Posts Tagged ‘Mt Olympus’

‘Never Put So Much Time And Effort Into Any Single Goal In My Life’ — Runners N Riders For 2021’s SOTY Season

November 6, 2021

“Anyone who knows me knows how much I put into this!” exclamated David Gravette last week on Insta-Gramm; “Without a doubt I have never put so much time and effort into any single goal in my life.” The noted Creature fiend was gushing not over bagging a trophy handrail or handling some monstrous gap, but rather hooking a salmon on a fly road, hooked with an October caddis nymph, of all things. While David Gravette cradled his mauve-and-sewer-green triumph in the PNW streamwaters before letting it loose again, reality TV game show host Andy Roy’s chance encounter with a sackful of aluminum cans sent him down his own fogged memory lane to recycling hammers during his years on the struggle, balling for position against other refuse collectors at Potrero Park.

Both social media posts earned several flame emojis, but also provided a glimpse of achievements to be claimed beyond the skateboard realm. For several worthies, however, the biggest prize in ‘tha game,’ Thrasher MagaZine’s yearly Skater Of The Year, remains tantalizingly within reach; which of this year’s early contenders has more gas left in the tank for an awards-season push, and which others have yet to reveal their true powers? Let’s read on.

Jack O’Grady: for an aged web blog’s money, the most ‘Thrasher’ of the lot and squarely of the Milton Martinez mold, freshly minted pro-fessional Jack O’Grady provides Australian crust and concrete in spades via his springtime ‘Pass~Port Part,’ with plenty of caterwauling ride-aways and slams and generally questionable judgment, like that gap kickflip into the bank, for instance. Tristan Funkhauser’s eye-popping China Banks FSA didn’t quite dethrone Jack O’Grady’s technicolour rail-to-rail leap for Thrasher’s best cover of 2021, but does he got more coming to ‘seal the deal’ before the early-December drop-dead date?

Yuto Horigome: skater of the next three years in the hearts and minds of the billions of new heads worldwide now tuned to backside kickflip nosegrinds and 360s into shit, Mike Sinclair’s Olympic meal ticket has a credible bid for the also-significant Thrasher award, having nollie backside spun his self onto the cover of the mag in the process of videotaping his ‘Yuto Show’ part for April Skateboards earlier this year. He brought some fairly intense handrail stuff, like the nollie backside noseblunt and the switch pupecki grind and the backside sugarcane, though it remains to be determined how much weight an Olympic gold doubloon holds with the Thrasher brain trust, if any.

Chima Ferguson: Knowed as ‘the Thunder From Down in Australia,’ Chima Ferguson broke out Andrew Reynolds’ ‘Stay Gold’ manual for purposes of shutting down Vans’ recent ‘Appreciate U Bro’, interspersing big flip tricks down gaps with clean-cut ledge and flatground lines, while also manualing off the side of a building and nosegrinding what effectively seemed to be a type of shed. Chima Ferguson went the two the hard way over handrails, sailed over sidewalk warning bumps, and made Jack O’Grady’s kinker grind down the St Martin’s Place double set somehow seem a lil bit smaller after blasting an ollie all the way down. Does he now got enough cutting-room floor materials and the intestinal fortitude to record a few more heaters for a late-November follow-up?

Felipe Nunes: If Danny Way’s invention of a new way of skating via the MegaRampTM was enough to merit the only really justified SOTY repeat, Felipe Nunes’ feats in his ‘Limitless’ vid this year should earn similar consideration. On the theoretical pro skater character sheet Felipe Nunes’ ability ratings for power, confidence and creativity all would be maxed out — he hits famed street gaps and rails, throws an above-the-coping 540, spins a backside 360 onto a rail and finds approaches spots that traditionally legged pros wouldn’t be able to manage, like on the moistened film-roll QP. The shot of this dude climbing a fence is impressive all by itself.

Evan Smith: Getting yourself arrested in the process of securing a Thrasher cover photo hopefully provides an obligatory pass to at least the semi-final rounds of Skater O The Year consideration, even if being passed over for several years running may not. At this point in Evan Smith’s wide-eyed, grime-caked and bandy-legged career it’s easy to forget that in the early going with Element.com he could’ve gone the energy drink and contest circuit route, versus the somewhat less well-trod path involving dog shit eating and kickflip wallriding on glass walls. This year of the Ox hasn’t been Evan Smith’s heaviest in terms of output, but his ‘Uma Landsleds’ section had one of the longest noseslide to backside tailslide combos in recent history, a nollie inward heelflip steered calmly into GX territory and one of just a few Clipper lines to involve a kickflip down the first set. Evan Smith doesn’t come off like a campaigner but does have the talent and seemingly boundless energy to release some other vid before the month is out.

