Posts Tagged ‘ESPN8 the Ocho’

Where Are All the Vanity Board Team Owners?

September 30, 2014

scrooge_mcduck

Loudly, the “Lego Movie” demonstrated how this earthy life is built upon deception and a series of injurious failures, with the slim chance of revolutionizing society or overthrowing a malevolent dictator baked in to stave off utter hopelessness. So it may also be in the boardgoods galaxy, where increasingly it would seem that proprietorship of a deck company is tantamount to some sort of Sisyphean trek in holey vulc-soles, or several pelvic fractures, or maybe just an unfulfilling relationship.

Alien Workshop owners Chris Carter and Mike Hill’s grab for the brass life-ring of corporate ownership devolved into a game of M&A hot potato that may have soured them on the business for life, Jake Johnson said in an interview the other day: “I don’t think these guys wanna do it anymore. I think that they’re pretty pissed off.” Smoothie king Andrew Reynolds, in a separate interview, described running Baker and its affiliates more like a labor of love: “I own some skateboard companies and there’s not that much money in it. I see the truth.” Pontus Alv, owner/operator of by all accounts one of the more successful board companies at the moment, sounds fatigued as he oscillates between evaluating Chinese factories and trying to hold down a pro career: “It’s a shit load of work plus trying to be a team manager, going on a tour, promoting the brand, trying to skate…. I try to work with other people but a lot of times I just end up doing it myself because I can and they don’t have the same vision as me.”

Boards have yet to devolve into unfashionable utilities. The hierarchy of professional image and personal branding dictates that deck sponsors provide meaningful direction that appears to matter to the moneyed international footwear conglomerates that riders require to pay various mortgages and car notes and things. Nike, Jamie Thomas says, helped shepherd Trevor Colden from Mystery to the swish-heavy pastures of Skate Mental, and conspiracy theory-minded observers will note that EU comer-upper Karsten Kleppan did a similar two-step from Lakai and Element in recent months.

So are board company owners doing it wrong? The argument has been made that owning professional sports teams should not be a profit-seeking venture, but rather a long-term luxury investment similar to a yacht or bankrolling a Ron Artest CD. Rather than paper dollar bill wads, rewards arrive in the form of grand intangibles and assorted life hammers such as the prestige that comes with fielding a championship team or sweatily mounting a Grammys stage to collect hard-won trophies for hit Ron Artest singles. Sports team owners enjoy earthly delights like fostering relevant cultural memes, cheering as your employees innovate new ways to involve animals in celebrations, and build in the lab with the Pandas’ Friend formerly known as Metta World Peace from time to time.

Former World Industries Chief Financial Officer Scott Drouillard, in a recent interview with Jenkem, described blindly speculating on Florida swampland as preferable to working for a skateboard company, and the rationale for selling out over a decade ago:

All of us had invested all of our wealth in this company, and there were three big factors. One, the overall economy and stock market was at a historic high, going off the scale. Two was our industry… Our industry was blowing up! And knowing it goes in cycles, about 10 year cycles, we knew we were really at the explosive peak of it. Lastly, is how we were managing the company. We were hitting home runs like 3 out of 4 times, and you can’t be expected to continue hitting home runs like that forever.

Viewed through such a lens, does this portray decades-deep boardsportsmen such as Tod Swank, Ed Templeton, Mike Carroll and Rick Howard as grinning sadomasochists? Does Steve Rocco, reclining on some Malibu beach, kick himself for not finagling a stake in the Big Brother-spawned Jackass franchise? Would there be more rap careers if board companies were backed by deep-pocketed benefactors? Would there be worse ones? Are Pat Pasquale and Nick Trapasso employing some Billy Beane-esque algorithm in building the Life Extention team, or only their video soundtracks?

A Chilling Vision of Things to Come

July 29, 2009

hail-ants
Shouts to Ross Powers, Kenny Brocklestein and Hewlett-Packard

There are days when a dude can do two switch 360 flips in the same line and it comes off all inspired, like there’s still little chunks of zany magic to be scraped from the cracked maple veneers of this earthly life. And then you got days when the Olympics seem like a depressing inevitability that will transform each session into a practice and once-dirtbag kids into future competitors for the glory of succulent Olympic gold. Because, you can’t eat just one.

Anyway, for those of you that are like me and caught this NY Times article on Shaun White’s non-skating Olympic training regimen, today was of the second type. Behold, and imagine a future 10 years from now by swapping out the term snowboarding for skateboarding:

With a deep and talented field, qualifying for the four spots on the United States men’s halfpipe team will be highly competitive. To help riders prepare this summer, the United States Ski and Snowboard Association helped finance construction of a 22-foot-tall halfpipe that meets Olympic specifications at the High Cascade Snowboard Camp on Palmer glacier at Mount Hood in Oregon. White was among several top professionals who spent time training there this month.

This part brings to mind the dudes fortunate enough to have their own multi-hundred-thousand-dollar megaramps, and the golf carts with which to properly traverse their length:

Last winter, Red Bull, one of White’s sponsors, built a private halfpipe at Silverton Mountain, a spartan resort in Colorado known for its extreme terrain. Rumors and images circulated on the Internet of White’s secret spot, with a giant air bag at the bottom of the halfpipe for soft landings while practicing tricks. His fellow professionals Keir Dillon and Heikki Sorsa joined White, but little was known about their sessions. In a sport in which top riders were accustomed to training together, a private halfpipe marked a departure from past practice. White’s rivals took note.

In June, Nike built Pearce a private halfpipe at Mammoth Mountain in California, which he rode for two weeks with his fellow United States Olympic hopefuls Danny Davis and the brothers Luke and Jack Mitrani. When asked which tricks he was working on, Pearce was circumspect.

“That’s the whole idea behind a private halfpipe, kind of keep it a bit quiet, not let everybody else know,” he said. “So once the season’s under way, it’s pretty much a surprise.”

Also, this:

He did not directly address questions about whether he would return to skateboarding next summer.

“Snowboarding has always been my main sport from the beginning,” he said. “I was just lucky enough to have my snowboarding skills cross over to skateboarding.”

Will the skateboard industry survive this global recession without help from the Flying Tomato, the most recognizable personality in action sports? Spoiler alert, the answer is no. For those of you contemplating suicide on this news, me and a bunch of my friends are going to try and get reincarnated as grackles and shit on Shaun White’s Lambo as a form of avian vengeance from beyond the grave. Login “grackle”, password “gracklezrule2005”