Sometimes when I look at people who are good at skating like Rudolfs I wonder, “What makes them good? Talent or hard work?” It must be a mix of both since you need to have certain physical and mental abilities to do what good skaters do, which could be defined as talent. However, having that talent doesn’t mean things come easy. I have seen Rudolfs succeed on a board as many times as I have seen him fail. Still despite the outcome he’s skating as hard as he can. And this is where skills come from.
On a cold winter evening we sat down with Rudolfs Rorbahs at Lokal house to talk about progression, ledge skating and why he hates Maxlas.
How are you? What’s up?
Just came from work. All good.
How was Isolator Madness?
It was really good. A bit stressful too. It was the first event that I was involved in. It was an interesting experience and I’d love to do something similar again. Me and Niklavs were the first to show up at the park and all the organizational stuff fell on us. So yeah, we ended up doing a lot of stuff, but that was only fair since Karlis [Bogustovs] and Fricis [Štrauss] did more work in the park before.
It was nice to see you and Nikalvs in that role. You took over and were involved. And for me it looked like you enjoyed that role, was it like that?
Yeah, it was interesting, but more so I wasn’t expecting to be doing all that stuff in such a big amount. To the point that some people would tell me, “You looked pissed off.” But I wasn’t pissed off. I just had to do so much it was hard for me to follow.
Alright, let’s get to the real interview. So the first thing I wanted to ask is who skates better, you or your brother Reinis? And some people might not know you have a brother, you can tell about him too.
Yeah, I have a brother. His name is Reinis. He’s three years older than me. We started skating together, but, even though he is older, I started skating first. It is not like your typical young brother and old brother story.
That’s kind of untypical, yes.
I guess you could say that I skate better because I just skate more. But he has so many tricks that I can’t do. He has his own style. He’s an underground dude.
Does he surprise you with any tricks?
Yeah, every time we skate together. For example, he can’t do some basic tricks but then does a cab back lip in 3 tries. And he just shrugs it off. He has this thing that he unlocked a couple tricks that he knows he can do. He can’t skate nollie or switch, he hates learning, but he loves skating fakie. So that’s why he does caballerials and everything fakie.
Like half-cab back smiths.
Yeah, half-cab back 5-0s, half-cab back nosegrinds. Also, fakie 5-0s, and 180 switch nosegrinds both ways. I can’t do that shit.
But you are like on some other stuff, I remember you doing back smiths flips outs when you were a kid.
I can still do them, I did one recently.
I think of you as a “progressive” skater, like every session I’ve been with you it seems like you’d learn a new trick. Do you still have that drive to learn tricks?
I just get bored of doing the same tricks. But I have a problem that even if I land a new trick it doesn’t mean that I will learn it. I mean I have done a lot of tricks only once. I can’t say I’ve learned that by just doing it once. But I do enjoy trying new tricks. Especially in ledge skating. Once you learn how to hold a trick there’s so many options of what you could do out of it. And then I want to see how far I can take it kind of. But it is not about ledges only. I like to skate everything, except stairs [laughs].
Really? You hate stairs?
It really depends on the situation. I remember when we were at Lermantova park and that day I felt, “I kind of want to jump stairs.” But I know that this desire disappears in around ten tries. But ledges, on the other hand, I can skate way longer.
What do you think is the superior genre in skating? Like ledges, stairs, transition?
I don’t think you can compare those. I think there are just different skaters. I respect those who can skate everything. And if you can skate everything, that’s sick. If you are only a tech skater, someone will take you to handrails and you’ll shit your pants. Same at skateparks. If you can skate everything, you can just cruise around, hit the kicker, hit the manny pad, the quarter. I personally always want to skate everything, kind of.
For me, ledge skating is the superior genre. Not necessarily tech stuff, but more like when people go fast and do ledge tricks properly with good style. I think it is hard.
I think ledge skating has more options than other genres.
Let’s move on. You had parts in some Latvian skate vids. Do you have a favorite part of yours? I know some videos haven’t come out yet, but from those that have.
Maybe Viss Safe. I like the way I look in that video [laughs]. My fits were more or less good in that. But the best has not come out yet.
[Reitups] For me your double 360 flip in Liepaja is a stand out moment.
Yeah that is from “Get Shit Done.” The trick difficulty in that is ok. But I don’t like how I look in that video, and maybe the trick selection was a bit random too. For example, in “Keep it Skating” I thought about what I wanted to do. I thought a bit more about tricks and not just tried to get something. In “Viss Safe” I think we tried to get more singles like handrails and stuff.
What about your favorite clip? Do you have a favorite clip from your parts?
I really like that 50 at 11th tram final stop. I was checking that rail for a while before. Also, Presses Nams back 50. I don’t like how I made it though, it could have been prettier, but yeah. I’ve been checking that rail for at least 3 years before. I like that I did it right before they started to demolish that building.
We also had a kick out remember?
Yeah, the security guard came.
