About Lee Elliott

Co-Founder of Ambush Board Co., family man, landlocked surfer, warm climate snowboarder, and lover of good food.

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The Big Bang | 2018 OuterSpace Project | Ambush + Friends

Skateboarding has had a long and lusty love affair with art.  If you want to get hippy with it, skateboarding can be construed as analogous to a type of performance art where the skateboarder is the artist, the skateboard is the tool, and the streets are the canvas.  All abstract mumbo jumbo aside, skateboarding and art just go together.  We celebrate board graphics, have a deep respect for filmers and photographers, and basically can’t function without music.  And, many skateboarders are accomplished artists, filmmakers, musicians, graphics designers, illustrators, chefs, and more.  Skateboarding and art are so closely aligned culturally that they have essentially morphed into two distinct subcultures of a larger, broader lifestyle.  The OuterSpace Project is Greg Mike‘s full embodiment of this concept. Read More >

The Brotherhood of Snowboarding

Being alone can be therapeutic. The silence of your self-imposed isolation can open up your mind and allow it to wander in ways that are unimaginable with the constant noise and interruptions of being among others. You are able to hear the sounds of your breathing and follow your thoughts as they crawl through your mind and into places you didn’t even know existed. When you’re alone, relaxation and revitalization come easy. Snowboarding in solitude can be strangely satisfying as well. With no one pressuring you to party the night before, waking up at dawn is painless. You make your way to the mountain at your own gradual pace, which is still somehow faster than the frenetic, rush-out-the-door pace when you are with a group of friends. You take the series of long, quiet lifts up to the peak. You hike across the ridge while the snow softly crunches under your feet. You’re living in your own private Thoreau novel as you strap on your bindings. Then, you drop in off the peak, gouge a huge turn, and immediately wish you were experiencing this with all of your closest friends.

RK1_RomeSnowboards

Yeah, snowboarding alone is fun. But, snowboarding with your buddies is the BEST. And, aside from skateboarding, snowboarding is one of the few board sports you can actually do together. With surfing, currents can separate you from your crew and with wakeboarding you can only ride one at a time. From a group shred standpoint, snowboarding can’t be beat.

Snowboarding is one of the most incredible experiences on this planet. Enjoying it with your crew is next level bliss. Showing off for one another, pushing each other to perform beyond your abilities, and hooting and hollering with stoke down every run makes all those days cooped up in the office worth it. Every single run is a race down the face of the mountain trying to be in front so your whole squad can see you shralp. And, if it becomes time to film, the guy who draws the shortest straw better get the shot. Oh, and the partying that starts après and rages until the coffee pot turns on, is all part of the gig. Ever be that sorry, hungover sap that puked in the snow? Yeah, me neither.

Photo: Xabier Azcerate

Like the old saying goes, if you hucked clean trick and no one sees it, did it really happen? Do you push your snowboarding more when your friends are around? Were you really going to learn a new trick on that solo mission or your “couples trip”? The workaday snowboarder can, and often does, improve his skills rapidly and dramatically when riding as a group. It’s easy to take the comfortable route when riding alone. Try pussying out amongst friends. You won’t live it down until someone else wimps out harder that you just did. But, when you have an image to uphold, look out body…you’re getting sacrificed. And, your snowboard skills are the direct beneficiary.

Style can benefit from riding together too. Do you pay attention to how you snowboard when riding alone? I don’t. But, when my friends are around, I hold my positioning just right. Sure, my riding style is fishing for compliments. To me, it doesn’t matter why your style looks clean and alluring, it’s just nice that it does.

Ambush Snowboarding

Snowboard trips with your compadres can give you a whole new perspective on life and vastly different level of appreciation for the lives of your friends. Ever have a deep, meaningful conversation on the gondola? What did you discover about yourself and about your relationship with your buds? Ever come back from a snowboard trip closer than when you left? Ever look out over the peaks and say to your squad “look at how incredible this is. Look where we are?” Those profound moments of gratitude and camaraderie can impact your friendships forever.

What’s the reason for your trip? Are you celebrating a milestone birthday on the mountain? Maybe a bachelor party? Is your snowboard trip an escape as you help a friend navigate through tough times? Or, are you like most of us and just NEED to ride? Whatever your reason, snowboarding can produce some of life’s most cherished moments.

