Posts Tagged ‘Dave Carnie’

The Bold And The Beautiful

November 20, 2020

Those who have had the fortune and blessings required to hit a grand slam in a major-league baseball game know that it’s a unique feeling, difficult to replicate with vibration-equipped VR gear or the powers of one’s wildest imagination. Bedreaded San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. met and introduced himself to that feeling one bubbly and Covid-free August night last summer, whamming a certified whammer in the eighth inning against some hapless Texas Rangers.

But Fernando Tatis’ power move was met not with lusty cheers and pumping fists, at least not entirely. The circumstances of his grand slam — the Padres already far ahead late in the game, the struggling Rangers pitcher having already thrown three balls — placed Fernando Tatis at odds with the mystic and unwritten arcana of the baseball codes, in this case, it being considered bad form to run up the score against a floundering opponent. His meaningless four runs, much like a misassembled Denny’s breakfast platter, became the subject of heated debate for weeks among players, managers and the vast digital peanut gallery.

Mason Silva, prodigious gap/rail/ditch/all of the above destroyer, struck again last weekend, casually uploading to ThrasherMagazine.Com another 4-plus minutes of tremendously heavy footage, at the tail end of a SOTY campaign that carries all the inevitability of a blurred stair set looming on the edge of a vignetted fisheye lens. The past few years’ kinked-rail sweepstakes has produced a new breed of steely-eyed and deadly confident Rustyholders, but Mason Silva lifts the bar as far as relentlessness — he has put out four video parts this year, all of them blistering, full of impossible-seeming stuff, and you’d take long odds putting down any money that he won’t be back at the table before mid-December.

The SOTY video deluge has a way of dominating any other ‘conversation’ at this point in the season, for better or worse. Tom Knox’s beautifully constructed, brick-strewn London symphony for Jacob Harris’ sterling ‘Atlantic Drift’ franchise got a couple good days of high-profile burn before Mason Silva resurfaced, and that’s it. The statement-of-purpose punk howl from the Glue collective got a deserved center stage — but just for a bit. As of this typing, John Shanahan’s Chicago-shaded DC Shoes vid has the big top window, but Mason Silva’s boardslide-to-boardslide thumbnail’s still up there, quietly dominating.

Skateboarding has long nursed conflicted feelings toward effort. It takes some, of course, to steady one’s self for the drop in, to crack the first ollie, to labor hours in pursuit of the trick. Reared safely beyond shouting distance of coaches, referees and gamekeepers, giving too little effort has often been easily excused, even celebrated — witness the decade-long legacy riding of first-generation Girl and Chocolate pros, or Geoff Rowley’s tune-in/drop-out monologue for Tom Penny’s recycled-footage ‘Menikmati’ part. Too much effort, though — even in the modern era of agents, round-the-clock content production and overall ‘professionalization,’ there can be pitfalls.

For proof, consider the world of Mega-transition skating, which more than other disciplines has revolved around competition, at least financially. In his 9 Club appearance, helicoptero wrangler and veteran Flip man Bob Burnquist related a story about skating a MegaRampTM rail competition with Danny Way, among others. Bob Burnquist, noted switchstance practitioner, said he began dropping in switch, and soon was approached by Danny Way, who was doing the same.

BB: He said, you know I’m trying the switch 50-50. …He was like, when we grew up, talking about him and Colin, when one of them touches a trick… and I get that. And I wasn’t planning on doing the switch 50-50, I was planning on doing a switch nosegrind, because I knew he was doing that. This is strategy, competition mode — if I play ping-pong with you I’m not gonna want to lose. I can still be your friend, and be totally fine. But in that moment it seemed like this front came, and I respected it, but it kind of bummed me out a little bit. 

…I kind of pulled back. When I skated the contest, I didn’t really go for stuff. I just was kind of holding back, and that kind of hurt me a little bit, because I don’t like doing that.

Bob Burnquist went on to explain how the experience motivated him to film all types of crazy MegaRailTM tricks for Flip’s 2009 vid ‘Xtremely Sorry.’ But a couple years before that, Bob Burnquist had seen the backlash that can come from not holding back. At the 2007 X-Games*, Jake Brown blasted a 360 ollie over the contest’s 70-foot gap before taking a 540 23 feet above the MegaQuarterPipeTM deck. Later, he spun a 720 over the gap right before popping too far off the quarterpipe and plunging 45 feet to the flat. After Jake Brown was helped get up and incredibly walked off the ramp, and things settled down some, Bob Burnquist dropped in, sailed a switch backside 180 over the gap, then launched a 16-foot-high 540, winning the contest. Jake Brown got second, and Dave Carnie rendered his verdict:

DC: after that slam, I think the gentlemanly thing to do would have been to have just ended the contest right there and given it to Jake. He was in first place. He had won. But no, Bob had to go and take his extra run and try and win it. As I’ve said, he didn’t win it, but the fact that he wanted to beat a fellow skater who had just taken one of the hardest slams ever isn’t really congruent with the spirit of skateboarding. Or even the spirit of sport, for that matter. When did “winning at all cost” creep into skateboarding?

