By Rune Glifberg, Skateboarder
Words by Nikolaj Hansson / Illustration by Sine Jensen
Having been at the top of his game for more than twenty years, it’s safe to say that Danish skateboarder Rune Glifberg has written himself into the history of skateboarding alongside the likes of Tony Hawk, Christian Hosoi and Danny Way. Glifberg, now residing in Denmark, is still pushing the boundaries of skateboarding while also being involved in the design process of skateparks. We sat down with Glifberg to get his perspective on the current state of skateboarding, style in general and much more.
The decline in popularity in the 90s, to it entering the mainstream arena today, with multibillion corporations buying into the culture, where do you see skateboarding in fifteen years?
I see skateboarding as part of the mainstream culture, but still with its roots deeply planted in the underground, where it has always lived and breathed. One of the great things about skateboarding is, that it is very diverse and has room for all kinds of people, but more importantly different levels of ambition and passion for the lifestyle, fad, sport or whatever you make skateboarding, when you get involved or just want to enjoy it from the outside.
♦ Backside Lipslide - photo by Mike Burnett
Neil Young sings on his 'Hey Hey My My (Out Of The Blue)'-track from 1979: “It’s better to burn out, than to fade away.” How do you relate this view to the career of professional skateboarders?
I think it’s all relative to the person in question. I’ve seen plenty of skateboarders with decade long careers go hard for years than disappear quite quickly, and also the opposite. In relation to myself, my passion for skateboarding and traveling is too strong to even consider or think about this question. I’ll keep skateboarding for as long as I can weather I fade out or crash and burn.
Looking back to the legendary 'Prygl I Parken'-events in Fælledparken up until the contests of today with X-Games & Street League, what do you think about the change of format in competitive skateboarding over the years?
I think the change is great. The massive venues that bring skateboarding to the masses these days are great eye openers for the blind and narrow-minded individuals that are new to skateboarding.
♦ Frontside Stalefish - Photo by Morten Westh
Do you think, you would’ve been where you are today, if Deathbox hadn’t changed to Flip and moved to the US?
There’s no chance. I owe my whole career to those guys. That’s one of the reasons I’ll back those guys through the good times and the bad. Over and over again.
Deathbox was my first sponsor. They saw potential in me before anyone else did and we went through some really rough times before moving to the soft and pampered world of California. It was in those times that I learned, that the skateboard industry is not only the glamour that most kids think it is. You really have to be able to make something from nothing, if you want to succeed in this world.
Of course, skaters are mainly influenced by other skaters. However, a lot also seem to be influenced by musicians, artist or personal relationships. Who are your influences outside of skateboarding?
That’s a tough question for me. Most of my influence comes from within skateboarding because skateboarding is a vessel for all these different personal expressions. I don’t really need to look too far outside of skateboarding to see the things that I find interesting.
♦ Frontside Stalefish - photo by Arto Saari
What is the worst trend in skateboarding right now?
I think skateboarding is so big now, that there are no specific trends. We’re now at a stage where there are so many different participants, that naming a specific trend for skateboarding is hard. You could name trends for certain groups of skateboarders just like you could for, say, different music genres.
I think the worst trend within a certain group of skateboarders is the “I don’t give a fuck”-attitude. It always comes across as pretentious and fake. The skateboarders who truly don’t give a fuck aren’t trying to show the world how much they don’t care. I guess the same goes for all the fashion victims out there that are running the vagrant look.
You’ve produced a fair share of video parts throughout your career. How is the process of filming for a new project?
It’s usually a long and hard process, but I’ve been involved in projects that only took a few months, or even weeks to finish. Most times the big projects take years to finish. Sometimes getting tricks on film can take hours, days or weeks to film.
Some professional skateboarders have fallen of the tracks due to, according to some, high expectations from sponsors. How do you deal with this?
I always try to do my best to work hard for my sponsors. That’s what’s put me where I am today. At the end of the day though, I don’t beat myself up over not accomplishing everything I set out to do for my sponsors or myself. Nobody’s perfect.
♦ Blunt to Fakie - photo by Arto Saari
You recently moved back to Denmark after a lot of years in the US. Was it always your plan to return someday?
I think deep down inside, I knew that I was going to return to Copenhagen at one point, but there was no set plan. That’s not to say that I might not move back to the US one day. Spending a few years in New York has always been a dream of mine. That city has so much to offer and is in many ways the epitome of what skateboarding has become.
Nodding towards the likes of Mark Gonzales, Christian Hosoi and Natas Kaupas, it’s safe to say, that style is quite an essential component in skateboarding. What is your opinion upon the importance of style?
Style is everything. Skateboarding should look cool and fluid in my opinion. I love the technical ability of a lot of skateboarders, but the ones I admire the most are the ones that make it look fluid and easy. When I was a kid, I wanted to learn every trick there was, no matter hard it was or how it felt when I did it, but these days I get way more satisfaction from doing the simple tricks and doing them really good. To me, simple tricks done in extraordinary places are the most mind-blowing. Just like in fashion, the simple things are most times better.