It is that time of year again, the second round of World Round Up Online Showdown has officially been announced along with another season of virtual distance races through the IDSA. So, I went from no big skate goals to two very different competitions. One a contest in which you have to learn a specific routine and the other a series of races (both long and short) in which the goal is just to go go go.
Last year I was able to use the distance skating as a way to refresh my skateboarding after getting so trick specific for the freestyle contest. I plan on doing the same thing this year, and I'm looking forward to both very much.
Of course, this year I will be riding a more normal (for freestyle) board in the WRU. After much consideration, I've decided to ride a single kick freestyle board. For what I want to do in my run this year, I think that is the right set up. Currently, the board I'm riding is a Mode Mike Rogers single kick. I've considered a couple other deck choices, but I'm holding off on getting anything new until I really get used to a single kick and get a feeling for what I might like different. I may just stick with the Mike Rogers. Honestly, I don't know.
Last year's run, on the longboard, was very slow and methodical. That was dictated by both the size of the board and the desire to have a completely clean run. While I want to have a clean run again this year (I won't settle for step offs when I can film the run as many times as I'd like), I'm choosing a much smaller board so I can do more with it during the run. And I've gone single kick because I want a very 80s influence to the run. That isn't to say I'm only going to do traditional 80s freestyle...well, I have to keep some things under my hat until I produce the video.
I've found a couple musical options that I think will suit what I'm trying to do. I just have to fix the routine to one of the songs, but that will take some time and experimentation.
The runs are only one minute this year. I knew that was going to upset some of the pros. I even got into a discussion online with Lillis about it. Normally, I don't comment on anything that could end of being a debate. It is a waste of time to debate people on Facebook. Nobody is going to change their minds (neither of us did, by the way).
Here is the deal (as I keep the debate going):
Online video viewers have a 60 second attention span. This isn't my opinion. This is just the way it is with online content. Why? Because you can click away at any moment, and we are trained well to click away at the first sign of boredom. I know this not just because I clicked on a website describing it, but because I am one of those people that will click away if I don't see what interests me.
And I know my run was boring last year. I know because I can't make it through my own run. I get bored at my own skating. I get bored by most people's skating. In-person skating is a totally different animal. I can watch another person, in-person, skate for minutes at a time. When in-person I can see the effort. I can better see the concentration they're putting into the skating. I can feel the run.
On video I can't see it the same way.
And I commented that, "Unless you're a really amazing skater who is ticking off all the proverbial boxes and I'm absolutely enamored with your skills, I get about a minute into your run and skip ahead when watching YouTube or Instagram videos. . ."
I think the pros, because of their advanced skills, think they tick all of those boxes precisely because of those skills. The truth is, most do not. We all have what we're into and, honestly, if you veer off what I'm into, I'm trained to scroll down. I might even click the heart because I know you're proud of what you've accomplished, but I will still scroll down before I see you finish your 15 second clip. I've wondered if my clicking of the Insta-heart is disingenuous or not if I don't watch the full clip, and I guess it kind of is, but it really is just a white lie. I do like the effort put in. I do like being proud of what you've accomplished. It is just that what you have accomplished isn't my cup of tea. I still like that you've accomplished what is your cup of tea.
The World Round Up organizers understand that to both keep the shows short and keep people's attention, they have to keep the runs short. For me, I'm good with that because I understand online content and the dwindling attention span. That isn't to say I don't understand the complaints. I recently told my son that I consider a large sign of a person's intelligence to be how well they can understand both sides of an argument. And I understand both sides of this one. They believe the 1 minute run won't allow for them to build a traditionally complete routine showing progression between various elements and building between tricks with footwork. And they're right. That's why, as I suggested, you can't think of it as a traditional freestyle run.
Me? I'm looking it as a video part done in one camera shot in one space. I'm looking at it as a 1 minute homage to what I love about skateboarding and its history as I see it. I have one minute so I have to pick out only what I love the most and combine it with what the judges are looking for. Will I leave a lot out? Yes. Does that matter? Not really. One minute is not a true reflection on who I am after skating for 40 years. It can be a one minute glimpse at what I love about skating, and that is exactly what I plan to do. A 1 minute glimpse into what I love about skateboarding.
Seb Pex and Denham Hill (via Terror Firma) have launched a little Instagram contest combining a footplant trick and a step-off trick. How perfect!
Since I'm an old 80s street skater I have tons of step off tricks, and I have litereally worn out my current deck practicing caspers over and over again. So, all I've been posting to Instagram for the last week, have been step off/casper combos. I was in the middle of coming up with my WRU online challenge run, and this has given me something else to think about...and has upped my casper game big time.
Will, I win the contest?
