We’re checking in with some of the biggest names at Dew Tour over the next few weeks to see how they’re handling the great cessation, as skateboard events and everything else takes a momentary pause amidst the coronavirus pandemic and a time of social distancing. First up: Pedro Barros.
You came out super strong winning the Men’s Park event at Dew Tour last year, then finished 4th overall and first among Brazilians in the 2019 World Skate rankings. Looking back on it, what went right and what were some of the highlights last year?
Dew Tour was for sure a big one for me, coming out of the year before where I didn’t even qualify for the finals. That was the first Dew Tour I ever skated that I didn’t make the finals! So last year I wanted to focus a little bit more on my body and my health before the contest, especially knowing that it was one of the first stops for trying to qualify for the Olympics: that result would kind of define who would start off with strong points on the World Skate tour. I’m really thankful that it went well! It was a really good start to the year.
Did having all these Olympic qualifiers and the Olympics itself on the horizon change anything about your approach to last year?
I’ve always done contests my whole life, but it’s never been my only goal. I’ve always lived a 100 percent skateboarding life: skating with friends, going on tours, going out in the streets trying to film stuff. It’s hard to balance all that. You can get caught up focusing too much on contests, or too much on trips, or too much on video projects. Last year I was able to strike a really good balance and direct my energy carefully so that even as I was prioritizing all these contests I also had a video project with Vans, which was my main filming project. I’m thankful to have good results, but the bigger goal for me, in the end, is to end the year without being hurt, being able to stay strong and on the board. Completely separate from the world scene right now and everything going on with the coronavirus, at least I got to end last year and start this year at 100 percent.
Everybody’s obviously frustrated to have postponed and canceled events all over the place right now, but you’re generally an optimist: is there an upside for you as you’re taking this pause?
I mean, to be honest, I’m not bummed at all about postponing any events or anything like that. I’m bummed about our whole situation around the world right now, and I’m bummed that people’s lives are really being affected. I don’t even have space in my mind to feel bummed about not being able to skate an event that I was looking forward to, you know? We’re in this situation all together, and it’s something nobody here has ever experienced before. In that sense, there’s not many upsides: we’re just trying to fight this all together. People’s lives, people’s health, the economy, everything is being affected. Here in Brazil in my neighborhood, there are already people needing food. So my main focus right now is just staying positive: I feel like this energy that we’re creating right now – I don’t know the exact word in English, like, what we’re emanating, what we generate, is what really goes out there. I’ve got health, I’ve got a home, I’ve got food, I’ve got all of that, so I’m trying to use this time that we all have at home to maybe create things that can help in this situation. This week I’ve been working to generate money and food donations to help spread around to the people in my neighborhood, Rio Tavares, who are already in need.
What’s the situation like in Brazil right now?
It’s all locked down. Schools, buses, businesses, almost everything. There’s been talk of trying to open up some more of the businesses, just for the economy to not die 100 percent, but they could open up the lockdown for a couple of days and it could come back worse. It’s pretty sketchy all around.
How are you personally spending this time?
I just went through a lot of personal life changes. I’m living by myself now, and I just moved into a new house literally two days before the lockdown. So I’ve been able to spend some time in my new house and I’ve been able to spend a lot of time just thinking about things in life, making some future plans, trying to connect in different ways, listen to music, read, learn some new things, exercise my mind and my body, and just stay present in the moment. I’m grateful for having my health right now and for being able to speak with you on the phone.
Are you skating at all? Do you still have your bowl?
I have my bowl but to be honest I don’t live at the house with the bowl anymore so I haven’t really been going there. I don’t really feel the liberty to go and skate full-on in the middle of all this, you know? But I have a couple of DIY ramps in my backyard where I’m living now. They’re really fast and sketchy but at least I get to skate. It’s fun, distracts the mind.
The Dew Tour has been rescheduled for September. The Olympics have been rescheduled for July 2021. When you look forward to getting back to skateboarding, what’s on your mind for the year ahead, now that you’ve had some downtime to think about it?
Right now, the main thing is trying to use this platform that skateboarding is being put on with the Olympics to really personally embody and spread the true core of what skateboarding is, so it doesn’t get corrupted or distorted by being on that big platform. We don’t want skateboarding, after all that we’ve been through, to come out worse for it in any way. I feel like there’s a big worry around the skateboarding community of skateboarding getting into the wrong hands or losing its spirit, losing its identity, losing the parts that everybody who has ever fallen in love with it understands, but that you might not understand from watching a contest on TV. What they’re going to see of skateboarding in the Olympics won’t necessarily tell the full story, so we’ve got to be able to tell the other parts of the story. I think we can protect it, but we’ll have to fight to protect it.
What does that fight look like for you in Brazil?
Here in Brazil I’ve been trying to use the momentum around the Olympics to help skateboarding grow as a lifestyle, bring more skateparks around the community, and get more kids on skateboards, get them shoes and all the essentials, so we can save more lives in the way that my life and your life have been saved by skateboarding. Not just because I want kids to be able to go have fun on a piece of wood toy, but also so they can experience the whole message, the whole culture, all the tools skateboarding provides for you to go and live life, be healthy, learn new things, learn to pick yourself up when you fall, to thrive and be alive. Pretty much that’s my main goal right now: to stay strong and healthy to go and do what I need to do so I can go to the Olympics next year and spread that message with the strongest power possible.