From the hills of the hinterland to the valley of Nambour and surrounds there is some pretty impressive talent on skateboards, and many are guided by Slothy’s Skateboarding Lessons. A bit of a Coast legend.
by Rebecca Mugridge
When owner of Slothy’s Skateboarding Lessons, Leon Winter, was a competitive skateboarder he won King of The Sunshine Coast, placed first in some major skateboarding competitions and even competed in the XGames in Sydney.
And his career started from one lucky moment. “I actually found my first skateboard,” he remembers, “I found it on the side of the road, an old and bashed up thing it was. I started having a go at it. I stood on it and did a few 360’s and thought, this is pretty cool, and then just stuck with it.
“My very first comp I went in was one in Caloundra back when they used to have two ramps, near the swimming pool. I wasn’t very good back then, but I ended up getting third.”
And his love of skateboarding grew.
“At Alexander Headland they used to have quite a few really big comps and I placed first in all the major big ones.” And that led to sponsorship. “I had a few sponsors, like Beach Beat and Surf Action at the wharf. Then there was Skatebiz who were one of the biggest skate shops in Australia, they used to be at Alex.”
A career highlight was the XGames. “I went down to the X Games in Sydney, in 2000, against the world’s best. You had to qualify first or second to go. I went to the qualifying final, which was in Bundaberg, and me and my best mate took out first and second, so we got to go together. It was a great experience.”
And now he is doing what he loves, teaching up to 60 lessons a week, has his own skateboard range, apparel and, in a full circle moment, sponsors some exciting up-and-coming skaters now himself.
“I have a small team of four, riding for me. I have one girl and she is going to the Olympics. She is only 13. Her name is Zahra Johns. She is in the junior squad for the Olympics.
“And on my team, there is a little man called Tully Burke, he is the first kid I ever put on my team. I have been teaching him since he was a real little fella. I’d do anything for that kid. He is winning comps and is 13 now.
“When I see that kind of stuff it gives me goosebumps.”
Slothy is a coach that kids look up to and connect with.
“I’m a big believer in showing someone something as they can work it out a lot quicker than just explaining it.
“Sometimes I show them the trick myself. Sometimes I film them doing the trick and put it in slow motion to show them. Many times, kids actually don’t know they aren’t leaning or aren’t bending their knees enough.”
Slothy helps kids get confident. “When a kid is too scared to drop in, I say let’s go look at it from a different angle. We walk around and I say when you look at it from this angle it doesn’t look too bad does it? They always say, ‘Oh, it doesn’t look too bad at all.’
“When you are at the top, it can look huge,” says Slothy.
“Sometimes I do what I call a confidence booster, if they are dropping in on a 6-foot ramp and they look down and say ‘I can’t do this’.
“I go up and hold their hand and I say, you are never going to do this by yourself.
“Not for a while anyway. And then I take them to the 3-foot ramp, and they drop that so easily, because it looks so much smaller, and then their confidence goes right through the roof. And then they do the 6-foot. I am always so proud.
“I always get right down to the fundamentals because I just want to see them succeed. When they say they can’t, I say, you’ve got to take the T off and throw it in the bin! You can! And most of the time it works.”
Skateboarding isn’t just part of Slothy’s life; it is his life, and he still does tricks and skateboards all the time. “I started when I was 10, I’m 45 now. I can still kind of skate like back when I was sponsored if I really want to, but when I hit the ground now, it’s not good. It’s a few weeks to get over it now,” he laughs.
Nambour has a fantastic skate bowl he says, and it is currently very smooth, great for learning and practicing. “It needs to be super smooth and maintained well by Council to be really smooth.
“They fall on their hands, and you are supposed to slide. If it’s rough, you don’t slide. If a water gurney was used too hard, it’s a cheese grater. If you ever see an unused skate bowl, it is because it is just too rough.”
If you or your kids are inspired to try skateboarding, polish your skills, or maybe you have the next Tony Hawke on your hands, you can find Slothy’s Skateboarding Lessons through Facebook: