Takeshi Yasutoko, aka the “Japanese Bullet” and “Samurai”, is a 19-year-old inline skating sensation. At 15, he became the youngest vert skater to medal at the X Games. Takeshi has a profound respect for his 22-year-old brother Eito, the only male skater to win three X Games gold medals. Widely known as “the first skate family of Japan”, Takeshi and his brother have plans to guide their family business, Goodskates, after retirement. Shanghaiist caught up with Takeshi at the opening of Shanghai’s new SMP Skate Park, the biggest in the world. Aferward, we got a rare and privileged opportunity to skate with the Japanese Bullet.
Hi Takeshi. Could we trouble you for a quick interview? Laughs. You should speak to my brother. My brother is better than me.
Perfect! Now we really want to interview you. Still laughing. OK, OK. No problem.
What is your impression of this skate park? It is really beautiful. The park is clean, smooth, difficult and fun. Before I came here, I saw many pictures and plans of the park. I was really interested to come.
With your hometown (Kobe) being so close to Shanghai, have you had many opportunities to visit Shanghai? No, this is only my second time. I was a part of the LG Tour held in China last year.
What will be the benefits of this skate park, to the local inline skaters? There will be high growth of the sports. This is important. We really need Chinese skaters on the world tours. China is such a big country. This is the way the industry needs to think.
What are the challenges that China will face with the development of the inline skating industry? Everybody needs to wear protection (protective pads and helmet). Japan had the same problem in the beginning. Also, it is really important to have quality teachers and instructors. The skates (on the market) need to be good quality. Finally, skaters need have access to resources, such as skate videos.
Lincoln Ueda, 31, is a seasoned Brazilian skateboarder with a reputation for his lofty airs on the vert ramp. In 1996 he competed in his first X Games, and has been a regular fixture on the international circuit since. Lincoln is sponsored by Element, Hurley, Etnies and Type-S Wheels. We had the opportunity to catch up with Lincoln, just hours prior to his vert competition in Shanghai.
Lets begin with the basics. Where is home these days? I am based in Cal (California) and live in Orange County.
What is your overall impression of Shanghai’s new SMP Skate Park? I am really surprised, actually. It’s awesome to see something like this in Shanghai. I saw the park plans on the internet. But being here personally, you can really appreciate the facility. The deepest bowl is so big, even bigger than the standard 13-14 foot (competition) high ramps.
What do you see as the greatest benefits coming from this park? This is great for action sports. This park will create widespread exposure among the industry and generate commercial growth. Riders (skateboarders) will be encouraged by these facilities.
Have you had the opportunity to skate with any locals? No. This is my fist time in Shanghai. It would have been awesome if there were more local skaters present at this event. I saw some cool street skating clips on TV in the hotel when I arrived.
In your opinion, what challenges does this skate park face? Like I said before, the bowls are really big. They are also intimidating. Nobody seems to be able to ride them (general public). In one year however, I hope to come back and see so many kids out here skating.
Interview is a regular feature on Shanghaiist. Know someone in Shanghai you think would make for a good interview? Email tips(@)shanghaiist.com.
Also on Shanghaiist:
Lords of Bogtown
Shanghai’s new skate park is REALLY big
New park home for sport on the edge (Shanghai Daily)
Photos by Glen Rosser.