Earlier this year, Chris Cole placed first at Street League Skateboarding in Munich, Germany. Having been chasing this win for a long time, following a few near misses, it was a significant milestone for Cole in his career thus far. I had been meaning to get over to the event – as at the time I was living in Salzburg – however unfortunately it just wasn’t possible and I had to give it a miss. It’s no secret that my interest in Street League is pretty limited. Whilst, the skateboarding is undoubtedly impressive, I still believe the framework leaves little room for creativity and embodies a part of skateboarding that I feel wholly disconnected from. Despite this, it was really interesting to catch up with Chris and get his opinion on things as well as find out a little bit more about what he’s been up to over the past year.
In addition to the interview, we also managed to get hold of an exclusive pair of the new mainline DC Cole Lites, which aren’t due out until Spring 14. It’s been a long time since I skated a pair of DC’s – and I wouldn’t be surprised if the last time I did I was wearing a pair of Bernies jeans and an oversized Blind hoody – so I was keen to see how their new shoes fared. I was also excited to see what DC were offering with regards to skate shoe technology having read previously that Cole’s move to DC was driven largely by DC’s ability to utilise new technology for his signature shoe.
Over the past year, like many other people, I have opted for a mainstream sports brand for my skate shoe (Janoski’s if you must know) and whilst there is a great deal that could be said on this (see Marc Johnson’s Jenkem article) I don’t really want to get into the details here. To be honest, I have found them incredibly comfortable for skateboarding whilst also being really durable and standing the test of time. With this in mind, I was really keen to see how a more specifically skate orientated company approached their shoes.
When the DC Cole Lites arrived, the first thing I noticed was undoubtedly the weight, which is obviously what you hope for in a shoe that’s been designed to be exceptionally light. Despite this, DC’s Unilite technology still caught me off guard and whilst the shoe has a decent amount of padding they still weigh less than a pair of Vans Authentics. They were also thinner than I expected but by no means do I mean this as a criticism, rather DC seem to have found a happy medium between maintaining protection in all the right places and not being unnecessarily bulky. The shoe has a strong reinforced heel, suede upper and padded tongue for extra comfort and on first impressions look like they would stand the test of time.
Still, much like Sam’s Thaiknit piece for Issue 3, I wanted to give the Cole Lites a proper road test so next morning I got up early to head to The Joint, a DIY spot just outside of Leeds City Centre, for a session with my friend Mikey who also shot some photos. I found the Cole Lites to be incredibly easy to skate in and they provided a great deal of comfort and support on the rough northern terrain. The suede upper provided a lot of stick for ollies and flip tricks whilst the tread on the rubber sole meant the board always felt glued to my feet. I also imagine that the sole and reinforced heel would provide amble support when throwing yourself down big stair sets or ledges. The other thing that I really noticed was that I still felt like I had enough feeling under my feet to know where they were on the board without having to look down. This is one of the reasons that I moved towards a thinner shoe and the great thing I found about the Cole Lites was that they had great board feel whilst still maintaining that cushioning under foot. However, what surprised me is that I genuinely noticed the Unilite technology, which seemed to make stock tricks feel that little bit more effortless. Now I’m not usually one to shout about technology with regards to skate shoes but I really did enjoy skating in a lighter shoe and I imagine at the top level of skateboarding technology such as this makes all the difference.
The only thing I didn’t like about the Cole Lites was that I felt they lacked breathability. Now this isn’t necessarily that important. After all they were made to be a skate shoe and you could always switch up your shoes after a session. However, on those long hot summer days I imagine your feet could get pretty hot, pretty quick. Despite this, all in all, I was incredibly impressed with what DC had to offer for this shoe and it was cool to experience the latest in skate shoe technology. I don’t think it would make me switch up my shoe (even compared to these I still prefer something a bit thinner) but if you’re looking for something light, fairly thin and that still has solid protection then these would definitely be worth checking out.
Check out our e-mail interview with Chris Cole below.
The new DC Cole Lites are due out Spring 2014. If you can’t wait that long the new HOL Colourways (pictured here in burgundy) are due out in October, with a little less technology.
Hey Chris, how’s it going?
Great, exceptional actually
So you’ve just recently had your first Street League win, which is amazing. I know you’ve obviously been wanting that for a while and it’s an amazing achievement. What’s next for you?
