WCS 30th Anniversary—Greg Lutzka Interview

March 19, 2024 / By vanessa

The Game-Changing Moment

Imagine this: A young skater from cold Milwaukee, Wisconsin, arrives in Dortmund, Germany, for the Globe World Cup Championship in 2003. That skater was none other than Greg Lutzka, skating for Illenium skateboards at the time, and what unfolded next changed the trajectory of his career.

In our exclusive interview with Greg, he reflects on the impact of that event. “It was a huge contest in Europe…It was my first pro contest, and I flew over there kind of nervous,” he admits. However, those nerves quickly transformed into adrenaline as he killed it out there, landing many of his tricks.

Reflecting on that unforgettable day, Greg recounts, “I landed a lot of the tricks that I wanted to do…I think that day, I was just on.” And ‘on’ he was indeed. With tricks like a switch flip over the big pyramid and a frontside 360 kickflip over the hip, he left a lasting impression on the crowd and judges alike.

Winning the Globe World Cup Championship against renowned skateboarders like Bastien Salabanzi marked a pivotal moment in Greg’s life. “I came back to America with $30,000 and bought my first BMW right off the bat,” he recalls. That victory not only filled his pockets but also ignited a fire within him to move to California and pursue skateboarding as a full-time career.

At this point for Greg, it wasn’t just about winning; it was about realizing the potential of his passion. “Without the World Cup, I don’t know if I’d be where I’m at right now…It really set off my career to being a professional skateboarder,” he acknowledges.

Multitude of New Opportunities

For Greg, the Globe World Cup Championship was the gateway to a world of endless possibilities. In professional skateboarding, securing the right sponsors can unlock a multitude of opportunities. “Volcom, Globe, Krooked, then Almost… it all started coming together,” he recalls. It was a domino effect of sponsorships that propelled him into the spotlight of the international skateboarding scene.

One of the best skaters at the time, Rodney Mullen, reached out, inviting Greg to be part of a brand he was starting. “When Rodney reached out…he said, ‘Daewon Song’s gonna be part of this, Ryan Sheckler’s gonna be part of this, Chris Haslam,’ and we want you to be part of this,” Greg recalls. The idea of skating with legends like them was unimaginable. Then came the Almost “Round three” video. “We started filming…I think I filmed that full video within like eight months right when I moved to California,” he shares.

Once they were done filming, one trick in particular stood out: the kickflip nosegrind that became Greg’s last trick in the video. ‘Me and Hoops, the filmer, were just gonna go grab a bite to eat…we found that spot, and you know, that trick went down,’ he recounts. What started as a random session turned into a crowd-gathering spectacle, with people from all walks of life witnessing him land trick after trick.

Learning and redefining limits

In the world of skateboarding, progression isn’t just about mastering tricks; it’s about the learning process and redefining the limits of what is possible on a board. For Greg, the path to success was paved with moments of uncertainty, experimentation, and relentless determination.

“The Almost Round Three video and especially those earlier days…those are the first time I was doing those tricks,” Greg reflects. It wasn’t about perfecting tricks in the safety of a skate park; it was about going straight to the street spot and improvising. “It was like showing up to the street spot for the first time…just trying new tricks right then and there,” He explains. With each attempt, each grind, each flip, and every different combination, his repertoire of tricks expanded.

Captured on film, Greg’s learning unfolded organically, with every trick filmed becoming a milestone in his evolution as a skateboarder. “My progression in skateboarding was happening at that time…just learning as I go,” he reflects. From the kickflip nosegrind to the 270 noseblunt down the famous Wilshire rail, each trick was a testament to his willingness to push boundaries.

Even at the Globe World Cup Championship, he tackled his frontside 360 kickflip for the first time. “I learned it at Dortmund at the contest because they had a perfect hip where it was just set up perfectly for this trick… A lot of these tricks that I was learning in my skate career were at the contest at that time…just having to land it and having that mindset of like, ‘All right, you gotta do it now,’” He explains.

Greg’s Impact on Skateboarding

For Greg, contests like Slam City Jam and Tampa Pro as well as the cover of Thrasher Magazine weren’t just opportunities to showcase his skills; they were moments that inspired countless aspiring skaters to chase their dreams. “Winning the Slam City Jam was a dream come true for me,” he reminisces. “I’ve watched it over the years, so being able to compete in Vancouver was incredible.”

With the launch of the Next Gen TV show on Fuel TV, Greg has taken on a new role as a mentor, guiding the next generation of skateboarders on their path to success. “We started the Next Gen TV show to help bring up the next generation of skateboarders,” Greg explains. “It’s about giving them opportunities and helping them build their careers.”

Returning to Tampa for the final episode of the Next Gen TV show, Greg witnessed firsthand the impact of his mentorship as the show’s winner showcased their skills at Tampa Am. “It’s a full-circle moment for me… To be back at Tampa as a pro with the TV show that’s helping the next generation—it’s a dream come true.”

Greg at JACKALOPE Montreal

“Stepping into Jackalope for the first time in 2012 was incredible,” Greg recalls with a smile. “It felt like Slam City Jam but with its own unique vibe… Winning first place in 2012 and then again in 2016 was very special to me.”

Beyond the contests, Greg cherished the hospitality of the Canadian community. “Everyone was so friendly and welcoming… And I couldn’t leave without trying the iconic poutine—a must-have whenever I’m in Montreal.”

As the interview draws to a close, Greg expresses gratitude for all of the opportunities that came and that will continue to come his way. Interviewing him was a great reminder of the essence of skateboarding: perseverance, passion and pushing limits—one trick at a time.