“Skateboarding is now 1 step away from the Olympics,” Ride Channel mystics pronounced this week, with all the hollow reservation of an over-the-hill fighter demanding through spat-out teeth and blood to be put in for another round, and all the limp-necked surrender to be revealed in a fistful of counterfeit blimp tickets. This pursuit, once the domain of renegades, outcasts and losers, now is not called but rather ordered up to the big leagues, its youthsome mettle having proven a fuel too valuable for ratings-hungry sponsors to let sit unburned for another decade while the Olympics’ viewership virility flags. The 80s gave, the 90s took away, the 00s gave back — to some — and though a declining number of hard-good consumers and an ever-thickening stew of bootstrappy board companies slicing thinner and thinner pie wedges to share amongst independent and multinational competitors alike, skateboarding’s talismanic powers to restore youth, when its bones are ground into a fine powder and snorted through a €100 bill, have become impossible for the Olympics to ignore.
It is difficult to envision Olympic podiums, matching uniforms and the brassy pomp of various national anthems when Ryan Garshell, Yonnie Cruz, Al Davis, Brian Delatorre, and Jake Johnson are battling irate homeowners, ditching cops, spraying graffiti and barreling crossways into traffic in the bracing and much-awaited ‘GX1000’ vid. Like the ‘Sabotage’ series emanating from the other coast this vid seems less about polishing tricks and placing them on a pedestal for admiration than hunting them through hills and alleys, wrestling them to the ground and cutting notches in the belt after wiping any blades clean of blood let by both parties. The way they let the hill bombs run out with no music has an intensity impossible to concoct with slow-motion drone filmography, and its montage structuring is refreshingly dense, difficult to digest in even a few watches how tech Yonnie Cruz gets in those hills or the burliness of Al Davis’ wallies or all the things Brian Delatorre can do at crazy speed, setting aside the added challenge of having the police, the homeless, and various powers of SF-dwelling Silicon Valleyites arrayed against them.
And yet several planes of existence above, the Olympics may not be so different. Marauding from country to country, city to city, this nationless entity allegedly flouts rules, stokes anger and resentment among locals and from time to time gets kicked out. Some would argue the Olympics embraces a ‘skate and destroy’-like ethos as it briefly sessions municipalities and leaves economic and structural wreckage behind. The Olympics meanwhile cashes its endorsement checks, immortalizes its achievements on high-performance video media, and looks for the next spot.
Should skateboarders, rather than fearing and loathing the Olympics’ crass pyrotechnics and ferocious currency-dealing apparati, embrace it as a spiritual partner in lawlessness amid a more existential battle against local, state and perhaps federal authority figures as well as various other haters? Could Yonnie Cruz handle one of those abandoned Sarajevo ski jumps and bobsled tracks? Switch? Will a future Olympics judging panel be forced to review the GX1000 files as a reference point for tricks that Jake Johnson previously has proven are possible to be wallied into? Did the Cool Runnings dudes pass a test detecting drugs capable of enhancing performance and/or reality? What about Yonnie Cruz’s switch backside 360 tho?