Alexis Sablone doesn’t really have a weekend. “It’s never like, ‘Oh, I have to get back to work tomorrow,’” she said.
This is because, despite being an architect by training, she earns most of her money as a professional skateboarder.
Ms Sablone gained notoriety after appearing in an influential skateboarding video as a teenager, but found herself at a crossroads when a group of her skating friends started moving west in the early years. 2000s. She finally gave up her sponsors and enrolled at Barnard College.
She then followed the graduate program in architecture at MIT. In 2016, she returned to New York City, where she is currently constructing public art projects and furniture. And skates. A lot.
This summer, Ms. Sablone represented the United States at the Olympics and came close to a medal.
Ms Sablone, 35, lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, with her girlfriend, Josephine Heilpern, ceramicist, and their dog, Harpy.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF TRAINING Before the Olympics, I mostly tried to skate at McCarren Park in the early morning hours. Now I get up between 6 and 8 in the morning to take Harpy for a walk. It’s technically Harper, but I think that sounds too BCBG for her. I just did the ancestry thing, and she’s mainly an Australian Shepherd, Chihuahua, and Rat Terrier. She is 9 years old.
TO MEET I take her to Brower Park near the Brooklyn Children’s Museum and have coffee at this place called Cafe Cotton Bean, where I met my girlfriend. I lived in a big brownstone in Crown Heights for a year and a half before I even looked down that block. I never noticed it all this time. Now I usually go early, then Josephine comes to meet me, and we both cycle to our respective studios. I’m in Bushwick, and she’s in Red Hook, which is the most inconvenient place in all of New York.
DIY BIKES I’m actually supposed to build a bike out of old parts for Josephine because the Citi Bike situation is terrible in Red Hook. Josephine will be going up there from Crown Heights and the docks are full, full, full all the way, so she has to drive, like, a mile and a half to another neighborhood. Citi Bike must hate her because she calls every day. I actually feel bad for them. I had two bikes stolen and swore I would never get another, but during the pandemic I built one.
THE STUDIO I have been in this building for a few years. There is a building cat named Garfield who enjoys being at my window. This is where I come to work every day, and it’s pretty much a disaster. But that’s how I work – when I sculpt moss, or something, the whole floor will be pink. Eventually I’ll get to the point where I can’t take it anymore, and I’ll clean it up, but it’ll take about a day.
PROJECTS Right now I’m working on a lot of chairs, and everything is falling apart. I’m also working on a full-scale sculpture for a new skatepark outside of Richmond, Virginia, and another skateable object that I’m going to build in Montclair, NJ.
STREET SKATING I’m always on the lookout for skateboarding tips when I ride my bike, and I pass this terrifying spot every day in a church on the way to my studio. I keep a small notebook; that’s exactly what skaters do. Training with a competition in mind is all about performing under pressure and being super consistent with just a handful of tricks, whereas street skating is all about finding strange things in a city. It was hard to get excited about just repeating the same five tricks over and over again, but I did it for about two months before the Olympics. When I first came back it was like, “Wait, can I try everything now? “
THINGS Competitions are always my way of making the most money, and they definitely make skateboarding a job. But skating for fun definitely looks like its own form of self-imposed torture. You have an idea for something you want to do, and you’re stubborn enough to decide that you want to do it, and then you have to make it happen. You may be bleeding from falling repeatedly over the past four hours, but you still won’t stop. Not because your sponsors will be crazy, but because everything turns out better when you pick up the round and you’re done. Or at least that’s how I feel about myself.
BIG BALLS If I don’t skate, sometimes I go to play basketball in Brower Park. I used to be in a gay basketball league which was intense. Girls had basketball tattoos on their calves, stuff like that. I loved it, but I think with skating and traveling it got too much.
SMALL BALLS The only other sport I really like is tennis, because it’s one on one and it feels super exhausting. I was invited to the US Open for the first time this year, but I was also trying to finish a project that was stressing me out. I thought I would be home early, but Hurricane Ida hit and we stayed longer and longer. I ended up thinking that we were going to have to sleep on the stadium floor. I called a $ 200 Uber, but no cars were allowed there because of the flooding. We took train 7 to Long Island City and had to take Citi bikes from Queens to Chinatown at 3am. But now I think I had enough tennis for the rest of the year. I’m fine.
COFFEE PLACES AND BOOKS I have my cafes in every neighborhood. I have a random one in Midtown, near a Japanese bookstore near Bryant Park. There’s some crazy stationery on the lower level with all these pens that I can use for writing. I’m going to watch them for about an hour and then take it to the next level, which is all about manga and comics. I really go to bookstores. Years ago, someone asked me who my dream sponsor was, and I said McNally Jackson. Well, an author who’s also a skateboarder put out a book called “The Most Fun Thing” and they have a panel discussion that I’m on. So I feel like I just freaked out.
CLOSE THE BRAIN I’ve never been drunk, but I’ll always go to a bar with my friends to hang out and try a sip of something if I’m curious about the taste, but I’d rather go to the movies. If anyone I know tries to go see something, I’m here. Or I go alone. It could be BAM or the Regal in Union Square – I’m not discriminating. I’ve seen about 10 films since the theaters reopened, and the first one was “Nomadland”. I was crying outside the Angelika, so glad it was open. The movies are the only time my brain turns off and I don’t think about the project or the skate I’m working on.
AT HOME If it were up to me, I’d just make broccoli or a sweet potato for every meal. I don’t eat meat and can’t have gluten so there’s a lot going on there. Even though I wake up early, I stay awake quite late. In college, I got used to sleeping around four hours a night. People think I’m a freak, but even now I don’t need more than six.
Readers of the Sunday Routine can follow Alexis Sablone on Instagram @suminaynay.