Saturday, October 19, 2013

Video of the Week: Kevin Phelps

There were actually quite a few solid videos that came out this week, from the awesome team vibes and moments of the Pretty Sweet Tour, Vans release of Gilbert Crockett's part in Old Dominion to show the crusty East Coast spots, and even Ben Raemers' very fun and loose skating his Tiltmode part.
I'd also like to give an even more supporting nod to Tristan Funkhouser (aka T-Funk) with his first part for Baker Skateboards. Dude fits with Baker perfectly and already has a sick bag of man-style tricks at his age, which I respect a lot because the grom-style is not very appealing. His ender wallride is absolutely nuts, but I must say I would've killed to have seen that huge hippy jump from about 0:50 in his trailer for the part though...
Also special mention to Alain Saavedra for being welcomed to Consolidated with an extremely gnarly and just raw part. Big gaps and a really rugged style go together really well here.
And last special mention to Dustin Henry for a sweet On The Radar part for TWS. I'm a fan of anyone getting hooked up by Cliche, but it doesn't even matter because Dustin's quick feet and kickflips are very entertaining to watch.
The main video of this week goes to Kevin Phelps (above) with his part from Culture Shock. Hitting East Coast spots with West Coast tricks is really awesome to watch. It's really cool that Kevin has good pop, a lanky style that can still take some really solid impacts, a great bag of consistent tricks (that somehow kept getting larger throughout the part), and a unique take on well-known spots that lets him add memorable tricks to their histories.  Some of cool clips from the part include the smooth cab flip back disaster revert at 0:43, the front board at 1:37 mainly for the really cool look of all the red bricks at the spot, and the line at 2:17 because of the surprising half cab late back foot flip in the middle of two other really nice tricks. At 3:51, every clip becomes a banger pretty much: tailslide big flip on the NYC courthouse ledge, followed up by a nollie hardflip into that bank! Then Kevin goes to the other coast to double flip the Santa Monica triple set, which is super awesome. Then he stylishly lands a huge 50-50 drop off as well as a long noseslide big spin out on the same long ledge I remember David Gonzalez first lipsliding and then Eli Reed switch lipsliding. Later Kevin visits the huge brick double bank at 6:42 and skates it like no one else before with a giant ollie past the second bank to the flat below. And since 3 is always a lucky number, Kevin nails his third trick of the part at the NYC courthouse bank to finish things off: a ridiculous caballerial kickflip off the top shelf, somehow pulling out the switch drop and rollaway.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Skating the Unskateable #1: David Gravette

The fact that David Gravette came out with this Gregslist video just to skate literal garbage from a rusty pipe to a piano shows his exact spirit for skateboarding: getting out of your comfort zone and conquering new obstacles. David is very good with this and has shown his expansion of spots particularly well with new ridiculous handrails and transitions. He skates some of the gnarliest obstacles possible and seriously expands on the possibilities of what can be skated. His handrail skating is some of the most dangerous and impressive in the game and has been for a good number of years now.
Looking back to his And Now part, aside from the few insane handrails that may be only skateable to a select few of handrail killers, the few clips from 1:47-2:10 peek into David's spot creativity. From a tall sewer tunnel to a cartoonishly enormous pole jam to a legit brick wall skatestopper built right at the end of a handrail (which David gaps out over nonchalantly).
In Hesh Law at 1:27, David skates a crazy handrail that is much longer than you'd expect, and then at 1:37 he skates a mini electrical box on the side of a telephone pole to show that nothing is out of reach.
In Beware of Sasquatch he skates a bracketed handrail at 2:54 and somehow avoids the natural skatestoppers, despite the lack of any surface area of a rail to grind on.
In Prevent This Tragedy he just glides around a super curved handrail and backside 180s out for good measure at 1:42, even though just maintaining composure through the curve seems impossible. The last rail has surely turned countless other handrail killers away, but with a godly 50-50 like David has he stays unaffected by the kink in the handrail as the rail just keeps getting longer and longer. Perfect balance cheat codes? Check.
Since David's been on a rampage of skating this past year, he released a CSFU Bonus Part in which he opens up skating a dirtbike course in the middle of the woods. Keyword: dirtbike. At 1:03 he steeply drops in and then rides a sketchy looking rail ingrained in the dirt and decides that it's not enough, so he comes out into a nose manual and then pops into the bowl. An impossible combo all starting from the impossible grind.
David's most recent full video part in CSFU (above) contains quite possibly the main reason for this week's subject: his very first trick of the part. After a long and mentally gruesome battle with the rail, David rides the roller coaster 50-50 through two full 90 degree turns containing small kinks, all while gradually going downhill as well. This trick in itself deserves a medal of some kind because balancing does not work like that. He later launches into a no pop full speed feeble grind at 1:42 around a tight curve; it's all in the posture on this one. At 2:02 he flies down a well-sloped handrail into two kinks and a shifting angle of the rail as well, gliding through the grind like it's nothing, even though just looking at the rail makes any trick seem unlikely. The run up for the rail at 2:52 appears to be way to small but a quick carve and David magically sticks with the enormous double kinker all the way down.
And lastly, in David's Real Street part (which is filled with some rather awesome clips) he slides right over a bunch of bike racks at 0:28. It's funny because bike racks are meant to stop you, but David clearly is having no business with these standard rules. The ender 50-50 is better shown here with all the trials and tribulations, both physical and mental. What's absurd about this trick is mixing the number of kinks with the actual steepness and shortness of them too. Only David could see this as being an actual spot to skate.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Skating the Unskateable #2: Daewon Song

