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In Character with Steven Reeves

A conversation with an interesting Portlander
by: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT Portland skateboarder Steven Reeves practices a “frontside air” in the Dew Tour Portland Invitational at the Rose Garden last week. Just don’t ask him to wear a helmet: We already tried.

You might find Steven Reeves under the Burnside Bridge, one of his favorite hometown skateboarding spots. You might find him in Sweden, where Reeves will be skating in an international competition later this month. Last week, the Northeast Portland resident represented Portland in Portland at the Dew Tour Portland Invitational at the Rose Garden.

Portland Tribune: This comes from a father of two. Why aren't you wearing a helmet out there?

Steven Reeves: I used to wear one when I had to. But it's uncomfortable. I don't know, that's a terrible excuse.

Tribune: Why did you have to?

Reeves: The park where I grew up in Medford required it.

Tribune: What about your mom?

Reeves: She did, too. She asks me the same question every time she sees me skate: 'Why aren't you wearing a helmet, Steven?'

Most of the guys here - like 70 percent - don't. In the street, no one wears a helmet. Sometimes it's looked down upon. Industry-wise, if you were to send a photo to a magazine with your helmet on, the odds are they wouldn't run it.

Tribune: Ever been injured?

Reeves: The worst injury was I split my face open and had 17 stitches and a little bit of plastic surgery. I wasn't even trying a hard trick. I was just throwing my board down and basically I tripped and fell into a curb on my face.

Tribune: Others?

Reeves: Wow, there's a lot. Which one do you want? I've got a Nike swoosh on my arm. I was skating at a contest in Hollywood and again, I wasn't even trying a trick. I was holding a burger for my friend and skating back to the contest. I hit a crack in the sidewalk and fell forward on to a ledge and scraped my arm. It's a full swoosh (There is, in fact, a large scar on Reeves' right arm that looks exactly like the Nike swoosh).

Tribune: Does that get you street cred?

Reeves: No.

Tribune: Have you showed it to a Nike rep?

Reeves: I haven't, but everybody keeps telling me I should.

Tribune: Do you have health insurance?

Reeves: I do.

Tribune: Have you told them you don't wear a helmet as a competitive skateboarder?

Reeves: Every time I go in when I get hurt, they always ask me, 'Were you wearing a helmet?' And my answer is always 'No.' And they pretty much give me the same spiel you just did.

Tribune: Are you a risk taker in other areas of your life?

Reeves: I went to Europe for four weeks with no money.

Tribune: How did you get by?

Reeves: Scrounged around, ate bread, sold pretty much everything I had. I was selling shirts and skateboarding stuff.

Tribune: Good time?

Reeves: It was easily my favorite trip because it was so random. What are we doing today? Where are we sleeping tonight? Nobody knows, and that was the fun.

Tribune: What is the weirdest place you've ever skated?

Reeves: The coolest place I ever skated was the Berlin Wall.

Tribune: I thought it was torn down.

Reeves: Yes, but pieces of it were still there and we got to ride up on it like a wall ride. The weirdest place probably was a sewage treatment plant in Corvallis. We'd heard about it and went there. It dries up so you can skate it.

Tribune: Did it smell?

Reeves: It was terrible. Really gross. We had a bottle of hydrogen peroxide so if we fell we could pour it straight on to the wound.

Tribune: Is there anything else in life that gives you the thrill you get from skateboarding?

Reeves: Skating is so unique. I went skydiving. It was cool, but skating is so much better. The same feeling you get when you first started skating you still get every day you skate.

Tribune: You're 24. How long can you do this?

Reeves: There are guys here that are 47 skating in the bowl. I just want to skate until I can't even walk anymore.