5 greatest moments in skateboarding


A generic sports and healthy lifestyle website called Realbuzz.com has their Top 5 greatest (defining) moments in skateboarding listed as

1. Rodney Mullen flat-ground ‘ollie’ – 1982

2. Bob Burnquist’s 98.0 ‘perfect run’ – 2001

3. Danny Way jumps the Great Wall of China – 2005

4. Tony Hawk’s 900 -1999

5. Shaun White enters summer X Games – 2005

Really? Shaun White? He’s a talented mofo for sure but creating one of the defining moments of the sport just by deciding to compete? Absurd! You can head on over to Realbuzz.com for their long winded justifications if you want. The only one I can kind of agree on in the list is number one. However, if you put in number one, you have to trace it back to the obvious precursor, which was Alan Gelfand inventing the damn “Ollie” in the first place. Did the Mutt actually do it on flat ground first? I guess it wouldn’t surprise me. As for Bob Burnquist’s 98.0 perfect run, nothing against Bob, but who cares? Tony Hawk’s 900? Ok, I can cut them some slack there, but I think the more accurate description would have been more encompassing. Check out my top 5 defining moments after the jump.

[Photo: Skateboard trophy on far left is 60’s vintage for the “International Skateboard Championships” as found on Hawaiian Surf Auction]

Top 5 greatest (defining) moments in skateboarding

According to Kilwag. Gee, this is a tough one. I’m actually sweating this a little. It’s a big responsibility, one that is likely to get myself torn an new one by the Interweb™ hordes.

Frank Nasworthy markets and manufactures urethane skateboard wheels.

A no brainer. This event has probably had the greatest impact on skateboarding. All the flip tricks and vert tricks that have been invented since can be done on any size or shape board, regardless of what is in fashion, all becasue urethane wheels allowed people the opportunity to push themselves in less than perfect environments without constantly eating pavement, concrete or plywood.

Pool riding

AKA …is responsible for modern street skating

Shut up and keep reading. This is not a tranny vs street argument.

Before pool riding was “invented” skateboarding was a mostly two axis sport. Pool riding gave rise to air. The combination of pool riding and urethane led directly to skateparks. Skateparks gave rise to artificial coping. The collapse of skateparks gave birth to a generation of street skaters who started trying to emulate tranny tricks on flatground. Like it or not, railings and ledges started out as artificial coping substitutes. Nobody really gave a crap about kickflips, with or without the ollie, until people started doing them down stairs and onto rails and ledges. Once street skating progressed and became more popular it absorbed and enhanced the old, almost dead flatground tricks of the freestylers.

And of course, pool riding gave birth to the vert ramp which was the dominant contest forum in the 80’s, scene building environment in the early 80’s after the death of skateparks, and for some reason, the aspect of the sport the corporate world has decided to push more on TV and in the Olympics.

The late 80’s rise of the independent, DIY skateboard companies owned by former pros
AKA the Rocco effect.

Someone needs to make one of those genealogy diagrams that shows every time Rocco came into contact with and encouraged emotionally and/or financially someone to start their own company. It changed the face of the industry and killed a lot of giants. Of course it created a few as well. It also opened the door by example for companies that are owned and operated by people who are skateboarders, but were never nationally or even locally recognized as pros.

Corporate America decides to get behind skateboarding
AKA, the Tony Hawk effect

Tony Hawk is an amazing mofo and marketing juggernaut, but he’d still be wearing spandex in used car commercials were it not for the fact that ESPN and Pepsi decided to go after the youth market by promoting Extreme!™ sports. Ask him what happened to his first house.

The birth of the DIY concrete skatepark companies.

AKA, the Burnside effect

I’m going to catch flack for this one, but I think it is valid. I wasn’t here in Portland when it all went down, so I’m not trying to claim any OG status. There was a previous skatepark boom that busted, but this one I think will have a greater lasting effect. Today’s concrete parks built by skater-owned companies are generally better designed, be they tranny or street. Street parks wouldn’t exist were it not for the DIY influence, as ultimately started in the Northwest by Dreamland, Grindline and it’s offshoots. Portland is world famous as a skateboard town for one reason, and that’s Burnside. There were famous parks in the 80’s, but none that stood head and shoulders above the rest as far as notoriety. There were also skater influenced skatepark builders in the 70’s, but once you get past the nostalgia, most of those parks were shit when compared to what is available to ride today as built by a host of companies outside of the Northwest as well. I see Dyrdek’s skate plazas as an outgrowth of the DIY parkbuilder ethos. He wasn’t happy with the tranny so he made it happen his own way. As a result, people all over the world are now more likely to pick up a trowel and bag of cement to build their own spots. Concrete requires more effort and can have a more lasting impact than the plywood jump ramp.

Runners Up.


Runners up, in no particular order.

Invention of the kicktail. Before kicktails there were just short lat tails. The kicktail (and I count the kind that was just an angled piece of wood added on top) opened up another world as far as board control. Sure, you can ollie without a kicktail if your life depended on it, but you wouldn’t want to on a regular basis.

