The Long Ride: Q&A with father and son longboarders Mike and Greg Paproski Part 2
Like many twelve-year-olds, Greg Paproski likes to board. But unlike most of those twelve-year-olds, he’s focused on longboarding — and spending the summer competing in races. With the help of his new sponsor, Dregs Skateboards, he’s “hit” (longboard lingo for competed) three races in the North American Downhill Series: the Vernon DH in Vernon, British Columbia; the Grand Prix of New York in Windham, New York and the Maryhill Festival of Speed in Goldendale, Washington. He currently ranks number one in his region and third in the world of the Junior Division ages eight through thirteen of the International Gravity Sports Association. Interview Part 2
How many races are there a year for longboarding?
Greg: We honestly don’t really know.
Mike: IGSA, International Gravity Sports Association, they’re the guys that sanction a lot of the races that we go to now that we’re trying to make something of skating. There’s races every weekend here in Colorado. It’s a big skate scene. We’re at races every weekend throughout the summer. It’s great practice.
Are they all sanctioned by the IGSA?
Mike: Most of these are what they call outlaws. We’re basically riding until the cops show up. It’s kind of an underground scene. They’ve got bikes out on the road, so really what’s the difference? [The cops] understand as long as the kids can keep control of the board. I’ve been ticketed once, but I got ran over by a motorcycle for that.What kind of protection do you wear to keep you alive?
Mike: We wear helmet, knee pads usually. Suits called leathers. Gloves.
Greg: They’re special gloves. They have like pucks on ‘em, so you can set your hand down without it catching on the ground.
Mike: It’s like a hockey puck. What we were using when we first started out was cutting boards. Make it out of cutting boards and hot-glue it onto a pair of gloves just so you have something that’ll slide against the concrete and not grab it as soon as you touch your hand down.
How expensive is this sport, with all the equipment and entrance and travel fees?
Mike: These races are $150. Mary Hill was $200 to race. It’s kind of expensive. I paid $1,500 for his suit. Most of the people who hit the big circuit are sponsored. We are, too, but on a much smaller scale. These guys pull up in buses and plop down tents and their leathers are all paid for, so that doesn’t come out of their pocket anymore.
Greg: I’ve been through at least ten sets of bearings. A lot of wheels. Probably I could guess around twenty-five or thirty wheels.Do you have a nemesis?
Greg: The number-one kid in the world, I’ve almost beat him in a few races. His name is Quinn Dubois.
Mike: He’s the champion from last year and he’s in the same age group as Greg this year. They will have some head-to-head battles. He’s a very seasoned racer. It’s going to be a battle. The difference is, Greg rides some serious stuff out here in Colorado.
Greg: He’s thirteen, but he gets to luck out because the rule is whatever age you are January 1, you get to start racing that age group.
What’s the fastest you’ve ever ridden?
Greg: Fifty miles per hour. It didn’t feel like fifty to me. I actually went with one of my friends who’s older. After he gave me a little bump draft where you get pushed, I just accelerated up to fiftyish and stayed at that speed the rest of the way down.
Mike: It felt like fifty to me.
Greg: It’s really a mental thing where you just want to finish the hill and you’re having so much fun. It’s just a blast. It really is. Different mindset. Totally forget about everything else around you. Just get down the hill and have a good time.
You’ll be headed out of the eight-to-thirteen age group and into the fourteen-to- seventeen group next year. How do you compare to those riders?
Greg: All of them are really good. A lot of them, I don’t really like how they act towards some people. They seem really mean. Just a weird attitude towards a lot of people. I think when you go out there just have fun and don’t be all cocky and rude to people. They are all really good riders, but some of those people who are above them get on my nerves. I don’t like the way they act sometimes. I just want to slap them. I don’t like them.
Mike: As far as speed, he compares pretty well to them. Obviously, they have a weight advantage on him in a gravity sport. Pound for pound, he’s just as good a skater as I think anybody out there.
Greg: Here in local races like at the Arvada hill I got fourth place and I was racing sixteen year olds. It’s really tough here from racing all those bigger kids, but it’s such good practice because you go up to kids your age and it feels like you’re right on dot with them. You’re actually having way more fun because you’re partying with them down the hill. Staying together through the corners and stuff. It makes it a little bit scary, but that’s what makes it fun. You gotta get a little adrenaline going through the corner. It just adds to the fun, really.
What goals do you have for the future?
Greg: My goals are just to have fun in life and not be stressed out. Just do what comes at me.
Mike: Prioritize fun like Biker does. This is our positive. We’ve really focused on skating. We realized the dreams we had weren’t going to be the same anymore, so we got to rewrite the script. We’re doing that and having fun doing it.
If you missed part 1: Click Here