How pro Jake Wooten used skateboarding to stave off his demons

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An airport is a technical paradise for any skater: the ultra-smooth floors, the sheer volume of space, the plethora of surfaces and shapes to grind and ride – all wrapped up in the allure of the forbidden. The sheer number of rules and regulations that govern most TSA-protected spaces make skateboarding in an airport a no-brainer, but since skateboarding in an airport was the dream of 22-year-old pro skateboarder Jake Wooten, Red Bull has decided to do it. As a sponsor of the young skater, Red Bull held a skating event called Red Bull Terminal Takeover at the now defunct Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans and began inviting skaters from across the country. to compete.

First held last year, the event expanded further in April 2022 as pandemic precautions were lifted and word quickly spread among the skating community. “I was like, ‘I want to skate an airport,’ and they were like, ‘Here’s an airport,'” Wooten told InsideHook. “I wanted to invite a bunch of skate shops, and Red Bull also set up a prize to win the competition, because COVID-19 was hitting hard at the time. As COVID has slowly become less and less important, this year it’s a much bigger event because we can have more skaters.

Even though the old Louis Armstrong terminals are closed, they are directly across from the new airport and are technically still federally regulated. The cooperation of the local community therefore played an important role in the event. “We’re literally on airport property, it’s federal airport regulations — I can look out there and see planes taking off,” Wooten says. “The officers and the local New Orleans Police Department were amazing and were so kind. They make sure everyone has a good time without anything going wrong.

Born and raised in Tennessee, Wooten started skating as a pre-teen to help deal with the anger and pain he felt growing up in an unstable environment. Now he lives a few hours south of Los Angeles, so skating in California is more familiar than skating in Louisiana. We caught up with Wooten to get some of his tips and tricks on the world of skating and how he turned pro around the same time he reached legal drinking age.

Inside hook: When did you first know you wanted to be a skateboarder?

Jake Wooten: I had never experienced skateboarding or seen skateboarding until my uncle Phillip took me to Tony Hawk’s Boom Boom Huck Jam in Nashville, Tennessee when I was five years old. I was immediately drawn to skateboarding, and my uncle used to skate when he was younger, so he was super into getting skateboards. He started dating me on the weekends, and he was my father figure.

Going from Tennessee to California is quite a leap – how is the skate scene different between the two states?

I moved to California in January 2020, just before the pandemic. I haven’t left my house for 38 days. But it’s a night and day difference in the scenes – there are as many kids in the scene in Tennessee as there are in a skate park in California. I live in Oceanside now, and it’s a lot of transition skating. That’s skating a lot of ramps, compared to people skating more sets of stairs and ramps.

It’s always such a loving community wherever you go. It’s not like surfing, biking or golf – it’s not like those standard sports or action sports. Skating has saved us all in one way or another, so we’re giving it back.

What is your personal skate style?

In Tennessee there are a lot more street skaters and a lot of BMXers. I actually grew up with BMX pros, and they were the pros I rode with. That’s why I learned to skate the transition the way I did. I’m more known for transition skating, but I do more street skating. I have always skated both. When you skate everything, you are considered more of a mountain biker, i.e. an all-terrain rider, like an all-terrain vehicle. One of the greatest to ever be like that is Grant Taylor.

Where is your favorite place to skate in Southern California?

I’m a big fan of Chino Park, but it’s about an hour and a half from where I live. I’m also a big fan of Costa Mesa Park in Orange County — that one is 15 minutes from my house.

Do you have any rituals before or after skating?

Every day after I wake up, I immediately take a large glass of water and drink it. Then I drink a green juice and normally a protein shake or eat something. Before I go skating I stretch my hips and stretch my groin, just make sure my thighs and hamstrings are straight and then I’m good to go. After skating, I try to use the leg compression devices and the Theragun. I use Hyperice. It’s like Theragun, but it’s cheaper and I think they’re better. I don’t ride for them and have no affiliation, but I think they are amazing products.

Do you have any favorite clothes or shoes to wear while on set?

I wear my Etnies. I really like the MIranas at the moment, the JOcelyns. I have to wear a hat. I have several different types of underwear, but I have to wear Calvin Kleins by TJ Maxx, they are the best. I’ve had real ones before from Dillard, and I swear it wasn’t the same, they were all silky smooth. And I have to wear white knee-high socks. Still. You don’t skate with black socks. Black socks are dress socks, white socks are skate socks. And also, Jake Phelps – rest in peace – the Mocker the editor said you never skate in black socks.

What prompted you to make it your career in skateboarding?

I’ve always dreamed of being a professional skateboarder, but never thought I’d make it. Then I turned pro when I was 20, and now I realize the other sides and all the opportunities – things besides skateboarding. Now that I’m pro, I work on product lines for each of the companies I work for.

I had a lot of problems with my anger and my childhood baggage. I didn’t answer it properly and didn’t deal with it in a healthy way. My aunt and uncle tried their best to try to help me, but it’s something you have to figure out yourself. As I got older, skateboarding taught me a lot of lessons that I struggled to learn on my own.

I had nowhere to put that energy and animosity that I had as a child. Skateboarding was my teacher, you can’t blame anyone else. You can’t, it’s you. It’s like golf in a way, but mostly rich kids play golf, and poor kids get what they get. But you can buy a skateboard for a hundred dollars and take off.

What’s your best advice for a new skateboarder?

To wear a helmet. Bend your knees. Don’t be frustrated or angry. It’s skateboarding. It’s a wooden toy, it’s just for fun. Don’t be discouraged because it takes a long time.

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