Mark Suciu: After the torrid pace of 2019 and the mental torture involved in completing his landmark ‘Verso’ project, the comparatively lower stakes of a sub-5 minute vid for some custom-colored Gazelles look good on perennial most-talented-skateboarder-on-planet-earth candidate Mark Suciu. A little bit more of an upbeat song helps too, making him look a little looser flipping his way across those Bay Area and New York waterfronts, exuding PJ Ladd flatground energy til he runs out of cobblestones. With Mark Suciu nearly every project has some trick it seems like you haven’t seen before, like the backside tailslide to 5-0 to pivot around at Pier 7 and the backside tailslide to backside tailslide in this one, and there are some flashes of ‘hammer Suciu,’ like the switch 5-0 and the big switch frontside 360. As far as Skater of the Year, he sounded fairly over it as per his ‘Nine Club’ appearance, but he also mentioned having a couple other videos more or less in the can.

Five Multicoloured And Trademarked Rings To Rule Them All: Live From The Sofitel

August 5, 2021

On Alaska’s storm-wracked southern coast, between glaciers, fish canneries and mountains jutting from the frigid sea, there shivers a dab of concrete. With a playground to one side, RV park to the other, the narrow mini ramp, flat-barred pyramid and handful of other obstacles of the Seward skatepark get hit up four, maybe five months before the first of the year’s six feet of snow begins to fly; there is one road out of the 2,800-person town and the nearest skate shop is 130 miles away. Brief as a subartic wildflower’s bloom, maybe, but skateboarding in 2021 reaches here, one of the earth’s ends.

Across the ocean and beyond what have come to be knowed as the Straits of Godzilla, skateboarding has thumped up against another frontier. “Now it’s their time to join the greatest show on earth,” a Brit announcer declared upon the opening of last summer’s most anticipated contest, and by any measure the most expensive — the Tokyo Olympics, or “Big O,” that $30 billion, exclusively licensed and endorsed celebration of humanity’s ultimate physical achievements, available for ad-enabled streaming on the country-approved viewing device that is always by your side, sleek comfort in this bacteria season. Another long-passed showman is said to have declared a sucker born every minute; Japan seemed to wish the whole affair had been axed altogether. For the International Olympic Committee, which itself stands to pocket around $5 billion thanks in part to the participation of Yotu Horigome, Nyjah Huston, Leticia Bufoni, Alexis Sablone and others, it is merely a way-station en route to the next deep-pocketed city willing to divert tens of billions to erect a suitable, perhaps disposable soundstage suitable for the organization’s next televised engagement.

A wet pop, a sly come-hither stare, the jingle of gold pieces in a swollen gunny sack — all these are hallmarks of our human moment. In ancient days, these “Olympik Gamesons” swaggered through honeydewed midsummer festivals and the starvation crucibles of bitter’st winter alike, combatants tearing limbs free from respected opponents, marrow swilled, the ancient rites observed. These modern games, convened in the grasp of a planetwide pestilence, hardly are different. In the end, the Olympic Skateboarding Game Event has been… another contest. A day-glo, somewhat overgrown course that inevitably congealed into a handrail-centric hammer-measuring exercise, under the sun’s baking stare. Pros, slyly flashing those board graphics for that O-sized photo incentive. Behind the announcing din, snatches of skate video soundtracks. Tampa Am was mentioned.

Absorbing and calculating the Olympical frame requires setting all of this aside — unfocusing the eyes, breathing, adopting the uninitiateds’ vision, just off work, pouring a cup of goat’s milk and digesting — what? The top of some skateboard, yellow, blaring “SHAKE JUNT.” Speak the language — commentators largely dispensing with attempts to identify and name each trick, breathlessly instead, “Yuto doing what Yuto does.” “The greatest frontside flip that will ever be done.” There are passing stabs at the byzantine scoring system, no matter — the higher the number, the better to tickle the camera-bearing drones and impassively masked, lanyard-draped spectators. Between jumping, spinning and falling (from Twitter: the world’s best, these are?) young faces and unkempt hair step off the ramps, proffering Samsung electronic devices, light beer, community building on Facebook. In the heat of the final heat, these airpodded disciples of Greg Lutzka’s celebratory finger-snaps bob their heads, hitch up their committee-approved tank tops, take a few pushes and, “LET’S GOOOOO”

The feeling runs deeper when you’re ripping on behalf of your nation, or at least trying not to draw the ire of the powered brass and unelected punditry. Sincerities in those IG apologies to entire countries where, in the past (or present) attempting these Olympic-type feats beyond the presanctioned zones could catch you a ticket, a night in jail, a court date. You see Tony Hawk in a Nike dad polo amble onto ESPN, hiking his pants to show off shinners and ambassadoring among sportscaster hosts who talk of “unbelievable drive” and seem like maybe they get it?

