Back in 2017, I interviewed Dustin Werbeski for the launch of the Big Wheel Blading website. He had just moved back to his hometown of Regina, Canada, after spending several years living the blader dream in Barcelona, Spain. There he made a name for himself in both aggressive skating and big wheel blading, receiving a pro skate from Xsjado and signature wheels from Undercover.

During that time, Dustin was the first person I’d seen on off-road inline skates, producing some of the most viewed SUV videos on YouTube, with his Powerslide North Shore edit receiving over 830,000 views. Dustin was early to bridge the aggressive world to the rest of inline skating and was a major inspiration to me for creating this site. Four years later, Dustin is still killing it with almost daily posts on his Instagram. I decided it was time to catch up with Dustin to see what he has been up to since our last interview…


I last spoke to you in 2017 when you moved back to Regina. What have you been up to for the past four years?

Wow, four years, a lot has happened, so I’ll try to keep this short and sweet. Vancouver was again home for a while; I worked at this cool pizza shop & had my own registered film lab business. That all fell through with the mutual divorce, so I moved home to Regina & have no complaints.

When we last conversed, you were planning on focusing on your photography work. Is that something you’ve been able to pursue?

When I moved back to Regina, I got a job at the best camera shop in the city. It allowed me to talk about photography daily & collect the needed equipment for my shoots. I am still far from where I’d like to be with that career, but it is an amazing art/hobby to invest my energy and money into.

I’ve seen you’ve worked on creating some music videos. How did that come about? Is making music videos something you enjoy and want to pursue more of in the future?

It’s all just been hanging with friends who make music and me offering to collaborate with my lo-fi videography. Making skate videos is super similar, and it’s great to see many artists wanting that same style used for their music videos. I will keep collecting cameras and happily shoot whoever is interested in making some dope videos together.

Riding the full pipe.

What is your current occupation?

I have been jobless since the start of this virus, haha. It’s getting to the point where I have finished most of the projects I wanted to complete during this time but will need a new something to occupy my mind. I’ve been interested in working at the galleries to learn more about the final stage of this whole artist game.

How has COVID-19 affected how you go out to shoot photos, go skating, and your life in general?

As mentioned, I am just working on my arts from home, not getting to socialize nearly as much as I’d like. I miss people watching, walking through the crowds, looking for the most photogenic person or scene to shoot with my camera. But that all seemed to change with everyone on lockdown, and in my mind, street photography is dead here. I still get out and skate like I always have, wherever, whenever. Not sure what it would take ever to change that.

Gap over where the bridge used to be.

Regina is a remote city in the plains of Saskatchewan. How often do you leave there for both photography and skating adventures?

It is isolated, surrounded by hours of very flat, featureless grasslands. But there is stuff out there; just this last weekend, we drove 2.5 hours to ride a skatepark made out of old waterslides in the most random town in the middle of nowhere. So yeh, probably a couple or few times a week, we’re out exploring the surroundings, looking for abandoned stuff to shoot, artifacts and fossils to collect, and obviously, things to skate.

What city has the most active skate scene near you, and how far away is it?

Calgary is about 7 hours away, and I’d imagine its scene is still going strong. It was the first place where I saw other aggressive skaters, asked who they were & remembered being surprised that they didn’t know. Where I’m from, there are so few skaters that we’ve almost always known them all.

You’ve posted some amazing photos and footage of off-road skating this past winter on rivers and in the mountains. How many times did you get out of town to do this?

Thank you, it was a lot of fun and a good learning experience. I say that cause it was the only time I’ve skated a frozen river. For one, the mountains are 10 hours from me, and secondly, I would always prefer to skate when it’s hot out. But I did get to go on one ski trip this winter & took my off-road skates with me to make the most of it.

Have you had any scary situations this winter skating on ice and rocks?

Not really actually, I was more scared of falling in tree wells or skiing through avalanche areas on the resort. The same thing with being in the ocean or seas, I feel their strengths could swallow me up helplessly. Nature is a powerful thing, which I have a lot of respect for.

Do you do anything special to your skates when it comes to snow and ice-skating? How much are you inflating the tires? Have you tried adding spikes to your tires?

I had gotten many questions about this, and no, I have always just used the stock 125mm pneumatic SUV tires, filled to the maximum 100psi. The treaded tires work well for traction on the snow, but I should test some studs next time I try rollerblading on ice.

How does it compare to your summertime mountain and trail-blading adventures?

Obviously, trail conditions are so much better in the summer, but having the ability to roll all year on all surfaces is pretty amazing. I am still interested in skating down a glacier, which might also be easier to get to during the summer.

What is the gnarliest trail adventure you’ve had since we last spoke?

That’s hands down the Kamloops Bike Ranch. I only tapped into the potential there because it’s just so damn crazy and scary. They’ve built some of the biggest jumps I’ve ever seen, and the quality of the trails allows you to really fly. Next time protective gear will be worn, and it’ll be some next-level stuff.

Besides skating, what else have you been doing to stay busy?

The native history around here is fascinating. It’s hidden, but there is a ton of it around if you know where to look. I have been busy studying the lost culture & searching for artifacts from these earliest inhabitants. So far, I have found buffalo bones, stone jewelry/hand tools, and a beautiful spear tip. Oh, I just got a metal detector for these adventures too.

I see you were skating the NN frames. How do they compare to other setups you’ve skated?

The NN frames have been really fun on my Adapts. It’s a very specialized skate setup but a great option for learning to control all that fancy footwork. It’s cool to have a rockered option on raised heel skates. But I will always be a big fan of the original Wizard frames for the whole new style of skating they developed.

