"Do you want to have fun, or do you want to fucking win?" Catching up with Corey Walsh
Keeping it simple on two wheels...
Words and photos by Rob Dolecki | Additional photo by Fred Murray & Andrew White
There has been a lot of amazing talent coming out of Canada over the decades. Miron, Osato, Enns, Heaton, Bezanson… the list goes on and on. One of the latest names being etched on that list is the speed demon named Corey Walsh.
It makes sense why he likes to pump a bowl corner fast as hell and rip any transition, gap or transfer in his path; he raced for a decade and a half, and was a candidate for the Olympic Canadian BMX team. Instead of continuing to focus on and deal with the stressful training and b.s. that had come along with that path, two years ago he ditched the coaches and clips, and veered down a new road that focused on his real love, roasting concrete bowls. Even with BMX park now slated for the 2020 Olympics, don’t expect to see Corey doing gymnastics training on the resi with his game face on. What you can expect is Corey continuing his dynamic way of keeping it simple on two wheels—which is not a bad path to be on at all.
Where are you living at?
Currently West Vancouver, B.C. I just moved; was living in Coquitlam, which is kind of far out. Been living there four years now on and off.
How are all those concrete parks around that area?
I always take it for granted. We have some of the best concrete out there. What we get to ride is pretty insane. We usually cruise parks like Hastings and stuff on the North Shore.
You used to live in the Toronto area?
Yeah, actually Ayr, Ontario, about an hour and a half outside of Toronto. Spent 17 years of my life there.
How was it growing up there?
Pretty good. It’s a hockey town. There was one skatepark; it closed down after a couple of years and went into my backyard. It was just a half pipe with a sketchy ass extension. We were pretty far out of the way for anyone to come shred so rode that shit solo a lot.
"My coach grabbed me and was like, 'Do you want to have fun, or do you want to fucking win?'"
- Corey Walsh
How did your roots shape you into the person you are today?
The people I rode with and was around kinda shaped who I am today. I had a neighbor named Chris who gave a a bunch of DVDs, like Grounded, Drop the Hammer, and Props videos. So that's the style of riding I always want to do. They also made sure I was not a little shit by making fun of me 24/7. Looking back at it gets me stoked they did that and I understand why now.
Who are some of your influences growing up, and who are these days?
Growing up, I looked up to everyone involved with T-1, Chase Hawk, John Heaton, Drew Bezanson, Mike Aitken, Ruben Alcantara. Robbie Miranda... So many more I am missing. Influences these days are pretty much the same.
Who did you ride with growing up?
I mostly went to Cambridge, so that's where all my friends where. There was a skatepark there called Riverside. Small little bowl was mad fun. Everyone kind of raced, then fell out of it. I actually currently live with my good friend who I grew up with. His name is Spencer. Stoked he is out here on the West Coast.
You grew up racing?
I started when I was six and retired when I was 20. It’s been two years now not racing; kind of crazy.
You obviously like to go fast; how did racing affect your riding ability?
I don’t even like to do tricks; one of the reasons why is we never did them. It definitely influenced everything. When you are a kid and you learn all these skills, then you retire when you’re younger, you get skills through the skatepark. I kept racing for some reason. Always kinda knew that life was not for me. Crazy to think I am free of a lot of that bullshit now, living life and riding everyday.
Did you clip in?
Always. I was a part of the full-clip generation. I rode road bike clips with carbon shoes. If you cased anything it was hell. I'll probably never clip in again in my lifetime...
How much smaller is your bike today?
I ride Chase’s frame and it’s 21” top tube with like 13.6” and the back wheel is half-off the dropout. Used to run a 21.8 TT with a 16inch rear end. Just a little crazy from current stuff.
"I don’t even like to do tricks."
- Corey Walsh
What prompted the move to the West Coast of Canada?
The National BMX team of Canada trains in B.C. So I graduated high school and left for B.C. the next day. I actually moved out there with my sister; she raced BMX as well. It was two years, and we trained every day for BMX. BMX made us best friends; it’s cool. We’re kind of in different lives now; she’s moved on to track cycling and I’m doing this. Do not think I'll ever be able to leave the West Coast.
What made you move on from racing?