Cheap Consumer Electronics This one may bump one of the top five out. With cheap video cameras you have just about anyone documenting their scene instantly. Small companies don’t have to spend a fortune to put out a video. Kids can edit videos on school computers if they can’t afford a computer. Digital cameras eliminate massive film developing costs associated with learning to take a decent skate photo. (Yeah, I know, what’s my excuse, right?) Cheap consumer electronics have helped disseminate information that you used to have to wait once a month to get from an industry rag. Now there are multiple viewpoints. Cheap consumer electronics have even helped traditional print media be more affordable to produce.

The Internet. (Stop laughing!) It’s brought skaters together world wide. We’re all connected if we want to be. Rippers, tricks and videos can blow up overnight. Building a community used to be a long and delayed process through print zine publications and homegrown contest series. Now you can throw up a blog or visit someone else’s and be instantly connected.

That’s it. What’s your list? Leave it in the comments.


  1. The flat ground ollie was probably inevitable despite Gelfand. Cab and TG have claimed they were doing them before Mut, 90 degrees onto curbs and steps.

    1) Surfing
    2) Some kid chopping the handle off his fruit box cart scooter
    3) The closing of all the first generation skateparks
    4) The death of vert in the early 90s
    5) Burnside
    6) The death and rebirth of skateboarding in 2008

  2. houseofneil on January 10, 2008 - Reply

    The first air didn’t get a mention but Shaun White did? WTF is up with that. First invert? Hello??

  3. Greatest personal moments:

    1: When I found an abanded Krypto K-beam under the Stepe ramp.

    2: When the King Ad-Rock asked me “Yo, who do you ride for? and I said “Nobody man, I been doing this for years” and he said “right-on my boy is hawd-core, Big Jim get him a couple passes”.

    3: Meeting Matt and Chris Swan for the first time and taking them to session the Country Club bird-bath in their mom’s Fiat Spider. With weed.

  4. By “with weed” you must mean Mike Weed? Har har.

    Pete – Flat ground ollie was probably inevitable despite Gelfand? Maybe, but the eventuality of it being conceived of before it ever happened on vert is very slim. The natural progression makes more sense. Airs invented on street – roll off a curb, with or without a grab. Airs on tranny, to follow. Then, hell, I’m already going above the coping, let’s see if I can I land it without holding on? OK, now that I (the historical skater) understand the physics of the ollie on vert, let’s take it to lower and lower transitions. It still works. i bet I could do this without a transition at all. Why not the street?

    I’m trying to imagine someone figuring out the flatground ollie without anyone ever seeing it on a transition… it’s not happening.

    As for Gelfand, well, he’s generally credited with inventing it, whether or not someone else did it first. Happens all the time in history.

  5. gelfland also tried to trademark the word ollie and sue people for using the term without paying him money, so fuck that guy.

  6. corncobcock on January 10, 2008 - Reply

    i liked when i found my prostate…ooh gah. signed Howard Fn Stern

  7. The Realbuzz list seems to be defining personal athletic achievements by an individual athlete that a conventional sports audience can relate to. Here’s my top five defining moments.

    1. First guy to kickturn coping
    2. Tony Alva frontside air with style
    3. Alan Gelfand ollie air
    4. Bobby Valdez handplant
    5. Eddie Elguera Elguerrio and Cab’s frontside invert.

    Kilwag’s list includes broader cultural and technological moments I agree they may be more important than those Willie Mays’ basket catch moments.

    1. Urethane Wheels
    2. Stecyk’s Dogtown articles
    3. Punk Rock influence on skateboarding
    4. DIY culture
    5. Burnside-NW skatepark companies

    Shaun White?

  8. You guys all forgot about the skidplate.

  9. Here’s a though experiment’

    Why sportos might relate to that list:

    1. Rodney Mullen flat-ground ‘ollie’ = invention of spray paint or the walkman
    2. Bob Burnquist’s 98.0 ‘perfect run’ = Baseball pitcher’s perfect game or Nadia Komenich perfect 10
    3. Danny Way jumps the Great Wall of China = Evel Knievel Canyon Jump
    4. Tony Hawk’s 900 = Midori Ito triple axel
    5. Shaun White enters summer X Games = Bo Jackson
  10. in no order

    Animal Chin, did you or did you not go explore every where after you saw this.

    Ban This, (ray Barbee’s part) spent months doing no comply’s every where

    Matt Hensley in the first H-street video, taught me the melon grab

    Bill Danforth in that ALva video i can’t recal the name of, spend months bonlessing everywhere

    the birth of everslick, small wheels, and the early 90’s i hated the tricks, esp. flatground sessions, but i wouldn’t trade those days of skateboarding for anything

  11. Animal Chin – No. In our town we though it was Powell’s jumping the shark moment at the time.

    Everslick and tiny wheels aren’t really defining moments, just fads that came and went.

