Ryan Farmer - Downhill Skateboarder | Young Talent
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05

Ryan Farmer

Downhill Skateboarder

“I program parts for the aerospace industry, cutting pieces of metal into the size and shape that’s needed for high tolerance specs, but I think it’s fair to say I’m not the most typical CNC machinist.

“My boss is lenient on my schedule, when I’m there I’m able to work overtime, up to 50 or 60 hour weeks, and when I have events coming up I can take time off – almost five months this year. When I came back to work, it was nice to hear people telling clients that now they work with a world champion! Because, to me, I’m still the same as I was two years ago when I had never left the United States. But I think most of the people I work with think I’m a bit crazy for what I’m doing.

“11 countries and a year later – everything’s changed. But really, it’s the same stuff, it’s just now there’s a title that stokes me out and helps me get things done. Downhill skateboarding came first, then four-and-a-half years ago I got into street luge – now I’m 2017 Luge World Champion.

“It’s mind-boggling to see so many things change in my life in such a short amount of time – and to get that experience from something as simple as skateboarding? It’s unexpected and absolutely exhilarating.

“I started downhill skateboarding six years ago – not that long considering how fast I’m going. I’ve always liked to go fast.”

“I started downhill skateboarding six years ago – not that long considering how fast I’m going. I’ve always liked to go fast. I’d go to the local skatepark but I was never very good. Then a friend asked me, ‘Hey, do you like to skate down hills?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I love bombing hills.’ He said, ‘What about sliding – do you know what sliding is?’ I didn’t, so he took me out and showed me how to control my speed going down local hills – from there I picked up a board and learned the basics.

“A friend brought his street luge to the first downhill skateboard race I ever attended and he left me in the dust – it kind of blew my mind. I asked him, ‘How do I get into that sport? I’d love to ride sometime.’ He lent me a luge, and that was that.

“You’re laying down so luges are significantly faster. We’re talking over 80 mph, and being five inches off the ground, it feels like 150… there’s nothing else like it.”

“Street luge is essentially the same thing as a downhill longboard but designed for laying down on. It’s a skateboard with the same components; wheels, bearings, trucks and a board – but a luge has handlebars so you can grab better – there’s more stability. They’re a bit longer so you can go faster on them and you’re laying down so, aerodynamically, luges are significantly faster. We’re talking over 80 mph, and being five inches off the ground, it feels like 150… there’s nothing else like it.

“Going fast has always been a big draw for me, so the ability to go even faster on the same road, it’s huge. Everyone asks me whether I prefer downhill skateboarding or street luge but I don’t have an answer – it’s like asking if you want to drive an F1 or rally car; I wanna drive them both!

“Skateboarding has taken me to Australia, South America, Europe, and an 83 mph race in Vermont in the States. Peru was a blast; it has some of the best race courses in the the world up there on top of the Andes at 14,000 feet elevation. The air is so thin you can barely breathe – that adds a whole other factor to racing, when you’re half way down the track and all of a sudden you can’t breathe ‘cause you weren’t thinking about controlling your breathing – that was really a high point of my trip.

“When we get together we skate down a mountain and there’s a connection that goes much farther than any language ever could.”

“One of the best parts of downhill skating is the community. The people in it are loving and caring – they want nothing more than to support each other, support the industry and keep each other stoked out. I have friends that don’t speak english and I don’t speak their language; it’s fine because when we get together we skate down a mountain and there’s a connection that goes much farther than any language ever could.

“When you have the feeling of doing these kinds of things, no words can explain it, and it passes language barriers. You’re often alone in the mountains, doing nothing but seeing the lines you need to take, thinking of nothing besides living in that exact moment. There’s no true way to explain the feeling of skating downhill – you can get close with saying bliss, nirvana – a type of meditation. Very rarely in our lives do we get to block everything else out and focus an exact point in time, where we’re at and what we’re doing without any distractions… but when I skate I can pretty much switch off my thoughts and emotions and live in the moment.

“But competing is a whole different thing – sometimes I love it, sometimes I hate it. My least favorite part of riding is being on the line at the start of a race; there is all this pressure on you, all these eyes watching you, all this expectation to do great – not necessarily from everyone else, but for myself. I know I can push my limits, I know I can do it without making mistakes, I practised for this exact moment… but am I going to be able to do it? Or am I going to get half way down the course and psych myself out, do a turn too early and hit the rails?

“All the stress of being on the line with all the practise, a whole year of traveling, thousands of dollars and it all comes down to the next two minutes. If that two minutes doesn’t go right, you have to find a way to move past it and think about the next event and learn from the mistakes: how you can be faster, better – the way you are with your peers on the start line when you’re not so pressured – more relaxed.

“The best part of competing is winning because the feeling is unlike any other – you’re through the roof, just on top of the world. I came first place [at the World Cup] and secured it, but it was close; I gave it my all and it worked out, luckily that pressure lead to a nice shiny trophy.

“Not only am I not thinking about what I’m going to do at work tomorrow, but I’m not thinking about anything except how much fun it is.”

“You’ve got to always have fun. Everybody has their daily struggles, their need to go home and relax. Nobody’s life is perfect and everybody has the daily chores of going to work, working hard, showing that we want to do the best in what we can do, and when I get to downhill skate it really allows me to let go of all of that; not only am I not thinking about what I’m going to do at work tomorrow, but I’m not thinking about anything except how much fun it is; the next line I’m going to take, how I can go faster, where I need to slow down without crashing… all the things that you have to be thinking about at that exact moment.

“I really like to have fun and I hate making mistakes, so I train and practise to make less mistakes, find faster ways through corners, figure out how to brake later, brake less – it keeps me motivated.

“I don’t think I’ll ever stop downhill skateboarding and street luge. Age is a state of mind, I know people twice my age that can pass me down these hills; I have friends who are athletes doing this in their 50s, 60s or 70s and still skating downhill – they know their limits, and they know how fun it is. It’s like with work, if you retire and stop having anything to do, you don’t have much time left. But if you find a passion, a reason to wake up in the morning, you can live as long as you want.

“You can make anything happen if you really set your mind to it, and once you do, you’re going to be surprised by the outcome.”

“There is skill and balance in the willingness to put yourself in positions that could have a not so great reward at the end, but if you can get past that and think of the reward before the risk then there is really nothing that you can’t accomplish. If you have an idea and you think it’s not possible, think about it harder because it is. You can make anything happen if you really set your mind to it, and once you do, you’re going to be surprised by the outcome… it’s not as hard as you expect.

“Follow your dreams. Follow your passions. If you want something, go for it. I could have messed up so many opportunities or given up and not won the World Championship this year. It all came together because I tried hard, practised and trained – I set my mind to it and made sure I did what I was going to do. If you have the motivation to get something done, you will get it done – make sure you do it! It’s not impossible.”

“If you can think of the reward before the risk then there is really nothing that you can’t accomplish.”

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