Since a young age, Sean Malto has had a near-obsessive relationship with skateboarding, pushing the limits of his imagination and ability. His talent, commitment and focus has made Malto one of the best skaters in the world, respected by peers and aspiring skaters.
Skateboarding grabbed ahold of Malto at age 10, when the Kansas City native followed his three older brothers to a nearby skate park. He was hooked immediately.
“It just felt right for some reason- it was something we could do together. My brothers actually started out way better than me. I didn’t want to get left behind, and so I’d always go to the park and just try my hardest to do whatever I could to keep up with them.”
Malto was persistent and wanted to one-up his older siblings. Soon, skateboarding became everything to him. “Skateboarding consumed my life. It was what I wanted to do all day, every day,” Malto says. The possibilities inherent to skating fueled his passion and commitment.
“There’s no limit to the amount of stuff you can do in skating and that’s what I love about it,” Malto says. “It’s all about practicing and feeling comfortable so you can progress. If you’re comfortable on your board, if you feel good and connected, then everything else will follow from that.”
Comfort and the right feeling while skating are essential to a skater when it comes to what he wears, his shoes and what’s under his feet.
“I want my equipment to be as functional as possible since I’m doing things that could really hurt,” Malto says.
“To have that feeling of direct connection with the Nike SB Free and exactly what’s happening with my feet and board is what gives me the confidence to do new things and progress my skating,” Malto says. “If you feel good, you feel connected; there are some times when I skate when my board feels like a part of me. I feel like it’s on me, like it’s not leaving. I feel like I have full control over it with these shoes.”
Malto, one of the first Nike athletes to skate in the Nike Free SB, talks through the process of a kickflip.
“It’s all about timing. Your foot hitting the tail, your foot going off the grip, your board flipping, your foot stopping it, and landing on it all within a fraction of a second,” Malto explains. “It’s so quick.”
“You have to pop the board and let it come up, and then your foot rolls and brings the board up.”
“It flicks off the side and you make it flip around.”
“Your back foot actually stops it, because your front foot flicks it, and you start coming down.”
“You put your front foot back on it. Done.”
“But when when I was a kid learning it, I didn’t have full control over my foot rolling and flicking and how hard to pop and when to pop,” Malto continues. “So, it’s just about getting that timing right, and then understanding why it flipped slow, why it flipped faster, why it went higher, why it went lower.”
“Nike is pushing skating with footwear, and at this point, I have the best gear,” Malto says. “I have the best shoes. I have the best board. I have everything that I’ve ever wanted, and now it’s just time to use it.”