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.
I just went for a cruise on my latest complete. It is an 8" Real deck with Tensor trucks, mini logo bushings, and Spitfire 97a Formula Four Wheels. I didn't do anything more difficult than a caveman and a powerslide. No ollie tricks. No flip tricks. I just cruised.
It was fun, but I was surprisingly bad at it.
Yep. I can do 62 miles in one go on a longboard, and I can do my fair share of freestyle and flat ground tricks, but just cruising was difficult for me today. Okay, difficult isn't the right word. Awkward is the right word. And it was awkward because, as I quickly realized, I haven't skated somewhere with giant cracks in uneven pavement in far too long.
It has been too long since I skated the real world!!! I have been so caught up in skating a perfectly poured track and an even basketball court that I had lost the feeling of skating real streets!
Now, about this new setup. I'm riding an 8" pop because, quite frankly, it suits how I'm skating these days. I've given in to my desire to mix freestyle footwork with old school step off and ollie street tricks with longboard dance stuff. I've realized that the slightly longer wheelbase, while not as good for footwork like walk the dogs, is much better for g-turns. G-turns just feel better on a little wider board with a little looser trucks. And my flamingos?! So much easier on the "street" setup.
Now, all of this doesn't mean I won't jump on my frestyle set up. Heck, knowing me, I'll be on it again working on casper disasters next week (they're impossible on this other setup), but I'm really enjoying a little bigger, turnier board this week.
For the last three weeks I've been using softrucks instead of my skateboard for trick practice during the week. They have improved my fingerflips, underflips, and kickflips dramatically. However, I noticed during my actual freestye session over the last two weeks that my footwork is rusty. Spacewalks seemed a little more rust covered than anything else, but everything was a little off.
I blame this on two things:
1. My softruck deck is bigger than my freestyle board. I'm using what was supposed to be a 7.5 inch wide popsicle (that really measures closer to 7.8 in the center of the deck) with a 14 inch wheelbase. My current freestyle board is 7.3 inches wide with a 12.5 wheelbase. I will be, in a few week or months, be moving to a 7.4 with a 13 inch wheelbase, but it is still significantly smaller than the softruck deck.
2. I'm not rolling enough during the week. Working on tricks doesn't necessarily translate to keeping footwork fresh. I know this seems obvious, but it is worth mentioning that, taking a day or two away from footwork sometimes has a positive effect on my footwork. I have no explanation for that, and I'm not going to venture any guesses. However, a five day break from footwork does no good for footwork. Two days off is the largest amount of time that seems to have a benefit or, at any rate, no detrimental result.
I attempted to fix the not rolling thing by doing some distance skating over the past week. I did a 20k last Sunday and a 10k on Thursday of this week. I was in need of some distance skating as I haven't done nearly enough cardio since my pulled hamstring a month or so ago. However, it didn't seem to have any footwork benefit. So, really, doing footwork is the only thing that will keep footwork fresh. I know this is an obvious result, but I'm going to waste an entire blog post on it anyway.
I will say this: While the softrucks have no benefit on your rolling or footwork skills, they have dramatically improved my flip tricks. I mean dramatically. In just three weeks I've gone from having a 40 percent land rate on a variety of flip tricks to having an 80 percent land rate on flip tricks. The best part about that is that, once you hit that 80 percent mark, it makes learning new flip tricks that much easier.
In conclusion, I'm going to continue working with the softrucks daily during the week. They help me be able to work on things despite having a new schedule at work that sends me home after the sun has gone down. I will, however, make sure to work footwork on a daily basis as well. After all, a freestyle skater with no footwork is just a flat ground skater.
I've spent a little time pondering the week spots in my freestyle game over the past couple of weeks. One is the kickflip. For some reason I did these much better before I started frestyling. I originally learned them several decades ago on a whim and could always count on them should I decide to try one. After a turf toe injury about five years ago I lost them, and for whatever reason, they've been difficult to get back.
I have started really working on them again and look forward to having them consistently again. For me it is all about foot position and where, on my foot, I hold my weight. I haved to put the weight of my left (front) foot on the ball of my foot to make it happen and I have to have my legs spread wider than most.
One of the other tricks I'm spending a lot of time with is a 360 tailstop fingerflip. I have a tendancy to throw the board behind me on these and it is a habit that is hard to break. Unfortunately, working on these has also made my varial fingerflips more difficult. Transitioning between the 180 and the 360 is subtle and I'm not always the best at subtle.
Add in lots of footwork variations and tons of step off longboard tricks and you know all about my last couple weeks of skating. I'll be exploring longboard dance tricks on a freestyle sized set up more in the next couple of weeks.
I'm happy to say I'm back on a skateboard this week, and I have been having a blast! The break did me good.
I took the first couple sessions easy and then started stepping things back up by really working on some new footwork combinations. In truth, although I watch other freestylers skate, I have never spent enough time studying combinations of tricks. So, I've been looking at what footwork combinations other freestylers put together and trying to emulate them. So far, each thing I've tried to do turns out different when I try to do them, but I don't want to copy exactly what they do anyway. I want to see how their tricks flow together, and use that flow to do my own stuff.
For instance, these two clips are from watching other freestylers and doing things my own way:
As you can see, I'm back to riding a bigger board again for now (8.75). I'm not sure how long I'll ride it, but it is a really good size for doing footwork. I'm considering putting some freestyle wheels on it, but for now I'm good with what I have going. No rail tricks, but really (like I've said before), I don't really like doing rail tricks. I love footwork and fingerflips.
I also like that the same size board is fun for street skating. I've been doing a few slappys and other curb tricks over the week and it has been a welcomed change of pace.