Dustin Werbeski is renowned for his remarkable skills in street, big wheel, and off-road skating, constantly pushing the limits of the sport.
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Dustin Werbeski: Captivating Audiences with His Unique Skating Style
Dustin Werbeski is a skater who effortlessly turns the impossible into reality. His video sections showcase his relentless pursuit of pushing the limits in aggressive street skating, big wheel blading, and off-road blading. Starting his skating journey in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, Dustin has come a long way, embarking on thrilling adventures that have led him to the vibrant streets of Barcelona, Spain. For the past few years, he has been living the blader-dream, continuously inspiring and captivating audiences with his remarkable skills and unwavering determination.
What is your current setup?
My setup(s) are constantly changing, as I am always testing new sample products, but I have preferences. I will always prefer Xsjados for aggressive blading, but I like the Powerslide Tau skate for my off-roading and freeskating. It is a solid carbon boot with no pressure points and the best support I have ever had in a rollerblade. The Trinity mount is excellent for precision control and the added comfort of not having a bolt right under the sole of your foot. This was the first skate I received from Powerslide, where the quality truly blew me away. It is excellent that there are still rollerblading companies that can test and use the highest quality materials.
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At what age did you receive your first pair of skates? Can you recall the specific model? What motivated you to pursue rollerblading as a passion?
I was about ten years old when I first convinced my parents to buy me a pair of skates and a couple of magazines. The skates were a “Wal-Mart-like” pair of “Cheetahs” made from plastic and olive green with gold highlights. Seeing blading on TV formed my interest in it, but I got into skating, mainly thanks to my best friend, Devon. He is my younger uncle, so I have lived with him like a brother. He was into skateboarding in the 90s and figured I should be into something similar, but he did not want me skateboarding because “he did that.” So, I guess I just picked blading, not knowing why. Not too many years later, I convinced him to switch and start blading with me. We spent our remaining teenage years traveling and filming together. I have to thank him for that innocent childhood tip that completely changed my adult life.
What brought you to Barcelona and kept you there for so many years?
Just as a friend got me into skating, the same thing could be said about Spain. I grew up skating with the infamous Richie Eisler until we both moved away from Regina. We both returned home one summer just in time to be invited to Spain for the Fall. Together we planned everything that we needed for a year-long project there. The next thing I knew, I was in Barcelona shooting photos of the people I once idolized. After the year ended, I was offered a professional blading position on the Xsjado team. This kept me there, living the pro blading dream for a handful of years. If I did not promise myself that at 30, I would focus on my photograph, I would most likely still be in Spain, struggling to survive off of a small income from this sport.
Cess Slide on the Jersey Barrier
Were you both big wheel blading and aggressive skating the whole time you lived in Barcelona?
Big wheel blading came to me on my first day in Barcelona. Oli Benet had several pairs of big wheel skates in his collection of Powerslide products. We tried some out and ordered all the fitness frames, 80mm wheels, and grind pins we could get. It took a while before we fully realized their potential, but it didn’t take long before I gave up on my freestyle grinding frames. The daily switch from eight 80s to four 58s was brutal, so this got me addicted to big wheel blading around town. I was officially a big wheel blader once I learned that you could do all the same tricks, plus a lot more that were not even possible on small wheels.
Do you prefer freeskates with 110mm or 125mm wheels? What are the differences between them, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of each size?
I prefer the 110s over the 125s. 110mm is the perfect size; it gives you the speed of big wheels with the control of small wheels. I also don’t like being too tall on my skates, so the 110s are better for that. If there is a benefit to the 125s, the little extra speed and the ability to lay your boot further down when powersliding, before you hit plastic and slip out. But overall, I will always choose the 110s for their control on small streets and their ability for “stunting” without feeling like you will break an ankle.
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Do you prefer a 125mm or 150mm setup for off-road skating? What are the significant differences, advantages, and disadvantages of these sizes?
