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2024 Dan Pape. All rights reserved.



Before we start talking about the English School, let's take a step back.

I was born in 1977 in McKellar Hospital in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. I spent my youth enthralled by outdoor activities, and I loved listening to music. My story isn't too crazy, and for what it's worth, I can't remember much before I was 10 years old. So let's start at 10 years old.

My first memories of enjoying sports was on a team. The first sport that I joined was soccer. I have fond memories of the Tarbutt soccer league and the relentless battles that went on every Saturday. We practiced a few times a week, but it was all about the Saturday morning games. We played between Kingsway Elementary School and Hyde Park Elementary School. There were two soccer, or was it 3, fields and a variety of teams of different ages that played as early as 8 in the morning until about 12 noon. Maybe later, I cant remember all the details but I do remember it was fun and I was one of the top players on the team, The entire community came out to these games. It was life.

Then, one day, while playing catch with my older cousin Eric, I discovered that I could throw a football quite far. I remember he taught me how to throw a sick spiral. For many years people were in awe at how good I was at throwing a football. Maybe I just wanted to hold on to those memories so they became vivid. I joined the junior football league and played for a few years. Thunder Bay's football season’s could be very cold, so I don't have fond memories of looking forward to the games. But I did like playing football and later played high school for a few months. That didn’t last because I didn’t want to play anything other than a quarterback.

After my short stint in football, I decided that I wanted to take a break from team sports and try some individual sports and took my BMX for a whirl. I put on fancy tires, painted my bike custom colors, built jumps with my friends, and really liked taking risks. One time, I was taking jumps with a friend Nelson who thought it would be a good idea to take a jump while I was still marking his landing. We would take chalk and mark where our back tired hit the pavement. While I was in the process of marking someone’s jump, he landed on my head. My father found me passed out on the FWCI tennis court, picked me up and ran me to the hospital, which is only about four blocks away. The same hospital I was born in. With a concussion and stitches, I decided that maybe doing jumps wasn't for me. My father tells the story jokingly about how when we would go to the emergency hospital, the nurses would know me by name. It was kind of like Norm from the '80s hit TV sitcom Cheers when he walked into the bar, and everybody says "Norm." When I walked into the emergency room at the hospital, everybody said "Dan."

It was time for the big trip to Vancouver, BC. This road trip changed my life in a positive way forever. Prior to the trip I used budget skateboards, whatever my family could afford. It was on this trip that I got my first Mark Gonzales pro model skateboard with Gullwing trucks and Bones wheels. Never did I feel so lucky. I thought that I was going to be a great skater, and I was going to practice every day. When I got home from our trip, I immediately went forth and practiced how to do Ollies day in and day out until I could get the trick down pat. My crew was a small crew that consisted of my brother, Tavis and Nolan, and Brie. Brie was the only girl that skated in the entire neighborhood, and I respected her a great deal for that. There weren't any female skaters at that time. She was the coolest. Nolan was the first person in my friend group that could Ollie, and I still remember it vividly when he came to my house and showed me how to Ollie. After seeing him do it, I was determined, and within a week, I figured it out.

I skateboarded for approximately four years but then got my license like every other 16-year-old in Thunder Bay, and pivoted to not caring so much about skateboarding. All that mattered was having a license and being able to drive around with my friends. On my 16th birthday, I was waiting in front of the motor vehicle branch to take my driver's test. I thought that I was a good driver but ended up failing twice before I actually got my license. The first time, I made a bunch of small mistakes and ended up failing. The second time, I did everything perfectly but then the examiner took me down the street with a hidden stop sign, and I went right through it. Epic fail. The third time, I passed and remember that I didn’t really think about skateboarding for a while after that. After all, my birthday was in the winter, I now had my drivers license! From that point forward, I was only thinking about Candy Mountain or Loch Lomond ski area.

This is a good segue to the next sport. Actually, the entire time I was doing all these previously mentioned sports, I was always spending my winters skiing. I had started skiing when I was a young boy and lived for jumps, and taking somewhat calculated risks to get that next trick. I started skiing at Mount McKay , offficually know as "Thunder Mountain" (Animikii-wajiw in the Ojibwe language and locally written as "Anemki-waucheu"). At a young age, I could do 360s and big tricks. My older father took the entire family there. He was my mentor along with my older cousin’s Eric and Mike. When I finally moved my daily skiiing to Loch Lomond, I joined the rest of the top skiers and learned 720s and even bigger tricks before eventually switching to snowboarding.

