Chris Cole hit the pavement at the age of eight, signed his first corporate sponsorship with World Industries at 16, and hasn’t looked back since. A San Diego transplant, raised in Levittown, Pa., Cole has risen from his modest Northeast routes to become one of the biggest names in the global skateboarding game. He’s already accomplished more on a board than most skaters could ever dream of, and if he were to hang it up tomorrow citing the desire to spend more time with his young family, or pursue other career endeavours, there are few who could admonish his decision. Extreme sports, and skateboarding in particular, has always held a certain stigma that it’s a live fast and die young mentality among the sports’ elite, but for Cole that couldn’t be further from the truth. Chris has adopted the personal credo of “live rad and die proud,” words that he says guides him both personally and professionally. This is not to say that he plays it safe on a skateboard, all you have to do is watch a few of his highlights to know that. It speaks to the fact that more important than winning trophies, Cole is trying to take the most from each experience his career gifts him.
Cole earned the prestigious honor of being named Thrasher Skater of the Year in 2005, and when he received the acclaim again in 2009 he became just the second skater to do this after Danny Way. 2013 was a tremendous year for Cole, he took home several second place finishes in Street League competitions around the country, and bagged top spot at the Street League Super Crown World Championships as well as the Street League X Games in Munich, Germany. Now, on the heels of his fourth signature shoe drop with DC since signing with their elite skate team in 2011, Cole is looking to make this year is his biggest to date. Check out our interview with Chris below as we talk signature shoe drops, what it means to "live rad and die proud," and the backbone of skateboarding.
Last year you won the Street League Super Crown and the Street League X Games in Munich, how are you going to top that in 2014?
I’m working to keep pushing and keep doing the things I’ve been doing, but it’s also off to a really good start already, and that’s how I think it’s going to be better. I have a video part dropping in March. I have a new shoe coming out in March as well, and then I’m just grinding away to skate as much as humanly possible. But also be involved with as many other things as humanly possible, be out there doing stuff instead of just lying dormant doing nothing.
What I’ve always grown up thinking is that it’s really important to be proud of what you’ve done at the end of your life. It’s the only way to truly be okay with dying, right?
You mentioned the shoe launch in March, how many signature shoes do you have with DC?
It’s actually my fourth signature shoe with them, believe it or not. It’s pretty crazy how time flies. It’s the updated version of my lite shoe, which was pretty successful, and it’s the Cole Lite shoe. It basically has every single bit of technology that we make all in one shoe.
Your motto is, “live rad, and die proud,” what does that mean, and how did it come about? I kind of just made it up, because I see a lot of people in the media that we follow, who make a ton of money, kind of being assholes. They suck at living a normal life, and they suck at kind of being a person. What I’ve always grown up thinking is that it’s really important to be proud of what you’ve done at the end of your life. It’s the only way to truly be okay with dying, right? At the end of the line, the only way you’re going to be okay with it is if you have no deep feelings of regret. That deep feeling of, I should have done this, I should have done that. The worst regret I think that I could have, is that I should’ve been a better person. I shouldn’t have been lame, I shouldn’t have done that, because then you’re actually affecting other people in a negative way. I think the world’s built with people who are effecting others in a negative way, and there needs to be a whole lot of positive influence.
You talked about how you want to leave it in the end, but let’s go back to the beginning. What made you pick up a skateboard in the first place?
I saw these kids skate by my grandmother’s house when I was a little kid, and I was looking out the bay windows just being a bored kid as usual, and those kids looked so cool. It was that moment where I was like, that dude looks awesome, that board looks awesome, he’s doing something that I want to do. I started asking my mom for a board, and she was an ICU nurse, so she saw people come in straight after being hit by a car. So she didn’t want to give me a board, and it took two years of begging before she finally gave me one. The first day I stepped on it, actually even before I stepped on it, I was completely addicted to skateboarding. I looked at all the magazines, and I used to make sentences on the blackboard and in my homework, and all of them had to do with skateboarding. It was pretty much a dead ringer that I was going to continue that path.
But I know up until this point, deep down inside, without being full of myself and without thinking I’m the shit, that I did it. I actually accomplished my goals that I never even knew where obtainable.
What did it mean to win Thrasher Magazine’s Skateboarder of the Year, and then take home the honor again?
That’s the one. It was heavy. It was kind of like the moment when you say, ‘I did it, like I really did it.’ Essentially, after that you could quit. You set your name in stone, you accomplished what a very, very, very low percentage of skateboarders will ever accomplish. You’re among that elite, and you can now just quit. But I love skating, and if you get to be the Skater of the Year, you love skateboarding, you’re not going to quit. You don’t get there if you’re not 100 percent all about it. Then to win it again, I couldn’t believe it. It’s hard to believe that they would ever even give it to me twice, because it comes down to their decision, and whether they want to give it to you twice or not.
When they gave it to me a second time it was too much, I don’t even know how to describe that. I’ll continue to try to live rad and die proud forever, and that’s always what I’ll try to do. But I know up until this point, deep down inside, without being full of myself and without thinking I’m the shit, that I did it. I actually accomplished my goals that I never even knew where obtainable.