Now that river levels are returning to normal levels, the local Goons are dragging rails, boxes and ramps out to Ashton, Paradise, Rio Linda and their other favorite shallow river spots.
Goon Media is a group of Sacramento-based skimboarders who banded together to create a place to gather the best videos and pictures from inland skimboarding throughout the area in order to expand the sport’s popularity.
“We want to raise the bar for skim, whether it’s filming or riding,” said Derek Popple, who graduated last year. “We want to bring a unique skate style that epitomizes Sac and keeps us in touch with our roots as shredders.”
A couple weeks ago, the weather was finally hot enough for a long sesh at Paradise Beach in East Sac, and after over five hours of skimboarding, it was off to Power Inn Skatepark for a couple more hours on a board for Ricardo Vega and Mike Finneran, but with wheels this time.
As a talented group of young skimmers, Goon Media is trying to push the sport to new heights and hopes for it to rise in the ranks to equal the more popular board sports. Only two seasons ago, Vega indefinitely took the trucks off of his skateboard and started skimboarding.
“Adam [Balaam] gave me my first board and told me to stick with the sport,” said Vega. “He said I had a ton of potential.”
He hasn’t stopped, and has been a key part of Goon’s mission to raise the bar beyond the basic tricks that stabilized the sport through its beginnings.
“I want to keep progressing as a rider and a goon as well as introducing more people to the sport,” said Vega.
With a sport that uses rails, jumps and tricks that are based off of the mainstream extreme sports, the comparisons are inevitable, but the big players in the Sacramento scene are confident about the future of skimboarding.
“I really think skimming can be up to par with other board sports like skateboarding or snowboarding; skimming has a lot of potential and has already progressed crazy fast in the last 10 years,” said Finneran, who graduated from Rio last spring as well.
“Goon is going in hard with media. I think constant media is key for anything trying to gain popularity or a following.”
The Goon crew had been producing quality edits for a few months before deciding to create something bigger, and their website, goonschism.com, has already become somewhat of a forum for the local skim scene to collaborate and share cutting-edge tricks and videos.
Popple also loves to use Instagram to connect with the sport’s audience, and their page is filled with the best photos and occasional clips from their latest sessions at local beaches or next to the Golden Gate Bridge.
“It’s the most popular social media,” said Popple. “I’ve found it’s super good for building and maintaining a fan base.”
Most of the group’s members are Rio alum, and the youngest, senior Ricardo Vega, will be graduating next Tuesday. With the end of the school year, all of the members will be back together for the summer and looking to produce more content, but their plans are a little bit bigger than just beaches in Northern California.
“The team is going to Canada and Washington this summer for comps and to film for an upcoming project that’s in the works,” said Finneran. “The trip is organized mostly by Adam Balaam, who is the number one goon.”
Popple, who does most of the filming and editing for the group when he is home from UC Santa Cruz, will be producing a full-length film on the area’s skim scene, a movie that he hopes will draw more attention to the sport among locals along with across the country.
The planned release date is some time in early 2015.
One of the primary competitions that the group is travelling to is the annual Dash Point Pro/AM.
Last year at Dash Point, DB’s annual competition, the Sacramento riders made a great showing. Balaam, two years removed from Rio, was one of the top scorers, but narrowly finished short of the podium. Vega won the Best Trick award for his Benihana, one of his tricks that is directly transferred from his skating arsenal.
Balaam has also been hard at work for another huge project for the Sacramento skim group: designing a pro model board for DB, the most popular and successful flatland skim company in the world.
“Before I skimmed I used to riverboard which was a board sport developed on the American River in the 70’s that most of our parents did,” said Balaam. “Since my pops taught me that at a young age I tried to incorporate some of the features from a river board into the Sac Pro like the sharp edges. This is designed for deeper water and to almost imitate fins of a surfboard to grab and pull water when doing tricks.”
He is hopeful that his design, which he started sketching out in 2008, will revolutionize the sport and leave more room for advancements in the degree of difficulty of what is possible on a skimboard.
“It is way more responsive than the bigger shapes DB had previously made,” said Balaam. “And in this I’m confident that it will usher in a new style of skate inspired riding.”
The board went up for pre-order this past Saturday on the official DB website, and Good Media released a corresponding review of the board on their YouTube channel as well as on their website.
Prior to its public release though, the Goon riders all test-rode it, and the improvements were immediately noticeable.
“The Sac Pro is going to change the game, and its ability to spin or revert is incomparable to any other board out right now,” said Finneran. “More progression and technical tricks are going to go down because of the board.”
The next few months will be crucial for the new media group, but even when they are competing with the world’s best over a thousand miles away, the Sacramento skimboarders stay connected to their hometown, and one of their favorite spots is only a half-mile away from Rio.
“I started skimming my freshman year at Rio and I started at Ashton because it was easy to bring my board to school and just walk there after class or even in between classes,” said Balaam.
Along with staying centered in Sacramento despite members splitting to Santa Cruz and San Francisco, the valley-based friends have vowed to stick together in their project to lift the sport to new heights.
“When it comes to making decisions about our direction in skim, Goon will always take priority,” said Popple.