 

WomenInBoardsports

The brotherhood of snowboarding is a peculiar, inexplicable bond that manifests itself in different ways depending on the circumstances surrounding your trip. But, it is there and it is unmistakable. The brotherhood of snowboarding is what separates snowboarding from other “sports”. It’s a feeling and a vibe. It’s progressing at a rapid clip. It’s sharing in moments of both triumphs and setbacks. It’s disengaging from the rat race, social media, and your devices and focusing on your personal relationships. It’s about experiencing one of the greatest feelings in life: sharing something you love with people you love. And, that’s what makes snowboarding, well, snowboarding.

 

Amazombie Apocalypse – The Clash Between Amazon and Action Sports

As Jeff Bezos scours the United States looking for a place to plop a second Amazon headquarters, I started thinking of how deeply addicted we as Americans are to Amazon. It started with the seduction of big discounts, intoxicating convenience, and the opportunity to buy anything capitalism has to offer under one domain. Now, Amazon has become the gatekeeper of all that is sold online and the place we as consumers go when we want to do the least amount of shopping and still get the best (at least, we think it’s the best) deal on the planet. I started looking inward as to whether or not Amazon’s outright dominance of all things ecommerce is a good thing for us in the long term. I mean, there’s a reason they call shoppers who buy exclusively on Amazon “Amazombies,” right?

Ambush Amazombies

In full disclosure, we at Ambush Board Co. absolutely offer a large percentage of our catalog on Amazon, but is that the right thing to do? We experience successes and failures on Amazon just like every other retailer.  I just wonder if this is healthy for us (and everyone else) in the long term.

Before we go any further, I feel compelled to illustrate how products actually get catalogued on Amazon. The most basic answer is: marketplace sellers (such as Ambush) list their products. Retailers pay a hefty per transaction commission to Amazon in exchange for visibility and sales on their site. Seems like a good deal, right? Well, in many senses, it is. The whole world has adopted ecommerce and an incredibly huge number of web shoppers are using Amazon as their sole source for online purchases.  Amazon has hit such a critical mass that retailers are almost forced to sell on Amazon. Shoppers are abandoning specialty retail websites at such a rapid clip that, in order to keep their products moving, retailers have become chained to Amazon. For many, many specialty retailers, Amazon is their primary source or revenue.

So what? Revenue is revenue, right? Those specialty retailers should be happy that Amazon affords them the opportunity to sell on their site, some might say. Not so fast. Amazon actually pits its specialty retailers against themselves. The more units retailers move on Amazon, the more eyebrows they raise at corporate headquarters.

Ever wonder how Amazon selects which products it decides to sell and ship itself? Ever wonder what happens to the original sellers once Amazon takes control of the distribution of that product? Amazon uses the data it collects from its marketplace sellers to find popular items that are creating a buzz on their site. Amazon then moves in and corners the market on those items. And, it doesn’t do this through friendly competition; it does so by boxing out the original sellers that had success with the products in the first place. Amazon then creates an artificial environment where the only option to buy is from Amazon itself. So, when an up-and-coming skate shop in Middle America is having success selling its merchandise to the world via Amazon, those sales make a huge contribution to that shop’s overall success. If one of their products is profitable enough, Amazon will block said skate shop from making those sales and put a major squeeze on their business, regardless of the investment that business has made in that product or in its ability to sell the product. Whether or not the shop can survive the pinch is of no consequence to Amazon. They will do whatever it takes in the pursuit of bigness.

The manufacturers of your favorite brand are partially to blame. Amazon can only decide to gate retailers if they have the products to sell in the first place, and they can’t get the products unless the manufacturer sells it to them. I don’t blame manufacturers for being seduced by Amazon, either. The allure of one of the sexiest companies in the world offering untold sums of money to sell your products has got to be nearly impossible to turn down, especially given that most manufacturers don’t readily recognize that, once Amazon makes its pricing demands, there isn’t much actually there for the manufacturer once the product has been produced and shipped. For some manufacturers, though, an order from Amazon is the difference between barely surviving and extraordinary short term success. The manufacturers simply taking the cash now over long-term viability. But, that fleeting moment of short-sidedness can have grave consequences.