Trying to describe how Daewon Song has manipulated skateboarding's view of spots and what is skateable can go two different ways: an extremely long analysis of his video part history with regards to branching off into new spots over time, or a brief overview of the same material. I am choosing the latter to keep things simple. As Quartersnacks put perfectly after the spot-on Calvin and Hobbes meme, "he's just talented to the point that he couldn't be bothered by any normal conceptions of spots." Once you reach that skill level of almost literally being able to do anything on a skateboard, you need to branch out some more (pun somewhat intended considering he skates tree branches...) For example, Daewon recently reached out to his Instagram followers to suggest tricks for him because he's done just about everything else possible! Peep the trouble flip nose manny (tre + double flip = trouble flip) and the 360 shove blot slapper done as suggested by fans. People think of progressing in their skating usually by improving all of their tricks and learning new ones, but asking fans for new tricks can only go so far. So Daewon's video history is a better way of showcasing how he has progressed his skating in a different fashion. After getting creative with benches and ledges inside a warehouse in Deca's 2nd to None, Daewon came out in Skate More with the rock-solid blunt kickflip fakie at 5:09 and the famous waterfall tailslide at 5:45. Cue Colin Kennedy's voice, "This dude is waxing a waterfall." (Also worth mentioning that he rock fakied on a polejam at 5:37 that in no way looked skateable.) Since skating waterfalls and rock variations wasn't enough, Daewon took it to the trees and rocks in 5-Incher (above). The opening tree segment at 0:27 sums up Daewon's attitude towards progression in skating. Filmer: "That's not gonna work." Daewon: "Yeah it will." And while every trick in the part really captures the spirit of skating things that no one else would think of, here are a few of my favorites on spots unimaginable to the standard skater:
Kickflip back 50 the most rugged rock you could think of at 1:14
Ridiculous pipe drop in ollie at 1:23
Three clips back to back to back of shocking firecracker variations starting at 1:52
Lamppost session at 2:33
Amazing full blown tree session at 3:00
Skating rocks like skatepark banks and ledges from 3:16
And finally, revisiting the waterfall terrain at 4:02 for one of the most entertaining enders of all time.  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Skating the Unskateable #3: Jake Ruiz

Now I've only really seen a few commercials/ads and one single part from Jake, but man did he stick out the first time I saw his Where Are We Going? part (above). The first handrail he skates is absolutely insane. The curvature is hard enough just to hold onto while walking down, but throw in a couple of kinks to mess with you and skating it seems like a fantasy. Apparently not for Jake though because he is a destroyer of all handrails in their craziest forms. The board just seems to lock in perfectly to his rail tricks and stick with his feet as if glued on. The rail at 0:38 even is visually deceptive with its mini but plentiful kinks that no doubt feel unreal when grinding down them.  And then his penultimate trick at 3:34 is a 50-50 down a handrail where the first few kinks in the handrail (and the ones nearby) make it looks completely bent out of shape. But Jake seems to enjoy skating these jagged handrails. Granted, while he absolutely annihilates handrails, there were only a few select spots in the part that qualify him towards skating the unskateable. That's where his Thunder trucks ad comes into play, because Jake Knows how to make a ridiculous spot approachable. The 10 kink roller coaster of a grind alone puts Jake on the map for skating the unskateable. And even more recently was his Ambig Introduction Ad (just the picture, but I use that lightly because it's still mind-blowing) which appears at first glance to be the backside version of his 50-50 opener from Where Are We Going? I could be wrong there but regardless, hitting a rail that curvy, without even considering hitting it backside, is definitely something new in skateboarding these days. So it's safe to say I am extremely looking forward to what Jake comes up with in the future as far as skating spots that should probably be in an amusement park.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Skating the Unskateable #4: Richie Jackson