For off-road skates, I have always preferred the 125mm wheels. I find the 150mm skates too heavy, tall, and long. In comparison, the 125s feel much closer to the big wheel blading we do on the streets. The 150s have benefits when riding on loose gravel, as they will roll over and through more than the 125s. But, if and when you find the perfectly groomed trail, the 125s exceed the abilities of the 150s. Like the debate over 110/125, I prefer the smaller ones for the feeling of control and the ability to stop whenever needed. Off-roading without brakes requires confidence and control in your skates.
Skiing drop-in with a powerslide to control speed.
How is the mountain and off-road terrain in your part of Canada?
I live in the middle of the prairies, and it’s so damn flat. But luckily, I do live near a beautiful valley with lakes surrounded by decent-sized hills to skate on. It is far from ideal, though. I am trying to shoot an SUV edit at the now-closed summer ski resort near me. That is probably the best place to be off-roading until I head to the mountains next month.
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How hard is it to start off-road skating?
Starting is easy; it is stopping; that’s the hard part! The hardest part is finding a safe and easy spot to begin. I highly recommend a big open grass hill or a hard-packed dirt trail. The grass hill will teach you to carve like you are skiing, and the trail will teach you the feeling of striding on taller and longer frames. I would recommend learning with a helmet, as I have taken and seen some pretty terrible falls on them.
Dustin Werbeski Powerslide Imperial Off-Road Edit
What is the craziest hill you have bombed?
There were too many epic hill bombs in Barcelona to name the craziest one. But a hill I can recall as being terrifying was Marc Moreno’s hill. If you ever go to his house, walk up past it, around all the S-turns, past the “rumble strip road,” to the top where it ends at stairs, rails, and banks. Drop in on the first bank and bomb the whole hill back to the metro stop at the bottom. The speed was wild, and the fact that I did it in shorts and anti-rockers still blows my mind. I was not planning on it being so intense, but I could not pass up on the rush. It is a similar story the night I skitched a taxi from downtown Barcelona onto the freeway to France and let go once I got out of Barcelona near my home in Torre Baro. Skitching isn’t a hill bomb, but it was one of the craziest things I have ever done on skates.
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Have you had any close calls, almost been hit by vehicles, or had injuries big wheel blading?
I have no idea how I survived Spain; every day, there was at least one close call. That’s what happens when you skate on busy roads and sidewalks all day, at full speed, and you weave your way through dangerous situations non-stop. Sometimes the lines I would choose were just stupid, but luckily they always worked out. I am grateful I never injured a pedestrian. Also, I would feel wrong about some of the older people or children that I scared when I flew past. Big wheel blading has saved my own body from many more injuries. I get hurt less on them than grinding and doing gaps on “small wheels.”
Mono roll up and back down.
What’s your favorite thing about big wheel blading?
My favorite thing about the big wheel is the ability to have as much fun as I did when I was young. It feels like learning a whole new sport, but the learning curve is much smoother, as I already knew the basics. Learning to grind on big wheels was a challenge I loved, but it is not something I am focusing on. I believe a whole new bag of tricks is waiting to be learned and applied to big wheel blading. Another thing I love about big wheels is learning how to use them in ways that are not intended to be used.
How does riding on big wheel skates compare to skating on aggressive skates?
When just riding around, nothing compares to big wheels. However, my new Undercover 59mm pro wheels have a super pointy profile compared to the feeling of freeskating on big wheels. That profile allows for that full swivel, pivoting control you get from the pointy wheels. I love just bending my ankles and having my feet lead the way!
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How often are you skating now that you live in Regina?
