Skateboarder wins silver at X-Games
July 23, 2013
By Kristine Kim
David Gravette started coming to the Issaquah Skate Park in about 1999. From there, it took him 15 years of skateboarding to earn a silver medal at the Munich 2013 X-Games.
The contest was Real Street. Sixteen competing skateboarders each put together 60-second videos containing clips of their skateboarding, including tricks like grinding rails, nose grabs and flips. In addition to winning silver for the video itself, Gravette won the online competition for Fan Favorite with 66 percent of the vote.
Austin Fischer, one of his skateboarding friends, said that in Gravette’s beginning months at the skate park, they didn’t talk much. Fischer remembers seeing Gravette around the park and being able to recognize his face. It was not until May 1, 2000, that both skateboarders received sponsorship from the skate shop Extremely Board. As two of a total of five picked, the two grew closer as they worked for their sponsor and improved their sport.
“We skated in all the local competitions, did lessons for younger kids. We even did a few birthday parties,” Fischer said.
Having worked up from parties to a professional stadium, Gravette, now 25, sees getting a medal in the X-Games as a huge achievement.
“The X-Games is a little bit cooler than other stuff,” Gravette said. “It’s a little kid dream, getting the X-Games medal. I would have been flipping out if I came when I was 10 years old.”
Despite the achievement, the professional skateboarder said he knows it is not a good idea to get a big head. In his experience, he has seen people who, though amazing skateboarders, did not come to a competition at the right time.
“I try not to take the contests too seriously,” he said. “Every now and then I get on the podium, but not that often.”
Instead, Gravette finds more gratification in the interaction he is able to have with aspiring skateboarders. In a trip to Costa Rica with a sponsor, a mob of 15-year-old fans that had been, apparently, hiding in a bathroom at a competition met Gravette and his group outside the stadium.
Since he has the ability to change his skateboard and shoes often, one of his favorite things to do is find a kid at a skate park and pass on his old gear. According to Fischer, he also carries around stickers and hats with him for younger skaters.
“To me, he’s just one of the guys I grew up skating with,” said Fischer, 31, who has seen such interactions first hand. “I’ve been with him several times where kids have stopped him and asked for his autograph. He’s really good with the younger kids.”
Kristina Gravette, the pro-skateboarder’s mom, sometimes takes it to the next level: She name-drops her son when she is around the park.
For her, the whole experience is something she saw coming.
“He’s always been a really physical kid, so I knew he could end up doing something physical,” she said.
When he started, Gravette was “all padded up” with kneepads and other protection — but he still managed to break his front teeth. Seeing her son go from chipped teeth at the Issaquah Skate Park to the podium at the X-Games was, in her words, thrilling.
“It seemed like every little step was one more goal ticked,” she said. “We never really had any regrets.”
Since he went pro nine years ago, Gravette has travelled to places around the globe, not the least of which was the medal-winning trip to Munich. It’s one of his favorite parts of the job, and something his family has always appreciated. Even so, it is always nice for his friends and family when he comes home.
Though Gravette now lives in Portland, Ore., which has a more skateboard-friendly scene than Washington does, he is able to come back every few months. When he is in his hometown of Issaquah, he gives Fischer a call. He visits his old stomping grounds. He takes the advice he passes on to aspiring skaters and tries to have as much fun as he can.
In the end, Gravette just loves skateboarding.
“It’s a mode of transportation,” he said. “You don’t really know what’s coming. You can pop up on stuff, hop on rails.”
The experience is exciting and interesting to him.
“How am I balancing on this little bar on the stairs?” he would ask. “It just works, and it gets you places. You can take the most interesting route from point A to point B on a skateboard.”