Richie Jackson is very mystical, for lack of a better word. He goes out of his way to...go out of the way. He skates everything with his own flavor to the point of seeing him do "standard" tricks becomes the unusual aspect of his video parts. Coming up with his own tricks and variations is one thing, but doing this opens up so many more doors to spots to skate.
Take a look at Richie's part in And Now (above), for example. He opens up the part at a wall with a telephone pole support cable. That is the spot he chooses to skate and put in his part first. But it's the simplicity of the spot and the creativity of his wallride hippie jump body varial (naming tricks is not going to easy for this post) that makes this clip and all of Richie's so refreshing to watch. Being refreshing also doesn't take away from how impressive a lot of Richie's tricks are as well; there's a reason why he's one-of-a-kind. Take the ollie at 0:17: most skaters would complain about the crack right before the stairs or at the bottom but Richie doesn't mind those because he skates right through the trash can lying at the top stair. Before the fence-skating craze that I've seen at the new LES skatepark in NYC, Richie was skating directly off the fence like at 0:47, four wheels and all. No perfect flatbar? No problem for Richie! He skates chain links at 0:52 and at 2:38. And since when was a perfectly vertical structure a viable skate obstacle option? Since Richie finished his Tony Hawk video games and learned legitimate Natas spins like at 1:06 and the improved nose version at 1:39. At 1:55 people probably look at the set like it's entirely unskateable: way too long for any crazy Jaws-wannabe, and the hubbas have full length statues at the ends. So Richie just takes the easiest way down by firecracking straight through 20 stairs. In an effort to be more environmental, Richie stalls a solid airwalk treeplant (this is the best use of the "plant" as possible, in all meanings of the word) at 2:30 to finish off a line.  In the two clips starting at 2:45, skaters would typically think that the poles are in the way of the perfect ledge, but Richie's hippie qualities get him around the poles no problem. And of course, when you can't find the perfect hubbas down a stair set, just find the closest mall's escalator (like at 2:53) and skate its ledges. (I find it funny that Richie actually hits the escalator switch and rolls away switch too, probably just to bump up his score.)
Firecrackers are definitely not new, but to use the last few stairs during a firecracker as a launching step to a variety of fliptricks definitely qualifies as skating the unskateable. Please refer to Richie's Battle Commander at the Berrics for further information.

Skating the Unskateable #5: Brandon Westgate

By now, everyone's probably watched the new Emerica MADE video at least ten times by now and has witnessed the full-speed all out destruction left by Brandon Westgate. So if you don't know, now you know. But for those that knew already, it's clearly understood that Brandon Westgate is a spot-slaughtering machine. His extreme pop and fearlessness mixed with his ability to adapt to the harshest of surfaces has allowed him to set new standards for what spots can be skated, even if no one else will step up to those spots in a while. Below are a good deal of tricks that Brandon has made that has opened up new spots to skate or new ways to skate a spot.
In Zoo York's State of Mind he skate three spots in a row at 0:20 going UP instead of down (NYC Black Hubbas, the loading dock gap, and the tapered pyramid ledge spot). In Emerica's Stay Gold (above), Brandon finds a really innovative way to skate the manny banks at 0:48; no one's ever looked at the spot as actually using both banks together. Even ollieing into the bank at 1:00 was quite a new look at the spot. The SF line at 2:35 with the two stairway ollies going extremely fast was the first of many visits to that spot for ridiculous lines that only Brandon could do.  At 3:10 Brandon basically ollies the length of a house over a parking railing nonetheless and lands pretty far down in a slope. There's a gap to rail at 4:13 that Brandon lipslides that I'm pretty sure hadn't been skated before and other than Alex Olsen recently in Pretty Sweet still hasn't been touched. And then there's the ollie up at 4:19 that is just incomprehensible.
Soon after Stay Gold, Brandon came out with his Emerica Shoe Part where he finds another unique way to fly down the hills of SF at 0:46 with an alleyway ollie to finish the line. In the line at 1:54, Brandon finishes off a sweet line by 50-50ing a shoulder high rail off a natural sidewalk kicker. In a short clip of Brandon just Talking about the Westgate, he skates up two kinks of a pretty legit hubba. Definitely hasn't been done up something as legitimately kinked as that. Then there's Brandon's Real Street part where his first tricks involve him ollieing up onto an insane ledge all from a little sidewalk curb cut and then out over both the street and stairway. In his Mini-Bangin at the Berrics, Brandon 180s where no skater has before because no one would think of going from the 5 stair section out and over the tall bar off the far side of the bump section.
In Zoo York's latest promo video of True East, Brandon hits a super sketchy step up gap at 6:30 that clearly looks unskateable. He chooses to backside flip up it. Directly after that he ollies over the extremely tall bump to bar in ATL that I doubt no one else will hit in a while. And of course the ender ollie in Pittsburgh at 7:22 that is the definitive combination of sketchiness and gnarliness. No sane skater in their wildest dreams would ever picture ollieing something like that.
Finally, in Emerica's MADE Vol. 1, Brandon continues with his ridiculous SF sidewalk lines that only he can see with his experience there. There's a huge 180 over a flower patch after a quick drop down about an 8 stair. The crazy part of this would just be to visualize where in the world he could get speed from; dropping down the stairs beforehand does not seem like an option until Westgate does it. When the music first calms down for a little there's a very tall, sketchy curved ledge that drops down into another crusty hubba that he powers a 50-50 through backside. Later on in the part, Brandon ollies over a tall black pole off of a sidewalk bump (that blends into the background so a double take is usually necessary) that is unlikely for anyone else to even get the courage to skate straight on. There's the gigantic bump to bar against the full brick wall near the end that seems super hard just to keep speed up through, much less pop and land way down below. And of course the van-tow-in loading dock ollie up that defies all gravity. But of course Westgate follows his own laws of gravity.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Next Week: Skating the Unskateable

