Since 2013 was a banner year for skater Curren Caples, which then made 2014 pressure-packed with expectations. Those experiences have given the now 19-year-old street and park skater a new perspective.
Caples took home gold and silver medals in two different X Games in Europe in 2013. And for a guy who doesn’t love the competition side of skating, that upped the ante on his performances.
“Going into Austin last year, there was a little bit of pressure on me,” Caples tells SI.com. “I guess people were expecting me to do well and that is always pretty hard.”
Now, though, that pressure has dissipated. “I’m more confident this time because I don’t have that pressure,” he says. And having a new layout for courses “makes it new and fresh for me.”
Caples has continued his dominace, taking home gold in the park competition Saturday, he'll take on street today. Speaking on Tuesday before stepping on an airplane to Austin, the skater says he hadn't seen much of the street course, but liked what he saw so far. He was excited about the park course, which he had seen in its entirety. “It had kind of been the same for a couple of years now,” he says. “You know the obstacles that are going to be there, they just look a little different. This looks completely different and that could be fun.”
Heading to Austin had Caples excited, especially due to the high level of interest from the folks watching events. “It is a rad city, the people there,” he says. “They are more appreciative there than any other place I’ve been. The people watching the event seemed way more stoked than L.A.”
Traveling around, though, that doesn’t always excite Caples. At least for the competitions. “There are not too many contests I enjoy skating,” he says. “I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well and it is a lot easier to go out and skate and not worry about stuff. With contests, I just stress out.”
His favorite event recently, though, was the first-ever Red Bull Hart Lines event in Detroit, designed by Ryan Sheckler. “That was a totally different concept that suited my skating-wise,” he says. “That was one I had a lot of fun doing and I want to go back.”
As Caples navigates contests—whether Detroit or Austin—he mixes in a little extra action sport love with his enjoyment of surfing, as chronicled on his Instagram account. For his social media, he says he can always improve his game, even if he has gotten “a little better at it.”
“It is always cool to let people know what you are up to and I always enjoy looking at what other people are up to,” he says about his mix of photos. “I guess I put on there what I think other people would want to see, skateboarding or surfing or just messing around with fun stuff.”
The surfing part, while it doesn’t translate to better skating, has given him a new outlet to showcase his skating by bringing his air skills from the skateboard to the surfboard.
For X Games Austin, though, Caples won’t find any waves. He’ll find a street and park course, minus the pressure.
Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and gear for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.