Daniel Engel AZHIAZIAM TEAM Downhill Skater Interview

by Mike Jones

AZHIAZIAM TEAM RIDER PROFILE: DANIEL ENGEL Professional Downhill Skater

FOLLOW @ENGELSKATES and @AZHIAZIAM on Instagram

This is our first ever TEAM RIDER interview at the AZHIAZIAM Warehouse in Morro Bay California. Daniel has been a part of the AZHIAZIAM Family for about 10 years and currently sits at number three spot in the World. The volume was a little low, so you might want to turn it up on your computer and also hit the "CC" for closed captions if you want to read along. We hope you enjoy this interview as much as we did! Thanks for watching :) Videos

INTERVIEW: Live Interview with Daniel Engel 1/31/2019

Daniel Engel, Azhiaziam team rider and one of the world’s top professional downhill skateboard champions is at the Azhiaziam warehouse in Morro Bay, California to talk about his downhill skateboarding career and what he’s been up to lately.

Daniel grew up in Bakersfield, California and started street skating with his friends at a young age. He was largely influenced by the culture of competition between him and his friends, mainly his best friend Aaron who was always pressuring him to “go harder”. After a series of life-changing events, Daniel eventually decided to make skating his main focus. He quickly realized that he was most interested in going fast and staying ahead of other competitors - making downhill racing the main focus of his trajectory. In the Fall of 2016, he quit his job at the sheet mill and started racing professionally. Now at 27 years old, he completed five years of downhill racing and moved on to finish two full seasons of the World Cup Circuit.

There have been a slew of positive influences throughout Daniels skateboarding career so far. He attributes a lot of his success to his closest friends. But also mentions Daewon Song, Chris Haslam, Chris Cole, Pedro Barros, the Rogers Brothers, and also his close friends Max Capps and Tim Del. Also Key Dougherty, and Ryan Ricker, who he credits for getting him started on gravity skateboards and helping encourage him along the way.

It takes a special mindset to be able to race downhill and stay calm enough to mitigate dangerous situations. According to Daniel Engel, his average speeds on a normal day are around the 45-50 mph range. World Circuit tracks are generally 55 mph and up to around 75 mph. At the Top Speed Challenge in Canada, his friends Tim Del and Max Capps when just over 90 miles per hour. And according to Daniel, there hasn’t been a “speed cap” that’s been reached as of yet. He credits a zen, calm state of mind for his ability to deal with tight situations that arise as he’s racing. He shuts off part of his mind and just enjoys the ride. He says it’s “kind of like flying.”

He hasn’t always escaped the dangers of his sport. He was recently injured as part of a larger tragic accident at the Downhill Skate World Championship in Rio de Janeiro on 11/11/18. He suffered multiple broken bones, including two breaks near his right knee, his left PCL broken in half, a broken jaw, shattered teeth, a sprained wrist, relocated bones, and organ damage. Tragically, in the same accident, another competitor, Allysson Pastran, lost his life after colliding with an oncoming motorcycle. Daniel was able to return home with the victory of coming in third place in the world yet the win was overshadowed by the dark cloud of losing his friend.

Fortunate enough to have no head or brain injuries, Daniel is looking forward to taking it easy for the first part of 2019 in order to complete physical therapy and to let his body heal. He’s hoping to attend the Newtons 2019 IDF World Cup April 5th-7th in Bathurst, Australia at Mount Panorama and also possibly compete in the Barcelona World Roller Games, which is a side championship to the International Downhill Federation World Circuit.

Traveling has got to be one of the best parts of Daniel’s skateboarding career and it sounds like he does it the right way by fully immersing himself in the cultures that he visits. Without big paying sponsors for his particular sport, Daniel travels on a shoestring, but enjoys this way of traveling over the alternative. He’s able to keep loose plans and go with the flow, meeting really interesting people along the way. Some of his favorites of all the places he’s raced have been South Korea, with is beautiful countryside, friendly people and amazing food. Also Australia, where he has tons of good friends and likes seeing all the “critters” they have. But the overall best place in his opinion was Peru. Particularly a town in the Peruvian Andes called Chacas, where the roads, the people, the food and everything around you is amazing.

With his breadth of knowledge about the downhill skating scene, Daniel does have advice for his fans and kids who might want to give the sport a try; “Put all your weight on your front foot, and if you wobble, get lower and you won’t wobble. You’re welcome.” 

Daniel winning Yaku Raymi World Cup Peru.

Daniel Winning in Columbia