Words and Photos: Aaron Smith

Seeing this is my first post on my new Skateboarder blog it seems fitting to go back to my roots and share some Kansas City goods.

When my Kansas City article came out in March 2010 it felt the same as having my first photo published. Seeing all my friends I grew up with in the pages of Skateboarder was way cooler than any ad or photo I had run before. It felt like we had all accomplished something together. Most of the guys had never had their photo in a magazine before.

I spent close to a year, on and off, in Kansas City working on this project. Flying or driving back to Kansas City during times I could get off of college in Atlanta. I imagine the feeling of finishing this project is the same one filmers feel when they finish a skate video. It’s a feeling of camaraderie with all your homies. Everyone put in so much work to make it happen.

I felt like Sean Malto had been leading the cause of putting Kansas City on the map. I really wanted to help and show the rest of the amazing skaters that lived there as well. These guys are the main reason Sean has not and most likely will not move away. Here are some of the photos that were in the article as well as a bunch that slipped through the cracks.

The photo on the left was the opener for the article. I was actually really surprised we were able to wrangle everyone together for this. The “Done” house in the back is Kansas City’s infamous skate house. The house is surprisingly cleaner than other skate houses I’ve been to. This is always my home away from home. The van is Max Chilen’s “Party Van”. Honestly, I have no idea how that thing is still running. It should be the spokes person for KIA cars.

This was one of the first photos I shot for the article back in spring of 2008. The run up for this rail is insane! Sean crooked this pretty easily. Side note for you camera nerd, I shot this with a Nikon D2H, which, if you are familiar with it, is a 4 megapixel camera. That’s right, your iPhone’s have a higher resolution than that. I’m glad that’s not my still camera anymore.

Tyshaun Johnson is one of Kansas City’s finest. If you’ve seen any video parts of him or lucky enough to see him skate in person then you know what I mean. Here’s Ty doing a heelflip down a good ol’ Midwest grass gap back in 2008.

Dillon Aguilar (AKA Dag) is one of those all around great skaters. Here he is backside nosegrinding the pool coping in one of many good skate parks in Kansas City.

Here’s Dag again but this time on the streets. Backtail down one of Kansas City’s many good schools to skate.

Rod Harper is another all around great guy who might be known best for his ability to skate rails on walls. Honestly, who the hell can kickflip backside 5-0 a rail like this?

The aftermath of landing the kickflip 5-0. The crowd went wild!

Ernie was there to congratulate Rod.

Speaking of wall rails, how the hell can Rod backsmith this thing? Even took it through the kink!

Rod made the backsmith above but landed a little sketchy so he wanted tried it again. A few tries later he got into some weird backlip and scorpioned across the concrete.

Look at that blood blister.

Even through the slam, Rod is in good spirits!

Max Chilen, to me, is kind of a legend in Kansas City. I grew up watching videos from this local shop called Let It Ride. Actually, Kevin Barnett (Toy Machine filmer) made a video for them back in the day when he lived in KC and Max’s brother Aaron (Real Skateboards filmer) made a few Let It Ride videos as well. So with that caliber of talent behind the lens they were always really good. Anyways, Max was in the videos from the start. I use to watch him and the rest of the local hero’s when I was a little kid. Max has been killing it every since. In this photo he’s wallieing off that pillar and into the bank in the middle of the city. He even landed on that crate on the top. Pretty crazy!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Ryan Pearce is the best skateboarder in Kansas City. Yes, I did say BEST and yes Malto is included in that. Finally after years and years of quietly killing it he’s starting to pick up steam by going on Etnies trips. Now all he needs is a board company to back him like Etnies is (cough cough). Oh skateboard industry, sometimes you don’t know what you have until it’s gone, so stop wasting time! Anyways, here’s Ryan doing a gap to wallride over the pole. Pretty insane!

Sean ended up 5-0ing this rail later on when the Girl guys were in town. This 50-50 was still really crazy when he did it. Sean seems to be fearless when he skates rails. He’ll be a little timid at the beginning but then his first try’s are always really strong. If he didn’t do it first try then it’s only a few tries later till he’s rolling away. There’s always a smile on this kids face, even skating a 16 stair kink rail.

Check back next Friday to see more Kansas City photos!

I’ll leave you with this…