In the marathon that the SOTY race has become, Mason Silva doesn’t seem like he’s trying to take anything from anybody, laid low by injury or not. He is in his proverbial window; can he be expected to let up? How is it possible that he hit the top rail three times in that one ditch clip from the Spitfire part? Does Primitive’s ‘Fourth Quarter’ closer Miles Silvas have more ammunition after his own Spitfire and Primitive minutes over the past month? Is the fact that Tom Knox is helping raise three small children at home through the pandemic being accurately factored into his SOTY bid? Since Mason Silva seemingly is healthy, fearless and ahead in the count, could he maybe please ollie again the stair-to-bank gap from his Thrasher cover, to get a better video angle?

Meet Sabatino Aracu, Boss Of All Skateboarding Bosses

March 3, 2019

Within the warehouses clapped together in that storied, swampy section of eastern Tampa, none appeared more powerful on this Tampa Pro weekend than sportpantsed ghetto birder Aurelien Giraud, a young French Plan B rider and Red Bull sipper of some description, positively soaring over would-be competitors en route to an obvious Best Trick crown and sceptre. Aurelien ‘Girbaud’ Giraud only is beginning to pen his own tale, to be told in ultra 4K, homie phone vids and promotional materials for his sponsors; it shall be cradled in digital video and still imagery and the occasional Q&A text companion.

Yet talents like Aurelien Giraud, immense and highflying as they may be, come and go. For nigh 20 years the Tampa contest and its drainage-ditch accoutrements have been governed by SPoT impresario Brian Shaefer. Since 2015, SPoT’s career-making Tampa events have shifted under the contesturial auspices of Street League Skateboarding, managed by former extreme sporting FuelTV media figure CJ Olivares. Street League itself since last year has been in thrall to World Skate, a global governing body created through the IOC-officiated shotgun marriage of the International Roller Sports Federation and the International Skateboarding Federation, where gymnastics camping mogul Gary Ream oversees skateboarding content. Above him — holding in his hands the global fate of skateboarding — sits, in a worldly Italian’s repose, Sabatino Aracua, CEO of World Skate.

64-year-old Sabatino Aracu rose to rollersports power thanks to a canny combo of political pragmatism and raw wit. In 2004, the former rollerskating athlete and Italian lawmaker saw his moment: the International Roller Sports Federation, entering its eighth decade and shut out of recognition as an Olympic sport, faced a schism over recognizing the rollerbladers of Spain’s Catalonia province as a separate nation. Sabatino Aracu vociferously argued against recognizing the Catalans, warning such a bold maneuver could torpedo rollersporting’s Olympic dreams. His predecessor stepped down over the debate, and Sabatino Aracu ascended to his first of four terms as the organization’s president; in his 2017 election, none opposed him.

Another brass ring was furiously rollerskated after and grabbed in the late 1990s, when skateboarding, roller sports’ comparatively scrappy stepchild which remained unrefined through choreographed dance routines, had drawn the Olympic Argus’ wandering eye. Here, the FIRS flexed its decades of familiarity with Olympic rules, asserting itself the official governing body of skateboarding. Sabatino Aracu, in a 2016 interview with ‘I, Skateboard’ dance abstractionist Dave Carnie, presents himself as a uniter of multi-wheeled disciplines, forging a kind of bureaucratic harmony wherein skateboarding will provide a camera-ready vehicle for rollersports’ final triumph over the Olympic cold shoulder — pushing, together, past provincial turf battles and fun-poking novelty t-shirts (on the skateboarders’ side at least):

“Concerning the relationship between skateboarders and rollerbladers,” President Aracu replied, “I honestly do not understand, and I do not see a reason for such a riff: Everyone has its own culture and its own uniqueness. As multidisciplinary International Federation, for years we have managed different disciplines without disagreements simply because we guarantee and respect culture, autonomy, and individuality of each discipline. The role of a manager transcends the specific technical skills inside the international federations.”

As skateboarding preps for its global internet streaming debut next year, Sabatino Aracu remains singular as its planetary controlling persona. His steely eyes and shining pate call to mind the futuristic empire-building of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, the intergalactic masculinity of Captain Jean Luc Picard, the cerebral superpowers of Professor Charles Xavier. As a onetime competitive rollerskater he is intimately familiar with speeds that would make even the most iron-willed GX1000er drag his foot. He doubtless knows bearing-greasing secrets long ago handed down by the gods of yore and, when the chips are down, can be counted upon to don chainmail, hoist a helberd and raise aloud the battle cry in the face of overwhelming odds and an army of the living dead.

Could Sabatino Aracu’s yearslong rule and erudite quotations argue for or against presidential term limits for World Skate? Could enforced, compulsory participation in choreographed skate routines such as this help skateboarding heal the divisions and fragmentation wrought by the Instagram age? Are competitive speed rollerbladers and rollerdancing pros distraught at the prospect of their comparatively underground subcultures being coopted by skateboarding’s mainstream-and-malls set for an Olympic gold grab?