The Australian School Of Skateboarding

Monster Skate Park is one of 50 venues handpicked by Ray-Ban to be part of their Rare Prints/Rare Places initiative, a unique concept they developed to help their customer discover their city’s best bars, shops and events to celebrate their new range of Rare Print Ray-Bans.

It’s no understatement that Australians have sport ingrained in our culture, but if you find the monotony of cricket far too easy to resist, or perhaps refuse to associate yourself with any NRL team (along with the fanatics and off-field debauchery), we can assure you, action sports are all action and no drama. For those sporting traditionalists who still question its status, the art of skateboarding and BMX requires exceptional athletic skills and some sick maneuvering; which is more than you can say for some. Its evolution from its counter-cultural origins has seen it become a growing part of our sporting sphere.

Pedestrian recently caught up with the owner of Sydney’s Monster Skate Park, Hagan, who shares with us why people are coming from across the country and around the world – including the pros – to visit Australia’s finest examples of a skatepark. The site boasts an indoor street course, outdoor vert and spine ramps, a BMX track, as well as development clinics and school programs; proving its leading the way in nurturing new and emerging talent (and why it’s been named as one of Ray Ban’s Rare Venues).

Monster Skate Park is one of the finest equipped parks in Australia. I think what sets Monster apart from a lot of places is just the programming available to all the people that come here; whether you’re an artist or whether you’re an athlete. We’ve got programs for people learning to skate, all the way up to full on development programs for athletes that are showing great ability in their chosen sport. We provide competitive venues as well, so there are a lot of competitions happening here. There are always demos going on, so we use a lot of the athletes and the kids training to be in those demos, along with professional skateboarders and special athletes, just so they can kind of learn that we do a pathway, basically from zero to hero.

The great thing with Monster is that there are always pros dropping in… whether they’re skating, riding or just hanging out. It provides a lot of skaters and BMX riders with insight into what’s actually happening at the skate park and what’s actually happening with the sport – and they can see it first hand from their idol.

There seems to have been a lot of careful planning and collaboration when designing the park; how much support did you have from everyone involved? I guess it was everybody’s input and then at the end of the day it was the designer that figured things out and made things work… they knew they wanted it to be a unique park – one that was unlike any other in Australia – and there still isn’t. The one thing that Monster’s trying to do is stay with the sport; it’s not like tennis where you make a tennis court and those lines are going to be there all the time.

The lines in skateboarding and action sports change all the time. So riders will of a sudden like a certain, particular style of the sport, therefore you have to accommodate that for those riders and for those skaters to be able to make sure that you’re staying current and challenging them. If you look at the big international competitions, you’ve also got to accommodate for the kids here so that they’re ready for those comps.

We make sure we offer different opportunities. The biggest one we had recently was the Bag jump. We had that down in Thredbo for the entire winter season – and we’re bringing it up here for the summer. It’s basically a 20m by 20m, 2.5 m high inflatable cushion. We get people to launch and do absolutely whatever they want so that they’ll still be able to land safely.

It’s worked out really well for the Australian skateboarding and ski community; being able to learn tricks that they wouldn’t normally do or would have taken them maybe two or three seasons to learn the progression of that trick… Whereas by offering them an air bag to jump on they’re able to learn it in a weekend.

How do you see the role of extreme sports here in Australia? We try and lose the label ‘extreme’; I think it’s more an action sport now. It’s the natural evolution of sport… watched by more people, participated in by more people and enjoyed by more people than any other sport; and although it’s still considered a fringe activity or a hobby sport, it’s gaining in popularity to the point where traditional sports enthusiasts can’t turn a blind eye to it anymore.

Today, with the iSkate program we actually provide skateboarding as part of the school curriculum. So instead of choosing cricket, or tennis, kids can choose skateboarding.

How important is it to have such a site here in Sydney – and Australia for that matter? I think it needs to happen to ensure that the sport grows properly. I always liken it to say if swimming and skateboarding were swapped. Let’s say skateboarding was already integrated into society: there were programs already available, there were facilities that were maintained, funding was provided to ensure that they ran well – so that’s what would happen with a skate park right… And then you’ve got swimming, that’s just come onto the scene and all these councils are like ‘well let’s just put in a swimming pool and see what happens’… they would never put a swimming pool in and just walk away. And that’s what councils and communities are doing, they’re putting up skate parks and just going ‘cool, that’s our tick in the box, we’ve met the needs of the youth of our community.’ But that’s not it. They don’t realise that there needs to be programming involved and that’s where iSkate Australia and where Monster comes in. That’s the real point of difference. People walk in and they think there’ll be attitudes and egos, but then they see everybody having a good time, having fun and learning. And these kids showing off these amazing athletic skills… They think ‘this is nuts – there’s nothing like this!’ It’s really nice to hear that, because you realise you’re creating something special here.

Can you tell us of any notable local and international skating pros that have visited the park? We’ve got Tony Hawk coming in six weeks. He’s already been here before, last year, and he put on a great show. We get internationals coming in all the time… I could drop a bunch of names, but nobody will really know them. You can’t get bigger than Tony Hawk.

Located on Grande Parade, Sydney Olympic Park, NSW.

You could win the Ray-Ban Rare Prints artwork from the venue by just tweeting about Monster Skate Park to #raybanrare.

Title Image by Mark Metcalfe via Getty