Welcome To The Desert


It was winter in the Southwest, which basically means it was like summer. So what better time is there to turn some boys pro and party? Earlier this year Welcome Skateboards promoted two of its ams. That’s right, Jordan Sanchez and Ryan Lay are now in the professional ranks. For the premiere of its new promo that played as part of a short skate film festival hosted by SkateAZ.com, Welcome sent some of its boys and girl out into the desert to get some classic skating in before the celebration.
Words by Ted Schmitz
Photos by Kyle Seidler


Daniel Vargas floats an Indy while taking time off from working in the Welcome warehouse. Scottsdale, AZ. (click to enlarge)

Since most of them were deploying from California, it only made sense to go through Utah as well before continuing to Arizona. They were glad to bust out their signature brand of magic for the denizens of St. George and Park City, with their sublime backdrops and kind citizens. And no, Park City is not all skateparks. I think it’s a city full of regular parks, or a city that has a regular amount of regular parks. Either way, once out of the car and onto the ’crete, the Welcome gang was tossing spells left and right. “Accio tricks,” one person reported hearing as they walked by the team skating a 12-foot bowl. So the tricks kept coming as the team kept its wave of destruction moving southbound.

Nothing beats a Southwest winter, except maybe having the pleasure of watching this ragtag team of misfits tear up everything from the parks of Park City to the Sonoran streets of Phoenix.


Sometimes it’s good to forget what has happened and hope for the best with what we have now. Ryan Townley does a frontside lipslide on a rail that is bent from decades of people sacking it. Phoenix, AZ. (click to enlarge)

While sitting on a ledge, I heard some kids giggling, saying they had just heard a group of skaters with funky boards saying, “Wingardium Leviosa,” while pointing said boards at the smallest of the bunch. The giggling quickly stopped when they saw Roman Pabich soar over their heads and back into the bowl from whence he came. True story.


Queen of the Welcome castle, Nora Vasconcellos shows up her co-worker and beau by throwing a kickflip into her Indy. Scottsdale, AZ. (click to enlarge)

Once in Phoenix, the gang took no time at all acclimating to the local climate, oh yeah, because it was perfect out. And believe me when I tell you, it was pure carnage. Ryan Lay was smashing rails on the street while skating switch. The parks were no refuge either. Soon, Nora Vasconcellos and the boys were blasting out of every quarter and grinding through every corner. No one and nothing was safe. After a while it was hard to keep track of who was who, since you had to dodge all the lightning fast judo kicks coming from every direction. But it was glorious for those who dared to spectate the spell storm and lived to tell the squared tale.


These boards aren’t just good for grabs. Daniel Vargas spins a front shove over some concrete that used to be Mexican soil. St. George, UT. (click to enlarge)

One of the best things about watching this group of go-getters is how it seems that nothing is off limits. There aren’t easy boxes to put them in. Especially when the exact same team member will get a gnarly line in a park pool and then the next day while out in the streets, wrangle a techy turn-in-shove-out type of fakie manual—you don’t know what to think! But that’s no concern for this radical faction.


This deadly wallie only makes sense when you realize skating is in Jason Sallilas’ blood. 
His dad, Jay Sallilas, has been skating since every board looked like a Welcome. Phoenix, AZ. (click to enlarge)

You could easily start to get the impression that each of them was entirely fearless until one moment it seemed there was a crack in the surface. A cracked-out dude at one of the roughest street spots in the Southwest, Deck Park, came up to the photographer with a little more interest than one would want from this type of character. The photographer and skaters stiffened and prepared for what might happen next. But ultimately one of the locals, maybe Ryan Lay, said, “It’s cool, he’ll go away.” And like that, the crew was back on their boards. Seriously, that’s all it took, “It’s cool.” Where do they get their courage? I think they must hail from Gryffindor.


Will Blaty thanks God that Brigham Young sent settlers to Utah, where this bump to ledge is. I’m sure he knew Will would come from Mesa, AZ where most the folks are Mormon, to get this prophetic frontside tailslide. Brigham, UT. (click to enlarge)

The thing that happens frequently when the weather is as nice as it is in mid-January is that out- of-towners come here for a break from the crummy weather and burn themselves out by the second day. But these wizards were well prepped for whatever our perfect atmosphere might allow them. Ten-hour skate days? No problem. “There’ll be time to be sore when I’m dead,” I heard one of them say. Okay, no, I didn’t, but I swear they were thinking it, as I was sore from just watching them crush it.


Ryan Lay, switch tailslide. Phoenix, AZ. (click to enlarge)

Ryan Lay misses the old Southwest so much sometimes he looks for rails that are like rattlesnakes, curved, and deadly. Luckily, he glides this switch tailslide to the safe and privileged present.


Roman Pabich, eggplant. Scottsdale, AZ. (click to enlarge)

Eventually the band of brothers and sister arrived at the packed Pollack Theater in Tempe, Arizona, to see a giddy group of skaters eagerly awaiting their most recent video transmission. And when the lights went down and after an hour of local carnage, the promo played and brought down the house. Everyone’s suspicions were confirmed, whether skating near the Mormons in Utah or the Mormons in Mesa, the Welcome Skateboards team knows no bounds when it comes to getting creative on their ’crete sheets.

With two of the sickest pros on the market, and a wild teaser, we can be sure that no matter what expectations we have for this team, we’ll certainly be pleasantly surprised when the full- length premieres.


You can see why Mexico wanted to keep this land. But alas we took it and put up uniform rows of trees. Luckily, Daniel Vargas makes it feel beautiful again with a perfect invert. Park City, UT. (click to enlarge)

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