It’s 2008 and I just picked up skating for the third time in my life; I’m visiting New York for work but all my free time is spent pushing around Manhattan and learning how to slide from some amazing folks over in Brooklyn, I ask for a recommendation for a downhill board and I’m told to get a Kebbek.
But that’s not where this story starts, it’s just where I come into contact with one of the most focused board companies out there.
Rewind to 1992 and a young Ian Comishin returned to Canada after studying in Japan for a year, he decided to make skating a core part of his output to the world and started raising money by selling T-shirts under the name Powder Milk, which was the name of a store his friends ran in Japan.
After a short while he turned this into a full on Skateboard operation, now dubbed PM Skateboards.
Having grown up in the mountains of Kimberley BC, Population 8000~, where skateparks were a rarity, it wasn’t odd to find himself and a crew out on the hills or skating stairs sets, ledges or whatever they could find, at a time when Skateboarding was even more criminalised than it is today.
By the late 90s PM Skateboards had moved to Vancouver from Rossland, sponsored an all Canadian team of riders as well as having their boards produced domestically, having put so much attention and focus into supporting the scene it was only logical to spread the word to small towns and cities across BC.
This gave birth to the 1999 Hicks on Sticks tour that would bring live music and skateboarding to other small communities introduce new generations to the freedom that seemingly only piece of wood, metal and urethane can bring.
At a time when the internet was still in it’s infancy, getting the message out there took more effort than just a few clicks and boobs.
This tour is a story in itself and there’s even a documentary about it, you can watch the full version here:
iTunes – Hicks On Sticks
A fresh start
From the crippling debt of the tour a couple of seeds were sown, one of these continues to be benefit to the Vancouver skate scene to this day, while the other was the re-birth of PM Skateboards as Kebbek.
Having moved to Montreal to work and get everyone out of debt from the tour, Ian got in touch with Jody Wilcock and Jim Zielasnki (AKA JimZ), old friends from back home, and urged them to come and work with him in Eastern Canada in the province of Quebec, where the name Kebbek came from.
Jody had designed lowered boards for Downhill Skateboarding, between him and JimZ they started supplying these to Landyachtz while still living in BC, when they moved to Montreal to join Ian, Kebbek was born and the concept of lowered boards moved into it’s heyday of the early 2000s with Kebbek prominently leading the market not only in design, but in research and production.
It’s thanks to work in robotics and CNC which Jody and JimZ brought to Kebbek that the level of detail and thought that went into each board meant that boards were produced with amazing consistency.
JimZ also produced some of the most early CNC trucks for longboards as well, the Speedparts truck, which is still a highly regarded truck today by those in the know.
At this time they were still producing boards for Landyachtz and Ian was behind the Evo’s design, arguably one of the more known lowered boards in downhill skateboarding, which made it’s way onto more podiums worldwide than possibly any board before or since.
Video: Re-edit of the Kebbek video for Concrete Wave DVD Evolution ~2006
Alongside these speedboards, Kebbek produced high quality slalom boards along with occasional PM homage models, in house artist Pierre Gravel supplied artwork for many years worth of ranges while also holding it down as a top contender in Slalom along with other Kebbek team riders Claude Reigner and Jean Pascal (Rockin’ Rookie).
The same ethos of a tight knit crew centred operation that was at the heart of PM is also a core belief in Kebbek, no other brand before or since in the world of downhill and slalom has ever supported so many riders with unique Pro Model boards.
This time though, riders outside of Canada found their names on a few boards, like Australian Legend Stephen Daddow, German master Bassi Haller to name a few.
As the years went on, most of the early Kebbek team retired their models and made way for the young blood, but you’ll still see the legend’s names popping up here and there at events.
To date, most of the technical achievements pioneered by Kebbek have gone on to inspire countless other riders and board designers worldwide.
It’s the constant drive to support their riders and skating as a whole that really sets the tone for Kebbek, while also pushing forwards with board design and this year we see a refined line up with 4 pro models and other models.
To me it’s never been so much about the brand, but instead the people behind it, with great skaters like Emma Daigle, Ben Dub, Amane Kishida and Juergen Gritzner putting out signature boards this year, I’m just as stoked about skating a Kebbek as I was back in 2008.