?
That was pretty funny, actually, because my skating is on and off, as you know. It’s kind of hard for me to stay motivated, especially in Amsterdam, because I really like to skate in good weather. My mum said to me, about a month ago, “Just go to see Erick and see what’s up.” I booked my flight and I was like, “ERod, can I come over?” He was like, ‘Yeah, sure, bro.”
How long did you visit him for?
And you have managed to film a full section in that time?!
Yeah. We got about 27 clips in 11 days, so I’m pretty stoked and happy about it. On the seventh day I fucked my hip up on the wall ride, you might have seen the picture of that, so the last couple of days I couldn’t go 100%. I still got some clips, though.
A full section in less than two weeks is pretty hard work!
Yeah, we went hard.
You must have woken up each day with sore body parts, tired muscles and stuff like that, so that is impressive. What did you get up to when you weren’t skating?
No, we were just chilling. ERod as a little kid… I don’t know if I can say that. We were watching him and just chilling at his place.
You were watching ERod as a little kid?! What?!
Yeah. (Laughs) He doesn’t have a babysitter. His girl was at work. We had to watch over Junior Erick.
Oh… I get what you mean now. You mean ERod has a kid?
Yeah! (Laughs) I’m not sure if I can say that. (Laughs)
All right. I did not know that. You touched on something earlier. You said that your skating is kind of hot and cold. You went pro for Razors and you had a section in Children Of The Future, which was quite short, and then you randomly started uploading videos of you wearing Franky’s Carbon pro skate. What happened there?
I don’t know. I was just… I wanted to try something new and I gave USD a try, but I couldn’t really get used to the skate. From a hard boot to the Carbon is kind of weird. I really need some weight on my feet when I skate. I couldn’t get used to the Carbons, so I tried the Thrones… I’ve got pretty wide feet and Thrones are pretty small, you know?
I just couldn’t get used to them and then I bought some Razors… I think that’s my skate, you know? It fits good, it doesn’t hurt my ankle and…that’s it.
Does that mean you regret leaving Razors?
No, not at all. I never regret something. If I do something, I do it with full…how do you say that?
Full commitment, yeah. I don’t regret leaving Razors. I’ll see what happens. After this VOD, I’ll send Andy (Wegner) the profile and see what he says, you know? See if he wants to take me back or not.
So you would like to skate for Razors again?
Hell yeah! Definitely.
What does this mean for the future? Are you going to try and get back into it or do you think there is a chance of you losing motivation again?
For me, it’s most important to have fun with skating and not feel like you have to skate for sponsorship. That’s my first thought: just have fun and see where it goes. If he takes me back on the team and wants to fly me anywhere, that would be awesome. I’m down for that. As I said, I have a full-time job, but I can manage skating and working.
So your approach to blading is that you just want to have fun with it and you don’t take it too seriously.
Erm… Yeah, you could say it like that.
Considering the state of the industry, I think that’s a healthy attitude to have.
Exactly. And if you’re making money off skating it’s just an extra, you know?
When will your VOD section be out?
20th of April.
4/20? Of course it is!
Do you have any plans after that?
I’ve been talking to Adrien Anne about maybe doing a trip through Europe. The cities we are thinking about are not really clear yet, but that’s an upcoming thing that we’re trying to plan.
It’s been a long time since that first IMYTA in Amsterdam when you were this tiny kid with long curly hair in Valos!
(Laughs) Oh, shit! I was like 15, I think.
So you’ve got to be in your mid-20s now.
Yeah, I’m 24.
So you’re still young in terms of blading years. You can keep going for a while yet. It’s crazy to think that was ten years ago.
I know! Time flies by.
And you’ve managed to get through quite a few sponsors in that time!
Yeah! (Laughs) I am only promoting skating now for Thisissoul. It’s the only shop in Holland that sells skates and all that stuff.
Yeah, I’ve been to the shop. I met Ivo Vegter – he’s a nice guy. We visited the shop in winter and got lost, and it was so cold! Amsterdam is not the place to get lost in winter!
I believe that! The weather is nice at the moment though, so I might go out skating later. I really hope to return to the States at the end of this year. It would be awesome to film something new or just hang around. I really love California because the people are really chilled and the weather is always good. The spots are amazing!
Is the scene still strong in Amsterdam? Who do you normally skate with?
There is still a strong scene, especially the young kids that are skating in contests. I don’t really skate contests, as you know. If I skate Amsterdam, it’s with Remy Cadier…the older generation…Pascal Tan, Thijs Tel… Thijs mostly films me over here. He actually got me some clips for the VOD. We’re filming me in Amsterdam, coming into Cali, then… The edit’s gonna be tight…with the drone shots and stuff.
Nice. I think we’ve covered anything. Do you wanna give any shout outs?
Thijs tel for always filming, Thisissoul for the goodies, my mom and sister for always supporting me. Edwin Wieringh and Pascal Tan too – the people I skate with the most lately.
Photos: Jonathan Labez
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