Marshall Coben high jumps at Aptos Contest, 1977 - Photo: Gary Medeiros
Marshall Coben rides the dirt in Ventura, 1976 - Photo: Mark Aimerito © 2006
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Marshall Coben

You are? Marshall Coben

How did it all start? I was born August 28, 1962 in Seattle, Washington, 1962. But I grew up on the beach in Topanga.

When did you start skating? I was 11 years old. I definitely remember when Cadillac Wheels changed skateboarding. The urethane was awesome compared to the clay wheels I’d been using.

You told us you grew up in Santa Monica..... And later Malibu. I started skateboarding and skateboard hockey at my school – the Santa Monica Alternative School. We shared a building with Olympic High. All the Z-Boys went to Olympic – Jim Muir, Bob Biniak, Jay Adams. Not that Jay was a model student - I think he might have turned up at school once or twice.

Were you on the Zephyr Team? Yeah. I think I was the last one to join the team before it disintegrated. Jeff Ho gave me a broken skateboard and a used Zephyr T-shirt. We practiced on Bay Street doing freestyle and Bert slides.

That was quite a team.... And those were crazy times. We used to go to the Santa Monica Civic to watch surf movies and skateboard around after the flicks. There was this little kid, Jason Adams (no relation to Jay) who was an incredible skater and a team mascot. There was a super high flagpole outside the Civic, like 3 stories, and Jason stepped into the rope. Tony Alva and Jay Adams hoisted him way up in the air by his ankle and swung him from the pole. It was beyond dangerous

How did you get on Tunnel? I remember Bob Biniak and Wenzl Ruml came to Olympic with Tunnel Rocks in their pockets. They were totally stoked on these wheels. They were like “Check these out, homey!” The Rocks were the hottest wheels around. Those guys set me up with Mitch. After that, some of the Tunnel guys came down in a van and handed me stuff.

What was your set-up for Tunnel? A blue deck with a kicktail and red Tunnel rocks. The deck was shaped somewhat like my new Tunnel signature deck.

What were you famous for? Bizarrely high high-jump. Nobody my age could beat me. I was also a nose wheelie specialist.

Some contest wins? Among others, I won the boys division in the first and only Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce Skateboard Contest. Shogo Kubo coached me a lot in between heats and he really helped me win. But more people probably remember me for Canyon Skating.

What’s Canyon Skating? When I lived in Malibu, there was an empty lot there and we would ride down this dirt track in the empty lot. We developed a skill that not many other people had. Riding skateboards down the dirt barefoot and everything.

And what about the graphic on your new Tunnel signature board? When we were skating a contest in Ventura in 1976, we were totally bored so went over to a dirt hill and started skating. Some of the other skaters came over to try, but they were eating it real bad since they weren’t too good at it. The graphic on my board is from a nose wheelie I pulled barefoot in the dirt. You can see bits of that day in the movie “Go For It!”

Kids, Wives, Cats, Dogs, Other Hangers On? All of the above!