I had some resistance to switching to snowboarding. Despite being an avid skateboarder and loving skateboarding, I also really liked the fact that I had natural talent at freestyle skiing and could do big tricks with the best of them. I hesitated in putting down my skis because I liked the fact that I was quite skilled and didn’t want to lose those abilities. Yeah, all my friends were switching to snowboarding and it did look a lot like skateboarding, so in the end, I ended up switching too. Some of my fondest memories were snowboarding at Loch Lomond and Candy Mountain with the Thunder Bay boys and girls. I loved snowboarding so much that we would go out even before the mountain opened, and we would walk up the hill and build huge jumps to get our kicks. I think one of the reasons why snowboarders were so good from Thunder Bay was because we were eager to start and did whatever we could to practice before the chairlift opened. With my license, I knew that if I went up snowboarding at least two or three days a week, I could contend with the best of them. Some of my friends went on to being pro riders, while other friends got tons of swag sponsorship from some of the top companies in the snowboarding industry at that time. It was a really fun time for a lot of us because when you’re a kid and you get sponsored, that was one of the best feelings in the world. I never got sponsored, but I always enjoyed seeing my friends get sponsored and seeing them get the support they needed for their hard work.

When I was 17 years old, my mother left the house and moved to Vancouver. She never looked back. Eventually, things in the family got better, and before we knew it, the entire move was happening, and everybody was packing their bags. By the time I was 19 years old, the entire family lived in Vancouver. My brother stuck it out in Thunder Bay for a few more years to finish off his high school and get his diploma. In hindsight, I think that was a good move, and maybe I should’ve done the same thing too. For me, all that mattered was having the family together, and I never regretted leaving before my graduation.

With a new adventure in place and my new home being Vancouver, British Columbia, I decided that I wanted to snowboard in the mountains on the North Shore as soon as possible. Unfortunately, my move happened before the season started, so I needed to wait. I ended up snowboarding the winter on Mount Seymour and Cypress Mountain. The best riders from Thunder Bay moved to Whistler enjoying the best hills and terrain in the world. When I went to visit, it was a stark reminder of the difference between a high-level rider and somebody who just did for a pastime. These guys were serious and knew how to ride. One time, Mac Williams, also a Thunder Bay boy, took me for a ride on the runs that he frequented. It kicked my ass. If I had decided to move to Whistler like them, I probably could have kept up. But I was out of shape and realized then and there that I would never be a pro snowboarder unless I made some serious commitments to changing my priorities.

So, now my family and me were settled in our new townhouse in Surrey, BC, with the rest of my family. It was a tight fit. We went from living in a large 4 bedroom home to crammed into the only home we could afford. Which just happened to be a super small town house at Scott Road and 80th in Surrey. My brother Matt still hadn't joined us, but we knew he would in about a year's time. I was no longer a skateboarder and always looked forward to the winter where I could get some snowboarding in. The Vancouver mountains were amazing! Deep down skateboarding never really left me and I knew that I still wanted to still skateboard in some form. At the time, I didn't actually own a skateboard, so I kind of just buried the feeling. Then, one day, it happened.

I was really into lifting weights and going to the gym. Sometimes, I would go in late after I got off work at Home Depot. There was one time I went in late, and there was a guy sitting at the front desk. His name was Jason. Jason Bamford was a student going to the Emily Carr Institute and working on projects with other designers. I think he was an intern or something for the inventor, Brad Bradfield. Brad was a South African surfer who had moved to Vancouver, BC, and wanted to create a board that simulated surfing on the street. He had made countless designs before partnering up with Jason Bamford. Bamford took his invention and sketchy earlier prototypes and made them look amazing. In the beginning, the two of them were an amazing team. They had a real looker of a board by teaming up, it was called an On Shore Board. One day, when I was working out at the gym, Jason came over and said, "Hey Dan, I got this board I want you to try. I know you like snowboarding, so maybe you should try this board." I said, "OK, I am in," and we went out to the parking lot, and I tested it out. It was very fun, and Jason was impressed with my natural ability on the board. The next time I saw him, he asked me to come out to the shop where they were working on the boards to meet Brad. I said yes, and the three of us hit it off and ended up working on the project for almost four years. I love being a part of a new and innovative project and being involved from the ground up. That’s always excited me the most.

