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Flashback with Eito Yasutoko

Rollerblade® has opened the team archives and wondered…  “What are they up to now?” In the Flashback series of interviews, we catch up with former Rollerblade® team riders and creative minds that helped grow the brand. We talk about the past, present, and future. This time we Flashback with Eito Yasutoko from Kobe Japan.

Eito you have been skating since you were very young. Your parents were professional roller skaters as well. What is your first skating memory that you can share with us?
I grew up at the skating rink in Osaka Japan. My parents were pro roller-disco skaters.  They did a lot of roller-disco shows with their team, “ Team GOOD SKATES”. At the age of 2, I remember always skating with the team members! I thought every human could skate… because everyone around me was always on skates, including my parents. Turns out I was wrong… hahahaha. I can also still remember when Rollerblade® introduced inline skating in Japan in 1990. I was 7 years old, and I was like, “No way! I want those skates”.

At the age of 15, around 1998, you were already skating at a very high level on the Vert Ramp. How did you get into Vert Ramp skating?
In the 80’s my father visited the USA to teach roller-disco. There he saw “the halfpipe” (a bowl). When he came back to Japan he built a halfpipe by himself in the skating rink. So when I was born a halfpipe was already in “my house”!  At the age of 10 years I started skating VERT ramp for shows, my parents added it to the roller-disco shows. Team GOOD SKATES started practicing vert performances in 1992. I was about 10 years old at that time. You could say my roots are in show skating. The first international contest was the “NISS” when I was 12, in the summer of 1995. I will never forget that I met the world’s best skaters in Los Angeles. I was shocked of the level and learned what was possible in the ramp. When I came back I started practicing for the next competition!

For more than a decade you dominated the competitions. You also invented new tricks, that haven’t been done by others until today. How did you manage to evolve your skills? And did you ever get seriously hurt?
I practiced a lot at the “G”skates Park in Kobe Japan. My main focus was never to win. I was close friends with the world’s best skaters, so I enjoyed skate sessions with them. We always tried to put on a good show for the spectators. Together with my brother, Takeshi, we always trained before a comp and battled together at the contest.  This completion always created a good show. I am not really a person who loves to compete. I just want to understand and do more than anyone else concerning inline skating. So from that perspective I tried to do all tricks, and also create new tricks and moves in the ramp.

When I was 22 I suffered a bad injury to my spinal cord and lost feeling in my legs for a while. Luckily I met a good doctor who managed to help me. I was off my skates for 1 year.  However, eventually I could say, “ I am back my friends.” After the injury I was able to create another original trick called the: “Twister.”

Your mark in Vert Skating is significant.  What do you think of the current scene today? Unfortunately, the huge competitions from back in the day are gone. Any idea why this happened?
I think vert skating is very simple and easy to understand. We lost a lot of good events in the USA and talented vert heroes from the USA disappeared because of the lack of events. The potential is still there.  It’s just the best to watch as a spectator. Inline vert has the same big tricks as BMX and the tricky lip tricks like skateboarding

We still see you skating the ramps (instagram) but also see you on ice skates. How did this happen?
My brother Takeshi and I started ice skating to compete at the RedBull Crashed Ice 2018/2019 season. I saw some RBCI training videos and noticed the ice skaters inline skating in the off-season. I thought it would be another possibility for me as an inline skater. Also it is a great way to show the versatility of my skills and the skills of my students at my skate school: ASC School.

You competed at the RedBull Crashed Ice in Edmonton Canada. How was that experience for you? Did you have an advantage being a pro inline skater?
Takeshi and I are beginners on ice, but that also what makes it so much fun! I am sure that stunt skaters (roller freestyle skaters) have a lot of potential and possibilities on RedBull Crashed Ice. We need to spend time on ice and improve ice skating skills. We already know how to use transitions and have airtime. I think all pro inline skaters can try and compete at the RBCI.

You also teach young kids at the Gskates Skatepark. Do you feel like you can share you expertise and skills with the future generation?
I stopped competing Vert since last year. My main focus and job now is the skate school. I am teaching inline skating at my ASC School. But the lessons aren’t only for inline skating skills. Many children have other main sports like: soccer, tennis, swimming, skiing, etc. I teach inline skating to improve motor skills, balance, and core muscle which they need for all sports.

I also focus on improving self-confidence and self esteem. After a couple of skate lessons, kids see more possibilities, improve their confidence and get positive power and motivation to push themselves. Doesn’t that make your life more enjoyable?!

The motivation to improve myself at skating the ramp is shifted to improve lessons for the kids. It’s exactly the same motivation. I am really happy with this job and feel that inline skating can make everyone’s life happier.  This is a wonderful sport.

Do you also have future plans with your young apprentices or your son?
Some of my student competed at the Roller Freestyle Junior competition of the FISE in Hiroshima. I see that many kids are developing interest in competing at competitions. And if they want they should also try the RedBull Crashed Ice race too! I am sure inline skating has much possibilities for the future to evolve. Like training for other sports as skiing, ice skating, camera people for movie productions but also for shows such as the world renowned Cirque du Soleil. And who know maybe go Olympic at a certain moment. I am just so excited about the future of our sport, I feel a huge positive wave coming soon…..!

Thanks for having a chat with us!