Super BMX & freestyle Juni 1986
A current legend of freestyle looks back and looks ahead.Story by Mike Collins.

A showman in every respect of the word. That's what he is and the thing he's famous for requires patience and practice. No spot lights here,just a whole lot of hard work and even more time on the road turning those hours of work into a few minutes of excitement for the thousands of freestyle fans all over the world. Woody Itson,centainly one of the very best flatland freestylers alive,to this day is still hard at doing tricks.
Freestyle began for Itson six years ago. Like most of the early freestylers his involvement first came on the BMX track and then to the skateboard ramps and skateparks. While guys like Eddie Fiola stuck to the ramps and to the parks,Woody turned his attention to the ground and finally completely quit talking his bike to the air. Woody was doing ground tricks when it still wasn't real fashionable to just be a flatlander--back in the not-to-distant past when a freestyle show really only featured ramp riders.
Itson stuck with it and got better and better. Today Woody is famous and has a lucrative sponsorship deal,but back in those days very few people knew who Woddy was.
Super BMX knew all about Woody,and he was our test rider for a long time. Finally the word got out and,as they say,the rest is history.
From the SST Trick Team,Itson went to Vans and then ultimately to current sponsor Hutch.
This summer Woody is performing in,and organizing,the Hutch freestyle tour which

Woody doing what he does the best;collecting his thoughts as the works on yet another flatland freestyle routine.

also stars Donovan Ritter. The 1986 tour has monopolized a great deal of Woody's time but he promises results for that effort: Itson says he'll out do last year's tour; which offered fireworks along with Woody and then team member Mike Dominguez. We talked with Woody during early March when he was busy preparing for the '86 tour. It was obvious that Itson was tired of preparing and was just itching to get out there to do a trick.
Super BMX: How did you get the assignment to organize the Hutch tour this year?
Woody Itson: During tour last year when Randy (Bowser,former team manager) ,Donovan (Ritter),Michael (Dominguez) and I were on the road Hutch (Rich Hutchins,Hutch owner) had talked to me about it because we had a couple things on tour that didn't go right and we also had some problems with Randy conflicting with Michael and Donovan. We figured that in order to make things better for the riders that it would be better if I would handle it myself. We talked about it for a while and I had been touring for the last few years now so I got it wired pretty much and I figured I could handle the job. We talked about it and figured it was the best thing for the team and the riders involved. Here I am,manager of the team now.
Super BMX: Has anything really changed since you took over as Hutch team manager?
Woody: Everybody on the team is happier now that I'm doing it. Frank ((Scura) our announcer is happier,Donovan--all the riders are happier now that I'm handling the team. Hutch is glad,the bike shops are glad so I guess everybody is pretty happy. I'm making a little more money for doing it so everything works great.
Super BMX: Did randy Bowser really cause you a great deal of problems?
Woody: Not so much me but he used to argue with Michael and Donovan for no reason.
Super BMX: You don't think the riders were somewhat to blame?
Woody: Once in a while,but he'd sort of blow up on them for no reason. I was kind of like the mediator on the tour,I had to calm them down. It wasn't that bad,but he made the riders feel kind of uncomfortable sometimes.
Super BMX: This year is it just Donovan Ritter and yourself on the tour?
Woody: Well,no. Donovan and I are the only certain factors on the team. It's either going to be Rick Moliterno or onr other rider thet we're talking to right now;but we're not sure if he's going to be riding for us.
Super BMX: Is Rick going to be on part of the tour,or haven't you made that decision yet?
Woody: Rick will be doing some shows on tour.
Super BMX: So he's still on the team?

Woody: Oh yeah,he's going to all the big contests and he's going to be doing shows with us.
Super BMX: Speaking of contests,are you going to be competing in all the big contests this year?
Woody: It depends on if the riders go and if the magazines go. If there's no magazines there then chances are that not alot of the riders are going to go,so I wouldn't go to those. If all the riders go to one,whether or not the magazines are there,I'll be there. I'm going to be touring a lot so it's going to be hard to make all the contests. But I plan on making a few and if some of the organizations don't get their act together there might not be any more competitions for pros. But I think that problem is going to get resolved.
Super BMX: So you feel that these technical problems in staging the events will be solved?