I have no idea, but that's not really the point, is it?
The point is to push yourself in new and different directions as a skateboarder. I have been perfectly content to do the same couple of caspers over and over as I get them dialed in for the WRU, but this has me doing rail to caspers, caspers off the opposite leg, and even has me wondering what casper I should attempt for the next day. I've even learned a new casper (no comply half fingerflip to casper).
Add in that I've done my first 360 boneless in forever and win or lose, this contest has been great for my skateboarding.
If you follow my Instagram account you'll know that Covid ended my skate everyday quest at day 71. You'll also know that I didn't test positive for Coronavirus, but it was the side effects of the second dose of vaccine that caused me to stay in bed for a couple days. I had a fever over 100 degrees, chills, headaches (which plagued me for almost two full weeks), and extreme fatigue which kept me off a skateboard and kept me from working out for a couple days.
Here's the thing about that:
I'm glad I didn't succeed. In truth, making sure I step foot on a skateboard everyday was getting a little old, and since we were only one fifth of the way through the year, I knew it was going to get annoying by mid-year.
As a nearly 50 year old man, my life is full of responsibilities. Those responsibilities supersede skateboarding. Besides a full time job, I have a family that takes priority. Some days skateboarding is exactly what I need if I'm stressed. Other days I might just need to spend that time with my wife sans skateboard. If I made my living off of skateboarding it would be a different story, but I don't. So, turning skating into an obligation added a little hint of stress that I didn't need to add. Skating is most definitely my release from stress not a stressor.
I've gone a bit the other direction these days. I've stopped posting freestyle clips entirely for a minute. I'm just sharing a few photos (with a curb clip or two) right now. There is a specific reason for that. That reason is that I am currently in practice mode. I have a funny feeling that the WRU (now that word is it will be online again this year) is going to be much more competitive, and I want to improve on my 5th place finish. That means practicing the same tricks over and over again. Yesterday I did fakie 180 caspers for thirty minutes straight. It destroyed my shoes and got frustrating, but by the end of the session I was working that trick into footwork in a way I couldn't going into the session.
It is amazing how doing something stressful can make you feel less stressed, isn't it?! Lifting weights does the same thing for me. It puts this stress on my body that seems to relieve the previous stresses after the act is over. Anyway, I feel this post is starting to ramble so I'll call it a day.
I've now had the opportunity to shop at both Snow Skateshop and The Springdale Groove. I made purchases at both locations, and i enjoyed the experiences. I thought I'd give my thoughts on both shops and give a little information on why I've chosen to shop at one over the other.
I purchased an Ishod Real complete with Tensors and F4 97a wheels on my visit to Snow. The service was friendly, and the stock was a pretty decent selection for decks, trucks, and wheels. I actually went in wanting to only buy a deck and trucks, but ended up getting a fresh, new complete.
Snow followed me on Instagram after I purchased my complete there (I tagged them in my first post skating the new board), but they have unfollowed me at some point. I can only suppose they weren't interested in me or my skating. That was a little disappointing.
I went to The Groove after driving to Snow on a Sunday afternoon and finding them to be closed. I decided to drive the extra 25 minutes into Springdale and check out our other local shop because I don't get many afternoons clear and free to go to skateshops and I really was interested in picking up a set of wheels a touch harder than the 97a F4.
I walked into The Groove and was immediately greeted by someone that handed me a Bones patch and asked if I wanted it. "Sure," I said as I started looking around the store. It had a cool mixture of products. A Dogtown Bigfoot hanging next to an Andy Anderson caught my attention so I went over to check them both out. I really dig AA after last year's WRU. Those of you that watched the broadcast on Braille may recall that AA and Mike Osterman did the commentary while I skated. I still think that is pretty cool.
Anyway, back to The Groove. After a little browsing, I asked about 56mm wheel choices and they pointed out what they had. I chose some 99a STF (I'd been interested in trying them as well as the F4). I made my purchase, and after a little small talk, I left.
I went back again to The Groove as I drove back from visiting my kiddo in Memphis a couple Sundays ago. I had been pondering this year's World Round Up. If you follow this blog you know I decided to enter last year and to ride a longboard in it. I took 5th place in Master's am riding a 40 inch Globe longboard. I was the only person in the entire competition riding a longboard, but I think I could have done better were I riding a more traditionally sized skateboard. There were so many tricks that didn't translate well from freestyle board to longboard. For instance, a rolling fingerflip doesn't really work on a longboard. I'd have to have an arm twice as long as mine just to feel comfortable. Instead of rolling fingerflips, I do rolling no comply fingerflips on a longboard, but I didn't want to get too longboard dance oriented. I wanted the run to stay pretty traditional freestyle focused. My next year run will be very different, but I'll tell about that in another post.
