Paul Osicka Interview
by Takeo Yasuyuki
Freedom: How long have you been riding for?
Photos: Tatsuya ‘Oku’ Okudaira
Paul Osicka: I had my first bike when I was 4 years old. And I was into
dirt jumping little bit around when I was 11, and then I started flatland when I
was about 16. So I’ve been riding almost for 15 years.
Why did you switch to flatland from dirt jumping?
P: It was OK but I was always scared of crashing. I never got over that
really. But I like to get air little bit even now but nothing too big.How did you get into flatland?
Actually, one of my neighbours did some flatland trick, it was boomerang
and I thought it was cool. So I learned boomerang for my fist trick, and he
told me a few things and I started picking up really quick and it was just
What’s your concept of riding?
Palindromes have developed into a bit of an obsession for me lately.
It’s the only way a trick ever feels complete th me. It’s very hard to
explain but I think you’ll understand when the video comes out.
You’d get really good results at any contest for a while but you faded
out from the contest scene almost suddenly. Why did you quit competing?
Initially, I started competing pro, my first pro contest was worlds
in 94 and my last Pro contest was also the Worlds in 96. I
competed 2, or 3 contest between that period. I think I was going to enter
again but I injured my knee in 96 and I just took some time off and… I don’t
know. I’ve not competed since then.
If I compete I want to do good. To keep winning contests, you have to focus
on whatever tricks you’re going to do so you can be dialed and consistent.
But I’d rather learn more things, like different things than I just got used
to do now, like learning new things all the time. Rick (Moliterno)
appreciates my type of riding of doing whatever I want to do on my own pace.
He thinks I’m doing something good, so he understands my philosophy. So
I’m lucky that Standard helps me with the way of my life.
Leaning for me is the whole point of living basically. I like to be learning
things and getting better. So I want to really focus on it but when I was
entering contests, I would kind of have to put off the things that I really
wanted to learn. Like when I was into something I wanted to do, OK, I want to
learn the next thing. Because I’ve always been dreaming of so many
things I want to learn. I’m still only learning things that were dreamed years
ago. What I’m dreaming now is going years off, so, every time I want to
learn to go to the next things. I don’t think I would retire to go to contest if
it changed . But sometimes I think of going because of the money. It
would be nice because I’m really poor. So sometimes I think I’m going to
go to a contest, maybe someday I think I’d enter if I feel really good.
And another reason why I’ve not been able to enter contests is my riding
goes in phases. I goes though learning process for a while and learn handful
batch of tricks. When I go to film, I can do them really good. At last part
of “Standard Country” after I did it, I could enter the contest because I
do really good, like pull everything I want to. In the end of 99, or
maybe 2000, I felt like I could enter a contest and It was either do that
or start learning new things that I’ve been dreaming over years. I ended
up deciding just learn new things because it’s more fun to me. So maybe,
after this year, when I finish with my new batch of tricks, maybe I will do
different next time and actually enter a contest. It’s just time you
know, phases. Maybe there are 3 quarters to be done with this phase. My
tricks are getting almost ready for videos and I’ll be ready in a month or
so to do all my video stuff. Maybe after that I’ll do all new stuff.
I feel like riding is all about fun for you but is it for style ? or…
I really want to see how far I can push my skills. I’ve always got into
flatland. In my early 20s, I wanted to really drop everything in my life,
like I dropped school, I left home to go to Florida for the winter, I left
my girlfriend, my job, and everything. Because I wanted to make riding my
life. Even back then in the very beginning, I’ve been just building how
far I can go with what I can, because a body doesn’t last too long so, I want to go as
far as I can and learn the best things that I can.
In 93, you went to Arizona to ride with Chad. Why did you go down after
I had to go somewhere to escape the Chicago winter so I figured the
desert was as good a place to start as any.
I read your interview on Ride BMX and you said “you have to learn all the
basics at first but once you got to the point where you learned most of the basics,
hen it’s the time to head to original things”. What time was it for you?
P: Maybe around when I moved to Arizona, I think it was 93. I kind of
always tried to do all things a little different as much as I could even when
I was doing basics. I want to do different because variety is good. Slowly
I dropped everything in my life, slowly each season I started leaning
different things, kind of different style together. Mostly first things I
really started off blanching was my style started evolving. Before I’ve
been doing different tricks, I had different style developing. When I was
moving one things to the next, a lot faster. I wouldn’t holds positions too
long, I wouldn’t go scuffing something that hold too long and I’m kicking
for next things and kicking next. Because I always want to have a flow, a
lot of movement in my riding. It’s my style. Even before I had different
It sounds like you’ve been able to see the goal that’s might be style
that you have now, ever since the most beginning. Does it sound right?
I was always a dreamer, even when I was really young and I really wanted to
start getting into my riding. You know, I was dreaming way past my
ability. I was always dreaming even what I couldn’t do and what would probably
take years to do. Now the dream I have in my riding, is always way ahead
of what I can actually do. I think that probably most people are coming up
with the things that are thinking way ahead of something, so it
takes a while to turn into reality. I could learn everything if I
dream though, but it wouldn’t actually happen. I need a room with no
gravity. (laughter) Gravity slow me down. (laughter).