[Reitups] What about Kongresu Nams rail?
Yes, that back 50 at Kongressu Nams. You know how many people were checking that thing and imagining that for ages.
Of course, I am hyped on that, but I wanted to do a longer grind on it. But I am hyped I even committed to it.
That thing’s gnarly. I always saw you as a gnarly skater and at one point I think you were also a transition skater. Some people even compared you to Oski. But now you are a ledge skater to me.
This year and previous year I learned how to hold my slides and grinds and throw stuff out of them. And I like that. But no, I still enjoy skating everything. Actually, from skating ledges so much I am now scared to try something bigger. But I still try. I feel like I could jump on rail easier back in the days compared to now.
But we need ledge skaters. Kalvans doesn’t skate anymore, so we need ledge skaters.
I’d like to thank Vef DIY ledge for that. I learned a lot of tricks there this year. We’d go there with Sotax a lot. So I agree, this year I am a ledge skater. But it depends on the place I skate too. Like I won’t skate the ledge at Isolator.
Yeah, there’s a different vibe there.
I skate the quarter pipe there.
Alright, let’s switch topics. What about education? You studied something, didn’t you?
Yes, I studied Multimedia communication in Rigas Stradini university. I have graduated but still haven’t done anything with my degree. But actually no. I did work a bit, two or three months in one charity organization as a social media person. It was interesting, but maybe not the best place to get a first job. But I am interested, maybe one day I will do it more.
What is your attitude towards your personal social media accounts?
Honestly, I don’t care that much about it. The only thing I want when posting to Instagram is for my clips to be good. I need to be stocked on the things I post. For example I could film some random shit every day, some croocked grind or something. But what’s the point? For me instagram is a way to show your progress, not like to do the same things all the time. That’s why I don’t post that much.
When you learn a new trick you’d rather put it out on instagram or keep for a real street vid?
I don’t like to ask people to film me, especially for instagram. And I don’t want to ruin somebody’s day by trying something for two hours. But I agree with you, I don’t want to put out all my new tricks right away on instagram, I’d rather keep it for a bigger project and do it at a street spot.
In your last instagram clip you skated at Izolators and Spank told me he was really happy to see someone at that level of skating in Latvia. I think you are his favorite Latvian skater now.
Thank you, really nice to hear it, especially from Spank.
What about you? Do you have a favorite Latvian skater?
I always liked how Fricis skated. That’s the thing, I really like to watch people who can skate everything. This year I really liked to watch how Sotax [Aleksis Sokolovs] skated. I think he has progressed a lot. I really like his trick selection. I think not a lot of people do what he does in Latvia. Maybe Niks Kolosovski is in a similar lane with him. They both kinda do similar tricks.
What about your sponsors?
The first sponsor I got was Clockwise skateshop. I got there after the Clockwise tournament at Vef. They had a thing if you got in top 3 in an amateur group you’d get a flow sponsorship for a year. I think it was around 2014. I have been skating for 15 years now and half of that time I have been sponsored.
What was it like being on flow for Clockwise at that time? Did you have to deal with Marcis a lot?
I had more contact with Gizmo at the time. I was actually shocked back then. I’d get so many VOX shoes and I took advantage of that. I’d take a lot. Maybe I’m exaggerating, but I don’t skate in fresh shoes as often now as I did then. Everytime I’d go to Riga, like once a month, I could get something. Usually it was Vox shoes. Gizmo helped me a bunch then. I don’t remember precisely whether I was riding for Clockwise or not, but I think Gizmo would give me blanks and there was a funny situation. I skated those blanks for a couple weeks and I broke them, so next time when I was coming to Riga my dad took me to Boards.lv and got me a Jart board. I went to Vef after that and Gizmo was like, “Why the fuck do you have a Jart board?” And I was like, “I didn’t know you’d give me more boards” [laughs]. But I didn’t have much contact with Marcis back then, I had talked more to Gizmo and Edžuks. Edžuks gave me a Skate Mafia deck once.
How was the filming for “Get Shit Done” with Toms Bika?
The things that stuck the most are our trips to Barcelona and Vilnius. When we went to Barca it was cool to hear all the stories about Gabliks Airlines and all that. Filming with Bika in Barca was cool. He evaluates the tricks you want to film and he straight up tells you if he’s down to film it or not. And if your ideas don’t impress him you know you need to step it up. And it is kinda good. I remember when we were in Vilnius and I’d tell Bika, “I want to 50 that rail”, and he’d be like, “Only 50?”. And I understand that I need to try something else.
I don’t like to ask people to film me, especially for instagram.
He pushed you to try that front feeble, didn’t he?
Yes, I think so.
That was a memorable trick from that part for me. Sick! Thank you, Bika.
