Our very own Andrew Mihalko is Live on Instagram with Graham this week. Andrew is our SportRx Oakley Ambassador, he's super awesome and simply the best to be around. He's here to chat about his love for skateboarding, snowboarding, and of course, all things Oakley. Stick around for this read and enjoy a cold one while you do. Get to know Andrew Mihalko below.
G: What's up Andrew, stoked to have you on here!
A: What's up Graham thanks for having me on today!
G: So just to start off, I've already given away that you're our Oakley rep, and that you skate and snowboard but do you want to jump right into how you got into those two sports?
A: Yeah for me skating started back with the video game, "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater", which I'm sure you're very familiar with, people of our generation are. That came out and I remember playing it with my friends and as soon as we played that we thought it was so cool and then we got boards. obviously skating in real life is a little bit different than the game so we definitely went through the whole trial and error phase. A lot of the friends I grew up with skated and then ended up moving onto other things whereas I stuck with it. It just really resonated with me in terms of being an activity you can put so much time and effort into. AS long as you do that and stay persistent you're going to learn the tricks you want to learn, have fun doing it, and it's great cardio. So it's been fun. As far as snowboarding goes, I grew up in Michigan so we didn't have a ton of awesome spots to go to. There were some good mountains up in northern Michigan, then moving out here about 8 years ago, there's plenty of skate parks everywhere, worlds best out here. So I got to skate those and snowboarding I got to go up to the mountains with SportRx and being a part of that crew got me those lift tickets for free which is great!
G: Yeah that's one of the great cool perks about working at SportRx. It's great to be with a company that encourages you to go out and do your thing. Snowboarding for work, how awesome! So in terms of your preferred style of riding for skateboarding, what's yours?
A: I grew up skating in my driveway, I was fortunate enough to have a skatepark put in 15 minutes from my home. It was a world-class skate park that Vans put in, they were putting indoor skate parks up across the country so it was perfect to get me through the cold winters in Michigan. I would go there all the time. That's what really introduced me transition style, which is really skating ramps. Of course, they had a vert ramp and a bowl there so I got hooked on that type of skating. It had a nice mixture of those ramps with street style features so I'd get to skate the stuff you aren't supposed to be skating on out in the real world. So growing up I did a ton of it and then as I got older I gravitated towards that style of riding more and more. Coming out here all these parks have great bowls around. I would say Southern California is the epicenter for that kind of skating. For vert ramps or bowls, it's really popular out here. That's how I spend all my time skating.
G: Very cool! My dad actually grew up surfing and skating bowls. That culture of skating is sort of the style here in SoCal because back in the day the surf kids would just hop fences looking for empty pools in backyards to carve up like they were waves.
A: It is, it's sidewalk surfing, that's what skating is. They named it right off the bat, its the evolution of surfing, just on the sidewalk.
G: Totally! We got into that a little bit on our podcasts that we just released last week. Which I'm super stoked about! We had TJ come on and talk about surfing the world and I think that came up briefly. But who was your biggest influence in the skate world growing up?
A: Man growing up it was a Tony Hawk, he was a big influence. Honestly with the video game of course but also there were these big tours, like the Boom Boom Huck Jam. Crazy name, but it was the ramp tour where they had the half pipe in the middle, motocross guys jumping over the halfpipe, it was this big crazy show so they'd stop in their arenas and put a big show on for everyone. For me, that was amazing to see because those were the dudes I looked up to. In the videos and clips of them I saw, then seeing them skate in person was just a different level. To me, he was a huge inspiration because he was able to get skateboarding to that next level and really just push it to be exposed to so many more people. I think before that is was kind of if you knew you knew sort of thing but there were a couple of years between that and the X Games in the late 90s, early 2000's where it just really started blowing up. So he's been a huge influence, there's been a few other guys I watched in videos too that I've met out here skating so it's been honestly a dream come true. Its made me think of other traditional sports and how you can't just walk onto a field and start practicing with the big guys, but with skateboarding what's cool is that you can show up to the skate park and maybe the dude who you looked up to your whole life is right there skating. You can just hop in the session with him and the next thing you know you're rubbing elbows, exchanging numbers, and meeting up for sessions. So it's been really cool in that way.
G: It's so interesting how in different sports the athletes are more or less accessible. In baseball it wasn't like that at all. I trained with a lot of pro's but it was because these guys knew each other and intentionally went to the same place to work out or train. Now I road bike down here in SoCal and I can show up to a group ride during the off-season and Peter Sagan might be there. This literally happened a few years ago, he was training here for a few months with a few other pro guys. Everyone was so shocked, that's Peter Sagan he's won the green jersey at the Tour de France 7 times and he's here hanging out on the Swamis group ride!
So what pros have you seen out and about at the skateparks?
A: Well a lot of the dudes live locally so Darren Neverrette has been a huge inspiration. He took me under his wing and showed me the ropes. He's a dude that puts on and organizes this big event called The Rumble in Ramona which is like a backyard type vert series in San Diego. It's like an anti-establishment version of the X Games, nothing against the X-Games but TRIR is more for the people who rip and can't get invited to the X Games you can go there and skate with them. There are bands playing, music, and food, it's kind of doing things in a different light. There's the commercial aspect of skating too and then there are the dudes who just do it because they love it so much. They may or may not be getting a paycheck but they rip and they love it. He always put that on. I remember watching those videos back home and then being out here working on the ramp with him, drilling screw holes through sheet metal in the Ramona heat, its been an experience, that's one of my finest memories right there.
