Photograph by Alex Farnum
Dirt flies. But, Corey Duffel is not shooting his skateboard down a staircase railing—a move that won him hordes fans on the professional skateboarding circuit. The 24-year-old is back “shredding” on his home turf in Walnut Creek.
Dressed head-to-toe in punk metal regalia, Duffel is digging a hole for a Japanese maple, which he’s planting in the backyard of his new four-bedroom home in north Walnut Creek. The East Bay native happily steered a chunk of the earnings from his skateboard sponsorships toward buying himself a piece of his hometown.
“Other skaters laugh when I tell them I not only live in the suburbs but on a cul-de-sac, but Walnut Creek is great,” says Duffel, who sometimes practices at the Walnut Creek Skate Park. "It’s important to me when I’m not on the road to be with the people I love—my parents and two brothers.”Skateboarding has been good to Duffel, who honed his moves around the streets of Walnut Creek before he started winning competitions around the world. Now, he’s following the example of legends like Tony Hawk, who elevated a sport with a slacker reputation into a mainstream, multimillion-dollar sports industry. Duffel has already designed boards for Foundation Skateboards and recently released eponymous lines of shoes for skateboard brand Osiris and clothing for Split.
He’s put his celebrity toward good causes, working with the Music Is Revolution Foundation to raise money to support music education in public schools. Duffel even created a skateboard to benefit one of his heroes, psychedelic music pioneer Roky Erickson, who had fallen on hard times. And, when he’s not helping lesser-known rockers, he’s schmoozing with the big boys.
“I knew I had made it last year when I had dinner with the Rolling Stones. They were complimenting my look, especially my hair,” says Duffel. “That was funny to me because my hair is like a blend of Keith Richards' and Ronnie Wood’s styles. I told them, if I look good, it is because I learned from guys like you.”