On tour in 1985. Woody and the other team members worked very hard for most of '85 to bring their talent to their fans.

Woody: I centainly hope so,they couldn't get worse. The NFA contest went real well,but all the other contests seem to have problems. But I'm hoping everyone will have their act together this year and it will be good for everybody.
Super BMX: Do you feel the USBA will be able to do something with the NFA?
Woody: From what I've heard so far it doesn't look good. I'll have to wait and see,you can't judge by what your hear you have to judge by what you see.
Super BMX: How about the AFA,are you going to be at Freestyle Master Series contests?
Woody: It depends,I'm still waiting on the injury to my foot. I have a lump on my foot and they think it's a dislocated bone,or a bone chip,and I have to go to a foot specialist because it hurts when I ride. The first contest is only about ten days away so if I ride I'm afraid I'll only do half as well as I could if I had a good foot. I don't want anything to happen like what happened in New Hampshire.
Super BMX: So you may sit this first contest out?
Woody: Yeah,not by choice though but because I have to. I really wanted to ride this contest because I want to prove to everybody that I was the best. I could have won New Hampshire but when you're riding with a broken foot and no back brackes,how long can you ride?
Super BMX: Do you feel most of the pros will be at the contests?
Woody: Yeah,everybody is looking for magazine coverage and our sponsors want us to compete. You know Hutch doesn't really push me to compete,he leaves it up to me because I'm so busy booking the tour and doing shows and stuff. I do all the designing and handling co-sponsorships,I pretty much handle all of freestyle. Hutch knows I can win,I've already proven to everybody that I can beat everybody out there. It's my choice so that makes it good for me,there's no pressure on me to ride at the contests.

Super BMX: Why did Mike Dominguez leave the team?
Woody: Michael has done a lot of touring and he just seemed to get burned out on it. He's young and he's used to being around his mom a lot. I'm not saying he's a momma's boy or anything but he's pretty close in their family. Randy used to get off on Michael and yell at him a lot,and that's not right. I felt bad for Michael because that happened. I can see that made it harder for him to tour,being away from home so much and I guess if I was 16 years old I might have been the same way. I still like Michael a lot and wish he was still riding for us but I think it was the best thing for him and Hutch.
Super BMX: You're saying it was Rabdy Bowser's fault completely that Dominguez left the team?
Woody: Yeah,pretty much so. Randy would tell Hutch one thing and I would tell him another so Hutch got kind of confused for awhile on who to believe. He finally found out that I was telling the truth but by then Michael was too far gone. The communication between Michael and Hutch had broken down that's where things went wrong.
Super BMX: Do you feel he'll do better on Daimond Back?
Woody: Michael has what he wants. He doesn't have to do any touring at all,except for maybe three or four weeks the most. Michael just wants to ride the skatepark contests and the freestyle contests,because he kind of got ripped off in the skatepark series last year pretty bad. He's practicing this year to show that he was a rip off and he is the best.
Super BMX: You've always been a pretty good friend with Martin Apraijo and recently the competition between the two of you really intensified,what do you attribute that to?
Woody: Things between Martin and I aren't tense,it's between our sponsors GT and Hutch. Everybody wants the right to say they're number one. Martin and I feel the same way about contests;in five minutes you can't tell who the best rider is. Either one of us can go out there and jam for probably a half-hour to forty-five minutes without repeating tricks. That's how you tell who the best riders are,five minutes doesn't make a difference. Sometimes Martin's going to do a good performance and sometimes I will. Martin was on

Itson in action at a freestyle contest. Woody feels there is no way yet to really determine who's the best at the competitions.