Amazon does not need to make money in the short term. They are so cash rich that they even set aside hundreds of millions of dollars just to harm to a company it sees as a threat (look up what it did to Diapers.com). Amazon simply considers taking losses on the sales of a specific product, brand, or category a small price to pay in the conquest of a market segment. They also view it as a small investment that they will see a massive return on once they have become the monopoly of their wettest dreams. They can discount deeper, and for a longer period of time, than everyone else. While the extreme markdowns sound good for the end user, they, along with Amazon’s gating tactics, will eventually push all specialty retailers away from Amazon. And, due to their total domination in all aspects of retail, the ruthless combo will drive specialty retailers out of business, as well. What will likely remain is a massive megalopoly where all skateboard, wakeboard, and snowboard merchandise is completely sold and shipped by Amazon and all board sales are totally devoid of any level of passion or tacit knowledge of the products or culture in general. This, in turn, commoditizes the very foundation from which we base our entire existence and vaporizes our sense of community.

Where does our industry go from there? Who will nurture it and help it grow? Will Amazon bring a demo to your town? Will Amazon sponsor the next rising am skateboarder? Will Amazon put on the next WSL event? Will Amazon film Travis Rice’s next project? I seriously doubt it.

I am cautiously optimistic that we will never get to that point. Amazon seems to have realized what a race to the bottom truly means for itself in the long run. It seems that they also recognize that they could very well be the kind of organization that 21st century anti-trust law is designed to protect us from. Plus…I’d like to think that it can only get so far using its current bully tactics (at least in our industry). Manufacturers are gaining the foresight to realize that, although it is beneficial for retailers to sell on Amazon, its increasingly unhealthy for them to sell to Amazon directly. And, authenticity, product knowledge, service, and a lifelong dedication to board sports are becoming more important to consumers than just price. If we as board sports retailers can show our customers that embracing retailers that embrace them is key to having a thriving culture to call our own (in addition to offering the the best price and service we can possibly), we will move into the digital shopping age where specialty retail is special again.

This is by no means meant to be a definitive treatise against the monolith. I just want to give people some food for thought. What do you think?

 

Size Matters – Sizing Your Snowboard Right

 

“Hold the board up to your face. If the board lies between your nose and chin, it’s the right size for you.”

How many times have you heard that in your life? I think some guy at a random rental shop back in 1995 just made that up and it stuck. No matter how that rumor became the standard in snowboard sizing, it’s important that we push passed the lazy anecdotes and get the right size snowboard for your ride. Simply ask yourself two easy questions and you’ll be on your way to snowboard bliss:

How much do you weigh?
The most important piece of information needed to correctly size a snowboard is your weight. Snowboards react to the amount of pressure put on them. The heavier you are, the more pressure the board is put under. The lighter you are, the opposite is true. The goal is to create a balance to where you put enough load on the board so that it grips the snow and reacts to your movements without flattening it out and making the board ride sluggishly.

What type of rider are you?
Matching the size of your board to the type of riding you do is critical. If you ride big, gnarly mountains, you need a bigger (and often times stiffer) board to handle the increased amount of force the extra speed puts on the board. If you ride smaller hills or just cruise around the mountain, you are putting less pressure on the board and should ride it a little smaller. Similarly, if you spend most of your time in the park, a smaller board is usually advised. The smaller outline makes it easier to spin, press in and out of park features, and flex out sketchy landings.

Check out the size chart below:

Ambush Snowboard Size Chart

You want to be at the lighter end of the weight range if you are scorching down the mountain or taking your board into the back bowls. You would want to be at the heavier end of the weight range if you are a beginner, are a more cruisey rider, or spend most of the time thrashing the park. And, if you are looking to do it all, make sure you are right in the middle of the weight range. For more information on how to choose the right snowboard for you, click here.

Happy shredding.

 

 

Ambush Video Challenge

Nothing ever goes as planned. We hoped to premiere the Ambush Video Challenge edits at Kennesaw Skatepark as part of our Go Skateboarding Day festivities, but the weatherman had other ideas.