I did a front board there. The run up was a bit fucked there and you had to ollie a bit early. Bika said, “You need to try something else, just go faster.” I think we put some stickers on the run-up and I did that front feeble pretty quickly. Another thing I remember, when we were in Barca there was this blue rail that Madars skated before and I did a back feeble on it. Before committing to it I didn’t want to try a boardslide on it. I have some mental block that it is easier for me to lock into a feeble than do a boardslide. Fricis and Bika talked me into doing the boardside first and that was the best suggestion. It helped me a lot to figure out that rail and feeble didn’t take long after.
What about Antiz? Do they hook you up?
I kind of get boards from Antiz but I suck at communication and I don’t like to ask for stuff.
You need a manager.
I talked to Julian in real life and in emails. I know I need to do it more. Big thanks to Arts as he’s the one who hooked it all up. Antiz basically sends extra boards for me with Clockwise orders.
What do you think about sponsorship and all that? Do you want to take it further?
Of course I do. I need to pull myself together and actually ask for stuff. I have tried that before but it ended only with, “Yeah, yeah we’ll get something for you.” And that was it.
John Dilo said in his 9 club that he’d basically spam people with his clips back in the days. I mean if you really want something it is worth going for it.
I am going to Austria soon for work. And I had an idea to maybe go to France after that and try to link up with the Antiz guys. They told me I’d have a place to stay, but yeah we’ll see. [Laughs]
Ok. I want to speak about Trank Boys.
Yes, let’s go.
You took the name Chocolate Trunk boys, but they no longer exists so fuck it. You guys are the Trank Boys now. How did the crew emerge?
I don’t remember how we got called Trank boys. We just all liked how Elijah, Stevie and Cory Keneddy skated. It was our inside joke that we are Trank Boys. At first it was me, Linards, Potašs and maybe Sotax. It was around the time when Gtiims at Baldones street just appeared. We liked to drink 2L beers [dvuļa] every session back then. We started to call our selves Trank Boys but with letter A instead of U.
A for anarchy.
We just liked skating together. We always want to make shirts and stickers but still haven’t done anything. Now our team has grown, it is a bit bigger.
Who’s on the Trank team?
Aleksis “Sotax” Sokolovs aka boss, Linards, Marks, me, Leģeris, Potašs, Granja sneaked in, Rob as well, Nauris kind of too as he is in chat now. And Niklavs, but only on trips. We have a joke that he’s a recruit.
Among Trank Boys you are called Big Tuna. Why?
I think Sotax thought of that. I am not fat but I am not a skinny guy too. I have a huge ass. It all started when someone called me “tuncis” [Note: tuna in Latvian] and then it turned into Biga Tuna. But I think it is a cool nickname.
Is Sotax a bully? Remember that night at Lokal when he started to slap everybody?
Nah, he’s not a bully. He just likes action and he is the life of the party. That’s why he does these things.
Yeah he’s fun to be around. You will have the first Trank boys video dropping soon. Tell about that.
We had some GoPro edits before at Gtiims, but those sucked.
Oh yeah, Trank Boys also used to have some episodes that Arvis [Rode] would make, right?
Yes, actually Arvis is also a Trank Boy and he used to make small episodes at Gtiims and other parks. We also filmed one Gtiim edit ourselves once. But yeah this year we are going to have a video. We have filmed for this summer after I got a camera while in Austria, and it will drop on RajonTV soon.
Did you edit the video yourself?
[Laughs] Yes, I did. When you’ll see, you’ll understand why I am laughing.
Have you changed your thoughts on filmers after becoming one?
Yes, I understood that I suck at it. You need to practice filming a lot to be good. I also understood that I enjoy editing way more than filming. I like it.
You are a generation younger than me and I remember you when you were a kid, and now I think you’ve reached a point where there’s a generation after you as well. What’s your take on the younger generation of skaters in Latvia?
I am not the best example of a generation representative as I don’t hang out with youngsters much. But from a skateboarding perspective, I am kinda disappointed. I feel like they need to skate more. For example, kids hang out at Maxlas all summer and don’t learn anything new. Maybe they see something else in skating, like it is a fashion thing. Which is wack.
Of course there’s a couple youngsters who stand out. For example Artis. He is younger than me, right? Like 5 years I think. When I look at him, I am like, “if we have kids like this, everything is going to be alright”. But it is hard for me to point out someone else.
You don’t like Maxlas.
Yeah, I have had enough of it. We had a talk with someone about it. The flat there is so perfect, so no matter how good you do your tricks, you feel like you could have done better. Also, I just don’t like to skate flat, and I don’t like people who hang out there. It’s full of little museum kids. You can go there in the middle of summer and there’ll be 16 year olds doing wack stuff. I could skate the ledge there, but that’s it.
Now I think we’d rather go skate Rainis. Museum is out of circulation. Of course Karlis’ obstacles are cool there, the quarter and the ledge. But skating flat for four hours is pointless to me.
I see kids waste time there and don’t even skate that hard.
Say something motivational for your last words.
Keep skating if it is fun for you and try something new. And I’m not speaking only about tricks but just some new approaches, so it doesn’t get repetitive and boring.