Meet Rhys Bell: Australian Rollerblading Open Street Champion for 2014

How does it feel to be the ARO Open Street champion for 2014?
Yeah it still doesn’t feel real! I have been going to the Aussie titles since I was a grom, watching all the pros lacing hammers. Now it feels like I have accomplished a big goal with my skating.

Did you think you were in with a chance though this year leading up to the event?
No, not at all. All I wanted to skate was the mini mega leading up to the event. I didn’t even think about the street! A few of the Canberra guys have been filming and pushing each other to try new tricks, this itself became sort of like training for the ARO.

That’s kinda my next question… It seems like there is something in the water in Canberra at the moment! Both you and Tristan Richards took out the top spots in street and mega ramp respectively… the scene must be in the capital at the moment.
Yeah, we have a great scene, with great street spots and skateparks. There isn’t a whole lot to do in Canberra besides skate, which I think helps us keep pushing ourselves. Growing up we have always had a solid scene with a lot of dedicated people to keep blading alive in Canberra… and Tristan is a machine!! Keep an eye out for his next profile, it’s going to be next level.

Sick.. can’t wait. I guess we should shoot back a bit… tell us a bit about yourself. Did you always grow up in Canberra?

I’m 23 years old and I’ve been rolling for over a decade now. My Dad first taught me to skate when I was moving back and forth from a little coastal town called Narooma. Growing up in Narooma, We had a really tight crew of about 10 rollers, which included CJ Wellsmore. He was the main influence growing up skating and making sure every trick possible at the tiny little Narooma skatepark had been done. We eventually both moved back to Canberra and kept the Canberra Scene (Canthrax) going. Dave Jacobs Put together a DVD Called Canthrax – Wasted Days and we have have been filming ever since. The crew has changed alot of the years but we still a lot of the OG guys in our crew.

The plot thickens! Narooma really has had a big influence on Australia… that’s crazy. Sometimes it’s the smallest places that bring the biggest results…
Damn right.

I know you ride your Razors Australia, are they your only sponsor? How did your relationship with them start?
I ride for Razors Australia and Velvet Couch Clothing. My first ever sponsor was Salomon, I stuck with them until the day they decided to stop make rollerblades. Andy from Canberra skate shop Straightline helped me go straight from Salomon onto Razors. Throughout all the Right 2 Roll other competitions, Gerard from VC hooked me up with a few clothes and then I found myself skating for VC. I wouldn’t be here without all the support from these guys.

Have you ever had the chance to skate overseas, in competitions or otherwise?
I once got invited to Junior X Games in Sinapore, but brock my leg soon after hahaha

Damn… Now you have ARO under your belt, maybe it’s time for another trip!
I would love to head to Europe to some of the bigger comps over there, but there are no plans at this point. I have going to New Zealand in Novemeber. I’m going to film an edit over there. But it’s definitely something I’m going to think about a bit more.

Speaking of edits, you just dropped a killer one… tell us a bit about it… how long have you been filming for on that one?
I seem to be constantly filming putting canthrax edits out every few months. This one, I grabbed the best clips over the last 3-4 months and made my own profile. Plently more to come, I’ve still got a few unused clips sitting there.

I checked out the Canthrax site just before… you are heavily into photography and filming, aren’t you?
Yeah, I work full time in a photography studio here in Canberra. I also do a fair bit of my own work filming music videos and taking photos for magazines, etc. I has all come from skating. I starting taking photos of my mates skating then it progressed from there just trying to get the best shot of the tricks, and now it has became a big part of my life.

It’s crazy how passions like that can build into a career… what else do you get up to outside skating and work.
Most of my life outside skating is based around my photography work, I also play guitar in a band, I surf, and of course have the girlfriend Carissa. Sometimes it gets hard to balance everything but its all worth it in the end.

Awesome… what kind of band? What are you guys called?
We play a blend of blues and hip hop, called Made By Mandy. We are just starting to recording our originals at this point.

Do you guys play out at all? Any gigs coming up?
Our first gig is coming up which is just a backyard party for Octoberfest.

I guess we’ll start wrapping it up… any other plans or projects we should know about? Anyone you’d like to thank?
There has been talk about getting the Razors Australia Team together to film another podcast, so hopefully that goes ahead. I’d like to thank, Jenny from Bayside Blades for looking after the Razors team, Gerad from VC for straight up being The Man. All the Canthrax lads for all the great sessions and big ups to my whole family, as they have always been very supportive and I woudn’t be rolling without them.

Thanks Rhys, it’s been a pleasure.

Interview by Jesse Kuch. Photographs by Canthrax Crew and Craig Richards.

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