Skateboarder making name for himself
ASPEN Out here, it doesn’t matter what your name is.Out here at the Rio Grande skate park, on a typical Thursday afternoon, Alex Mill is just another face in a sea of decaled helmets and concrete. Out here, Alex’s seemingly innate ability to tear around bowls, clear staircases and stick big airs – not his lineage – awes curious onlookers.Out here, talk of Alex’s prominent parents – tennis star Chris Evert and two-time Olympic skier Andy Mill – rarely, if ever, comes up.”He wouldn’t tell you who his parents are unless you asked,” said Andy Mill, who split with Evert in October 2006. “He knows who he is. He’s confident in his own skin.”And assertive in the park. Alex, a slender 15-year-old who bears a striking resemblance to his mother, looks like he’s as much as ease on four wheels as Mill on skis or Evert with racket in hand. His fluid motions are hard to ignore; more than one passer-by Thursday stopped to rest along the fence and watch Alex ride the rails and soar high over the island. RVCA took notice at July 28’s Aspen High Country SK8 challenge – the skateboard clothing manufacturer signed him on the spot.
The kid in the slim black jeans is clearly taking full advantage of those other genes.”I always feel like I skate my best in contests – I guess it’s something I was born with,” Alex said. Alex was on Rollerblades at age 3 and competing by the time he was 8. At 10 he pulled off a double backflip, Mill remembered.The focus of all three Mill boys – Alex and younger brothers Nicky and Colton – soon shifted to dirtbike racing. Their knack for the sport was obvious; countless trophies and a sponsorship from Suzuki followed suit. Despite their burgeoning potential, Mill pulled them out of the sports after Colton suffered two concussions. “I want to raise healthy kids,” he said. “They probably had world-class potential there, but I didn’t want to push them.”
A group of friends introduced Alex to skateboarding when he was 12. The transition from blades to the board was a smooth one, he said. “It came fun and easy,” Alex said. “There’s so much you can do on a board. The tricks are endless.”As is his curiosity and ambition. While Alex has witnessed firsthand the scrutiny and pressure – he recalls the paparazzi and, on more than one occasion, overzealous autograph seekers stopping his mom in the grocery store – he endeavors to follow in his parents’ famous footsteps. “Hopefully me, Nicky or Colton can go pro one day,” Alex said. Sure, Alex has the pedigree and dabbles in tennis – he’s the No. 4 player on his Boca Raton, Fla., high school’s squad. But Alex admits his kickflip indy is far better than his backhand. And, as far as ski racing is concerned, he already chose to snowboard – he doesn’t even own a pair of skis, his father joked.
Alex is hoping his skateboard will be his ticket. He’s hoping to make a name for himself, and he knows his parents support him. “They have my back – they want me to do well at this,” he said. “They’ve never pushed us, in fact that’s the last thing they do. Sometimes I wish they’d push me harder.”For Mill, the decision to take a step back is a conscious one. “People ask me if I want my boys to play tennis or ski race, and I say I don’t care what they do,” he said. “I want them to be happy. I want to see a big old smile on their faces at the end of the day.”Mill hopes all three of his boys find something they love, have great a work ethic and dream big, he said. He relishes the time he spends watching Alex skate – occasional broken bones are less concerning that having a sons fly into a tree at 60 mph like motorcross, he joked. But Mill is realistic when he ponders Alex’s future as a professional athlete. After all, he’s been there before.
“At 12, I was the top ski racer [in my age group] in the country,” he said. “I know potential success in sports is so limited. Whatever [Alex] has touched, he can do athletically. On paper, with his mom and I, he’s set up to do this type of stuff. But there’s a difference between having a passion and having it come to fruition.”I want him to have fun and not take it too seriously. I’ll sit back and support them as much as I can.” Mill isn’t concerned with raising world-class athletes, he said. Rather, he’s stressing the importance of integrity, education and integrity.”If people tell me he’s a great athlete, that really doesn’t register,” he said. “The most rewarding aspect is when I hear compliments from other parents who say he’s a great kid. He’s tried to impart words of wisdom to his kids, but Mill admits his advice sometimes falls on deaf ears. “It’s a kid thing,” he contended.When asked about his father’s guidance, Alex struggled to come up with an answer. Then he found one.
“He told me to stay true to myself and my real friends, no matter how popular I get,” Alex said. He’s well on his way. He spends nearly eight hours each day hanging out with friends at Rio Grande, chatting under an oak tree or taking his skating to new heights. Out here, Alex’s famous pedigree is but an afterthought. Out here, he’s an ordinary skater who is going big and dreaming bigger.How refreshing.”I tell people my name is Alex,” he said. “[My last name] just doesn’t matter. Out here, nobody really cares.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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