Post WRU life included a little unplanned vacation from skating. I got sick (tested negative for Covid) and had to take a little time off of my board. Coming back after a couple weeks off was a little rough for a couple days, but things came back around and I've been skating everyday ever since.
I've been messing around with some different board sizes. I hopped on my tiny Decomposed Kevin Harris, messed around with the Life 8.1 and, finally, I've been riding an 8.75 Mini Logo. The Mini Logo is interesting because it has soft-ish bushings that turn enough to be pumpable. I'm probably going to set it up with softer wheels (90a for a starter) and see about mixing some cruising/carving and freestyle together. It brings me back to my childhood. Turning and cruising and spinning 360s about 40 years ago. I want to take my flatland skating in "turnier" direction but don't want to give up the freestyle footwork I've grown to love so much. Ah, the joy of experimenting.
A Side Note:
Sfter thinking a lot about it, I'm dedicating myself more to this blog in the next few months. Look for more posts about what is going on in the skate world (Olympics etc...) and some stuff about my shop sponsor, Groove.
Summer is, by far, my favorite time of the year. I've always loved skating in the heat, and I love that it can rain for thirty minutes, but the concrete is dry less than two hours later and I can skate.
Now that the World Round Up Online Showdown is over the next project becomes getting my part ready for the next NeverWas Skateboarding video. For those of you don't know, Luchaskate used to be a blog, 'zine, podcast, publisher, and Facebook Group. Running all of these different arms of the Luchaskate world was basically a second job for me for several years. When I decided to retire the brand and just have the Luchaskate blog/website (which I retired for awhile), I handed the Facebook Group over to two of the primary members of the group that I admired. They changed to name of the group to NeverWas and made it a closed/private group. That group, over the last four years, has put out a video featuring group members each year. The videos get posted to Youtube and DVDs are made for purchase. Each year I produce a part for the video. I look at the parts as a way to show where my skating is at that particular time.
Last year I did a longboard freestyle part. The year before was a mix of longboards, skateboards with street and freestyle. The year before was mostly bank skating and slalom.
This year will be, of course, mostly freestyle, but I may set up some cones for a little change of pace at some point. I also may get some ditch skating in for the video. I haven't been to Springdale and Rogers to skate ditches in a bit. It is just so easy to get a freestyle session in without doing tons of traveling to a spot. I literally have freestyle spots near everywhere I go in my everyday non-skating life. I have two covered spots and about five other spots scattered around the area I live in so no matter where I'm going or where I've been, I know I can get some skate time in.
That is one of the great things about freestyle, and one of the things Kevin Harris touched on in a post he wrote in the Facebook World Round Up Group last week. He wrote how Stacy Peralta knew that he could send freestyle skaters anywhere in the world and they could do a demo because all they need to showcase their art was a flat, concrete patch and a skateboard. I will never forget seeing Rodney Mullen skate a demo in Little Rock, Arkansas when I was 13 years old. He skated a small square of mall floor surrounded by a crowd that cheered him on. He didn't need ramps, curbs, or any other type of obstacle. I'll never forget how amazing he was to watch. I don't think he fell one single time. His 360s, ollie grabs, and kickflips were amazing.
My second World Round Up Online Showdown run is recorded. The music has been added. The video has been uploaded and officially been shared with the WRU team to be seen by the judges. I have to say, it is not my best piece of skating. It isn't even my best piece of freestyle skating.
I recorded it with no real plan. It is truly freestyling freestyle. I hopped on the board and did whichever tricks came to mind. The whole planning a run thing just wasn't working for me this year. Last year I was finding the time to skate a lot more and I felt much less stress about the whole thing. This year, for whatever reason, I felt stressed. I had just broken my Mike Rogers deck and was trying to record riding a completely different deck, a much smaller Kevin Harris Decomposed. Combining a nearly 1 inch shorter wheelbase with recording was stressing me out!!!!
I got on a popsicle and got the thing done. Hit record and do what comes natural for a minute. In the end I think I did one casper trick, one fingerflip, a healthy dose of footwork, a g-turn (of course), and a bunch of step off tricks that freestyle purists will hate. All in all, it is a decent sampling of how I skate other than throwing some longboard dance stuff into the mix. I'm glad it is over. I think it may be my last attempt at a WRU online contest. Of course, a year from now (if they do it again), I may have a completely different opinion.
In other news, your boy is now riding for The Groove Skate Shop, my local in Bentonville. I'm stoked to be a member of the team and I will rep them with pride. I've been in my fair share of skateshops over the years from Cal Skate in Portland to Cheapskates in Memphis and The Groove is at the top of the list of welcoming shops to go to. They cater to all kinds of wheeled sports (including quads and inline) which I think is very smart. Northwest Arkansas has a very small skate scene. By diversifying they will be able to serve more people.
I will be the freestyle skate element to the team, but I'm looking at dodging some cones in the name of Groove too (they just don't know that yet). The coolest part of the whole thing is that it will give me an opportunity to show different forms of skating to a wide variety of people. Don't get me wrong, getting flowed some product (i.e. skid plates in particular) is going to be amazing, but I've gotten flow before (thanks Outlaw, Triple 8 etc...). Getting flow is amazing, but the element of teaching future generations is what I'm stoked on. There are only so many good years left in these legs so it is time to teach the future all the different things skateboarding can be to them.
