This is my board from the 2019 Paderborn Germany freestyle contest. After each of these trips I get all my friends who were in the contest to sign the board, plus any of them who are there but not skating in the contest (judging, taking photos, etc). This past year was especially meaningful because it was the first time my wife was over there with me, meeting my friends from the UK and Europe, and experiencing what a special event it is. Magical, really.
2019 was a hard year. This contest was in July. For the past 5 years I’ve known that any time I leave the country I may have to return at any time if my mother got sick. Amazingly, we made it through two weeks in Germany with no emergency calls from home. By mid-November, my mom would be gone. It seems likely that I will have to skip Paderborn this year, but I’m looking forward to doing a run there for my mom in the future.
Anyway, I officially retired this deck tonight and set up a new one. I’m pretty easy on boards. Rough on wheels, but my boards usually last about a year, depending on what I’m doing trick-wise.
When I was growing up reading the various skateboarding magazines it was pretty frustrating not being able to see the events. Occasionally there might be something on television, but that was rare. When I read the second Stacy Peralta interview in Skateboarder Magazine, he mentioned this banked freestyle contest. Man, I wanted to see it! Then a few years ago this showed up on youtube, and man, I have watched it every so often since then. Stacy Peralta, Mike Weed, Dennis Martinez, and Ty Page. So cool. It was especially weird to see this as a 50-year old man, because this is the way I skate.
I recently saw these dudes compared to the Alva crew on a video, and it was mentioned how much cooler the Alva guys were. Fast forward 30 or 35 years. Every one of these Powell guys still rips. With the possible exception of Mullen, who looks like he’s damned near crippled himself from insanely obsessive practice. Make of that what you will. These guys are all rippers.
Over the last five years there are a number of old skate images and video I’ve been obsessed with. Things that just hit me so hard at the time I originally saw them in the 1970s or in the case of the videos just a few years ago, when they were finally put on the internet.
I’ll start with this image, from Skateboard World Magazine. The skater is Steve Day, who was a pro freestyler at the time for the Russ Howell team, and then later he skated for the short-lived Bad Company team. Steve was a top freestyler for a while, and while he is usually remembered for the handstand kickflip, this simple, beautiful image of him doing a 1-footed nose wheelie was on my wall when I was a kid, and it still hits home for me today. Steve got 4th place at this contest, the 1978 Oceanside Pro Freestyle. The results were as follows:
1. Doug Saladino
2. Matt Barden
3. Steve Cathey
4. Steve Day
5. Dan Ewell
If footage of this even evert finds its way to video I think some third eyes are going to be opened.
Why this image? Well, first it’s just a great full-page shot. His positioning on the board is superb, projected strength, balance, and control. The Howell freestyle wheels look really cool. He’s riding a flat fiberglass Howell board with a “foot stop” attached to the top of the tail to keep his foot on while spinning 360s. There is a real crowd there to see the skating. Man, it must have just been fantastic to be there.
Everyone on that list of placings was a great skater. There were lots of great images from this event. Soon I’ll be going on and on about Doug Saladino at an even earlier contest, but that’s for a different post.
Sinus Infection Winter 2019 continues, which means I’ve been sitting around thinking about skating. Tonight I’ve been thinking about my favorite trick, the 2-footed Nose Wheelie. Some people call it a Hang Ten Nose Wheelie. Bad people replace the word Wheelie with “manuel”, which is of course incorrect for reasons I’ll not go into here (but words do actually mean things, so I’m not flexible on this).
Modern freestylers tend to do the trick with their feet centered on the board, while older skaters often had their feet offset or not exactly facing forward, or at least have one foot a little further up the nose than the other. The new way is better for variations like Nose Wheelie Spacewalks. I can do it both ways, but I tend to put one foot a bit farther up the nose, as I learned this in about 1979. It never occurred to me that a spacewalk might be possible from this wheelie.
If you want to learn this trick, here is Tony Gale’s tip for it on FreestyleTrickTips.com. Tony will harsh on you for moving your feet to the offset position, but don’t let that fool you. He’s a top bloke, and certainly in the top 5 freestylers in the world now.
Talking to my friend Terry Synnott (of Mode Skateboards) tonight, I was telling him that a shorter nose allows you to lift the rear wheels higher, and that I think it looks better. Terry thinks this opinion comes from the era in which I started skating. He’s probably right. Still, it looks better with those rear wheels held high. Anyway, here are some examples.
