Connected // Simon Thorp
30 Oct, 2023
From magazine covers to founding Young Guns Skate School, Simon Thorp has created a life within skateboarding. As a former New Zealand Skater of the Year, his undeniable ability on a board and charismatic personality have seen him forge a path that transcends the skate community, engaging mums and kids alike, growing the New Zealand skateboard scene, developing unreal talent, and growing a sustainable business.
Simon's enigmatic nature has opened the door to schools, community groups and councils, creating opportunities for all skaters that otherwise wouldn't exist.
We caught up with Simon to ask him a few questions about forging a life in skateboarding.
All photography courtesy of Eisei Toyota
How did you get into skateboarding?
Skating looked real cool, I mean the ninja turtles did it too! Haha, I vividly remember the hanging snake run in the ninja turtles movie and was fascinated by it. But it was when I saw double kicked skateboards for the first time, that I became obsessed.
What was your motivation to start Young Guns Skate School?
It is really rewarding to see kids discover the joys of skateboarding for the first time. I used to help Justin Watene run school holiday programmes. Eventually he sold his side hustle to me for an insanely generous price. At the time no one ran regular Skate Schools like how we run it today. There needed to be something more regular for kids, like after school classes and/or classes at schools. Something with ramps and obstacles designed for kids and that didn’t require the kids to find their own way to a skate park. We brought skateboarding into schools and it worked.
From SOTY to magazine covers, you have achieved a huge amount over the years – looking back, what has been your greatest achievement?
I think learning to kickflip haha! If I didn’t learn that I wouldn’t have had any cover or won SOTY hahah.
How do you see the role of older skaters in inspiring the next generation of kids?
I think it’s really important that older skaters are aware of the influence that they have on kids, as they do have a huge influence on them. The kids do take note and copy/buy what they see. These days most sponsors won’t be interested in skaters if they are promoting negative behaviours or sharing bad activity on social media etc. Same goes with anyone who works for Young Guns. So generally the skaters that kids are looking up to are pretty good role models and this helps to promote a good image for skateboarding to the kids.
What advice would you give to skaters that want to pursue a career in the skateboard industry?
I’m a big believer in earning your way, so if you skate for long enough, respect those who have been doing it longer than you and don’t be rude. Then there are definitely options to make a living in the skate industry. Just don’t depend on it and be prepared to work, not just skate! Haha.
Connected is a series of short interviews with skateboarders, snowboarders, artists, photographers, business owners and others that have inspired us on our journey with Boardertown. We hope to inspire the next generation and continue to grow the skate and snowboard communities.