In Contention: Getting To Know Emily Pross
The first time I met Emily Pross was during the girl’s race at Central Mass 4. We were waiting at the top of the run for one of our race heats when she boldly asked, “How do you get invited to the Catalina Island Classic? It looks awesome, I really want to race it.” Those of us who had been invited that year told her not to worry and that if she kept at it, she would most definitely get an invite. Fast forward two years, and Emily not only won convincingly at the 2015 Catalina Island Classic, but has been standing atop podiums at almost every race she has entered including this past weekend’s Maryhill Festival of Speed. She is truly a force to be reckoned with in the world of downhill skateboarding and is certainly in contention to become this year’s women’s IDF world champ.
Hey Emily! Thanks for sitting down and chatting with Skate Slate. Tell us a little bit about yourself. How old are you? Where are you from? What do you do? All that good stuff.
I was born and raised in Jersey, I’m 19 years old, and I currently live in Vernon New Jersey . Right now I’m unemployed and can’t get a job because of skateboarding and traveling, but my parents have been very gracious with letting me live off them. I’m also a full-time online student working on my Bachelors in Marketing and Communications, and normally after or during a race you’ll see me trying to get my school work done. Online classes are really easy for me because I can still go on skate trips and not have to worry about missing class.
That’s radical to hear – balancing school and skating can definitely be a challenge, glad you’re making it work for you! It also sounds like your parents are really supportive of your skating endeavours. I’m wondering, how did you first get into skating?
Thanks! My parents weren’t always so supportive, in fact I kinda tricked them into being supportive and letting me race. I started skating when was 9, my parents bought me a cheap Walmart complete. I was terrible at skating at the time, I couldn’t ollie or do any of that fancy street stuff. No matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t do it, so I took my skateboard walked it up to the top of the hill I lived on and went down it. I did that up until the board broke. After the board broke I wanted to get a street luge, mind you, I was 12/13 and didn’t exactly know what a street luge was called because I was going off of visual memories when I was 4 of watching The Extreme Goofy Movie over and over again. So I googled ‘board that you lay on’, and I got longboarding as a result, and that’s what I told my parents I wanted as my next skateboard. Little did I know it was not a street luge, but it was an honest mistake that paid off because I absolutely love skateboarding’s longboard aspect.
I remember seeing your first videos on your Youtube channel in 2012. How did you manage to progress in those first few years of longboarding?
Well it took me awhile to learn my first slide. When I first got my longboard when I was like 13/14, and essentially I just did the same thing with it, as I did with my Walmart board. After watching some longboard videos on Youtube, such as the Loaded Newsletter and Loaded Ambassadors, I realized that going straight down a hill was not what longboarding actually was. I realized you could do cool things with it, such as sliding. So I watched a bunch of how to videos, made myself slide gloves out of rubber gloves and duct tape and tried to learn how to coleman. It took me forever! Especially because I had to teach myself. So after a bunch of trial, error, and “giving up” I finally learned how to slide a year after I got my board.
Then I met these crazy dudes over Facebook called the Sussex County Shredders. I tried forever to talk my parents into letting me skate with those guys, but because they were so protective, they thought those guys would abduct me or some shit of that nature. So after another year, in 2013, my parents finally caved and I got to skate with those guys. When I met them, I progressed to the point of doing 180 standups and some no complys. So needless to say some them were pretty stoked, and wanted to help me make a video.
Is that how you ended up hooking up with Original Skateboards?
Yup, one of the dudes in our little Sussex County Shredder group, Davy Harris, was also the current assistant team manager at Original. He was one the guys who was pretty stoked about me, so he helped me film my first video, and submit it to the head honcho over at Original, Sean Kovelbach.
Sweet! It’s always super cool to get insight into how riders pick up their first sponsors. At that point, you were still mainly a freestyle/freeride skater. How did you end up wanting to go fast and getting into downhill?
Well I kinda always was interested in the downhill aspect of longboarding, ironically, I was afriad to go fast. In my opinion the best way to get over a fear, is to just do it. I originally planned on the first I Love DH in Windam NY, to be my first race, but my parents said no to a leather suit, race registration, and an actual downhill board. So I was kinda stuck with freeride, but I met this kid Jared Beers, and he and his dad helped me get more into the downhill aspect of skateboarding. Then that’s when I told myself I was going to do I LOVE DH 2013 part 2. So I ordered leathers and signed up for the race when the time came. Meanwhile I did not mention any of this to my parents. When the race was 2 weeks away I finally told them what I did, they were both angry, shocked, and impressed. In fact they were so impressed that they decided to take me to the race.
What made them impressed? Your passion? Willingness to pursue this racing thing?
No. My parents were just impressed that I figured out how to order a leathers and register for a race, all on my own. They also took me to the race because they didn’t want me to waste my money and not go after investing so much into it. But after I won my first race they started to realize that I was serious
These days, you’re even giving the guys a run for their money in the IDF race scene , You took 3rd in last year’s Central Mass Open division and also made top 32 at Killington! What are some of your plans for this race season?
This year I’m definitely going to Europe to race the IDF World Cups in Norway (Lillehammer) and Czech Republic (Kozakov). After that I’m staying on the East and hitting as many events their as possible. Then to finish off the season I’m planning on hitting Pikes Peak, and Whistler. I was considering doing Mega Space in Brazil which is the final World Cup of the year, but that all depends on money and IDF points.
That’s amazing! I’m excited to watch all your adventures unfold. Tell me, what motivates you to push your limits in both womens and open downhill racing?
What motivates me is that I just don’t want to be the best female skater, I want to be the best skater overall. I also want to inspire other people to go above beyond, and show everyone that if you work hard enough anything is possible.
What is one piece of advice you’d give to any lady looking to get into downhill skateboarding?
Don’t worry about what other people think or say, just have fun and do you.
Finally, just so we can get to know you a bit better, let’s do a quick lightning round!
Favorite color: Red, it’s the fastest color.
Favorite food: Sushi
Favorite place: Any rad skate spot.
Favorite set-up: The one I have now. Original Baffle 37, Ronin Billets, RAD Advantages, RDVX Grip & Venom Bushings
Favorite skater: I really like James Kelly’s style for freeride, but I also like Pswiss’s finesse when he races.
Thanks again for taking the time to sit down and chat. Do you have any last words or shoutouts to make?
I would like to thank my parents, because without their support I would not know my potential in downhill skateboarding.