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Moto Shibata skateboarding in Orange, California

Hello, Moto: Monster Welcomes Moto Shibata

Dec 182019

Pro skater Moto Shibata, Monster Energy’s recent skate addition, is known for finding inspiration in the videos from skateboarding’s golden age of vert, modeling his contest runs on the foundations laid in the ‘80s by high-flying style gods like Steve Caballero and Christian Hosoi. But Shibata’s dedication to this visually appealing era is more forward-thinking than you might expect: The three-time X Games medalist has consistently wowed the crowds by showcasing extreme grace and delivering stylish runs that are ahead of their time.

Shibata started skating at 8 years old after picking up one of his dad’s old boards. A few years later, his family opened their skate shop in Osaka—you’ll see Shibata loyally rocking “Simple City” shirts in his contest runs—and he always helps out there when he’s in town. Today, one of Shibata’s dreams is to build his own vert ramp to help strengthen his local skate scene—because giving back never goes out of style.

We caught up with Shibata recently to talk about his outlook on 2020, how he started riding for Hosoi Skates, and his signature trick, the “Kamikaze.” Read the interview below, and watch his Monster Energy introduction video—shot at the Vans Combi Bowl in Orange, California.

Your X Games Vert 2019 contest runs were beautiful! How does it feel to enter these big events? I can’t imagine that you get nervous at all.

I’m always excited and get nervous before the contest. But when it gets started I don't feel anything; I’m just in my space. 


You've been so consistent in your X Games contest history. Do you have a plan for how you approach your runs? Has your X Games experience changed over the years as you got more medals?

I’m thinking to do what I can at each moment. I'm stoked no matter what happens at the end. 

Since I participated in my first X Games, I feel more than ever that I couldn't have done it without the support from my family, homies, and sponsors. They all are very supportive of me, as always.


Do you have any favorite old skate videos? Who are some skaters that you really admire?

I learned to skate by watching the ‘80s videos. The contests, Powell's videos, Santa Cruz's, H-Street's… I got inspired by many skaters from ‘80s cause they all have original styles. I’m especially a big fan of Christian Hosoi, and I'm proud to be able to have my pro model on Hosoi Skateboards this year!


That must have been trippy to ride for Christian Hosoi after growing up watching his videos! How did Hosoi approach you about riding for his brand?

When I visited LA for Vans Pool Party last year, I had been skating at the Combi bowl with all the skaters who participated in the event. Christian was there, too, and after the session, he approached me about riding for Hosoi. I was riding for another brand, Green Issue, and they just released my pro boards at that time so I didn't leave them.


But one year later I quit Green Issue for some reasons and had been thinking what board brand I'd love to ride next. It was one of my dreams to be part of Hosoi Skates since I was kid, so sent an email to Christian [saying] that I would like to ride for Hosoi. He replied to me like, "I’m jumping up and down!! Tell you how happy I am that you are going to ride for team Hosoi!!! "


What is the vert scene like in Osaka? Are there many ramps?

The vert scene is pretty small in Osaka and in Japan. Sadly, there are only two vert ramps in my country—so I want to have my own vert ramp in my hometown, Osaka, and make the vert scene cool in the future.

How did you end up turning pro at just 13 years old?

Well… I remember I got 3rd place and had prize money at a Japanese pro contest when I was 13, and the guy who is working for the association told me, like, "You got the prize money so you're pro now.” Maybe that's the Japanese system? [laughs] 


The front-foot impossible lien that you do is just amazing. When did you start doing that trick? And do you have a name for your fakie 360 version?

As far as I know, the front-foot impossible flip lien was invented by Swedish skater Mathias Ringstrom. He did so many impossible flip tricks and they look just like magic. I guess I learned that trick about five years ago. And, in 2017, I invented the front-foot impossible lien gay twist, named "Kamikaze," and also the impossible flip lien 360 this year. 


Is Simple City your shop?

Simple City is a skate shop in Osaka that has been owned by my family for 12 years. Of course, I'll always work there when I'm in Japan! I'm happy that people stop by our shop to see me from overseas lately. 


What are your goals going into the next year?

I'm excited for all the events in 2020—I’ve been getting ready and working on some new things. I started to ride for Monster Energy and I’m looking forward to the X Games Minneapolis 2020. I look forward to making it happen next year!!