Yes: Inspiring to see Alexis Sablone, of ‘PJ Ladd’s Wonderful, Horrible Life,’ of MIT, of Alltimers, in her mid-30s kickflip 50-50 a big hubba on global TV. Funa Nakayama frontside crooked grinding a 12-stair handrail in a contest run, sheesh. Aurélien Giraud whipping out a hardflip backside lipslide on the gap to rail, achieving international hearthrob status. Pedro Barros, bleached blond and green, barreling and blasting through these Tokyo bowls.

Skateboard industry magnates years ago ceded their governance aspirations to a decades-old rollerskating organization so that the International Olympic Committee could improve its multibillion-dollar event’s appeal to networks and advertisers targeting young consumers and their disposable incomes. Is it working? The IOC has trumpeted the unique eyeballs attuned to skateboarding and surfing, though in context these seem like medals for highest pressure flip: The US, the IOC’s biggest market, is delivering the lowest viewership in 33 years, and ratings sag across Europe too. Prime time coverage is averaging about half that of the 2016 Rio Olympiads, leaving broadcasters to offer bonus spots to disgruntled advertisers. Tokyo’s hospitality industry sunk $14 billion into Olympic-ready accommodations, now rewarded by the Covid-19 Delta variant and half a million cancellations. Japan ponied up for a new stadium, plus a state of the art swimmin hole, gymnastics gym and badminton complex; you already know what happens next. Whereas hosting the Olympics usually costs host cities and countries nearly three times more than budgeted, the Tokyo ones are running around 400% higher.

The International Olympic Committee itself seems likely to do okay, standing to make an estimated $3 billion to $5 billion from television rights alone. Then again, the IOC has had a tough run over the last few decades. There was the bribery scandal around the 2002 winter Olympics in Salt Lake City that allegedly included tuition, violins and plastic surgery. There were the charges that the Olympics looked the other way on China’s crackdowns on protests and press freedom around the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and forced evictions in Rio de Janiero to construct the venues for the 2016 competitions. There also was the apparent 2014 Russian state-sponsored doping program, reportedly overseen by the country’s intelligence agency. The Tokyo Olympics got dealt a corruption scandal before the contests were even postponed last year, with watches and cameras allegedly passed out to secure votes for the city’s hosting bid.

And the skaters? Medal-getters stand to be paid handsomely, by skate-contest standards, even by the most relatively tightfisted countries. For skateboarders the world over, the industry heads who make their livings selling and marketing skateboard and skateboard-adjacent products and services promise that there will be benefits both fringe and tangible. Vague respect of one’s schoolmates or secular coworkers, perhaps, an animated dissection of the athletic benefits from Nyjah Huston-style short shorts at the next neighborhood barbecue. If nothing else, bro, think of the parks that will be built; more prefabricated obstacles, the better to practice, nicer fences.

Tony Hawk’s adage went that the Olympics needed skateboarding more than skateboarding needed the Olympics, and it was true as far as that went. But that presumed the question of whether, not when, Olympic-sanctioned skateboarding events would be offered to broadcast networks and advertisers. It is beyond the parameters of a weblogging internet site to pontificate on whether or how the shot-putters of the world would get on without the Olympics, or the long-jumpers and pole vaulters. The Olympics backed Skatistan, and medal-powered winnings presumably will provide Benzes and other luxury goods to certain of the contest skating class, maybe. On Alaska’s pebbly fringe, though, no Olympic largesse was needed to sketch out the mini ramp. Skateboarding, in its handful of decades of life, of its own accord already has penetrated Brazilian favelas, pushed through the Iron Curtain, east Africa, Mongolia, Peoria, Siberia.

Were the oft-obstructed Olympic long lens shots a quiet tribute to the ominous video style of the now-defunct Numbers Edition? Will a pickup in sales of Yuto pro models for April offset Shane O’Neill himself missing out on an Olympic medal payoff? Being honest would Jereme Rogers have won all this shit if this was ’06? What new spots will emerge once the newly built Tokyo venues fall vacant in a few weeks’ time? Which drew a bigger audience of U.S. skaters, the Olympics or the Dipset/Lox Verzuz? Should Fat Joe really just have brought himself out at the Verzuz?

