Fitz skating a Scenic Sunset in his backyard as Jake Grove gets the photo.
I invite a lot of people to come and stay in Seattle near the OMEN HQ, and about 50% of the time someone will beg, borrow, and steal their way out to Washington to go skating. Fitz Illingworth is a shining example of exactly that. Within moments of offering him the opportunity, he was getting his tickets, and making plans to come skate Seattle with us during the summer. And before I knew it I had a frothing young grom sitting in the Mobile Ruckus eager to throw himself down any road we went to. The videos that I had seen of Fitz lead me to believe that he was really into stand-up slides and freeriding, but once we started skating, he was mid-way through a transition into Downhill. He attended Giants Head with the OMEN Crew, and made it out to every session while he was in town. Now that he is back in his homeland of San Diego, California, I wanted to catch back up with Fitz and see what he had been getting himself into.
Fitz how have you been since coming to Seattle? Have there been any changes since you went back to San Diego?
WADDUP! So yeah, coming back from Seattle was kind of an eye opener to see the least. The farthest I've been for skating before my trip to the NorthWest was maybe a couple hours north to some slide jams or GMR. Getting to see a different side or scene of skating was really RAD! I came back to San Diego with a new perspective and a changed mindset.
Right around the time I came back is also the time me and the homies were starting to skate some gnarlier stuff so I was stoked that I was able to come back to that. Since I've been back I've definitely changed the type of skating I do. Instead of the typical free-riding I used to do. I am now getting more and more into the fast free-ride/Technical DH scene as shown in my new video and am trying to become a faster and more diverse skater.
How was the skating season for you? What events did you get out to?
I've only been skating for a little over two years so I can honestly say this has been the best season for me so far. Especially the summer and the trips I went on. I was fortunate enough to travel a lot this season and cannot be more thankful for everything that has happened. One of the biggest events in the country is held here by Muirskate every year, The MuirSkate Downhill Disco. That is one of my favorite events and I look forward to it every year. Besides that I've made it to a bunch of local slide jams and outlaws. While on my skate trip to Seattle we made it to almost every major event within 500 miles. Our first was a switchbacks race in Portland. Where I got to meet some rad people and skate with all the PDX homies. Next up was the highlight of my skating season! We made the trip up to Canada to Giants Head Freeride. Out of all the events I've ever been to this is definitely the most fun I've ever had. If anyone is debating wether or not to go I'd say it's definitely worth it! I made a bunch of new friends that I've looked up to and seen in videos which was super rad and met some people that even knew me from the interwebs which blew my mind! After this event we headed back to Seattle to rest and get ready for the Iconic Saltspring Slasher! We made the trip up to Vancouver and then to Vancouver island and finally to the island of Saltspring. After this event we rushed back to Seattle and I got ready to leave back to SD. Since I've been back I've gotten out to a couple slide jams and one of the bigger events, being Santa Gnarbara. One of the best events in So-Cal. I'm looking forward to many more events this year and will hopefully make another trip up there to visit the all the Homies!
Fitz rocking a Trud at the Downhill Disco put on by MUIRSKATE. Jake Grove Photo.
Well, we are stoked to have you back up next year! How was it starting to race? Any advice for young riders looking to get into downhill racing?
Starting to race is something I think every skater who only freerides should do. I've definitely been trying to start racing more and more. Racing and DH opens up a lot of new doors and is super fun. For any young rider out there trying to start racing, I'd say start as soon as possible. The only way you're going to get better is to skate with better people and get out of your comfort zone. Getting out to races and paying to lose might feel pointless but think of it as paying for the experience of skating a closed road with some super good skaters. All the pros and really fast people were once at your level and were the slow kids who didn't know what an apex was.
Fitz in front at the Santa Gnarbara Event. Jake Grove Photo.
What would you describe as your favorite type of riding?
My favorite type of riding would have to be fast Freeride or Tech DH. Throwing really fast squatters and some hands down toesides are dank, especially down mountain runs. I think this new video describes perfectly what I like to do down some fast runs!
Warp Speed mobbing an inside line in the hills. Photo by Benjamin Solano.
Where is your favorite place to Skate?
Washington had some really gnarly roads that I really liked and of course I have to say Giants Head is my favorite hill to Freeride and just have a super fun time on.