What are all your current skate setups?

For aggressive, I still have a pair of my old pro Xsjado’s with Kizer X freestyle frames, and the USD Sway’s with flat Kizer Fluid V’s. I love the original Xsjado’s, but the Sway’s have been a good transition back into hard boots. I’m enjoying them a lot & will continue to skate them for aggro & UFS off-roading. I also have a Next SUV 3x125mm set up for off-roading. For my big wheels urban/fitness skates, I’m using the Powerslide Next Pros with my favorite wheel setup, the 3×3 110mm’s, Undercover wheels, of course.

Have you been aggressive skating this winter? If so, where?

Yes, it felt great to stay active through it. There were a couple of snowy sessions, but not many, as it is -40 here in the winter, haha. I really wish this city still had its infamous indoor skatepark; I basically grew up there and miss it. Without it, I doubt Regina would have ever produced the skaters it did.

Do you also have a mini skatepark in your house?

This winter, I did build a little skatepark in my garage; it’s called the Sega Ramp, ha. I built the whole skeleton with wood from recycled pallets and then covered it with a nice finish. It’s small, just over 2 feet tall, but a lot of fun, with two quarters both 8 feet wide, one with a fat coping, and there’s an 8 foot long p-rail box in there. I love that the ramp is always changing, just like the graffiti on the walls. We heat it with a propane flame thrower thing, which gets it feeling like summer in there, really quick. It’s been an amazing hangout spot, where you can do anything from skating to shooting a bow and arrow.

Last we spoke, you were the only aggressive skater in Regina. Has that changed at all?

Thankfully I am seeing more and more interest in blading here, a few skateboarders are switching, and most people who want blades want aggressive ones. Oh, 306, one of our skateboard shops are supposed to be stocking some Them Skates this month. But the best news to me was that my buddy Devon Hanofski, the guy who got me into skating all those years ago, just got himself a new pair of blades and is skating again daily.

Have you seen an increase in recreational skaters in the city this past year at all?

Yup, we skate laps around the lake in the middle of the city, and this is the first year where we see at least one, but usually a few other fitness skaters, every single time we’re out. It’s amazing to see the interest in blading regrown. The numbers have got us brainstorming a weekly skate night to connect all these new skaters.

Are you back to doing any collaborations with Powerslide with the SUV skates?

I am, and honored to be helping develop the future of off-road rollerblading. The possibilities have yet to be discovered, and I am happy to continue exploring wherever the SUV’s can take me.

Who are some of your favorite skaters to watch right now?

Joe Atkinson, Danny Aldridge, and Dominic Bruce, to name a few, but there are so many inspiring people these days.

How much do you aggressive skate compared to off-road blading and free skating?

I started as an aggressive skater, so it’s hard to stop, but I am trying to cut back and free skate more instead. You don’t get hurt nearly as much urban skating when comparing it to sliding down handrails. It’s the same for off-roading; if you’re not hitting jumps, it’s pretty safe and gives the same reward of adrenaline and accomplishment. Although, I do ultimately want to push off-roading to an aggressive level.

What is Regina like for urban skating?

Good and bad. The cement is terrible, and there are no hills, so big wheels help a lot! The city is growing and putting in new path systems everywhere, so it’s only getting better.

What do you miss the most about your time in Spain?

Aww, so many things, but The Homie Crew for sure! Those boys made every day memorable. It was such a dream life to wake, explore, skate, party, plan the next adventure… then repeat week after week.

Are you still making collages?

I have so many projects on the go that I forgot about that one, haha. But yeh, I have a collection of completed ones, plus a box and book full of materials and half-finished collages. All my projects get made in waves of inspiration. It is interesting how I can get so into creating something, then let it sit for months, seeing it every day, but not touching it until the next wave of inspiration hits, and then all of a sudden, I feel like I can’t stop until it’s completed.

With more people on bigger wheels skates and the mixing of disciplines, how has skating changed or adapted over the past four years? And do you feel about the change?

It’s another positive change. Seeing people skating faster and more stylish is a great thing. I always wanted to see an 80mm and bigger skatepark competition. Wink wink, the first-ever big wheel invitational? It’d be a bigger and better show than the traditional slow and technical anti-rocker skating.

Toe roll on the pipe.

In our last interview, you thought there would never be a full mix of disciplines because of the difference in mentality amongst different kinds of skaters. Do you still agree with that sentiment?

I do, cause even as I mentioned, myself wanting to focus on one more than the others. With so many different disciplines developing, it’d be hard to be into, let alone good at them all. But with a few disciplines being so similar, there is no reason to over define the lines and rules, like wheel sizes and places to skate.

Has how you enjoy skating and the type of terrain and obstacles you skate changed over the last few years?

These days, I am skating more skateparks over the streets and many more national parks over the cities. I am now looking for bent trees & grass hills to off-road skate even when in the city. The new possibilities have sparked a fresh perspective & it’s pulling me deep into nature.

Do you have any projects or goals planned for the future?

To spend the year really developing my off-road skating by building a dedicated trail system/dirt park in the valley at my parent’s farm. I am also dreaming of another pro skate in the future.


Links

  • Check out my interview with Dustin Werbeski back in 2017.
  • Make sure to follow Dustin on Instagram to keep up with all his skating adventures.
  • To check out Dustin’s photography and video work, check out werbeski.wordpress.com.
  • Contact Big Wheel Blading for any questions, suggestions, story ideas, or to contribute content.

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Jan Welch

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