SCOTUS, FAWWEnt, And The Supreme Trials of Jason Dill

May 5, 2019

Jason Dill is in the news again, preparing to open a new, Hollywood-located retail outlet location for physically vending Fucking Awesome and Hockey gear to queue-friendly currencyholders, in an arid desert climate. Elsewhere, the FA squad girds for possible Olympic podium representation via Louie Lopez’s at-last confirmed jump from a Flip team that’s suddenly looking weirdly middle-aged, in skate years. And Jason Dill hisself, celebrated and dissected in a recent glossy magazine profile that presents a relatively domesticated chapter in a tumultuous and well-worn life, provided he’s not sweating beneath the galactically-sized expectations laid upon him by GQ:

He is a titan of influence in skateboarding. Every trick he’s done, every outfit he’s worn, and all of the crazy stories that make up the Jason Dill mythology are crucial entries in the skate canon. That influence began when he was just a kid in Huntington Beach, California, and extends soundly, unwaveringly into 2019. Dill’s style—his tricks, his attitude, his clothes, hell, his visage—is foundational to what skateboarding is today.

Were it an ‘Epicly Later’d’ or ‘Nine Club,’ the tension might be cut here with a wet belch or other affectation emanated bodily by Jason Dill. But this is a world of legal sawmills and customized financial derivatives, where each strategic step is more precarious than the last and could end in a volcano’s fiery maw. The pressure is tangible because it’s real: 3,000 miles to the east, the fate of Jason Dill’s holdings may rest inside the rich mahogany chambers of the highest court in tha land.

You see, it turns out that Fuct, the alternative t-shirt supplier known for spreading silkscreened exhortations such as ‘RAVERS SUCK’ during a certain portion of the early 1990s, for years has been lowkey locked in a legal tussle with Uncle Sam, who so far has refused to extend his sturdy cobblestone walls of federal intellectual property protections around the barony of Fuct. This has created any number of problems for the Fuct group managers and equityholders, specifically in the form of 100% cotton-wielding pirates focused on knocking off Fuct merchandise for their own illicit profits and pleasures. While carefully dancing around audibly pronunciating the company’s name, lettered lawmen for both Fuct and the US last month sparred over whether federal trademark protections shall be applied to a brand name that Justice Dept lawyers have determined to be scandalous and unworthy of protective legal shields afforded to more buttoned-down clothiers such as Ocean Pacific and Bugle Boy and Big Johnson. The government argues that, while having extended trademark protection to PG-13 brandings including ‘FUBAR’ and various ‘crap’ iterations, the f-bomb is a bridge too far; Fuct’s lawyers counter that they’re not trying to put up Fuct billboards and hardly anybody considers ‘fuck’ truly offensive these days anyways.

While Supreme Justices ponder these arguments, it is this shifty patch of regulatory sand upon which Jason Dill has staked Fucking Awesome’s fortunes. Though American IP defenders may strike a more confident pose around the more prime-time network friendly FA Worldwide Ent varietal, it is the Hulked-out, admittedly ‘dumbest,’ glaringly profane moniker to which Jason Dill and AVE hitched their uncertain sojourn from Dayton, OH what already seems like so many years ago, and which continues to sell $40 t-shirts and graphically decorated premium sweatpants. For Jason Dill, reared in the World camps of the 1990s, Fuct’s travails in the USA legal system is a path he ought to know well: Trademark missteps forced Kareem Campbell to abandon Menace and MNC before briefly stopping off at All City prior to City Stars. Bitch skateboards’ earlier, briefer run and vanishment may or may not have had much to do with trademark challenges, but these probably ensure that Sal Rocco Jr isn’t getting paid off the remarkably resilient Japanese knock-offs. And widespread bootlegging may help to explain why Girl was never able to fully capitalize off its VHS stereo-ready ‘SHT Sound’ innovations.

Is Jason Dill’s high-stakes devotion to a difficult-to-trademark brand name a keep-it-skate act of defiance, a subconscious act of self-sabotage, or some rich and creamy mixture of both? Might fat boxes of reseller-ready Supreme judicial robes help sway a critical SCOTUS majority in FA’s favor? Could an FA/Hockey/Supreme teamrider, well-trained by Fat Bill’s lens in steely stare-downs, make a wordless, slightly intimidating and ultimately victorious argument in defense of the FA intellectual property portfolio to skeptical justices?