I have recently decided to ride a Sam/Bryce handmade Life Skateboard in the WRU this year. I really like both guys (we've been online friends for many years now) and if this year's contest gets similar coverage it might give them some decent exposure for their brand. I also decided I wanted a slightly smaller/harder wheel for this Life deck. On my second trip to The Groove I found a set of 54mm 101a OJs that have now been installed on my Life deck, I'm ready for this year's WRU.
The next post will talk about beginning my process of getting ready for the World Round Up Online Showdown. I hear it is virtual again this year so I am going to start planning my run and making sure I have all my tricks ready.
Everyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I'm really into working out. I do resistance training at least 5 days a week and a bunch of mobility work etc...
I don't generally discuss that stuff on here much since this is, after all, a skateboard blog. However, I just realized something this morning that I wanted to mention. I've been trying to figure out why I don't squat well. After getting some bad internet advice, I have been trying to squat with feet and knees as straight out from my body as possible. This week I realized why I've been having knee pain issues and why I can't squat even a 90 degree angle.
After searching and searching for answers, I found some interesting videos that exposed the bad (possibly damaging) advice I had gotten. My body, my hip joint to be more precise, is built so that I need to turn my knees outward when I squat. We are all different so how in the world could we all squat the same. I'll save you all the conversation on why this is since I am not an expert and will probably, when doing this from memory, get terms incorrect and look like a fool.
This revelation also made me think about skateboarding. For instance, I've wanted to do boneless to nose blunt forever, but have never been able to twist my body into the correct position to do it. I started thinking about knee and hip positions on that trick and realized that, unless I am able to make some kind of changes to the trick, my body's mechanics may keep me from doing them. And, in fact, that may be the case in a variety of tricks that require me to squat low on the board (gray slides come to mind). So, now I wait for the sun to come out, temperatures to rise, and the snow to melt so I can start experimenting with tricks that require me to squat low and how I can adapt them to my body mechanics.
It his hard to improve when you have no room to roll. Last week we had days of ice which, yesterday, were replaced with hours and hours of snowfall. The temperatures are about 15 degrees below freezing, and that means not much skate time or space. I'm forced into the garage, and my sessions are forced to be very short.
As some of you know from my Instagram feed, I am attempting to skate everyday in 2021. Of course, rain and snow makes it difficult to get out and session. So, I've been stepping into the garage, getting a quick clip and calling it a day during these sub-freezing, icy, and snowy days.
Being unable to get out of the house does have a few benefits:
I have more workout time. I have gotten into mobility work in addition to resistance training and stretching, and being at home has given me extra time to move. I've really focused on fixing issues from hip to toes. However, while I'm making sure to get my workouts in, being stuck at home makes for a lot of bad eating temptations so I'm probably adding a couple pounds of fat during this hibernation. Being at home also allows for rest/recovery. Skating everyday on top of working out means the body needs to rest (especially a middle-age body). Mid-afternoons spent relaxing is a change from my usual work routine when I'm on my feet for hours on end.
Catching up on skate videos is another perk. For the first time in a long time (years) I'm even checking in on modern skateboarding. Normally, I am a creature of nostalgia. I have a fondness for the fun of simple tricks. A boneless on a bank, freestyle footwork, and simple grinds on curbs are the basis of my skateboarding. However, I'm watching some of this technical stuff and I'm thinking about giving some of it a shot.
I also have time to work on balance and skate without wheels. I'm working on wheelies on the softruck board and I'm watching videos of tricks I have seen for years but never done and working out the mechanics of those tricks. Slowing down Youtube is a great way to look at the mechanics of a trick and see exactly what is happening. That is exactly how I learned street plants. I never did them as a kid so, when I decided I wanted to do them, I put a Youtube video on .25 speed, watched the movements, and practiced on carpet.
Stay safe in this cold weather!
For those of you that haven't seen it, Street Survival, a how-to street skateboard video produced in the late 80's, it is a YouTube search away. As soon as you finish reading this blog, search it out. It is so terribly 80's that it is wonderful.
The skating in this video shows the real roots of street. Street skating isn't "founded by Mullen" the way people claim. It is founded on three things in equal proportions:
1. Vert/bowl/ditch skating without any vert/bowl/ditch to skate. This is how the slappy was born. This is how boardslides on curbs were born.
2. Freestyle. Notice that I'm not saying Rodney Mullen. In this video we see classic freestyle done on vert sized boards.
3. Skating in the street. Just going out and riding a skateboard on the streets and sidewalks of the country...you know, how skateboarding started in the first place.