It has been about two weeks since I've posted on this blog. If I'm honest (and there is no reason not to be), I can tell you that, while my WRU run is coming together, it hasn't gone particularly well. At least it hadn't until yesterday. It has been incredibly rainy for the last two weeks and very hard to get good sessions in. While I am still able to skate on rainy days, I am forced to move under a park gazebo or into my garage where there isn't enough room to put many things together unless I just do tricks from tailstop.
Yesterday I gave up trying to add tricks to the run. Instead, I went out to skate and just did what felt right.
What I ended up with was footwork heavy minute of skating. This is exactly how I skate. Doing footwork is about 80 percent of my freestyle so it only makes sense that my run will be me skating like I always skate. It is a very simple run with very few flips so I don't know how it will go over with the judges, but it is how I truly skate and, despite it being in a contest, I skate for me. Skateboarding has always been about rolling on four wheels. I understand the concept of freestyle using every part of the board, but standing in rail has never been very interesting to me so I just don't do it (other than casper disasters and an occasional rail to casper).
As I've written about before, I am influenced by Daniel Gesmer's freestyle. He deliberately eschewed all flip tricks and made his skating about "gliding" on four wheels. He went in an very balletic/ice skating style to his skating. So, I have turned to doing some dance training while off the skateboard. It isn't that I want to skate like Gesmer. For my tastes he took it too far and all surf-style influence was taken out of his skating. However, it does make sense that to move more smoothly, like a dance, one should learn how to dance. Those movements while influence style even if I'm not actively trying to emulate the movement while skating.
I drove into Memphis to spend the night with my son yesterday morning, and arrived almost three hours early. I had been concerned with one of the bridges shut down, that it was going to take forever to get into town. It wasn't. I drove right over the I-55 bridge with no problem. So, what to do when you're early to the agreed time on a sunny Saturday morning?
Go skate, obviously.
And that is exactly what I did. I went skating for two hours at Tobey skatepark. I spent the entire time battling with banked freestyle on a 8.0 popsicle stick. I rode the pop because, if I decided I wanted to skate some transition, it would be easier than the insane notion of riding tranny on a 7.3 freesyle board with trucks that barely turn.
It was a really fun session. I didn't work on my World Round Up run at all (although most of the tricks I did on the bank are in my run) and by the two hour mark I was shot. My legs were done and I wasn't landing anything at that point.
Two hours is a very long session for me these days. My everyday sessions have been really short lately. Time constraints due to work, getting a kiddo to and from school, and the weather (so much rain) and I might get out for 45 minutes of skating after work. The two plus hour session yesterday got me thinking that, maybe less days with longer sessions on less days are how I should spend my freestyle time. I'm not saying going skating for 30 to 45 minutes is a bad thing, but I don't think it is enough time to really grow as a freestyle skater. In fact, I know it takes me the first twenty minutes just to warm up. If I try to film something in the first twenty minutes I know I'm going to end up being upset with myself for not being sure-footed enough, but it is only because my body isn't warmed up yet. Then there is only twenty minutes left before I'm packing up to go home. I don't think you really grow much in twenty minutes.
So, I'm thinking freestyle sessions should be around two hours to really develop skill. Sessions lasting less than an hour might be better off just going for a mind-clearing cruise.
At the begining of this week I posted a quick message on Facebook and Instagram:
That Since that time, I haven't been on Facebook or my skateboard Instagram account. It has been an unusual few days. I've found myself, phone in hand, with no idea what to do with it. I open the phone, peruse my apps and put the phone back down several times a day. I now know just how addicted I was/am to social media.
Getting rid of the social media addiction wasn't the only reason to log out, however. I also wanted to begin preparing for The World Round Up, and didn't want to lose sight of my vision. Last year I changed my run just before entering. My original run design was about circles and rolling in circles artistically. By the time I had a run down, I grew concerned by what I was seeing other people doing via social media, and I began adding non-circular tricks like a fingerflip and an ollie airwalk to my run. I even took a few twists and turns out of my run. In the end, I was disappointed in what I put together, and I currently hate watching my run.
This year's run isn't like last year's at all, but it does have a theme. I don't want to lose sight of the theme by becoming concerned by what other's are doing. I want this to be my 1 minute skateboard vision whether that gets me first or last place. So, I'm breaking the chains of social media addiction until The Round Up.
I have to say, it is a feeling of freedom. I haven't clicked like on a single skate post since then. I haven't looked for encouragement from others, most of whom I don't really know other than in little square pictures and short videos on my phone. That all sounds so anti-social and mean. I don't mean it that way at all. I'm just keen to not have an outside influence on my skating beyond my carefully curated YouTube freestyle skate collection. While I'm looking forward to seeing everyone's runs in July, I want to keep mine based on the inspirational skaters from the past that are the primary conscious inspiration for this year's run.
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.