Posts Tagged ‘New York Times’

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 struggling to process this news, several concerned parties plan to get reincarnated as grackles and deposit droppings on Shaun White’s Lambo as a form of avian vengeance from beyond the grave. Login “grackle”, password “gracklezrule2005”

The Savvy Consumer

October 19, 2008


Built to shred

The paper of record has skateboarding on the brain lately–witness their somewhat puzzling eulogy for Van Wastell the other day, mining blogs including our good friends at You Will Soon for reaction to the sad news. (Is that better or worse form than lifting man-on-the-street comments from message boards? Not sure…)

A few weeks prior to that, in a lighter take on the woodpushing realm, the Gray Lady turned her gaze toward the still-lucrative skate shoe industry, pursuing the question of why skateboarders gravitate toward easily destroyed footwear.* Which is of course an offshoot of the bigger question, are skateboarders really just a pack of idiots?

(BTO advises against pondering this question whilst perusing the TWS messageboards or watching that ESPN show where they show slams for a solid half-hour.)

NYT fashion/style reporter Justin Porter takes a meandering path through the usual fashion/function argument, and he’s sophisticated enough to note the structure of Etnies’ corporate umbrella and the business nuances of flow programs, while staying inclusive enough to take the obligatory editorial stab at articulating trick physics to the Joe Plumbers of the world: “The skateboard revolved slowly under his feet and seemed to freeze for a moment, waiting for gravity to catch up. Then the skater’s back foot flicked the board, and again it spun. He landed with a satisfying thump and rode away.”

I promise one (1) satisfying thump to the first person who can identify what trick Mr. Porter is describing there. Shove-it late back foot flip? Those hot at Tompkins this summer?

Anyway, later in the article none other than Mike Vallely shows up to flex flower-child poetics: When skateboarders looks down at their feet, “they need to feel a vibe there.” “[T]here had to be a way to move away from a subculture within a subculture.” (?)

Meanwhile industry sausage-makers weigh in on the import of the Lupe Fiascos and Pharrell Williamses of the world in financing DC execs’ boat payments, and eventually we return to the story’s central point–in Mr. Porter’s words, “Skateboarders know that they will quickly destroy their footwear, but still don’t always seek shoes that are indestructible.”

And here, in the final three paragraphs, Mr. Porter pretty much nails it: “Indestructible” shoes, which have been tried before, tend to look like shit. And despite the best efforts of the worlds’ mightiest shoe minds, such an indestructible shoe has yet to be devised, much less devised in any kind of aesthetically pleasing way.

I don’t know if function vs. fashion is the right way to look at it anyway. I mean, the Yosiris-led tech shoe era produced unmatched innovation, as Peter Smolik and Scott Pazelt proved once and for all in “The Storm.” Jerry Hsu skated D3s for crying out loud.

So while Emerica and Vans battle for the most minimalist silhouette on the runway, we’ve got Reynolds in the lab working on a better mousetrap and Es nervously hoping the pendulum swings back toward the moon boot. And maybe in another five years we’ll be shaking our heads, wondering how we took those 30-step drops clad only in stretch denim and waffle soles, while we Shoe Goo up some new $120 space-age Rodney Mullen construction.

*Note the Softrucks on the board in the mini-ramp photo accompanying the article.