I am gonna keep at it. We have all sorts of DC tours and more SLS contests. So I have to keep on skating and getting in the public eye I guess
Do you find competitions stressful or are you able to just relax and enjoy yourself? I mean with something as big as Street League there must be extra pressure with the amount of people watching and also the knowledge that it’s being broadcast live. Is there anything you do to get yourself in the zone?
I try to stay positive. I will fully motivational speaker myself into being calm. No rituals though
I was also interested to know whether after riding the courses at Street League, where everything is made to be perfect, you ever find yourself worrying about little things at street spots more? Eg. the smoothness of the ground, whether there are any stones that you could trip you up etc.
It def. makes you a little bugged out. You feel like you can do all your moves but spots dictate a lot of what can be done. Sucks to go for an easier trick due to a crack
You’ve always come across as very polite and professional in interviews. I guess this is because you feel an obligation to treat skateboarding as a job to some extent? How do you separate skateboarding as a profession to just going out for a session with your friends?
I’m glad I come off that way. That’s just who I am, I feel it’s really important to be polite to people. Skating is my job but being a good person is life
Who are your favourite people to skate with for fun?
The hotwax dudes, Mikey, PROD, Malto, and my son.
Is there ever a concern when you’re out skating with your friends that you could injure yourself and put yourself out for your next professional date? i mean your income relies on you being fit and healthy so does this ever put a restriction on just going out to skate for fun?
It is a factor for sure. I take it like a guitarist. He can enjoy a good rhythm riff and not shred a solo.
Would you consider yourself an athlete?
I would because since I skate I have to take care of myself like an athlete. Plus I’m athletic- therefore athlete haha
Do you have any other hobbies or things you like to do in your spare time to take your mind off skateboarding?
I play with my kids and hang out with my wife. Play guitar a little, craft a bit, ride bmx and axe wood.
How much further do you think skateboarding will progress, in terms of the competitions and accessibility for people who may not know much about skating?
I hope it becomes something that is watchable by many. But the more skateboarders the more contest audience so lets spread the gift of skateboarding.
Can we talk about Omit briefly as well. I was upset to hear that the company came to an end recently. Would you mind talking a little bit more about that, was it related to the market or were there other contributing factors?
A lot went into it. Omit did really well, and it was painful to hear the financial backing was pulling out
While we’re talking companies, I hear that you had a hand in financing Cult BMX, is BMX another passion of yours?
I did, and it’s a hobby of mine, but more importantly I did it because I love those guys. They deserve the most outta life and I just helped a small amount for them to achieve their dreams
Let’s finish on some fun questions, ff you could play a game of S.K.A.T.E with anybody in the world who would it be?
What’s your secret weapon in a Battle at the Berrics?
Fakie heel flip
Favourite song to skate to?
Favourite skate section of all time?
Danny way Colin McKay revolution
I re-watched your 360 flip at Wallenberg on YouTube the other day. I think I counted 68 attempts. What’s the longest time you’ve ever spent on a trick and what was it?
That was the longest straight beating cause it was 68 straight slams. Carlsbad gap back 3 flip was 12 sessions each session was 2 hours though
I know that your move to DC was very much driven by the capabilities they were able to offer with regards to technology. Could you talk us through a little bit of the technology on this new shoe?
The foam unilite making up the sole lightens the weight of the shoe drastically. It’s crazy that skate shoes have been without this for so long. The trick to using the unilite though is to use it in the right spots so you still have rubber where you need it. In addition to the technology is to simply make a comfortable and good-looking shoe
When you first sat down with DC to talk about this new model what were some of the things that you were looking for?
I wanted a shoe that was different enough to stand out while still holding the true elements of a skate shoe. I asked them to make it look fast. I’m also a huge fan of the shoes in the 90’s
What about with regards to the look and feel of the shoe? How much have you moved away from the previous shoe in terms of the design?
Each shoe should be good for every type of skating but greater for specifics. I wanna have a ledge shoe, gap shoe, and bowl shoe. Meeting in the general middle is a good call
Your last DC model seemed to be thinner than the shoes you were skating when you were on Fallen. Was this a conscious decision to move to a thinner shoe or is it just down to trends in skateboarding?
It’s just style and personal preference. I want people to enjoy my shoe so it’s important for me to think of more than just myself. That’s what I did