Q&A: Heimana Reynolds on #1 World Skate Ranking & Hitting Pause on Olympic Momentum

Heimana Reynolds
Photo Credit: MRZ

Everything started to go right for Hawaiian skateboarder Heimana Reynolds after his 6th place finish at Dew Tour last year. He went on to take his first major career win at the International Skateboarding Open in Nanjing, China, the second stop on the World Skate qualifying circuit for the Tokyo Olympics. By the end of the year, he’d also won the World Championships event in Sao Paulo, Brazil, finishing 2019 with a commanding lead as the top-ranked park skater in the World Skate series.

What’s it been like to get a different level of attention from the whole pre-Olympic media swirl after finishing 1st in the World Skate rankings last year?
To be completely honest with you the reality of that still hasn’t kicked in, almost six months later. I’ll do an interview and they’ll ask, How does it feel to be leading the rankings right now? And I’m like, oh, that’s right’ It’s crazy to think about. Knowing how great all of the competitors for it are, it’s super motivating. Like, I did that? Some people would take something like that, leading the rankings, like, okay now I can kick back and chill a little bit. For me, it just gives me more drive to go out and fight to hold on to it.

Looking back on last year, what do you think went right for you?
I mean, I worked my ass off for it, but it’s hard to say because it’s still skateboarding, man. Everybody can have their on-days or off-days, and whoever’s skating the best the day of the contest can take it. Like, the Dew Tour last year was definitely Pedro Barros’ day. I made the final but just wasn’t able to put down my best run, and I was really disappointed to finish 6th. In a way I think it was good for me: I just kind of put my head down, started working out more, training harder, working on new tricks, locking in old tricks, skating every day. The next Olympic qualifier event was in China. All my lines came together, and I was able to come out on top. That one was really important to me. I’d never won anything like that before.

And then the 2019 World Skate Park World Championships in Sao Paulo after that.
There was a lot of pressure coming into Brazil, and it ended up being a mostly Brazilian final, because the Brazilian skaters are just tremendous. Eight guys in the final, four of them from Brazil: Luiz Francisco, who is now ranked #2, Pedro Quintas, Pedro Barros, Mateus Hiroshi… I was super stoked just to be in the final with those guys and felt super lucky to come out on top. I was able to get all my tricks, land my tre flip and my kickflip. I even did my first padless 540 in my last run, just running on pure stoke.

Where’s your head at now with all these event postponements and cancelations?
I’ve gone through up and down stages. I’m definitely a little bummed just because there’s been so much buildup to the Olympics and everything, but it was helpful that they set an exact date for next year, which is better than a giant question mark or canceling it altogether. The only thing left is to look on the bright side: we now have more time to train, more time to practice, more time to get even better tricks. There’s an opportunity to be an even better skateboarder by then.

Everybody knows you as the Flyin’ Hawaiian. What’s it’s been like to be living as a California guy for a while?
Luckily I’m near San Diego, which is like the closest thing to Hawaii outside of Hawaii! I moved into a house in Carlsbad in November, and it’s only about 10 minutes from the CATF, where they had the USA National Championships, which is now my home park. Before all this quarantine stuff I was skating there every day. Of course I miss home – I miss the ocean back home and all my friends and family and stuff – but I have friends out here, too, and the skateparks out here are 20 times better than the parks back at home, so it’s definitely a good change of scenery.

Heimana Reynolds
Photo Credit: MRZ

I saw they’ve been filling some of the skateparks in California with sand to help enforce the quarantine.
Yeah, and CATF had to close it down right when this whole quarantine thing started. What can you do? Everybody is making sacrifices to try to make this virus be less awful all around, keep people from getting sick or dying. So I’m not complaining. I’ve just been trying to keep my head right and keep my body healthy for when we can all get back to it. I’ve been skating at home a lot. I even made a couple edits skating in my living room. We’ve been skating a couple of backyard bowls, too. It’s good to get out of the house and skate something other than my living room.


View this post on Instagram


Quarantine kickflip @berrics @usaskateboarding #xgameschallenge

A post shared by Heimana Reynolds (@heimana_reynolds) on

What else have you been doing to pass the time during this pause?
I cleaned my room, that’s a good one! I’ve been playing ukelele: I used to play a lot when I was younger, and I’ve been playing it a bunch again, trying to learn some new chords and new songs. I’ve been cooking a lot at home: I grew up cooking with my family a bunch. It’s nice to not have to wonder where I’m gonna eat next, like I do when I’m on the road. Despite the circumstances, it’s actually been kind of nice to be home for a little bit, just learning how to cook some new dishes. I’ve also been fixing some of my old cameras: I collect film cameras and a few of them don’t work, so rather than just have them sit on a shelf and look cool I’ve been researching how to take them apart and get them working again.

Knowing that Dew Tour is rescheduled for September and that some of these other contests are hopefully starting to come back on the calendar, what are you looking forward to, especially with all that momentum you’re carrying from last year?
I can feel the fire under my ass, ready to skate again. I grew up skating contests all my life and . I’m always super excited for the next contest, for when I’m going to get to skate with everybody again. I feed off the energy from the crowd and from everybody else skating hard.

What’s part of your story that you feel hasn’t been told well? Is there anything you wish people asked you more about in these kinds of interviews?
It’s definitely been different being away from my dad for so long this year, now that I’m living and training in California. He’s always been my coach and my mentor, everything, my biggest fan and my biggest supporter, and now that I’m older he’s also one of my closest friends. Training by myself, not having him around, it’s definitely different. I’d just like to say a huge thanks to my dad, for continuing to support me from back home, and for continuing to help me out as much as possible. Big shoutout to him: Matt Reynolds. I’ve been skating and surfing with him all my life.

Sound off in the comments below!

Join the conversation