Exclusive interview: Nike SB team on Chile’s booming skate scene

This is Chile finds out about the growth of skateboarding in Chile from legends Spiro and Stavros Razis and the country’s hottest young skater Mathias Torres. 

When Stavros and Spiro Razis moved back to Santiago from Argentina in the early 90s there wasn’t even a place to buy a board, let alone an established skate community to join. It was a huge shock to the system for the brothers who had lived and breathed the active skate scene in Buenos Aires, and it simply wouldn’t do.
Bringing never before seen tricks to the streets of Santiago, the Razis brothers sparked a countrywide revolution that to this day shows no sign of slowing down. Some of the biggest sponsors in the sport are snapping up Chilean skaters, like Mathias Torres (17) who has joined Stavros (31) and Spiro (36) as part of Nike Skateboarding’s Team Chile.
This is Chile caught up with Mathias and the godfathers of Chilean skating
This is Chile: Spiro, what was it like to come back to Santiago in the early 90s to find no skate scene?
Spiro Razis: It was bumming! Looking back it was an opportunity to create something, but at the time it was frustrating – we missed our skating so much. It makes you stronger when there are other people around you.
Mathias Torres: I can’t imagine what that was like for them. For as long as I’ve been skating there’s been a huge scene in Chile – a big community, lots of magazines, and skateparks – it’s really established.
TiC: Stavros, when Natural Koncept and Element came to Santiago to promote their brands, they called on you and Spiro to show them around the city. Are you proud to be known for putting Chilean skating on the map?
Stavros R: I don’t really think of it in that way. This is what the skate community is about. We’ve been around for over 20 years – people know to get in touch with us if they want to get shown around Santiago. And when we go abroad, people always put us up. It just comes naturally. We’ve been on the scene forever, and get hooked up wherever we go.
TiC: Which skaters inspired you as you were growing up?
Stavros R: I was a bit younger when we were in Buenos Aires, so it was really my brothers I looked up to, Spiro and my older brother Yorgo.
Spiro R: Yorgo was really good back in the day and definitely inspired me. I got to see a lot of the best Argentinian skaters which was pretty sick, people like Mariano Gonzalez, and Tatu Martinez whose son Milton Martinez is now a great skater. That whole scene from the late 80s was fantastic to feed off.
TiC: Mathias, you’re just 17 and you’ve been picked up by Nike SB and by the Razis brothers’ company Roots Trucks. What has such a quick transition to pro skating been like for you?
MT: It’s just been good to have so much support, especially from Spiro and Stavros because I knew of them when I was starting out, like all skaters in Chile.
Stavros R: It was awesome to work with Mathias on the Roots Trucks film in Barcelona. His style is unique. He just floats, and gets a lot more air than most people – it’s seem like he stays up there forever. He’s a really fast skater too, and makes everything look so simple.
TiC: Apart from practice, what do you need to do to make it as a pro skater?
Spiro R: You need to be a good person. At the end of the day, you have to deal with people the whole time. To just skate for fun, you can be a drunk, an addict, or an architect – you can be whatever you want and nobody cares. But if you want to make it professionally you have to be going around the world and interacting with so many different people. You’ve got to be a good person, have good karma – the brands and the people in the scene are looking for someone who inspires them.
TiC: Where are some of your favorite places to skate in Chile?
MT: In Santiago, I like to skate Parque Bustamante and Los Reyes. There are also loads of great places to skate in Valparaíso.
Stavros R: For me, the most beautiful stretch of skating in Santiago is if you go to Apumanque mall and head down Apoquindo. You get thirty blocks of varied street that’s just great to skate.
Spiro R: You can skate all over the country – in Coquimbo, Antofagasta and Concepción. If you go to any of these cities you will find a strong, established scene and awesome skaters to skate with.
TiC: What advice do you have for Chilean youngsters who want to make a name for themselves in the world of skating?
Spiro R: Pay attention to the lessons skating teaches you – the culture, and the people you meet. People try to lump all skaters into one group – like all skaters listen to punk rock or hip-hop. When I go home I listen to flamenco and reggae. Skaters are a diverse and accepting group, bound together by an attitude of not giving up, of trying hard. It’s not just landing a trick that’s great – it’s the long journey it takes to get there. There are life lessons in the sport.
Written by Angus McNeice