After a few months of working with the boys sanding boards and basically building boards from scratch, we went out to test out the developing design at Vancouver’s English Bay. The very first time we went there we met downhill skateboarding evangelist Bricin Lyons. Bricin was trying to gain support for the first ever downhill skateboard race to be held on Sunshine Coast in Pender Harbour BC. He asked us to come out and race or demo boards that had literally just come out of the paint booth. Are you crazy? Both Jason and I thought. After all, why would anybody want to race skateboards? That was our original thinking. We decided, however, that it would be a good idea to go, not for the racing aspect, but to get more exposure for the On Shore Board. I had no idea at the time that going to Attack of Danger Bay, British Columbia’s first ever downhill skateboarding race would be a pivotal life changing moment. Jason, Brad and I had an amazing time with the original Coast Longboarding members. We felt right at home. It was a party inside a party and the downhill skateboard race was just a fraction of the fun. I had no experience in racing skateboards down hills, let alone on a board that wasn’t even designed for it. For many years, in preparation for May long weekend, Danger Bay inspired us to push the boundaries and rethink what was possible. We worked on developing the surfboard design simulator so that I could race down hills with the rest of the typical speedboards. We knew that the On Shore board was the fastest in the straightaways but we also knew that it had a terrible disadvantage when it came to cornering. Combine the ability it lacked in being to be able to slide, I was often laughed at for even trying. Regardless, we liked to party and we liked the community so we ended up going to the races for many years. By the the fourth year there was a whole crew of riders racing the OSB. It was an exciting time and one I don’t regret. However, around that time is when I decided that I wanted to be as competitive as the rest of them and I ended up switching over to a traditional four wheel downhill skateboard set up.

Longboarding in Japan has been a dream of mine since 2013, and now, in 2023, I can proudly say that I have fulfilled it.

I am not sure what it is about Japan, but skateboarding is prohibited in busy areas or anywhere with heavy traffic. However, I have never encountered any issues or incidents. Perhaps it is because I follow the rules of the road and always wear a helmet.

My first board was a Kebbek Skateboard from Montreal Quebec. Ian Comishin, founder of Kebbek had sent me a beautiful new downhill skateboard set up. I never felt more confident. I went from being crazy “OSB Dan” to racing on a board that was specifically designed for going fast. It was incredible. I ended up racing skateboards for the next six years after that and developed all kinds of new initiatives that can be found here. Let me sum up 10 years like this.

I discovered downhill skateboarding in 2000, I went in Danger Bay races for four years on a non-conventional skateboard called the On Shore Board, between 2000 and 2004. During that time, I moved to Japan and lived there for a year where I tried to promote the On Shore board. I had investors interested in the design with an offer of $250,000 to be a part of the development of this brand and launch it in the heart of Toyko. That’s a whole other story and itself. From 2005 to 2010 I competed on on a traditional downhill skateboard, founded team Colabo, developed a speed helmet called Lid Tech, and produced the worlds first HD downhill skateboarding movie called the Fellowship of the Bearing. After the movie was released, I launched a school for kids called School of Riding, and later co-founded Skate[Slate] which became Skate[Slate] magazine in 2011. In 2013, I moved to Japan with my family in an attempt to launch a similar version of the successful magazine here, and failed miserably. I did however have a three-year track record of promoting downhill skateboarding in Japan which I think saw it’s best years. There’s still a little bit of a community here doing downhill skateboarding but I honestly feel that from the years 2013 to 2016, longboarding in Japan was at its peak. There might be a community still thriving but if there is it is largely exclusive. So where am I at now, what’s going on in the life of Dan Pape? Well I can say this. My school has really changed my outlook on life and where I want to be over the next 10 years.

Super Hill Slide Jam, Shonan Japan

I went out to this slide jam to document the event but ended up competing in the longest hands down slide contest. Fun times.