2019 has been a very busy year within the inline skating community, from new skaters popping up each day all over the world; to veterans dusting off their blades and getting back into the game, blading feels more alive than ever. Many skaters have used their personal experiences to help cultivate interest within the next generation of skaters and one of those individuals is NYC blading icon, Jon Ortiz. Jon and fellow blader Ray Mendez have formed Go! Sports USA, where they teach blading to inner city youth and hope to pass along their years of expertise to them in hopes that inline skating will have the same life transforming effect that it had on them.

We had the opportunity to talk with Jon about his very busy year and where the last twelve months have taken him.

Where did you start 2019?

I started 2019 back home in NYC, fresh off a month of working in Switzerland with OG Toto Ghali and his band of blading misfits! Every December a group of 20+ OG bladers get together and operate the audio/visual component of an annual medical conference located in Davos, filming everything from lectures, to live streams, to live surgeries. It’s an amazing experience every year and trust me, that’s a whole story or profile by itself haha!! Besides that… Along with my partner Ray Mendez, we started 2019 focused on continuing the success of our business Go! Sports USA. We teach blading in the public school system here in NYC, and collectively put skates on nearly 1000 students a week in schools all over the city. We also run all kinds of other programming from skateboarding to media arts, but teaching blading is our bread & butter.

Where are you ending 2019?

I’m ending 2019 just like I ended 2018, back in NYC fresh off a month of working in Switzerland and focused on my health, my business, and my happiness.Thankfully I didn’t have any major changes good or bad this past year although I lost way too many friends in different parts of the world, but I suppose that’s just a part of life and getting older. I also didn’t skate enough this year, and that’s something that I can’t let happen no matter how old I get. More skating!!

Jon topside mistrial in Zurich.
Jon mute grab in Puerto Rico
Jon soul in Puerto Rico

Favorite memories from 2019:

My favorite memory has to be turning 40 in Hawaii, exploring nature and skating parks I’ve never been to with my OG brothers Mayan Tamang and Franco Cammayo who live there. Other rad memories include staying with Roadhouse for a week during Blading Cup, snowboarding the Swiss Alps with my German brother Dominik Wagner, working in Malaga, Spain over the summer with my Blading Camp family, exploring Dublin with Kaltik owner Conhuir Manweiler, speaking on a panel about Skate Schools during Winterclash, and finally producing the 4th annual Boschi Pope Skate Off. I hope you’re all coming to the 5th Pope Off this summer!!

Spots traveled to in 2019:

Haha most of this was covered in my favorite memories, I guess I love traveling… Here’s a quick list in no particular order.

Amsterdam, Brussels, Luxembourg, Zurich, Davos, Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga, Dublin, Hawaii, Marseille, Berlin, Puerto Rico, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Blading Cup, Winterclash, and WYII at Woodward. 

Dominick Wagner stale grab in Malaga, Spain

Playlist that sums up 2019 ( list your favorite jams from 2019):

That’s easy, one album… Willow by Willow Smith. I haven’t stopped playing it since Indy Jamma Jones put Montre and I onto that shit during Blading Camp this summer, we drove everyone crazy on the bus each day playing it over and over hahaha.

3 video picks you watched over and over in 2019:

Seconds – Alex Broskow, Perspectives – Jon Julio, and Blue – Joe Atkinson… Watching those makes me proud of where blading has gone over the past 30 years.

Photo of you or taken by you that sums up 2019:

Probably my fish stall on the mini extension at the beach in Puerto Rico. It has 3 things I can’t live without… My skates, palm trees, and blue water.

Jon fishbrain in Puerto Rico

Goals accomplished in 2019:

Not dying, learning more about my business, traveling as much as possible, and connecting with friends and family more. I’m a simple man!!

Josh Glowicki pornstar stall at Blading Camp, Malaga
Scott Crawford stale grab in Los Angeles

Something in 2019 you wish you had done:

Like I said earlier, I wish I skated more. It’s probably the least I’ve skated in my nearly 30 years of blading. I have no excuses and need to make more time, because it keeps me happy and healthy. I’m sure you’d all agree.

Something that made you grow in 2019:

I would say that the daily struggle of running an active business has made me grow every year since we started in 2015. I didn’t go to school for business nor had I ever thought of myself as a businessman, all I ever thought about since the age of 12 was skating and living in the moment. But with the help and tutelage of my partner and brother Ray who is the smartest hustler I know, I’ve been steadily growing into someone I’m proud to be. So shout out to him, and all the hustlers in the blading industry. We all know it isn’t easy!!

Something that kept you going throughout 2019:

Well hmm… without getting too deep, I’d say that my everyday reminder about the fact that our time on Earth is so unbelievably limited keeps me going no matter how I’m feeling on any particular day. The fact of the matter is that it’s all over in a blink, and if you’re not putting energy into going after whatever is important to you, you might as well not be here. So don’t forget to ask yourself everyday, “What matters to me?”.

What are you looking forward to in 2020:

I’ll drop here what I posted to Facebook on January 1st, it says it nicely… 

I hope this decade sees us all healthier, wiser, happier, funnier, more patient, more understanding, more successful, more creative, more well traveled, more experienced, more loved, more insightful, more clairvoyant, more transparent, more honest, less hateful, less judgmental, less jealous, less stubborn, less envious, less selfish, less oblivious, and less spiteful… Cheers to more trees, more green food, more blue water, more fresh air, less phones, less wifi, less social media, less likes, and less loneliness in such an overcrowded little dot in space. If you read this far, I think you feel me. And I feel you… Happy 2020 everyone!!! 

Blading legends at the Blading Cup

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