Skateboarding today is generally based on doing tricks in the streets. Sure there are tons of great skateparks out there with perfect transitions and ledges, but one of the core qualities of why we skate is to manipulate the streets in the "real world" for our own purposes. This is why some spots are completely blown up because of accidentally being made near to perfection for skateboards, and other spots are known only for one trick alone because of how impossible to skate they may seem. This week I will be looking into latter side of the spectrum, at skaters that have the ability to visualize skating spots that most of us would never even consider touching with our boards.
For a topic like this, I feel that it's necessary to mention guys like Danny Way and Bob Burnquist, who have taken skating vert to a whole new level. Looking at Bob Burnquist's Dreamland, I find it hard to believe that anyone could come up with the crazy ideas that this man has. The innovation in skating the unskateable (nope, helicopters are not your typical skatepark feature) is hard to match with a part like this. However, considering that Bob did create an actual "Dreamland" with perfectly smooth surfaces and mathematically correct ramps and transitions, he doesn't exactly fall under the category of the top five guys this week who have changed the way we look at natural street spots.
Also worth mentioning is Clint Walker. My perception of skating impossibly gnarly spots has changed completely since his Modern Art part. From skating glass handrails to handrails with both drop downs and kinks mixed together to unnecessarily long street gaps like at 5:03, Clint truly made an impact on skating with this part and how guys view what is skateable and what isn't skateable.
And then there's David Gonzalez. His Possessed to Skate part was an instant classic for its sheer gnarliness. How could it not be when David sets new standards for handrail skating with tricks like at 4:32 or his unreal ender at 5:30.

Video(s) of the Week: Ben Fisher, Brad Cromer, and Peter Raffin

There were three key videos that came out this week that I had to mention for this post.
Above is Ben Fisher's sml wheels part, which shows the great balance between technical control and style. Some tricks that stuck in my head include the impressive frontside rock pop out at 0:31, the fakie manual fakie flip to fakie manual through two kinks of a sidewalk at 1:54, the switch frontside flip manual revert (mid-manual) down a bank at 2:06, the nose manual nollie shove to fakie manual fakie flip out on a popular bank at 2:46, and the crazy control with the ender: manual bs revert to fakie manual frontside half cab flip out.
Next up is the Peter Raffin Transmission part from Transworld, which displays a serious appeal for unique and gritty spots. While it's already refreshing to see a bunch of new spots (the back tail at 3:00 is beautiful and scary at the same time), it's also pretty cool to see Peter skate everything with a variety of tricks, from huge handrails (like the gnarly crooked grind at 2:20) to precision tricks (like the kickflip back tail at 1:36 with a short kicker to a fairly tall ledge) to super fast gaps (like the line at 2:01 where he half cab flips over a short stairway and then does a huge front 180 out into the street). And of course, his frontside POP shove it ender combines so many pleasing aspects of watching skateboarding all into one trick.
And lastly, I would like to also mention Brad Cromer's Lo-Fi Quartersnacks Remix to recognize Brad turning pro for Krooked. He's got a really powerful and smooth style and definitely deserves pro status; turning pro for a company like Krooked makes it that much cooler. While the tricks in this part came out last year, Quartersnacks never fails at a good remix, and the kickflip 50-50s on waist high rails along with the front tail heelflip out on the NYC courthouse ledge spot can always be replayed without complaints.