WORDS BY STUART GOMEZ
Finland’s wild child, Marius Syvanen, made some serendipitous connections at an early age, setting the stage for the kind of eventful life that just can’t be planned. Shortly after moving to his ‘hood in San Diego, he noticed an older skateboarder who had a bunch of vintage decks in his garage, frequently seeing him lugging kneepads around. After a while, young Marius introduced himself to this mysterious neighbor and soon started on a path that would lead to sponsorship and travel (Bolivia, New Zealand, Australia, the list goes on and on), taking an active role in building D.I.Y. skateparks in struggling communities, while also building many more friendships, and eventually turning Pro in 2014. That’s what happens when you move into T-Mag’s neighborhood.
Seven months ago, he found that another early skate connection would have unexpectedly awesome results. His long childhood friendship with SK8MAFIA’s Tyler Surrey led to Marius becoming one of the latest additions to New Balance Numeric’s growing team.
We caught up with Marius once he returned from his first NB# trip to chat about the Pro life and to get his take on the polarizing topic on many skateboarders’ minds these days: the 2020 Olympics. “I’m on the fence with it, I kinda back it and I kinda don’t,” Marius says, “If it does happen, I’d go represent Finland, for sure!” You never know what might happen.
Was the Australia trip your first trip with the NB# team?
Yep, that was my first trip with New Balance. Oh my God, it was incredible. Absolutely amazing! We were in Melbourne for the first week, then we drove to Canberra and we were there for a couple of days. We ended it in Sydney for the last five days of the trip. Everyone pretty much crushed it!
How did you get on New Balance?
It was all through Tyler Surrey. He’s a good friend of mine from many years ago just from skating in San Diego. We’ve been skating together for the past ten or fifteen years—I started skating when I was probably seven years old—he just kinda lined it up in the beginning. I’ve been wearing their shoes for over six months now. Everyone on the team is super cool!
I heard that you were neighbors with a famous 80s Pro skater as a kid.
Yeah, the old-school vert Pro Tony Magnusson who owned Osiris shoes. I moved into the same complex as him with my family, just randomly. This was a little bit after I started skating, so I’d see him around the complex and be like, “Whoa, who is this dude?” He’s got a bunch of pads and old H-Street boards in his garage and shit. [laughs] So I just introduced myself. That’s pretty much where it all started. I didn’t realize who he was for a while, until I was maybe fourteen or fifteen. At least for a couple of years I had no idea who he was.
How did you end up getting involved with Levi’s?
Levi’s happened exactly a year ago. We did some projects at the end of 2014, but they didn’t actually start the team they got going until January 2015. Joey Pepper is a part of the squad, and Dan Plunkett as well.
We’ve got a good squad going! Also Josh Matthews, Pat Moran, Al Partanen. It’s a cool gig, for sure!
We flew to New Zealand, right after Australia. We went out to a city called Christchurch on the south island to build a D.I.Y. park for the kids out there. About five or six years ago, they got hit with a super crazy earthquake—a huge magnitude—and the whole city got devastated. Levi’s thought that it would be a great idea to go out there and help the skate community out by building this D.I.Y. park and stuff. That’s one of their main focuses: to give back to skateboarding by building local skateparks for kids.
Do you pour the concrete and do the heavy labor?
Yeah, definitely. That’s all kinda new to me. I’ve never been very “hands on” working with ‘crete. But I’m in there, for sure! It’s a big help that Al Partanen is part of this, too, because he’s a veteran of ‘crete work. He always shows us what’s going on!
Bluntslide transfer, San Diego, CA. | Photo: Blabac
You’ve definitely been all over the world this past year. I heard you went to Finland twice as well?
Yeah, I was in Finland for a few weeks over the summer. Levi’s had a project going on in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, on an Indian reservation. I flew from Finland to South Dakota for five days, then flew back to Finland.
Is having such a tight travel schedule pretty new to you?
I’ve definitely traveled my whole life. I moved to San Diego when I was five and I’ve been to Finland every summer since I’ve moved here—twenty summers in a row! But this year has been pretty amazing, for sure. I’ve definitely gone to some crazy places! My parents are here in San Diego, but the rest of my family is in Finland. I pretty much just skate and hang out with friends and just enjoy the Finnish summer ‘cause there’s finally good weather over there!
Any predictions for 2016?
Well, hopefully not the whole Olympics thing! Actually, I’m on the fence with it: I kinda back it and I kinda don’t. All in all, it’s skateboarding; it’s tricks and stuff like that. I just think that skateboarding doesn’t need it. It’s not needed to be judged in such a way, really. No one needs to be the winner of America. That doesn’t need to be in skateboarding. It’s understandable for other things, like tennis, but just not for skateboarding. But if it does happen, I don’t mind it. I’d go represent Finland, for sure!
2015 was absolutely insane: lots of new tricks, different styles. Hopefully it’s for the better. Skateboarding is pretty damn epic right now!
Watch Marius kill Australia in the NB# Northbound and Down video, here!