Kevin Harris

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For the composer, see Kevin F. Harris.

Kevin Harris (born August 14, 1962) is a professional skateboarder from Vancouver, British Columbia. He specializes in "freestyle" skateboarding. Harris is known for his fluid style, which incorporated complex manual variations with exceptional footwork. Stacy Peralta has called him "the most natural skater I knew." He was most active in competitions during the 1980s but is still involved with the skate scene. He owns and operates Canada's largest skateboard distribution center and continues to perform demonstrations.

Early career[edit]

Harris was born in Richmond, British Columbia. He began skateboarding at 13 years old and like most skaters of the 1970s, he started on a mass-produced, plastic "banana" board. At first he rode all types of terrain and built what most local skaters agreed on as the best half-pipe in the Vancouver area. Even with a ramp in his backyard, he eventually focused on flatland freestyle.

Harris was first sponsored in 1977 by Nippon Cycles, a Vancouver bike and skate shop. Sponsorship meant more than discounted merchandise—wearing a Nippon team shirt was like walking around with an Olympic medal hanging off your neck. He began skating demonstrations with the "Ripping Squad," a group of Canadian skaters that rode a portable half-pipe painted with the Yin/Yang logo.

Mid career[edit]

By 1979 Harris’ skills caught the eye of Steve Cathey, a professional skater from California. Cathey, who represented the Gordon & Smith skateboard company, offered Harris amateur sponsorship. This was particularly ironic because Harris would eventually crush Cathey's world-record for two-board “daffy” 360s. Cathey managed to rotate almost 400 times while Harris stopped spinning from exhaustion after twenty minutes and 1,032 spins later.

Underground scene and the rise to popularity[edit]

In the early 1980s skateboarding was destitute, viewed as an embarrassing fad by non-participants. The Canadian contest circuit dried up and Harris often drove over 24 hours to California just to remain involved in competitions.

In 1982 Harris competed in the freestyle competition in Del Mar, California as a sponsored amateur. There weren't enough amateur contestants so he skated against the pros and finished in third place.[1] Stacy Peralta, Harris' idol stopped him in the parking lot and asked him to ride for the Bones Brigade, Powell Peralta's skate team. The Brigade quickly became the most dominant team in skateboarding and Harris found himself teammates with Tony Hawk, Lance Mountain, and Rodney Mullen among others.

Harris enjoyed his greatest success as a professional during this period. Skateboarding was also becoming popular again and by 1984 a legitimate subculture had begun. In 1985, Harris placed first in Venice, California and second at Del Mar. During the preliminary round of the Del Mar competition Harris actually scored higher than Rodney Mullen, one of only two skaters to exceed Mullen's score during a contest. ("Of course, Rodney killed me in the finals," Harris said with a laugh later.) His consistently high contest results ranked him second in the world during this year.

In 1986 Powell•Peralta issued Harris' first professional skateboard model. The deck’s design featured iconic Canadian graphics: a skeletal Mountie, in front of a backdrop of maple leaves, holding a beaver by the tail. It is still considered a classic today, and original pressings are quite collectible.

Later career[edit]

In 1985 Harris began distributing Powell Peralta skateboard products in Canada and quickly grew Ultimate Skateboards into Canada's largest skateboard distributorship. Today he co-owns Ultimate with his wife Audrey. Harris has never needed to venture outside of the skateboard industry to make a living.

In 1986 Harris took possession of the half-pipe built for the world championships held in Vancouver for Expo 86 and used it as an anchor for the Richmond Skate Ranch, an indoor skateboard facility featuring multiple ramps and wooden park features, including the "mini Chin", a complex multi-ramp structure designed by Lance Mountain. This provided Vancouver skateboarders a safe haven from the winter rains and nurtured a handful of skaters (Colin McKay, Rob Sluggo Boyce and Rick Howard among others) that continue to impact the skateboard industry. The Ranch closed in 1993 but Harris joined forces with Colin McKay and opened the RDS indoor park in 2003.

Harris' pro model was re-issued from Powell Skateboards. He lives in Ladner, British Columbia, Canada and is married and has two children Aaron and Kolby. He paid a concrete company almost $40,000 to create his ideal skating surface in his backyard and continues to skate daily with his son Kolby.

In 2007, Kevin stepped back into the competitive scene, and entered the WFSA world freestyle skateboard championships, (being held in Vancouver, Canada). His natural flow, and style had not faded over the years, and after being 'retired' for over a decade, Kevin placed 1st, claiming his very first world championship crown.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mullen, Rodney (2004). The Mutt: How to Skateboard and Not Kill Yourself. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 0-06-055618-8.