Whether he's on his front or back wheels, flipping into it or flipping out, Joey Brezinski has made his name off his knack for balancing on two wheels.
While many of skateboarding's most recognisable faces are searching for the biggest and gnarliest rails and gaps to claim their fame, Brezinski prefers to earn his cred with a calculated and technical style, an approach the most respected 'manualers' and industry insiders have come to respect.
Brezinski grew up in San Dimas, California, and started skateboarding with older kids in his neighborhood when he was only seven-years-old. "It was like Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure," he says. "Kids on my block all skated and there were launch ramps in front of all these suburban homes." He worked at a local skate shop and then got into filming.
Now Brezinski is the one influencing the next generation. He's one of few American skaters on the French-based Cliché skate team, and he's helped recruit young, promising Americans to the team. He was thrown into the spotlight when he was chosen as the featured skater in their 2006 video, Hello Jojo! With Brezinski at the forefront of their coverage, the team was awarded Best Team by TransWorld Skateboarding magazine later that year.
"It just happened at the right time," Brezinski says of his spot on the Cliché team. "They wanted to do something in America and they wanted to do it on two wheels. It just blossomed from there."
He's been featured many times in TransWorld Skateboarding and landed a spot on the starring roster of the magazine's 2009 video. "He's best known for really technical manual skating," says Carlton Curtis, former editor of TransWorld Skateboarding. "It's very difficult and he's one of the masters."
The manual skating phenomenon wasn't something Brezinski planned. "I got hurt and couldn't jump on handrails, so I started doing more technical tricks, like manuals, and got pretty good at it. It just evolved from there," he says.
Wanting to bring more technical skaters to the contest scene, Brezinski brought the 'manny' contest idea to Red Bull, and in 2007, Manny Mania came to be. "Red Bull was just backing the way I skate when I brought it to them," he says. "It was something different and a way to bring in a bunch of pros that don't really do events."
With an assortment of banks, ledges, and balancing platforms blended together into one never-been-done Joey-approved course, Brezinski put himself up against some of the most technically talented professionals.
In 2007, he took third place at the final professional stop on the eight-stop cross-country tour. A year later, in New York City, he balanced his way to first place against the most respected manualers in the game and officially owned his title as the Manual King.
He went on to collect four Manny Mania titles, including the first back-to-back win in 2011 and 2012, the final year that Manny Mania took place.
"It was one of the hardest and most technical contests to skate as a professional skateboarder," Brezinski says. "You could see the level of technical riding overall go up after we started that contest."
Not content to just sit back and let others run the show, in 2012, Brezinski teamed up with fellow pro skater Paul Rodriguez to launch Andale Bearings, a start-up business that began in his garage and was inspired when he lost his previous bearings sponsor.
"I presented the line sheet to Paul and asked him to be my partner. Now we have distribution and it's really become a legitimate company," Brezinski says.
He had what he calls his career's best video segment so far in the 2013 film from Cliché called Bon Voyage, a film project he spent three years working on and filmed all over the world, from New York to China. "Every trip I went on, I was focused on getting something good for the video," he says.
Now, he's focused on creating online content, and connecting with fans and people all over the globe. "It's more impactful to put out good content on a regular basis than just have good contest results. It's better for myself and it's a really cool way to interact with kids," he says.
When he's not on a filming mission, Brezinski chills at home with his wife in Venice Beach, California, and their four pugs, Brody, Pizza, Runtie, and Bud. "It's just the beach life, it's mellow," he says.Read more