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Miguel Castro – Interview

Miguel Castro is maybe the best-known skater living in Costa Rica (you might know Sammy Montano, but he’s based in the US now). He started skating in the early ’90s when skateboarding was (once again) nearly dead and has already been riding for Element for ten years now. He made his dream come true and has been living solely off of skateboarding for a few years now. Also he’s doing his shirt brand Vagabond on the side to give something back to the local scene.

What influences you the most in skateboarding?

That changed over the years. I started to learn to appreciate things that I didn’t really recognize before. But I can say that all of the print media inspired me. I like it when you can see and touch it. Social media, Instagram is good, but sometimes it is too much information. Cause sometimes I wanna see what I wanna see and not all the things. When it comes to skaters: Evan Smith. He was here in Costa Rica for a trip and he arrived a few days earlier than the rest of the crew and stayed at my house. That was so much fun.

What do you like about living and skating in Costa Rica?

The life is mellow. We have a lot of nature, the ocean, the water is warm. The rough ground. You learn to love it because you have to deal with it. And I think this fact makes us stronger. It forces you to become an all-terrain skater. It is not up to me to learn those things, Costa Rica teaches me.

What is your favorite travel destination?

I love Nicaragua. They have good ground. And the scene is not too big so you can pretty much skate everywhere. The people will stop and start watching you. It reminds me of Costa Rica 15 years ago. And Croatia too. I’ve been to Split, they have really good spots.

"The rough ground. You learn to love it because you have to deal with it. And I think this fact makes us stronger."

How did the skate scene in Costa Rica change over the last years?

We are a small country with a bad surface, but we have a lot of skaters. Back in the days, we had a surf magazine and it had a couple of pages of skateboarding inside. I think that was the start of the skateboarding development. Then Olman Torres started Stand By magazine four years ago. And also the technology helped. Because now we can watch skate videos on Instagram and that also helps the industry.

What’s unique about the scene over here?

We are unique because of our way to skate. Our way to learn is different from the rest of the world. Some kids know how to kickflip crooked grind but don’t know how to kickturn in a quarter-pipe, because we only started to have transitions a couple of years ago. So I think in the way of learning we are unique. And the rough ground makes us more creative.

If there would be one thing about the Costa Rican skate scene you could change, what would it be?

I would change the people who are in charge of building the skate parks. Because like 85% of the designers have no relation to skateboarding and so the parks are not perfect. They are pretty similar to all of the rough street spots. 

Soloskatemagazin Miguel Ollieonefoot

Miguel Castro – Ollie One Foot

Are you able to live off of your sponsors?

Right now I do, but it is hard. I can pay my rent or buy some food, but I cannot save money for travels, I cannot save money to buy a car. I cannot even invite my girl to a restaurant. I’m living on the limit. But I do live this time of my life off skating. And it is my fourth year now.

Did you ever think about trying to get more international attention?

I went to the states some years ago. I competed in the 2006 Tampa Am and then I did two more international contests. But at that time, I didn’t look for sponsors or to live somewhere else. On those trips, I just had skating, seeing spots, etc. on my mind. No future plans or anything. Skating for me is a natural process. I didn’t want to force anything and didn’t want any pressure either.

How did you get on adidas?

Their Latin American headquarter is in Panama and I go there a lot because there are a bunch of spots. A friend of mine, Harold Tomlinson, who is working there hooked me up. It took two years until they sent my first pair of shoes, but now we are doing a lot of things. Last year we went to Argentina and made a video. It is a good feeling when a big company counts on you.

What is the difference between the work with international and local sponsors?

The big companies have contracts and give you material to put on your social media and want you to use certain hashtags and so on. With the local brands, the owner of the brand is the guy who calls you in the morning to go out and skate. It is easier, it is not like I am riding for a company. It is a good spirit to skate. Like what I have with Vagabond. I put a lot of money in the shirts and I feel happy when I can give them to the team and it makes me even more happy when I see them wearing those shirts all the time.

Why did you start the brand? I guess you’re not getting rich with it.

No, but it’s a good excuse to travel with friends, make photos, videos, keep skating.

When did you start it?

Five years ago. By now, it’s well known in Costa Rica and also a bit in Panama and Guatemala. 

I guess you put the money that comes in back into the brand.

Yeah, but sometimes there is not enough money from the sales to produce new shirts. It’s hard to grow with a small amount of money. 

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