Posted by:on January 10th, 2008
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.
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, 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.
Leave a Reply