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Friday, May 13, 2011

Jeff Hedges: Interview

Jeff Hedges, Pro-Tec Pool Party 2011, Protec Pool Party, Vans
Fejj at Pro-Tec Pool Party 2010, having the time of his life...
Yesterday night, I was browsing through my 1000+ pictures from last year’s Protec Pool Party in order to complement and finish my next post (“Pro-Tec Pool Party 2011: Chapter I, The masters“ published on isTia) and came upon a couple of pictures of Jeff Hegdes in the bleachers. He was all smiley and radiant and was obviously having a wonderful time, as a spectator i.e. Since then, he returned to skateboarding and he’s thrilled about it. And, BTW, we are thrilled too… Watching on Facebook those pictures of some of the most stylish inverts ever done is quite a thrill! Those guys that either stopped skating or took a big dive and started again, I call them born-again skaters (I include myself in the pack). When you’re born-again skater, that’s for life man! And it’s not an empty motto to sell stuff! No kidding! That’s in our blood. Then I saw Jeff at a couple of contest here and there at Lake Cunningham, in Florida even in Sweeden! Aand I was wondering if he had been invited to the Pro-Tec this year. And you know what? There is no official list of who’s invited or not. We just know who’s gonna be there because it’s a family reunion and we know who belongs to the family. Maybe Vans has a secret list, maybe there’s an official list somewhere in a safe at Pro-Tec, but I don’t know where to get it…

So, without a list, this morning, I simply asked him. "Hey, Fejj!!! Are you going to Pro-Tec Pool Party 2011? Yes or not???" The Q&A stuff is short, but that’s worth much more than a nice bullion from Fort Knox. That’s his answers.

Jeff Hedges, Pro-Tec Pool Party 2011, Protec Pool Party, Vans
Jeff Hedges Tuck Knee Invert on the big pipe at Lake Cunningham. Photo Steve Potwin.

Jeff Hedges: Hi Xavier! I am being allowed to enter the qualifier for the Pro-Tec Pool Party 2011, on Thursday the 19th. Not sure who all is entering that, but supposedly they will take 8 old guys from the qualifier, and put them in with the 20 pre-qualified people from last year (top 18 places from last year, plus 2 'wild cards'? not sure who those are...) I just want to do it for fun, don't care where I place, but would like to skate as good as I can.

I was just getting my legs back last year, and only had some early inverts and eggs, but would have 'entered' then too - just to get a chance to skate with old friends, not like I thought I had a chance against any of the other "masters" (old guys :) it’s more of a "family reunion" than contest in a lot of ways... A jam session where some people will get trophies and $...

Jeff Hedges, Pro-Tec Pool Party 2011, Protec Pool Party, Vans
Jeff Hedges at Tim Brauch contest. Method Air. He landed 4th. Photo Julian Bleecker
isTia: So, are you invited in the Master's section?
Jeff Hedges: I got an invite to enter the qualifier event on Thursday before the main event on Saturday. I've heard there should be 16 old guys like me, trying for 8 additional spots in the Geriatric division of the Protec Pool Party on Saturday.

isTia: How often do you train?
Jeff Hedges: Train? It may just be semantics, but I don't think of 'training' or 'practice' when I go skate. I do it because it’s just so damn fun. I love it, but I am hungry to relearn some of the stuff I used to do and learn new things I never did before. I ride at least once a week, and often 2. Sometimes even 3 or 4 days... When I'm fortunate enough to get to do so.

Jeff Hedges, Pro-Tec Pool Party 2011, Protec Pool Party, Vans
Jeff Hedges at Lake Cunnigham. Soon at a Pro-Tec Pool Party 2010 near you. Photo Steve Potwin.
isTia: Where do you skate?
Jeff Hedges: I mostly ride Greg Neal's vert ramp in Richmond CA (just across the bay from San Francisco where I live) and I go to Lake Cunningham skatepark in San Jose when I can. I got to go to the Combi last month, and even a day at Bucky's so I guess that was practice for the contest? ;)

isTia: What's the highlight of this year since the last Pro-Tec 2010?
Jeff Hedges: Last year I went to the Combi contest as a spectator, having only recently gotten back on board on a regular/weekly basis. Since then I entered a couple local contests at Lake Cunningham. The judges placed me 4th at the Tim Brauch contest there (far exceeding any expectation I had). I also went to the Quicksilver all 80's Day jam in Florida (placing 7th) and to the Vert Attack 5 in Malmo Sweden (5th), so it’s been a surreal year, skating a lot and entering contests like I was a kid again.

isTia: Is it watching the last Protec that you decided to re-skate?
Jeff Hedges: Two years ago I watched the 2009 Protec over the internet from home while healing my broken wrist, and it left me dreaming of riding again. It was the best thing I had seen in a long time, far more entertaining than the usual X-Games and Dew Tour contests - mainly because of the inclusion of the older guys from my generation, but also some incredible skating by the younger pros in a great pool. I think I decided then that someday I needed to skate vert and try to land an invert again. (It had been almost 20 years since I had landed one.)

Jeff Hedges, Pro-Tec Pool Party 2011, Protec Pool Party, Vans
Jeff Hedges: Sadplant at an indoor ramp close to his house.
Photo Steve Potwin.
isTia: Who are you skating with those days?
Jeff Hedges: A great crew of guys from all over the SF Bay Area. My buds Dan, Troy and Brandon, Jason, Greg, Griff, Mitch, Mike P, J Haley, Pat Black, Kyle Mac, Brad McClain, Brent Jon and Chico crew used to come out a lot, a ton of guys over the last year+, and of course the extremely supportive and motivational Steve Cab. Thanks for keeping the fire going guys!

isTia: What's your favorite bowl?
Jeff Hedges: The Combi and Bucky's are the two best pools I have ever skated. Period. Love the Skull bowl at Lake Cunningham as well.

isTia: Are you pro? Sponsored? Looking for a sponsor? Don't care about sponsorship? Just skate for fun?
Jeff Hedges: I just skate for fun, but Santa Cruz has helped me out, giving me boards, shirts and gear, and they even sent me out to the Florida 80's day thing. I get wheels from Bones, pads from 187, ride Indy trucks and flow from various people for shoes, bearings, and etc., I get by with a little help from my friends. I don't make any money though... not sure I deserve to, but I could use the cash ;)

isTia: What's your daytime job?
Jeff Hedges: Looking for a job. Anyone interested in hiring a very experienced (16 years testing) software/website/game tester? How about any jobs for an old skater?

isTia: How long did you stop skating?
Jeff Hedges: I never said the word "quit" but when all the vert disappeared and the job and family took precedence, I later discovered I could no longer ride vert when I finally got the chance... so the last time I rode big stuff was around 20 years ago.

Jeff Hedges, Pro-Tec Pool Party 2011, Protec Pool Party, Vans
Jeff Hedges, Inverted Tuck Knee at Malmo, Sweeden.
Not bad for someone that has been "sucking at skateboarding for the past 15 years".
Photo Fred Ferand.
- until December of 2009 when I 'found' Greg's vert ramp and the great crew there. Over the last 15 years up until the last year+, I would try riding some small stuff only a few times a year... Not surprisingly I sucked at it.

isTia: How does it feel to be back?
Jeff Hedges: "Don't call it a comeback" :) It feels great to be skating every week again. I don't know how I let myself believe I was too old, so for anyone else out there that has lost a lot of years to work and life, know this - it is possible to relearn much of what you once did, and at the very least have fun trying.

isTia: Something else?
Jeff Hedges: Just get out there and ride - nothing else that comes close to the feeling. I want to thank my family: Cindy, Cullen, Christopher and my little boy Logan. Thanks also to my friends Troy Sliter, Dan Kuhns, Brandon Fields, Jason Richardson, and Cab, for all their help, encouragement and support, and to all the locals in the Bay Area scene, as well as Christian Cooper at Concrete Disciples, and all my old skateboarding peers for access to skate their spots and for their kind words. Good friends and family support make the skating all the more fun and rewarding.

Jeff Hedges

Thanks to Fred Ferand, Steve Potwin and Julian Bleecker for the pictures. All pictures are copyrighted by the authors and used by special permission.

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posted by Xavier Lannes @ Friday, May 13, 2011 


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