I find it annoying that Facebook has largely replaced people’s blogs. In meaningless retaliation, I will not be posting this blog or creating a page for it on Facebook. I encourage you, if you want to keep up with it, use the subscribe via email section in the sidebar.
I also recommend Feedly.com as a way to keep up with blogs, podcasts, etc. It’s a site that aggregates the feeds of whatever sites you want to follow.
Tonight I decided to make this a “general” skate blog. Since it’s my blog, it will mostly be about me and my friends.
So here’s my part from the third NeverWas video, which was released back in October at StupidFest II. I am running out of tricks, so for the fourth video I will have to learn some new stuff and go to some new spots. I have some ideas, which is frustrating because for various reasons I’ve not been able to get out and skate. And right now I’m four days into a sinus infection, which sucks.
Anyway, here’s the video. My goal on this part was to do some freestyle on a bigger board, to sort of demonstrate to some of the old guys that FS can actually be like it was before stationary tricks and specialization temporarily ruined it. That’s its a fun thing to do, and there’s no reason one can’t have a few such tricks in their arsenal.
OK, I haven’t really given a damn about much of anything the last 3 weeks. But today I saw this on Stacy Peralta’s Instagram account and found that I started caring again. This is the sort of flow you want to see in skateboarding – all skateboarding. This is the ideal. I want to see more of this, and more of Alva doing this kind of thing as well. So rad.
It seems that Youtube stripped out the music from my runs posted by Alex Foster at Late Tricks. So he sent me the footage, and I’m posting run 2 here.
It is not the best I can do, but when does one every skate the best they can during a contest? At least for me it is rare. BUT – I really enjoyed this run a lot. I think you can see me smiling. I went to this contest with the intention of doing a run that would be unlike any of the others, and I think I accomplished that, so I’m happy. (edit: Actually, looking at this video later, right now, in December, I think it’s my favorite contest run I’ve done. I’m glad I did my own thing.) Will go back next year with more flow and a couple of new tricks.
I set up my Mode single kick tonight. Gonna go back to it, from the double kick. I’ve been trying out different bushings, and still trying to get them tuned the way I like. I’ve also been riding this Fickle custom a lot. It’s really for bank skating, but if feels really great for footwork. I feel like I move better on it, but really, it doesn’t work that well for a lot of freestyle tricks. But damn – it sure does feel good. If I had a signature model, I think it would be this board.
Anyway, been planning a run for Paderborn. Trying to keep in mind who I actually am and how I skate, and not try to be someone else.
The annual freestyle contest in Paderborn, Germany is coming up in early July. It, quite simply, the best freestyle contest. The ground there is magical and holy. It’s a grassroots gather. No corporate bullshit, no parades. No prize money. Just a great event, like a family gathering.
I’m starting to think about my contest runs. A run at Paderborn has to mean something to me. It isn’t just a bunch of tricks strung together. Corny as it may sound, it’s my art, and I care about it. I’m not that good, but what I do out there is all mine. We all skate like ourselves. No one skates like you, and no one skates like me. So when you do a contest run, it should come from within you. It should represent you — your emotions. I don’t give a fuck what tricks someone does. A run must not be hollow. Even a run where you mess up a lot can still be a beautiful thing.
So I’m working on a list of tricks and an approach to the run that I think exemplify me, and picking some music that will mean something to me, and I hope I can make it a gift to my friends there and connect with them.
Competition sucks, but like all grassroots skateboarding events, this isn’t so much a competition as it is a celebration.
I’ve been horrible at backwards walk the dog forever, but a few years ago I saw this particular cool way of getting into them in some Doug Saladino footage from 1977. So I started working on it. This stuff is from Spring 2018. Summer, as I’ve said, was rough that year. I think I was just a bit burned out. It happens. I’m ready to work on getting this really nice again.
You’ll want to be able to do an endover to a nice smooth backward roll.
I’ll explain a bit more in the video – but you get into a 1-footed tail wheelie position while rolling backwards. You take your front foot off and begin turning your body frontside. The board lags behind just slightly, as you used a little ankle control to life the front wheels. This will naturally cause the board to do a frontside kickturn as it try to keep up with your body. As the board swings around, surprise! Your front foot is already there to meet it and get back on!
Not complicated, but like all footwork tricks there is the potential for things to go horribly wrong. Don’t underestimate this move if you aren’t used to doing this kind of thing. Maybe put that helmet on until you really have it down, or may keep it on.