G: That's rad, so cool! I'm sure that inspires you too as a rider to keep improving.
A: Yeah, of course, you always want to bring something to the session.
G: No doubt. Now to kind of blend this with what you get to do at SportRx, with snowboarding and Oakley. What's it like getting to use your knowledge from your real world experience as a snowboarder in your work with all the cool new Oakley tech?
A: I mean it's been awesome. The position I'm in right now is absolutely amazing. I'm so grateful and thankful for the opportunity. I'm basically the liaison between SportRx and Oakley so we always try to be the first on the scene with that content and videos which puts us in the position to receive those samples and new products early. It allows us to go test them out and hang with the guys who made them and make videos to push out to our viewers. It's been awesome, it's so funny you mentioned it before, you're up there riding with the homies and testing out the new product too, its certainly the best of both worlds and it doesn't feel like work at all.
G: I guess off of that I should ask if there's anything new from Oakley we should know about or that you can share with the viewers today that's coming out this winter?
A: So this one right here, it's the Oakley SportRx EXCLUSIVE Flight Deck XM. So we had this last year but we're bringing it back this year because it was super popular and we also have a Flight Deck XL its the same style but the XL is for larger heads and it has a PRIZM Jade lens. The real cool thing about this goggle is the strap, props to Kevin Po, he's our creative UX designer mastermind at SportRx. We went up to Foothill ranch and he was the one who called the shots on this as far as styling goes. This strap is black on black with the dot-dash code pattern all along the strap but the whole goggle is matte black which is usually grey but this one is all matte black. No other Oakley goggle looks like this and you can only get it at SportRx. So that's it for my product plug.
For an exclusive look at the goggles check out the instagram live clip here.
G: That's super rad! In the cycling world when a bike is all black we say it's murdered-out and those goggles are definitely murdered out. Super cool!
A: Totally murdered out!
G: So have you tried those out on the slopes yet?
A: Yeah I have. For me, this is a good fit. I have more of a small to medium head so this one works well. I got to try it last year for a little bit. It's cool because it goes with any kit, no matter what color your jacket is or if you're wearing a helmet or beanie its full stealth mode man.
G: Yeah that's super important, you always gotta look good while you're doing what you do. Speaking to that, to jump back to skateboarding, in terms of what you wear for that, what's your go-to outfit while you're skating?
A: Well you really just want to be comfortable. I wear naturally more comfortable and loose clothing than having something that's super tight and constricting but for skateboarding, you definitely want to have something that's flowier so you can bend your legs, move around for obvious reason there. So that's what I go for but there are dudes that rip in skin-tight jeans. I think at the end of the day is all about looking good, feeling good, and playing good.
G: That's the question I really wanted to get to because when I see guys in those skinny jeans I always question how they move and get athletic in them, there's just no possible way.
A: I agree, I don't know how they don't rip their pants, to be honest. But hey, dudes can pull it off, more props to them.
G: Super rad! Okay, what is your favorite park in San Diego to skate?
A: That's tough but I would say it's split between Clairemont Skatepark which is a YMCA park so I know they aren't open since COVID hit but they have a really cool spot there. The other spot that I really like is the City Heights Park, De la Cruz. That park got put in maybe 2 or 3 years ago but that's also a really cool park.
G: Cool. What are some of the features that differentiate those parks from others?
A: So I love City Heights because it's a really good morning spot. The whole park is built on a track so you don't have a lot of cross-traffic or collision situations going on. You can start on one end, cruise and hit a few things and then you're on the other end and you turn back and skate back across. The other cool thing about it is that they have a bowl which is kind of separate from it. It's all in this fenced in area but the bowl is up and away from things which is nice because you don't have boards shooting out of the bowl while you're skating the rest of the park. It's really easy to make a crappy skate park but I feel it's really hard to make a really good one if that makes sense.
G: Totally it does. What would you say is the toughest feature for you to master in the time you've skated?
A: Well as far as features go I don't know, for me, it's been tricks. There's been a ton of tricks that have been super super hard. Really any new trick is hard to learn, the movement isn't natural. You've just got to keep trying and trying and have a good skate day before you can fully commit to it.
G: How long have you been skating?
A: This is going to date me a little bit but I've been skating since I was 10 yo and I've been skating for 20 years now. I feel like I should be better right? Like shoot, I've been doing this for 20 years! It's kind of funny when you look at things like that.
G: Yeah definitely but it's all relative, as long as you've been enjoying it for 20 years that's what matters.
A: Yeah most of the time I go to the skate park I'm just cruising. But it's so fun to do the stuff you already know how to do and you almost have to be in a mood. Skateboarding is almost a mood. If you want to learn a new trick you have to be really determined about it. The reward for me is wanting to skate tomorrow and the next day so I'm just kind of trying to find the balance of getting better while still loving it.
G: Yeah risk and reward are huge and there are a lot of risk factors in learning new tricks on a skateboard so I totally get that. Well, I have to ask before we close out, Andrew what are your go-to sunglasses?
A: I'm so predictable dude, its the Oakley Frogskins for me all day. Because they fit my head really well, again I'm a small/medium head guy and the Frogskins are classic and more of a unisex frame in my opinion. They just feel good on my face.
G: Sweet well thanks again for coming on Andrew. It was so fun to chat about skateboarding and reminisce about my childhood days with it. Everyone who tuned in, thanks for being here, I hope you enjoy your weekend. Stay safe and wear a mask.
Thanks again, SportRx friends and family! We'll see you next week. Enjoy your Turkey Day 🙂