Nowadays it is only about once a week. It is sad, but I am the only skater in Regina and have a full-time photo job. I am currently filming a Xsjado farewell ad, so I will spend more days “vandalizing” this city’s architecture than usual. It feels like my body first wanted me to stop being so aggressive, and now my mind is catching up. I live with my little brother, who still has his ancient Xsjados, but he has only skated with me once since I returned home. Mostly it is just my wife and I making a quick stop while running errands in the city. We will be out shopping, and I see a spot; I will stop, strap up, do it, get her out of the car, compose the shot, and get her to shoot me doing it again, then skates off and back to everyday life. It is pretty weird slipping in and out of my skates and that mentality every few days instead of every few hours like it used to be when my skating friends surrounded me.
Soul to soul on the air vents.
Being the first skater with a pro big wheel and aggressive pro wheels, how does it feel? Any feedback or interest in your wheels?
Wow, that’s a dope thought. It is an honor to think about it in such a way. It feels fantastic to receive messages from homies who are happy to ride my wheels and feel the need to show me. Thank you all for such! I have to thank the guy who got a whole set of my “moon” wheels tattooed on his arm; that’s the most positive feedback I’ve ever received!
You had a pro-aggressive skate from Xsjado. Do you think Powerslide will ever release a pro big wheel skate?
For me? Nope! Some behind-the-scenes issues are preventing Powerslide from ever giving me another pro skate. I am thankful for what I got and will be grateful for whatever I get from whoever it may be. Though I won’t be holding my breath for a new pro skate, that’s for sure!
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What are you doing in Regina? How is your photography going?
I always promised myself that at thirty, I would focus less on blading and more on my photography, wherever I may be. It just ended up that moving back home timed out with that plan ideally. If I stayed in Spain, it would have been too easy to stay in the starving artist cycle that I was in. I was not saving up anything and barely developing myself outside the skating world. But now, being back on this side of the globe, I have the best photography job ever. I work at Film Rescue International and love spending my time in the darkroom, developing lost and found, super expired rolls of film. In the hundreds of rolls I go through a month, I see great images from all over the world and from all periods. While doing this, I also get to spend as much time as I like working on my photo projects, which have been long overdue and abandoned because of my blading. I am super happy with how my life as a professional rollerblader and photographer evolved together and where I find myself with them now.
street photography by Dustin Werbeski
Where do you want to see your photography go in the future?
I dream of seeing all the stuff I have shot finally make it on the walls of galleries. Selling my images as art is my first goal, and secondly would be making money with some fashion & other commercial work done my way. I would shoot skating again if given the right opportunity, like a tour to document or a company in need of branding.
What are your favorite cities in the world to skate in?
Barcelona and Vancouver. The first is obvious, as Spain sets the bar high for picturesque skatepark-like architecture. But Vancouver’s North Shore is by far the best place for off-roading and trail skating.
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What cities are on your skating bucket list that you haven’t visited yet?
New York for its classic streets, Tokyo for its futuristic look, Rome for its historic buildings, Delhi for its dated and kind of dirty style & Lima to off-road the ancient Inca highway.
You’re a prolific skater known for your online content. I loved the On One Hundos Under Cover edit. How often do you skate with a 4x100mm or 4x110mm setup? How does 4×110 compare to 3×110 skating?
I still own those 4×100 frames and wheels, but I do not use them too much. They are the perfect frame for mixing aggressive and free skating. This is something I do not do here skating alone, but I did do a ton of back in Spain, as I found it a pain to take two pairs of skates or just big wheels and not enjoy the spots with the boys. It is comforting to have the regular amount of wheels and the “groove” where it is supposed to be, unlike when you ride 3x3s. Four 100 mm are a little long, but not too long to have the ability to do all the grinds on just the wheels.
Edit of Dustin Skating on One Hundos
I love “The Death of the 4th Wheel” edited by Mathias von Gostomski! It’s visually stunning and made me want the Megacruiser Pro skates. Where was it filmed, and how was it working with Mathias?