The City of Kennesaw was kind enough to bail us out and offer up the Ben Robertson Community Center as a venue. We quickly called an audible and moved everything there. After a few frustrating AV issues, the Video Challenge was on.

The videos were incredible. The creativity, the spots, and the editing were phenomenal. But, what stood out the most, was the insane amount of footage each team stacked in 24 hours. Mind blown.

Each montage was so good we couldn’t narrow it down to the planned five finalists. Seven teams made the finals each with their own vibe. Crust First took the path of most resistance and centered their edit around chunky, East-coast style spots, while Burnt had a polished, professional feel focused on absurdly talented skating. Pretty SB, Boi Boi Tour, and Loyal brought the whole skateboard lifestyle element into focus while Lowkii and Varolina simply brought the hammers. In the end, Lowkii took the crown as Video Challenge champions.

Ambush Video Challenge – Lowkii – Winner from Ambush Board Co. on Vimeo.

Much thanks to all who participated in the Ambush Video Challenge. You are pushing skateboarding to the next level. You are giving us all a glimpse into skateboarding’s future. And, you are what makes skateboarding go around. We have nothing but respect for you.

Bartow Advocates for Children Charity Boat Day

 

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children” – Nelson Mandela.

Bartow Advocates for Children is a non-profit organization committed to the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect. Kids don’t get to choose the world in which they are born into. But, if they are unlucky enough to be brought up in a bad situation, Bartow Advocates for Children are there to help. So, when they have their major fundraising gala each year, we at Ambush jump at the opportunity to make a donation.

This year we contributed a day on Lake Allatoona on the Ambush Nautique GS-22 for four kids. The day included product demos, lunch, instruction, a goodie bag, and a video to commemorate the outing. The experience was offered during a silent auction with Leah Phillips of Cartersville, GA donating the winning bid. Leah assembled a crew of passionate, young wakeboarders to partake in the experience and an incredibly fun time was had by all.

Ambush Charity Boat Day
L to R: Outler Morgan, Ty Barron, Ike Phillips, Whitley Stewart

 

 

Ambush Charity Boat Day
Outler’s First Time Wakesurfing

Special thanks to Leah Phillips, Amy Morgan, Jill Barron, and Deena Stewart for all you do for the children of Bartow county. And, thanks to Ike, Outler, Whitley and Ty for being great humans and fun to ride with. You are the future.

Ambush Charity Boat Day
All Smiles from this Crew

2017 March Radness Presented by Adidas Skateboarding

March is made for Cinderella stories. Every tournament needs an underdog that comes out of nowhere, surpasses expectations, and makes history with an unlikely victory. We’re not talking about March Madness, we are talking about March Radness.

This year’s Cinderella was our very own Wes Lembo. March Radness was stacked with elite skateboarders from all over the southeast like Jason Salillas, Alec Spinosi, and Jake Wooten as well as local rippers Niko Howard, Troy Cobucci, Nick Hagley, Gage Gum, Tommy Stephan and many more. All pushed their skateboarding to the limits and left it all out there on the skatepark (a few left even more in the parking lot). The Street Division was an epic battle, but the universe was on Wes’ side.

Wes let his skateboarding come to him. He didn’t force anything. He didn’t tense up. He lived in the moment and allowed his tricks to happen. His trick selection, style, and poise paid off as he walked away with the victory and $500 cash courtesy of Adidas skateboarding.

The Bowl Division saw a mind-melting clash of styles, but there would be no Cinderella here. The finals where all chalk. Jake Wooten, Greyson Beal, and Oregon transplant, Pat Donivan destroyed the bowl. In the end, Jake outperformed the competition and took home the $500 cash.

 

 

Contest Results

Street Division:
1st Place: Wes Lembo
2nd Place: Jason Salillas
3rd Place: Gage Gum
4th Place: Pat Donivan

Bowl Division:
1st Place: Jake Wooten
2nd Place: Pat Donivan
3rd Place: Greyson Beal
4th Place: Jordan Plott

Much thank to Adidas Skateboarding and the Kennesaw Skatepark for all of their support. Without them we could not have put on such a killer contest.

