You're from Joplin, MO. A few months ago, Joplin was devastated by a tornado. Where were you when it happened?
I was on my way to skate Chino with some friends when I got a text from someone saying they hoped that my family was OK. I had no idea what they were talking about. The tornado took out a big portion of my hometown. It was pretty scary for me, and I wasn't even close to being in it.
Was it hard to get through to your family when it was going down?
Luckily my parents moved to Florida after I'd left Joplin, and my sister's been living in Montreal for quite a while. So I knew my immediate family was OK. I have a couple cousins there, and I found out they were OK through Facebook. I tried calling a lot of my friends but the lines were down. I ended up watching videos online of the town--it was just unbelievable how devastated it was.
You live in California now. What brought you out here?
I came to California to skate. I almost moved to Kansas City, but my life took an unexpected turn and now I get to enjoy nice weather every day. I'm definitely psyched.
I heard that you were married a few years ago. Was that the unexpected turn?
It was more the divorce. It's still weird for me to say that I was married and divorced at 22. In the end I'm happy it happened, because getting divorced is what pushed me to finally leave Missouri. I'd still be there if it didn't happen. At the time I didn't think our age mattered too much, but looking back, we were definitely too young. She hadn't even graduated college yet and I just wanted to skate all the time. We thought we could get married and figure it out, but in the end it pretty much made us separate. But we're cool now. Lived a little, learned a lot. https://skateszone.com/tony-ferguson/
They say one in every two marriages fails. Do you think you'll get married again down the road?
Maybe someday, but 1 can't imagine that happening any time soon. At least I'll have the odds on my side for the second.
Enough of the old shit. What was the skate scene like growing up in Joplin?
Joplin isn't the place where you'd expect much skating, but there were two indoor skateparks, which led to a lot of skateboarders. My friend Scott Walters would let me in to his park for free--he basically taught me how to skate. Joplin has a few good spots, but we'd usually drive to KC, Tulsa, and Fayetteville to film.
What was the first skate video to inspire you?
I was skating for about a year before I even saw a skate video. Menikmati was the first video I remember watching--we'd play it every day.
THE TORNADO TOOK OUT A BIG PORTION OF MY HOMETOWN
Now it's different. Skaters watch the Internet too much, when they used to watch DVDs over and over. Are you addicted to the web?
It's definitely convenient to watch a video from your computer or phone, but it doesn't have the same feeling that a VHS or DVD had when I was younger. We used to have to wait for the skateshop to get the video in, and we'd premiere it and have a good time. Play the video in the shop every day for a month until we wore it out. Watching new videos online isn't as fun.
First real board?
I bought my first board from my sister for $10. It was a Variflex from Toys R Us, if that even counts. I ended up buying a used Status from the skateshop a few months later.
Riding for Birdhouse, does Tony Hawk fly you guys around in his private jet?
I'd like to say yes, but I didn't even know he had a private jet.
Of course he has a private jet. Hit him up about it. What's it like going on tour with him?
I was lucky enough to go to Europe with them when I first started getting flow. Two double-decker tour buses, five-star hotels--we couldn't go anywhere without people asking for his autograph. It was insane.
How about skating vert?
I've got some lip tricks, but I don't have much for airs. I think not wearing pads is holding me back quite a bit. Vert scares me.
You got back padless noseblunts on a vert ramp.
I wouldn't say I've got them down. They're definitely scary every time I try it.
I just found out that Aaron Homoki turned pro. All the other pros on the team are over 35. Who's next?
We're mainly focused on getting new guys on the pro team rather than turning people pro. But I'm hyped that Jaws is pro now. He always amazes me when we skate. >> Get best skateboard decks
Name five pros who rode for Birdhouse back in the day.
Heath Kirchart, Steve Berra, Rick McCrank, Brian Sumner, Andrew Reynolds. That's a pretty hefty list.
Do you know who Zorch Meat is?
Phelps. I never thought he'd be into the social networking scene, but he has some funny shit!
Are you a Twitter-holic?
I used to really like Twitter until Instagram came along. The Internet is ruining our brains.
Why do you need to let the world know what you're doing a few times a day?
I use it to talk about what 1 like and don't like. I like to know what other people have to say.
I post photos on there from a year ago so that it seems like I'm at that spot in real time. You ever do that?
No. I'm not as paranoid as you.
What's the gnarliest thing you've witnessed in skateboarding?
The ollie that Jaws did for the cover. It just didn't seem possible, yet it only took him two tries. It probably would have been first try if the wind hadn't blown his board away. I also saw Elliot Sloan slam on the mega-ramp at Woodward West. I thought he wasn't ever going to skate again, but he ended up being fine after a trip to the hospital.
What's your list of sponsors looking like these days?
Birdhouse, Vox, Ergo, Indy, Spitfire, Dakine, Active, Krochet Kids, and Glassy.
I want to say thank you to all the people who support me, and have supported me in the past. Especially my family. See more: https://skateszone.com/erick-winkowski-acid-lasts-long-time/
All these places that I'd grown up around were totally gone. My high school, the neighborhood where I lived until I was five, my friends' houses ... 30-percent of the town was taken down to rubble. It was about a week before I found out that most of my friends were OK, though some lost everything, surviving in bath tubs with their family while their houses were swept away. A guy who I'd see every day at the skatepark, Lantz Hare, was killed. RIF He was a cool kid.