If I learned anything watching the mildly psychedelic new Toy Machine production, it is that Leo Romero plays fast and loose with the laws that govern speed physics and US tax code, to such a degree that he must be branded a rebel. It is proven true by his moustache and cowboy hats. His taste for going fast and an eye for scale re: obstacle selection have turned him into one of the era’s most recognizable and bloggable pros, solidifying market share.
Yet the Leo era still harbours a gap not easily crossed by the four urethane wheels of a man. Can he capture the heart of skating’s loudest (and more or less historically accurate) Nor-cal critics, alongside the symbolic trophy and free beer a SOTY title promises? Will he reign in glory forevermore alongside Tony Hawk, Danny Way and Danny Way, or trod into his bank-skating autumn years an overlooked icon such as the Muska, pressedganged into conquering the LA record-playing business or New York spray paint art in lieu of the Phelper’s undying embrace.
Much like the Muska of yesteryear, Leo Romero currently is “in the groove” and securing trick-footage the likes of which will not be easily replicated. And they are dangerous tricks. You wish for a second angle on the final crooked grind of “Brainwash” to better judge how the rail kinks just so, but are left wondering. He forgoes the certainty of a motorcycle tow-in and instead just pushes as hard/many times as possible, maybe making the jump or maybe not. He throws himself onto deeply committed frontside feeble grinds that might wrap a lesser ‘boarder’s hardgoods around the metal pole. There is an ease of movement even when trying the otherwise nonsensical, like the up-rail tricks in the Emerica vid, that surfaces also in the mildly technical items he throws out now and then (nollie b/s heelflip off the curb and hydrant switch heelflip, “Brainwash,” b/s nosegrind nollie bigspin heelflip out, “Stay Gold” (even tho the sequence contained that one hilarious spread-eagle frame)).
Like Al Gore, Leo Romero has toiled in ditches to get where he is, flopping over handrails and spilling onto the sidewalk part of the job, but with the biggest popularity contest of the season now before him all chips are on the table. Speculation arises whether a shocking 2010 SOTY loss could drive him into a wilderness period, farming a beard and rethinking the whole reason God made him Senator of Tennessee, known to some as the “Volunteer” state. Perhaps he would try his hand at carpentry, or become a welterweight prize-fighter seeking redemption among a colorful cast of ne’er-do-wells, or feed the poor or create a book filled with detailed drawings of anatomy.
Two of Jake Phelps’ other musings for the title have been mentioned but a more plausible GWB-figure could maybe be found in team-mate Nick Trapasso, a renowned mumbler and word-mangler that has glided to a lofty position atop the skate heap with seeming ease and not a lot of stressing. Not breaking a sweat really this year, but Trapasso did rate the closer section in Thrasher’s still-fantastic “Prevent This Tragedy” and has impressed with what appears like an endless Santa-Claus sack of tricks (in “Brainwash” there’s a switch inward heelflip outta nowhere, and a nice nollie noseslide which has become one of those you suddenly don’t see often enough). A smoker/joker/mid-night toker who would be my pick for this year’s dark horse, if that counts for anything after the Chris Cole twopeat caught me completely off guard.
Tags: 2010, cowboy hats, Emmy award, Inconvenient Truth, Jake Phelps, Jolly Ol St. Nick, Leo Romero, moustaches, Nick Trapasso, SOTY, sweat, the South, the world's most exclusive club, Thrasher, Tipper, Toy Machine