    Duders- whatever your personal animosity towards Gelfand, the ollie still ended up being important. The move, not the man I guess.

  12. skategeezer on January 10, 2008 - Reply

    holy fuck, could there be blood spilled over this…

    still, you read my mind, Kilwag…I agreed a lot with what you wrote.

  13. There you have it folks, Skate and Annoy is where Mr Brooke goes when he wants to publish the f-word intact!

  14. […] 5 of the greatest skate moments… gotta post kilwags top 5.. greatest moments in skateboarding January 10th, 2008 by Kilwag A generic sports and healthy lifestyle website called Realbuzz.com […]

  15. Mc Gill’s first Mc twist???

  16. “Shaun White enters summer X Games = Bo Jackson”

    Oh man this just had me rolling! A better relation could not have been made.

  17. oh ya my list

    1) saw someone skateboarding
    2) got a broken skateboard and put it back together with screws and some plywood
    3) obsession begins

  18. I agree a lot with what you wrote, too, and I don’t even skate. I’m just here for the well-aged skatermens. I really appreciate how skateboarding transcends interest here. It’s not even adequate to call it your way of life. It’s like your carpe diem, seize the bowl, said with as much passion and as little spittle as you could muster. That is what I have always admired about SnA.

  19. Kilwag, I’ve got to respectfully disagree. I mean Gelfand figured it out on vert without inspiration from anywhere else, why wouldn’t someone on flat ground? To Air is Human. Kids try and get all manner of vehcle/toy/whatever into the air. First you hop up curbs, then you got people bouncing off sidewalk cracks… I’m wondering if the people who first ollied off flat were trying to mimic Gelfand or not…. Maybe but I’m thinking skateboarding would have been just fine without Gelfand and his trademarked manouver.

  20. Mens Journal anyone?

  21. Prostate Health!

  22. Pete – I don’t care who actually did it first, but I think I pointed out the obvious inspiration, trying to land the already invented air, but without the grab. Probably got the idea accidentally on a bail. The step from air to ollie air is a lot closer than the step from pulling an ollie air out on flatground out of “thin air” without ever seeing it done before. It contradicts human nature, seems like “magic” to the uninitiated.

    1. Vision Street Wear
    2. Ken Park skating in a speedo
    3. Todd Colligeire pissing his pants during an axle stall during a contest run
    4. Jimmy’Z hip sacks
    5. First kid to get kicked out a parking lot.
  23. corncobcock on January 10, 2008 - Reply

    you fags..

  24. enemy combatant on January 10, 2008 - Reply

    Fuck this tiresome eighties stuff. Here’s my list:

    1) Breaking the T-handle off my scooter.
    2) Pulling my first 360 slide on steel wheels.
    3) Hitting 30 mph bombing downhill on clay wheels.
    4) Hitting my first transition in a ditch on urethane wheels.
    5) Getting over the light in an empty swimming pool.

    All way before the stinking 1980’s!
    Punk rock sux.

  25. Great Moments in Northwest Skateboarding

    • Burnside
    • Sleestak
    • Newberg
    • Skateboarding legalized in Portland
    • Reedsport looped
    • Skaters for Public Skateparks
    • Solidarity (Seattle 1000 Skater March in 2004)
  26. Tom MIller on January 11, 2008 - Reply

    That’s a pretty strong list, Anon. Burnside, Sleestak, Newberg, and Reedsport’s loop are unquestionable, in my opinion.

    And I appreciate you changed the subject to something I personally find more interesting than the broader topic.

    I’m biased because they’re my friends, but I’d be inclined to think about adding to the list the likes of Mark Conahan, Dan Hughes, and the other dinosaurs that charge everywhere all the time and rip. I’m willing to bet Mark will do a frontside invert on his 55th birthday.

  27. Abegnegal on January 12, 2008 - Reply

    “The step from air to ollie air is a lot closer than the step from pulling an ollie air out on flatground out of “thin air” without ever seeing it done before. It contradicts human nature, seems like “magic” to the uninitiated.”
    Hello, chinese ollie. If you’re a kid cruising around the first thing you notice is how much curbs suck. First you’re going to try manual, boardstall, press on the nose to get up it. Perfectly natural recipe for an ollie. That makes way more sense learning by cruising than skating 3′ of vert in a pool.

  28. Yeah… no. Then Chinese Ollie was around since the 50’s or 60’s surely? Sow how come nobody pulled the flatground ollie out of thin air till after it was done on vert?

  29. Damienhialation on January 13, 2008 - Reply

    I actually found this list on an ancient scroll in one of the pyramids. It really doesn’t make a lot of sense that the Ancient Egyptians were skateboarders since both their feet were pointing the same direction. Anyway, the list…

    -wood being invented (thanks god)
    -modern steelmaking (thanks renaissance blacksmiths)
    -concrete being invented (thanks ancient humans)
    -urethane wheels (thanks Frank Nasworthy)
    -Shaun White enters olympics (thanks Shaun White)

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