That’s great to hear that I did my job and sold you on the skates! That ad was shot in Barcelona, at a rarely visited location on Mont Juic. When we lived in the Powerhouse, we had that mountain as our backyard, so we found this graveyard quite early. I used to take people on late-night trips there when it was closed. It is such an eerie but lovely place to hang out when it’s dead. Years later, I was pondering a location to film that skate ad with Mathias von Gostomski. Voila, it clicked… 3 wheels, Death to the 4th, graveyard, etc.… Mathias is the best; literally, he does his thing, and you do yours, never worrying about how the end product will look. It is the opposite; you skate already, knowing it will look better than you could imagine.
Death to the 4th Wheel Edit Filmed in Barcelona, Spain
The North Shore edit you created garnered 400,000+ views, inspiring off-road skate aspirations. How was the filming experience?
Off-roading the North Shore is by far the most popular thing I have ever done on my skates. I got a couple of news and radio segments from it, and I cannot even count the number of times it has been reposted and shared on the Internet. Shooting it was also some of the best times I have had. I spent two days hanging out with two girls and another blader for one of the days. As I mentioned earlier, Barb knows how to handle a camera, and the other girl, Amber, went to photography school with me. They documented it as we hiked, and I tried out these trails. I had no idea if the berms were possible; I had always dreamt of skating them. I had googled what seemed like the best trails, but in reality, they were a little intense. But while out exploring the woods, we did find the ideal conditions and managed to film some of the best off-roading I have done. Being out in the woods with no pressure made it super enjoyable, so much so that I kept dreaming of round two.
Edit of Dustin Off-Road Skating The North Shore in Vancouver, Canada
Tell me about your Mallorca big wheel adventures.
Mallorca is paradise and pretty good for skating. I spent most of my time exploring beaches or the mountains surrounding our village. It is my wife’s homeland, so we will defiantly be going back at some point soon. When we do, I will be sure to skate the mountain trails and street spots I found but never got around to doing. My stay last summer was just a tease; I am waiting for the real Mallorca adventures.
In your opinion, who is the best Big Wheel Blader in the world?
Hands down that has to be Leon Basin. Look at what he has done, from his literal trickery in his Mushroom Blading profiles to his part in producing the Wizard Frames. Nobody took big wheels that seriously and so quickly. The rest of the industry sat on the fence like pussies, too scared to get involved in the new scene, thinking they’d receive ridicule.
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Where do you see big wheel blading going in the future?
I see it taking over where Aggressive left off. I cannot wait to watch the first ever 80mm and up park comp! It will be a much bigger and faster show for the crowd to enjoy. I also cannot wait for off-road racing and dirt jumping to take off. Those are also real shows for the public.
Cess slide through the water.
Did you expect so many aggressive skaters to get into big wheel blading?
Actually yes! There is no denying the fun once you have skated a big wheel setup. All it took was a few “cool” kids doing it, and then everyone wanted to try them out. I was pretty surprised at how often I heard hate on big wheels. Aggressive skaters need to realize that the big wheel movement has put more lubricating money into our drying up and squeaky skating industry.
Big wheels are now bringing together various inline skating disciplines, potentially reshaping the future of the sport. How do you personally feel about this newfound unity and its potential impact on inline skating?
There is some blurring of the lines happening, but I do not think it will ever be a full mix. There will still be a difference in mentality among different kinds of skaters. Just as I do not imagine long boarders and the true head street pushers to get along, I don’t see many aggressive bladers socializing with slalom skaters. I hope some new style of skating emerges from this mixture of disciplines like street parkour on big wheels or BMX-style dirt jumps on off-road blades would be amazing to see!
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street photography by Dustin Werbeski
What do you enjoy the most about skating?
The days your spend with your best friend and touring around a city with just your skates and cameras. There are no rules or time restrictions to follow, just your instincts on where you will find the next best spot. Skating allowed me to explore so many amazing places that regular people would never see while visiting the same city. I love being able to create something, whether it be videos or photos or tricks or products or whatever, because of skating.
All photos of Dustin taken by Barbara Trias
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