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.
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.
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.
As you go through these trick tips and tips on overall freestyle-ish-ness, I have a couple of challenges for you.
Practice these every time you get on your board. At the end of any line you do, after any slappy, do one of these things. Make it a habit. That is how you learn.
Shoot some video of yourself doing this stuff, put it on youtube or instagram, and share it on the Old Bastards Freestyle forum. Join the forum, on the Always Will message board, if you haven’t already. It is more fun to learn things when you share your progress and innovations with the like-minded.
Ignore the ollie. Yes. Ignore it. So many skaters grew up doing ollies and ollie-based tricks constantly that they can’t do anything else. Even old guys do this, since guys who started skating in the mid to late 1980s are now OLD. Yet there are at least a million things you can do on flat without the ollie. So commit to practicing freestyle without the ollie, so it isn’t a crutch.
Once we have done 10 tips here, I’m thinking about doing a Cyber-Freestyle Challenge, where you will film a short run to share with everyone.
When you post something, use #TheInsaneFSChallenge. If you post on Instagram use @bibliosk8er as well. On Facebook, tag me.
This is a little move I use a lot in freestyle, but I tend to use it whenever I skate anthing. It’s a habit. One of the 7 habits of highly habitual people, or something like that. Anyway, its a useful move for freestyle, and also useful for changing which end of your board is forward without fumbling around with great spasticity.