Video by: Logan Parsley
logan.n.parsley@gmail.com

Photos by: Matt Hudson
matthudsonphotography@gmail.com

 

 

Ambush Game of Skate 23

 

After twenty-three renditions of the same contest, it’s easy to think that things can become a little stale. It’s hard to be inspired when the same group of skaters compete in the contest and the same select few seem to always win. And, although that might have been true in past Games of Skate, GOS #23 was anything but typical.

What jumped out most was how much the girls killed it. The ladies’ progression, style, and skill earned the respect of the guys. The girls were viewed and competed against as equals. Three won at least one game and advanced on to the next round. And, Miana Fishman turned heads by earning second place in the Beginner Division.

All the fresh faces in this years’ contest proved that skateboarding is an ever evolving culture with young guns always pushing it and trying to come up. Outside of skateboarding standard bearer, Niko Howard, the rest of the top spots in each division were won by new names with a different interpretation of how flat ground skating should be done.

As much as Game of Skate #23 was different from past contests, what remained the same was the unbelievable level of camaraderie in our local skate scene. Every one was cheering each other on, getting hyped on each others’ tricks, motivating one another to skate their best. After all these years, Game of Skate is still one of the best grassroots contests around.

 

Final Results

Beginner Division:
1st Place: Toby Gephardt
2nd Place: Miana Fishman
3rd Place: Matthew McNally

Intermediate Division:
1st Place: Diego Miletti
2nd Place: Daniel Avila
3rd Place: Malachi Webb

Advanced Division:
1st Place: Edgar Link
2nd Place: Mikey Lopez
3rd Place: Niko Howard

Much thanks to all of our sponsors. Without you we could not have hosted such a fun contest. You are what makes skateboarding great.

 

Ambush x RAW Artists Deck Series

 

What if there was no such thing as a skateboard graphic? Would it matter to you if you and your squad all had the same plain, natural wood deck? If skateboards had no graphics, would they still have a soul? Would they tell the story of your favorite pro? Would they still celebrate your favorite video part, ad campaign, or Instagram account? What would a deck with no graphics say about you and your skateboarding? How would anyone know where you have aligned yourself within the skate industry? Would people be making jokes about how lame “Skater X” is over there with his obviously lame brand board?

Thankfully, we don’t live in that world. We live in a world where art and skateboarding go hand in hand. We live in a world where skateboards tell stories, share in our culture’s rich history, and convey a brand’s message. For better or worse, we live in a world where skateboard graphics speak volumes of who you are, who your favorite skater is, what clique you belong to, and with whom you share common values and attitudes. And, if that’s what it takes to draw out all of these beautiful, funny, disgusting, and thought provoking graphics, I enthusiastically embrace every bit of it.

Ambush teamed up with RAW Artists to bring you a stunning collaborative series featuring graphics from some of RAW Artists most creative talent.

 

RAW Artists is an international independent artists organization that gives artists the resources and exposure to launch their respective art careers. RAW’s Senior Showcase Director, and former Ambush employee, Dayna Melton has long been one of the top talent evaluators for up-and-coming artists. Dayna curates art shows throughout the country that bring underground painters, printers, sculptors, performers, musicians, photographers, chefs, makeup artists, and jewelers to art enthusiasts in cities like San Francisco, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and, of course, Atlanta. When Dayna proposed the idea of Ambush and RAW collaborating on a series of skate decks, it was an obvious no brainer. The project was a go and Dayna went to work on what she does best: find talented artists.

 

Toby Johnson
San Francisco, CA
Age: 27
tobiasjohnson.com
instagram.com/tobjofasho
facebook.com/Tobiasjohnsonart

Ambush RAW Artists Toby Johnson

Toby has been creating art since he was able to hold a pen. His passion for art is matched only by his obsession with skateboarding. For the past 15+ years, Toby has fused the two into a lifestyle balanced between the streets and the studio. Toby’s art career started to take off as a graffiti artist in the eclectic neighborhoods of San Francisco. He has since evolved into a commissioned muralist painting the walls of various storefronts throughout the city.

To Toby, skateboarding and art are intrinsically connected. He gets the same feeling of pride and stoke from landing a new trick as he does from creating a new piece. Toby aims to get a reaction, positive or negative, from both his skateboarding and his artwork. And, he thrives on how both cultures share the same virtues of creativity, rebelliousness, and progression.

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