Danny Fuenzalida is an exception to a whole bunch of rules. For instance, his blood is different nationality from his passport. He gets up early in a city notorious for its late starts. When a lot of skaters take years to film one part, Danny’s sitting on three complete ones, successfully resisting the call of the beach and the sun in favour of a concrete car park under a bridge. And, when the rest of us have trouble spelling our names and figuring out how many fivers make up a twenty, Fuenzalida’s counting odds for quantum leaps.
interview by Deeli & photos by Zaslavsky
Where are you from originally? I was born in perth, and then I lived on a small mining island called Groote Island right by darwin in the north of Australia. then when I was 7 I moved to vancouver in canada.
Did you start skating in canada? Actually when I was ten, we moved to chile, because that mine in canada was depleted of copper as well. my dad was a mining engineer, so we moved to chile, which had a huge copper mine. so we ended up living in santiago de chile. my whole life was basically following his job around. but my parents are originally from chile, so it was an easy decision for them to move back there.
So do you think of yourself as chilean or australian or american..? I usually say that I’m chilean by blood and Australian on paper.
and then at some point you decided to head for the Us? that was when I graduated high school. I was like ‘you know what, I’m gonna go to the states and see if this skateboarding thing happens’. so I got myself a student visa to enter the country, but I guess I kind of knew I just wanted to skate.
Did you finish college? no, I did a year and dropped out. I didn’t want to ask my mum to keep paying for it. being an international student is really expensive, like ten thousand dollars for two semesters, so I thought I could just go to Australia and study for free, if I wanted to study.
..so you went back to australia at that point? no- I just told think that I was going to move to Australia to study, and they were like, ‘We want you to keep skating’ and I told them they’d have to do something about the visa and they did, so I have a work visa to skate now.
Were you living in miami back then already? no, I was living in san Francisco, but I was going out with my girlfriend, who was living in miami. she first moved to san Francisco to be with me, but she was missing her mum who was sick at the time, so I told her I’d move back with her to be closer to her mum. We’ve been here for two and a half years now and its been really nice.
What would say are the best bits of north and south america that meet and mix in miami? miami is like the paradise of south America! just the mix of so many different cultures and foods from the caribbean brings the city a lot of diversity. california only really has latinos from central America and mexico, here its more caribbean and all of south America.
Do you feel like you’re a miami local now? I guess...two and a half years now, thats something! but no matter what, I’m not from miami, you know, I never claim like miami for life or anything! (laughs) but I love the place, I like the skaters and everything.
Who do you skate with there? Well, there’s really only a couple different crews and I just end up skating with everyone. I’m kind of like the guy who breaks the cool barrier, I like skating with everybody. ed selego’s been on a mission lately, trying to get the new mIA video filmed. he’s got josh stewart here right now, filming for it.
Josh is doing the video? yeah, he’s filming it.
You ride for mia, right, are you going to have a part? no, I’m actually just filming a bit for it, but right now I’m working on a part for the think video and I’ve also been trying to film a lot with the nike sb dudes for the Am video. I’ve been working on this think part forever and they kept pushing the deadline back, so I kind of compromised with that and the tilt mode people.
there’s a new tilt mode video out soon? yeah, they’re doing the number three right now. I’m pretty psyched to be a part of that. I thought it would be out by now, but it seems that they want to highlight caswell berry and I think he wanted to get some gnarlier stuff, which is totally understandable. And he’s been doing some insane stuff, so it’ll be good.
so since you didn’t finish college, is it just a myth that you’re a quantum physicist? hahaha! I guess it is, but I do read a lot of physics books. I think it’s like my fall back plan, to continue studying and finish that up. during high school I actually did an international baccalaureate plan for physics and maths, but when I got to university, I didn’t even get to study physics. It would have been the fourth semester, when I would’ve been able to do that.
