Mason Silva annihilates the skateboard stereotype one trick at a time
He’s a force on four wheels.
- Written & photographed byKat Monk
Mason Silva, 22, drives through the El Porto parking lot. Instead of looking at the surf on this particular day, he is glancing east at the staircases. He grabs his skateboard and runs up to The Strand after determining that the parked car below will not interfere with the trick he would like to accomplish on the railing of the staircase.
First try, Mason does a boardslide down the rail and gaps from the staircase to the parking lot. Not a simple trick, but Mason makes it look as easy as can be with smooth, powerful style.
Skateboarding is a global phenomenon. Although Tony Hawk—perhaps the sport’s most recognizable name—is the single most influential vert skateboarder of all time, it’s a new generation … and for many skateboarders, vert skating is now a thing of the past. It’s just a matter of time before a new skating term becomes a household name.
Street skating is a wide variety of everyday public features in everybody’s hometown that can range from curbs, staircases, rails, large concrete ledges known as hubba ledges, to just about anything like a trash can. Skateboarders use these features to grind, gap, slide or even do aerials.
Street skaters can choose a single feature to hit or skate a line, which includes a series of features. Lines are unique in nature and individually creative.
Born and raised in Manhattan Beach, Mason grew up in an uber-athletic family of four. His mom, Diane, is an avid runner; his dad, Mark, is well-known for surfing 1,000 days consecutively; and his older brother, Dayton, is a powerful competitive surfer.
“I thought I couldn’t compete with my brother and would try skateboarding instead of surfing,” shares Mason of his chosen sport. He started at the young age of 7 but really dug in by age 10.
Mason soon met Chris Russell, a native of Hermosa Beach. Russell’s parents would drive them to Vans Skate Park in Orange County where they would board until the park closed.
Mason met another local kid at Vans, Jared Cleland, who was a few years older than him. Jared invited Mason to ride some street. It was a no-brainer to try out actual street skating, as he hadn’t been doing well in the CASL (California Amateur Skateboard League) youth skate-park contests.
Mason fell in love with the creativity of street skating and never looked back. “I realized that you didn’t need to do contests to be a good street skater,” he admits.
There are many ingredients needed to be a successful skateboarder—ability, athleticism, determination, balance and, most importantly, film. To be a successful skateboarder, tricks must be caught on video; without the documentation, the tricks just don’t count.
Luckily Mason never had to worry about it because for almost the last decade he has had Ryan Lee in his life. Ryan, from Hermosa Beach, had a dream of filming–the perfect skateboarding partnership.
Spyder Surf shop was Mason’s first big sponsor. Nothing cooler for a kid than to get free skateboards. “Mason was very motivated to land new tricks … there seems to be no limit to his skateboarding!” shares Jared.
While in high school, Mason suggested to his parents that he would prefer to do independent study. “We were apprehensive at first,” shares Mark. “Up to this point we were happy that he was outside doing something physical. But doing independent study (at Mira Costa) was going to somewhat limit his educational choices later. He seemed so dedicated and worked so hard at skateboarding that we just couldn’t stand in his way. It was the single greatest contribution we have made to his success.”
Mason graduated from Mira Costa in 2015. The evening of his graduation, Element dropped his video part online—officially making Mason an amateur (“Am”) skateboarder. An athletic skateboarder, Mason is not a skinny kid who meets the typical stereotype. His dad, who runs and surfs every day, is a motivator for Mason, who feels lazy if he takes just one day off.
By July 2017 Element made Mason a pro—one of the newest on the prestigious Element skateboarding team. It is not an easy feat to have Element make you a pro. Cole Mathews, a fellow Element rider, says, “Mason does things really proper.” Tyson Peterson, another Element teammate, adds, “That dude has so much pop, and he’s so short.”
Mason has now traveled the world and skates regularly with his idols. He has his own pro model skate deck currently out on Element, and Element has even hired Ryan.
“Ryan is always stoked to be out there,” says Mason. “If I didn’t have him, it would be hard to call a bunch of different people to see if they are available. I can’t imagine skating without Ryan. We have been friends since we were 13.”
Although skateboarding is an individual sport, it is a sport that brings about a unique camaraderie amongst its pros as well as its amateurs. When a skateboarder lands a coveted trick—even after multiple tries—his or her peers are just as hyped as the actual skateboarder who landed the trick. This type of friendship makes skateboarding a unique, individual sport unlike any other competitive sport.
“I see no stopping Mason anytime soon,” says Jason. “The progression and drive he has is one-of-a-kind. He is pushing the limits of skateboarding everyday and leaving an imprint on the sport.”
There are many stereotypes when it comes to skateboarders. For the record, Mason doesn’t smoke cigarettes or do drugs. “I care a lot about getting tricks, staying focused and skating every day,” he says. “I’m not a slacker.”
Mason’s Year in Health
I like to surf, to keep my mind off skating sometimes and help me stay in shape.
Surfing, record shopping, photography.
Sport I’m Not Good At
Anyone who is still skateboarding in their 40s.