But I'd have to say here in the mountains of So-Cal. I owe my progress and all the good times I've had to So-Cal so this has to be my favorite place. Although it is nice to skate other places every once in a while!
Who do you typically skate with? Where do you typically skate?
I skate with a lot of different people depending on who's available but the one person always with me on the hill is Skate Dad: Benjamin Solano! Back in the day here in Chula Vista I started skating with Chula Vista locals who I owe all my progression to. I would skate pretty much everyday with sessions anywhere from 5-10 peple out on the local neighborhood hills. Little by little, one by one, less and less people would show up at the local hills because of work and other grown up things and I was sometimes left with no one to skate with. Of course at the time I wasn't good enough to skate anything other than the local hills so not having a car wasn't a problem. Luckily I had my Grom friends to skate with since all the other Homies worked and were much older than me.
These local hills are where I learned how to Freeride so didn't get into downhill until later. Over time the local hills got too boring and we were left with a want for gnarlier and faster hills.
Recently I've been skating with most of the skaters here in So-Cal and of course everyones dad, Benjamin Solano. We've been skating a lot of the mountains around J***** and anything gnarly we can find.
Picture by Benjamin Solano of a mighty fine Stalefish Grab as Fitz leaves some tasty lines.
What is skating in San Diego Like? Is there a rainy season, or a winter?
San Diego is where I grew up skating and learned everything I have. I really really like it here, but I guess I'm so used to it that I don't appreciate it as much as I should. We skate Blacks Beach a lot, so skating it isn't anything super special anymore. Sometimes we don't even watch the picture perfect sunsets that go down while we are there. Whenever we get people that come visit from other states or places they tell us how lucky we are that we live here and are completely mind blown when we tell them it's nothing special anymore. That's when I realize how lucky we are to be here and skate.
Unlike most other places in the country, we don't really have a winter here and for that matter not many rainy days. It's basically summer here all year. Whenever it gets below 55 we are all freezing cold. I was lucky enough to be in Seattle and it only rained once. I've heard that it's been raining non-stop over there recently. The one bad thing about it is that we kind of suck at rain skating. Whenever it rains here we all stay indoors and cry to our mom's about the rain.
During Giants Head Freeride it began to rain and everyone was laughing at me because I was from San Diego and I had to make it down the hill in the rain. Luckily I managed to get down without dying and had some of the most fun runs of the day skating through puddles.
What are your plans for next year? More races? More freerides? More Traveling? More thane Lines?
Coming out of this year. I am graduating high-school so I have to figure out what to do. I definitely want to keep skating and hitting as many events as possible. I want to start to race more and more and slowly gain more experience. Definitely want to make it out to the next Giants Head Freeride and make a trip out of that next summer!
Fitz getting frisky on some Free Loaders as Austin Costa captures the dust flying.
What is your current setup ?
Tell me a funny story from your summer travels?
Probably one of the funniest stories from my trips during the summer has to be crossing back into the U.S. from Canada after the Giants Head Freeride in the #MobileRuckus we were coming back and the van had been bombarded with Dick Stickers Courtesy of Martin Depass. Nate had thought he took them all off but he forgot one crucial sticker on the front left rim. Conveniently located right in front of the immigration officer, while he was asking us questions. We saw him pause for a second and slowly look up at Nate. He seemed like he didn't know what ask and just said "sir what is that??" Nate looked over at the rim and just started cracking up! He began to explain what that was all about and explain how skaters are dumbasses. This seemed to lighten up the mood of the Officer and we were on our way.
Sunset Shots from Jake Grove.
Thanks for taking the time out of your busy high-school sun drenched days, while I sit in an office barely above freezing. Do you have any people who helped make this all happen.
Hell yeah! Huge shout out to my Parents for all the support they have given me in skating and everything I do! Thanks to God for all the blessing in my life! Shoutout to all the CVLB HOMIES for teaching me the ropes when I was a Grom stink-bugging on the Hill, haha. Thanks to Benjamin Solano for everything he has done for me and taught me. Omen and Free for all the support they have given me in skating and to You, Nate Blackburn for giving me a place to crash and showing me around while I was in Seattle. Lastly thanks to all the Homies!
... _ _ _ ...
Here is the most recent video from Fitz Illingworth.