Here and now with Curren Caples
It's been a busy year for 19-year-old Flip Skateboards pro Curren Caples. Beginning with his part in the Vans "Propeller" DVD, Caples went on to dominate the competition scene, grab a spot on the Nixon global team and, just this week, release a new "In Transition" part for The Berrics. For Caples, it's been one hell of a hot streak, and it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
The early days
Born in Akron, Ohio, to former surf pro Evan Caples and named after legendary surfer Tom Curren, there was never a doubt that young Curren would have a fluid style in whatever he did in life. When his family moved to Southern California, it was almost predetermined that he'd be a great surfer/skater.
Catching the skate bug
Curren's father skated in his younger days, and there were always skateboards around the house. "I don't really ever remember a time where I was not skating -- it's pretty funny. I started at age 4. When I was a little kid, all I wanted to do was skate. My mom would have to bribe me with buying me a toy, like a Hot Wheels or a Tech Deck, to stop skating for even one day."
Curren was so young when he got sponsored that he had to be accompanied by a parent when traveling. "I got on Flip Skateboards at age 11." says Caples. "I remember meeting Geoff Rowley when I was super young, and after that, he started giving me boards. I remember going to the Amsterdam Am contest at age 11, and Flip was doing a tour right after and they asked me to go. They were super scared to have me on the tour with my dad. They didn't know what was going to happen. It was pretty funny. I got in the van, and there were crazy magazines everywhere. It was right at the end of the Flip partying craziness. That first trip was definitely, to this day, the gnarliest trip I've ever been on."
While other teenagers started junior high school. Curren was working on his first video part for Flip's "Extremely Sorry," to be showcased alongside such legends as Geoff Rowley, Bob Burnquist, Tom Penny, Lance Mountain, Mark Appleyard and David Gonzales. "That was a pretty cool time in my life," says Caples. "I was 13, and me and Louie [Lopez] would just stay at the team manager's house in Long Beach, and he'd just drive us around to spots. It was such a fun experience. I got to skate what I wanted to skate, and I didn't have to worry about finding spots or anything."
As he grew out of his little kid style, there was no denying Curren's level of talent. With his longer and stronger frame, Curren was suddenly airing higher and going bigger than ever. Mixed with his very marketable blonde hair and blue-eyed appearance, Flip Skateboards decided to turn Curren pro in 2014 at the age of 18. "I was insanely stoked. It was pretty awesome. It was definitely a huge goal of mine, so it was pretty rad and to go pro for a company like Flip is so cool."
Playing the game
After a rookie year of up-and-down contest placings, Curren began to understand how judges determined their scores, and in 2015, he went on a full-on contest killing spree. At press time, he's positioned as the skater with second-most earnings in contests this year. "I feel like I kind of figured out how to skate a contest," says Caples. "You can be the best skater in the world, but if you don't have any strategy in a contest, it doesn't matter. I figured out the format of the contests, and I've been trying to skate more to the format. I've been stoked on it this year. I'm saving up to buy a second house as a rental property."
Filming for Vans
Skateboard contest results and earnings don't mean much in the eyes of purists. For them, real talent is determined by the hard work put into video parts. Curren was fortunate enough to be included in the first Vans skate video ever, along with a massive roster that includes some of the greatest skaters of all time, such as Steve Caballero, Christian Hosoi, Tony Trujillo and Anthony Van Engelen. "It was pretty stressful, because a year before deadline, I wasn't sure if I was going to have a part," says Caples. "I basically filmed my whole part in six months or so just to prove to myself that I could get a part done in time. I was stoked that I was able to because it was the first Vans video ever, and that's huge."
Sidelined with injuries
Curren Caples' life might seem like one endless summer, but there is the occasional dark cloud he has to weather. Recently, he broke his wrist at the annual Van Doren Invitational bowl contest in Huntington Beach, but in true Curren fashion, he didn't let it sideline him. "I got 11th place in the contest, so I didn't make the finals and I already gave up for the day," says Caples. "Then they told me I was a wild card in the finals and I was doing a little back lip as I was ending my run, time was over and I tried to do one last thing and my foot slid off my nose. I basically stopped and broke my wrist. It's OK now. The cast had this weird bubble wrap underneath it making it almost water proof so I was surfing and skating with it the whole time."
It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that Curren Caples can mix it up in the break with the best of them. "I started surfing basically right when I started skating, but I didn't like surfing at all. I preferred skating way more," says Caples. "My dad had a surf camp every summer, and I'd always go surf his camp. But when I turned 12, I got a sick surfboard and wetsuit for Christmas and I surfed straight through the winter. After that, I caught the bug. Now I'm super into it -- I probably surf more than I skate. I'm not a guy that tries street tricks in the water. I've never tried a kickflip or anything. I'm a bit too worried to get hurt. I think it would look really bad if I got hurt surfing and couldn't skate for a while, so I don't really try to push my surfing that hard, but I kind of want to come out with a surf video part soon."
To the future
Like the weather report for any given day in his hometown of Ventura, California, Curren's future looks bright and sunny. "It's pretty weird to think about how long I've been skating and how I've grown up in front of people. I first got sponsored by Hurley when I was 7, and I got a full page in Thrasher. I feel like I've been around for a long time, but I'm only 19 years old." It will be exciting to see what comes next.