It was a period of one year. I was getting funded through Canada cycling and getting to live and ride every day, since it’s an Olympic sport. One year I got KO’ed three times. Went through like five months of concussion syndrome. My first race back, my coach yelled at me. I fucked up, was behind, and I did a moto whip over the last jump and had a smile on my face, and my coach grabbed me and was like, “Do you want to have fun, or do you want to fucking win?” That started it. It took me like six months to figure it out. Then I have not raced since, and haven’t thought about racing again once. It’s crazy it took me 20 years to figure that out. Now I’m living this life. Pretty crazy waking up being happy everyday.
What are your thoughts when freestyle gets in the Olympics?
I bet people would take freestyle more serious like racers do. Racers have the mentality they want to win. It could be cool; it would be sick that kids could see it on TV and get introduced to the sport. Then see where they go from there. Just hope everyone can still have fun around that environment. It can suck sometimes being in that place.
How do you think they will be judged?
Flappy-flop-loopy-doos spin-oramas; I really have no idea.
You have a job when you’re home in Vancouver.
Yeah, I work at a BMX store called 3ride, and I had a side food-delivery job, but I’ve been chilling on that lately. 3ride is the chillest job ever. They let me come and go whenever I want. Crazy that dudes like James Steele, Jason Enns have worked here. It's even in Jason's 411 Bio at the beginning.
Talk about the trash incident in Malaga, Spain.
We were just having fun one night. I had a buddy Mitch who grabbed onto a semi-truck one time in the winter and it pulled him down the street; it was the funniest thing ever. I tried holding on to a garbage truck one night in Malaga since everything is marble and slippery, and since everyone has a cell phone in this day and age, apparently you can’t do anything fun since it ends up online, and then you get a nickname. Welcome to 2017… fuck.
"Since everyone has a cell phone in this day and age, apparently you can’t do anything fun since it ends up online."
- Corey Walsh
What were you thinking with that transfer at Ruben’s park during the Vans Pro Cup?
I don’t know. I dabbled with it, going low to low. In the contest, I went off the top and was like, “Uh-oh.”
You got out of it good. Next time went well.
I guess so; I hit it kind of low.
What did you think of the park?
It was unreal. It’s one of my favorite bowls. There is so much shit to do there. I’d been wanting to go there for so long.
What are some of your favorite parks?
Hastings. This park called Squamish it’s my number one at times. It’s a tight bowl, and it’s got this corner pocket, where you can do one solid pump to get from one place to the other. It’s like trails. Malaga skatepark now. There’s a perfect quarter pipe at Diana in El Paso, Texas. It’s like ten foot-tall with pool coping. So many to ride so I am sure that will just refresh after this year.
"How do I think they will be judged? Flappy-flop-loopy-doos spin-oramas; I really have no idea."
- Corey Walsh
What are some parks/ spots you want to go to?
SMP park in China. The Ruben half pipe in South Australia. Tigard- it’s like six hours away and I’ve never went. Orcas Island. The death bowl in Japan, if it’s still rideable.
What attracts you to transitions as opposed to other types of riding?
Don’t get me wrong, I love everything. I have just grown up riding skateparks and love going fast. Transition allows you to do that. It is also refreshing traveling around the world looking for sick parks to ride because it is never going to end. Always keeps me wanting more.
You're a fan of pools...
We look so hard, and it’s getting harder now. We found one of the best pools I’ve ever ridden in Vancouver. We had been scouting it for months. It was like a six million dollar house. It was bone dry, and no coping. The lady sweeps it and buckets it, because she doesn’t want standing water. We rang the doorbell; the trash had been left out after every other house had brought it in. We were sitting at the fence, and my buddy as like, “Fuck it!” and throws his bike over. We sessioned it for fifteen minutes and then ran. That is the best day riding pools ever... the whole adventure of it is so fun. Every pool has a story and it challenges you every time you ride one.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
I’m going to try and buy a van, and do a pool trip down to the U.S. Open with a couple of homies. They fly home, then with another crew do a couple of weeks up in Oregon and Washington. (Ed. note: this interview took place before he got the van- see Corey's Instagram for a glimpse into those adventures during the past few months.) So many things keeping popping up, so I'm sure more plans will happen!
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