SkateIDSA’s Rule Committee Director, James Peters, on looking back at distance skateboarding, hosting a successful event, and the future of racing.
Meet James Peters, if you haven’t already. He’s the godfather of LDP and the original 24-Hour Ultraskate host. To pinpoint the origin of LDP as the term we’ve come to use in our daily vernacular, James says, “it was Henry Chang aka “H.C.” who I’dd say with confidence first mentioned it on the mostly slalom site “NCDSA.com” and I figured LDP sounded better than other bullshit we were coming up with. ” As time went on and other terms were tested, James settled on “LDP” in earnest with the conception of his site – PavedWave.
James is the SkateIDSA official rule chair. He’s been formatting, conceiving, deliberating, and publishing the rules for the organization from the beginning, mostly stemming from his wealth of experience in LDP itself outside of the sport. Of his role with SkateIDSA, he says, “It might be considered the most nerdy position on the team, but that fits pretty well with my career in software quality assurance and being a band geek.” When he isn’t playing jazz or getting down to the last details on rules, James is a software engineer and manager in testing, while learning web development for test automation. In short: he’s the smartest of the bunch on the board.
When the first USA Ultraskate events took place, they were hosted by James in Seattle, where he resides. With his discovery that the event itself was enough to get LDP elites like Conan Isaac Gay and Andy Andras out on the track he says it helped him realize that it was something everyone could share and grow with. “I’ve always seen this kind of competition as more a self-improvement, than competing with others, so when it attracted true, seasoned competitors, teams, and rules like drafting, that was all evolution I had truly never expected, but it’s really awesome to see how it’s developed because of the competitive spirit it attracts.”
To James, the future of distance skateboarding is inspired by a foundation of skaters past and present. “There’s a good handful of guys who laid the foundation back in the 70’s/80’s by skating across the States — Jack Smith, Gary Fluitt, Paul Dunn, and Bob Denike, and in more recent years the Adam Colton, Paul Kent, Nat Halliday, Rob Thomson types who also skated across continents. But since most of us can’t take off easily for months at a time, it fueled a passion to compress those insane cross-continent skateboarding adventures into a single weekend Ultraskate. I’m really stoked to see how skaters have come together as families, and I see more momentum around casual weekend skates happening. All it takes are some driven individuals who post up a consistent weekly MeetUp and keep showing up, knowing there will be some ebb and flow.”
We asked James some in-depth questions about current affairs and the history of LDP:
On the growth of distance skateboarding
Distance skateboarding is a very low impact activity when you learn good form, and it’s a really inclusive, welcoming family who are glad to bring you on board, so it lends itself well to people who like an outdoor activity they can pursue their entire lives. Of course it doesn’t come without risk, so getting the fundamental balance, agility and braking down early is important to avoid crashes that can take you out of the game for a while. The public perceives a lot of skateboarding as inherently dangerous, but LDP is really the one skateboarding discipline that appeals to the very youngest to the very oldest, and all the crazy fast people in between. I’ve realized how easy skateboarding long distances really is compared with running, and how running can be 2-3 times more efficient in terms of getting a serious workout. I definitely benefit from running, and believe it’s the one thing that pushed my Ultraskate PR to 240 miles. There’s cross-over both directions. I’ve met so many runners and cyclists who decided to dust off the skateboard they had in the back of their closet.
On the accessibility and future of distance events
I’m hoping to make Miami Ultraskate 2019 again, the people and the venue are epic. I’d also love to make it back to The Netherlands. They’ve been doing Ultraskates from it’s earliestyears, built a massive skate tribe, and they now dominate the world’s top slots! Community support is a huge factor, having an event in a town where the residents are all stoked to see the spectacle of athletes from all ages showing up and throwing down. And skaters who come from “skate families” where everyone likes to come and participate or just watch, really fuels the energy. It’s also great when the local businesses like hotels, shops and restaurants realize how much we can benefit them. It just takes a handful of driven and organized folks to hold events, some insanely talented athletes like Rick and Saskia pushing the podium higher, and buddies that like to skate for friendly competition and just need more excuses to meet up. That’s what’ll keep this scene growing!
On being a valued member of SkateIDSA’s board
I lead discussions and conduct mini-surveys and polls with IDSA board members and skaters who’ve attended events, on things like whether to allow drafting, what kind of boards qualify on the course, and how to include as many skaters as possible to continue positive growth. Our goal is to establish a safe, inclusive, and reliably consistent racing environment worldwide. We all get along really well and connect as friends and fellow skaters, and have some laughs together. It really helps that we’ve all raced each other, so we can bring that direct experience to the table when it’s time to reflect on events, and think about what went well and what can be improved. I feel really lucky we’ve got so many progressive, creative and driven people on the IDSA board, across the world.
Meet the Board is a short interview series intended to humanize and capture the hard work that stands behind competitive distance skateboarding and supercross. For more information on James, see the evolution of data and care for the community in his work over at PavedWave.org