But it must have been tough to keep that attitude, hasn’t
it? I think that you’ve had a hard time like, “Ahh, I might not be able to
Sometimes I spend a lot of time on a trick and I end up learning it, but
then I spend so much time at it. I just say, “Fuck it” and try to learn
other things because I get mad at it. I’ve had a couple things that I
learned last year that I spend a lot of time on. I don’t even do them now
because it’s not fun anymore. that happens sometimes, you really won’t do
it so bad. You’ve tried and tried so hard and end up learning it, but
yo invested so much time in it that is not fun anymore. The tricks that are
most fun to me, I end up doing them the most. I like things that feel
good. There were 2 tricks last year that took so much time. And it made me mad at the
end but I learned it later on.
What kind tricks were those?
You’ll see. (Laughter), Actually I can’t explain…
I read you spent 3 years to learn no handed hang 5 spins. It must be one
of the hardest trick that you’ve done.
It took me maybe 2 years. And it wasn’t the hardest because I learned
bunch of others with it, so it wasn’t the only thing that I was doing. The other
tricks that I did in “Standard Country” was what I was learning along with
it. It was that I’ve never got to the point that I didn’t like it. 2
things I learned last year, I spend most of my time doing them. So no handed
hang 5 spins was like one of a bunch things. There was other things
that I learned with it. It didn’t seem like it took that long. It just kind
of evolved that I was rolling in circles first, and then I started spinning. And I’m
always doing other things, like linking other things with it.
How did you pull it for the first time?
One day, I went to a show with Kerry (Gatt) in North Carolina. We were just
danced all night and it was just a beautiful time. The next day we went to
ride the tennis courts and I just started spinning the shit out of it. Like I
just found them. I think my energy from the show was so high and once you
build your energy to that level, you can do anything. My energy just went to
another level and I ended up spinning the shit out of it.
I just pounded them and one day just it clicked like, I was spinning and all
that. I just spun really tight and then you know, it just happened…
So, you didn’t expect it to happen…
Nah, I visioned it, and one day it just clicked.
Does Kerry motivate you a lot?
He’s my favorite person to ride flatland with. I haven’t had too many
people who I enjoyed riding with, I mean on a daily basis. We are such
good friend and were living together, and we had a really good time in life.
When I was living with him in Chapel Hill, I think we both brought each other
up. Even when we are not riding we can bring each other up. We have a good
Why were you back in BMX scene 99 to come up with new judging format
for BS contest even you’d been off from the major BMX scene?
I heard they have been becoming stagnant and they were trying to think of
new things. They were kind of getting out of rat and I just called Steve
Swope (BS contest head director) because I was hearing boomers about the
stuff. I just can’t remember who I talked with, but I just called them and
told them I can give some good and fresh ideas.
And he told me to come out and talk to everyone and share my ideas. It
was good because when you speak your ideas out, people help to think of
different points of view, and I think it ended up helping to move things on.
I think it should be a best trick contest even it’s normal contest.
Let me know about your plan of a contest that you are going to have next
It’s like a jam and we had a barbeque, free food and no entry fee for
pros, just casual. I just let people take their own terms and have whoever for a
judging just watch people ride for 30 minutes or an hour however long they
want to go and they just watch the whole time. And have a meeting afterward and
then we have a good amount of prize money there, so we can get all of the pros to
come out and have something that looks cool. It’s just about fun. So I hope
maybe we can do something for next summer and I want to have a lot of Japanese
riders too. Really high level riding and a casual atmosphere where people
try to do whatever they want to do. You don’t need to have really
consistency, or the restriction of a normal contest. I just want to see the best
riding of the best riders, you know.
What do you think of the BMX industries? Some of them don’t make
flatland bikes and what do you think of how they see a future of flatland?
I think this part of the industries is almost suppressed. And media is not doing a
good job. They aren’t really representing flatland with the best way they
could. They kind of push it aside. I think it’s bad because flatland is
more advanced and technical. And it’s over peoples heads. I think that’s
probably why it’s so much bigger here (in Japan) that culture’s advanced
The situation of US, that there are a lot of skateparks helps to get
people riding parks rather than flatland too.
Totally. it just goes along with the whole thing. There’s more parks
because people are more exposed to that sort of riding. The media
expose more ramp riding. That’s why people do it more. That’s why you
see so many parks there. If flatland was promoted that way it would be so
much bigger though.
So do you think flatland is in vicious spiral?
No, I think it’s moving forward. But it’s up to small group pushing
forward. Not that many people really. There is the dedicated group pushing it
forward. I think maybe in future it will grow up because people would catch
up to where it is. I think it’s advanced. Maybe people evolve and catch up
and appreciate the beauty of it.
I think flatland riding is more art form rather than sports. It should be
exposed as art and that’s the way it should go.
Yeah, definitely. That’s why contests don’t do justice. It’s just
like trying to fit a circle into a square hole. It doesn’t really fit.
It’s that structure of now that’s kind of holding flatland back. It’s
restricting sort of. It tries to keep it fitting in the mold. Maybe one
structure changes, like people get together and structure different so flatland
I did interview with Andrew Faris and he said there would be no future in
He has narrow mind… no imagination…
What are you going to do after retiring?
I would like to ride for the rest of my life so I can’t answer that
question, but in all seriousness I would like to have a skate park and a
farm, maybe a combination of both.
I want to thank may mom, Rick for the help and friendship over the years,
Greg at Primo, Duane at Fox, Nate at sole tech, Frank at Dans, Rick at C4,
Ryan at good times, Profily, Waterford, Tedd Nelson , and especially RIE for
flying me out to meet everyone, Kota, Hiroshi, Todd, Satoshi, Yuho, Yasu the
Green Giant, Oku for the pictures and every bad ass rider that was cool to
me. thanks again.
Thank you Paul
Text: Takeo Yasuyuki