in Manchester and he hit real good. It was my off day,a minute-and-a-half into my run I broke my foot and a minute-and-a-half after that I broke my brake so that wasn't a good day. At the next contest the same thing may happen to Martin and I'll have a good day. I feel I'm the best out there,that I have the most tricks. Martin and I have been riding together for a lot of years and our styles are a lot alike and I don't think the judges they have judging us are qualified to tell the difference between one of us really.
Super BMX: Martin Aparijo and you are real good friends and probably many of your fans inquire of you who is better. What do you tell them?
Woody: I tell them that we both ride together a lot so our styles are kind of alike. I tell them that we're both better. Sometimes I have a better day and sometimes he has a better day,but it's just how hard you practice and neither one of us is really better than the other guy. Martin and I are friends and we have been for a long time and that's the way it's going to stay and I'd just as soon quit competing than take and chances of jeopardizing a friendship with any of my friends really. But we're about the same.
Super BMX: You don't feel that in five or ten minutes a winner can be determined,but can one be established through the course of a season like with the AFA Freestyle Masters series?
Woody: Not really because a lot of riders like myself will be gone traveling and can't make all the contests. If one rider makes all the contests and I attend five out of ten but don't go to the other five then I can't win. That number one is then worth about as much as a hand shake. No top name pro riders attended every contest last year in the AFA Masters serie,not one.
Super BMX: So how can the best be determined,or can one be selected?
Woody: The only way to do it is kind of like skateboarding. Have three minute qualifying runs and then a forty minute jam session. Take the top pros and they go out and start jamming their tricks off and try to do as many as they can

and as soon as the first rider puts his foot down,the next rider comes out;as soon as he stops the next guy comes out and so on. Just keep rotating in that order and a set of judges watch for degree of difficulty,how rad the tricks are,how many times eauch rider puts their feet down. That's the best way to judge it,you can't judge a contest in five minutes,you have to go head to head. A lot of the pro riders out there are using mine and Martin's tricks against us. In fact,most of them are and that's kind of funny. I don't really think in my own mind that anybody can beat me doing my own tricks against me,no way.
Super BMX: In your opinion the current freestyle contests can't honestly come up with the number one freestyler?
Woody: Those contests don't really prove anything,they just give the magazines something to cover. They can say  this guy did better that day .  That's just what it is. It's only a contest to see who was more consistent. I know guys that got number one last year that didn't win a category all year long. That's the way it is,being consistent. That's kind of like racing,you don't have to win any of the mains but you can still win the money. It's a way for us to get our photos in the magazines and a few extra bucks and give the people what they want to see. They want to see who's the best and all they see is who did the best that day.
Super BMX: You've always been known for being a ground trick rider and recently you started riding the ramps. Don't you feel that you should just stick with what you do the best?

Woody: About six years ago,when I first started freestyle,mostly I rode ramps and skateparks. Back then I could beat anybody on the ramps,no problem. I was doing five and six foot aerials no problem when everyone else was having problems doing two footers. Then I didn't have a place to keep my ramp any more after Martin and I quit riding for SST and started riding for Vans. We kind of got burnt out on it and started doing freestyle because that's what we needed to do--people wanted freestyle shows. We did that for two years without ever even riding the ramps. Shows are what's important nowadays because that's how you promote your sponsor and that's how you promote yourself and that's what kids want to see. I found that in order to be a good all around showman you have to be able to ride everything,quater-pipes,short ramps and freestyle. You can't just doing one thing. If people are going to keep making the overall title so important at these contests I might as well start riding ramps. I can ride ramps but I'm not the best,there are a lot of guys that are good at ramp riding. I'd rather say that I'm the best at one thing than say I'm good at both things but not that great at either one.
Super BMX: So shouldn't you just stick to the ground?
Woody: I put most of my time into the ground. I only ride ramps maybe thirty days out of the year now,but before I didn't ride any for two years. I'm putting more time on the ramps and this year I'm planning on spending three or four months on ramp riding,but I'll still have plenty of time for my freestyling.
Super BMX: You don't feel the public will find you good at both but not great at either?
Woody: If I start to see that happening I'll just drop the ramp riding. But I'm not really worried about it happening because I'm far enough out front as far as freestyle goes. As long as I can keep inventing the new tricks then I'm not worried about anybody being able to beat me.

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