Do you think if you had, you might have stuck with it? probably...I think if they’d let me study it right when I got there I would’ve liked it a lot. but I do try to keep up with the latest theories and inventions that are coming through, so I’d say I’m pretty up on what’s going on.
and the quantum theory? Well the quantum theory is kind of old. there’s like the two contrasting theories, the general relativity and the quantum theory. the general relativity is for objects that are large and the quantum theory is for the tiny little particles that you can’t see, like sub- atomic particles and stuff like that. Quantum is more about predicting particle action. they’re both really inconsistent with each other so that’s why we keep trying to fi nd a unifying theory for everything.
You think there is one? Well they’re both really close to being right, so it would be strange if they weren’t included in the correct one. but I think there is going to be like a unifying theory that brings something to light, like a constant or something that balances out these equations that aren’t right when they’re based on each other.
isn’t that one of the things they’re looking for in that new particle accelerator in switzerland? the cern accelerator? For sure. they’re studying like the shapes of particles and how they react with each other. (cern is an acronym for the european organization for nuclear research- ed...ipedia)
You know how some people were saying that they’d create a tiny black hole in that thing that would then get out of hand and swallow the earth. is that complete nonsense? Well, I mean, you couldn’t say that its complete nonsense, because black holes do exist and in a sense I guess we could create a black hole. but in my opinion, it wouldn’t have the energy that a black hole has. A supernova explodes, boom, and caves in on itself with thousands of tons of matter or whatever you want to call it. It basically causes a big suction for who knows how long, but really that suction ends up slowing down and then stopping and it becomes a dormant black hole. so in a sense if we created a black hole, we wouldn’t put enough energy in for it to continue to grow and become a massive black hole like the ones that galaxies circle around.
so it would just be like a tiny little sleepy one? exactly. It would just be like a baby. I think we probably are creating tiny little black holes, because that’s what particles do, and then sending them off somewhere to the other side of the galaxy, but they don’t really do anything significant.
What’s the quantum leap? It’s really basic, actually. like right before you flip a coin, you know it’s going to be either heads or tails. the quantum leap is when it actually lands heads or tails. It’s the molecular or particle probability; you look at things in the chance of it happening. but once its happened, all those chances annihilate themselves and realign to become one complete, an actuality. And that’s the quantum leap, once it leaps all the way to being an actuality. And it’s also an observer fact, like when you make the observation, thats when it leaped.
Do you calculate the odds of landing primo before you flip? oh of course!! (laughs) I’ll be like oh, I land this trick five times out of every eight, so I’m thinking my chances are pretty good. but then I do it more times and then my chances become less and less and less. but when I land it and it seems so easy its like thats when the quantum leap happened.
some of the spots in miami seem to be in pretty rough neighbourhoods. Did you ever get into any sketchy situations there? any bad leaps? Well, the Ghetto banks are actually called that because its in a really rough neighbourhood. so we really don’t stay there after dark. they really make it evident that we’re not supposed to be there.
is that just vibing though, or does it actually lead into something sometimes? I think when people first started skating there, Forrest kirby and those guys, they actually got to know one of the guys that sat there. his name was smith and he was like ‘look, if anyone gives you trouble, you just say smith’s got my back and it’ll be all good’. so they started saying that to everyone for a while and because Forrest was so nice to everyone, giving decks to kids and stuff, I think they got to appreciate that skateboarding is just about having fun and they kind of looked away when they saw we had expensive cameras and stuff. so its all good.
Until smith gets stabbed and you’re on your own. exactly! Well, we haven’t seen smith for a while...
What’s newport been up to? oh he’s good, he’s been working and skating, lately he’s been trying to skate more, which is good. It’s hard you know, to stay motivated in a relaxed town like miami! It sort of brings you down a notch every day, when you look outside your window and you see this beautiful marine view with dark blue sea and sand banks that you can walk through like two hundred metres out, up to your ankles in white sand...it brings you into a relaxed state. so whenever I call everybody and be like let’s Go do thIs they’re like aah, give me another half an hour, an hour (laughs).
Danny rides for Think Skateboards, Nike SB, Satori Wheels, Lost Clothing, Swiss bearings, Venture trucks and MIA skateshop.