Anyway, Street Survival is excellent for non-ollie based street/curb/flat ground skating. It inspired my Saturday morning parking block session, and I'm going to make it a point to delve into this style of street skating more often. Boneless tricks. Early grab to curb bashers. Freestyle on bigger boards (which is most of my skating anyway). This stuff is great.
Today will mark my 30th day in a row to skate. Some days have been very brief lines of a trick or two (my wedding anniversary, for instance). Other days have been full sessions at a skatepark.
The other instagram based project I am doing is related to physical fitness. Fitness is something most of you that visit this blog know I'm very interested in. In addition to my chronicling a skate every single day, I'm doing a short clip of an exercise every single day this year. The exercises are a mixed bag of stretches, resistance bands, weights (coming soon), and mobility.
Sharing 365 different exercises got me thinking about how many different skate tricks I could share in a year. There are so many different tricks I've spend time on over the years that I forget about. I thought it would be fun to take reach into the bag and take some of those out again. I mean, I really enjoy doing things like walk the cows and I challenged myself with backwards walk the dogs for so long, but I rarely ever do them. Plus, I need to keep learning new tricks, and I can use this as an additional inspiration to learn new things.
As far as skating goes, I'm continuing to ride my 8.0 board as a daily rider. In fact, I have a new 8" Paige (board maker based in Arkansas) due to come in later today. I took the skids off my Ishod Wair deck and it has worn out incredibly quickly from doing freestyle trick on it. I'm going back to skid plates. I took them off for ollie and tail slide purposes, but in truth I don't ollie much and do tail slides even less.
I recently started coining myself as a "low skater." By that I meant I stay low to the ground on my board. It was an off the cuff remark, but it fits. I don't have the desire to drop in from above 4 or 5 feet. I don't have the desire to fly down a flight of stairs. I want to challenge myself with freestyle footwork and flat ground skating and hit a few curbs here and there. I want to do some wheelies and maybe work up to a few manuals. I want to push myself but I understand that pushing myself at nearly 50 is very different from pushing myself at 15, 25, or even 35. But it doesn't mean I can't continue to push. It just means pushing in a different way.
One day I'm talking about ballet classes and turning. The next I'm street skating, doing slappies, and trying to land blunt fingerflips to axle on a curb.
I am a walking (skating) oxymoron.
In truth I miss street and park skating. So, I'm street and park skating. Will it last? Who know.
Just get out and skate. Do whatever is fun. Here are yesterday's clips:
The train wreck that was 2020 is finally over, and a new year has finally begun. Unfortunately, up here in Northwest Arkansas, the new year has been ushered in with snow and freezing temps which has put me in the garage for any skating for the first couple days of the year. The sun is out this morning so hopefully I'll get a little time in at my normal spot today. But, before I go skating, I wanted to touch on the past year and the year to come.
Last year, purely from a skateboarding perspective, was pretty great for me. I got fifth in the World Round-Up Online Showdown, and I improved my trick skating and my footwork quite a bit.
I also, admittedly, got a little bored with freestyle and the lack of turning involved. As most of you know, freestyle skaters are known for riding tight trucks, and I have been guilty of the same. I've spent time trying to figure out how to get my trucks tighter without cranking down on the kingpin nut. I've bought tons of different bushings looking for the tightest possible combination.
But the lack of turning got boring. Skating is, essentially (for me anyway),rolling and turning on a skateboard, and I was missing the leaning, turning, pumping I had enjoyed for so long. So, I decided to change my freestyle into something much less. . .well, much less freestyle. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've left traditional freestyle behind. I've loosed my trucks and opted for soft wheels. I'm turning and gliding more than tictacking. I'm even moving to different non-skate exercises to try and improve my turning, gliding balance. The last ten minutes of every off the board workout has been dedicated to ballet/barre exercises, and I've incorporated a ton of yoga into my daily routine.
Where will all this lead? I'm not really sure. I know I'm moving in a very "87 Dreams of a Lifetime" direction. I'm practicing backwards pumping. I'm doing dancer pose (the yoga pose) while carving a turn. I've realized that a flamingo is just a back scale from gymnastics on a skateboard. I'm tying things together. However, I don't think losing surf and skate style is the way to do it. Gesmer, in "87 Dreams of a Lifetime" left behind traditional skateboard style and surf style and moved so far into figure skating and ballet that it wasn't relatable to the people that were watching it...
...I'm rambling. There is a method to my madness these days, but no clear defined ending point. I know what I don't want to do, but I'm not sure what I'm looking to accomplish. We shall see where 2021 leads.
Two thing I'm doing this year are everyday challenges. I'm skating (and posting a clip/picture) every single day in 2021. I'm also posting something similar from a workout perspective. I will do some form of exercise everyday for the year and post a clip or pic of it everyday.