I'm afraid I spent most of this week either wishing the rain would stop or wishing the kids playing basketball would finish their game so I could have the court. Neither happened much this week. One day I was able to complete the latest IDSA skate challenge (more on that in the next post), and one day I was able to do a long dance session around the same track I used on the skate challenge, but the rest of the week was spent practicing 360s and spacewalks under the pavilion at the park.
By the end of the week I had a short combo that used both the 360s and spacewalks (start off with some stationary 360s, go the other direction with a quick spin shove-it, and finish with some spacewalks). I haven't, however, gotten it good enough to video.
I din't call this a training week for the Showdown because neither 360s nor spacewalks are in my run so it doesn't feel like I've really trained for the showdown at all. Luckily, things change next week. After Sunday there is no rain in the forcast for the next seven days. I'm glad as next week is the end of the sign up period, and I'll probably need to get my run on video by the end of the week (or the next). It will be sad to see that end. Wanting to do well has forced me to improve my skating. In fact, it has given me incentive to continue improving in the ways that I want to improve. I'm becoming a better skater/longboader and I really feel like the sky is the limit to my skating. It all comes down to skating the way we want to skate and working on the things we want to do rather than letting our skating being dictated by others.
It is hard to believe that this completes my sixth week of training for the World Round-Up Online Showdown (my first freestyle contest). it really feels like it has just been a couple weeks (maybe a few) since I started this journey. I can tell, however, that my skating is much improved over this month and a half. I can now, very easily, get through a full 1 1/2 minute run, and I've added some new dance tricks (or should I call them moves) that won't become part of a freestyle run.
I'm sticking to my guns of making this as freestyle oriented as possible while showcasing dance, skogging, and pumping. Luckily, tricks like toe spins (called pirouettes in longboarding), g-turns, pivots, 360s etcetera were freestyle tricks long before longboard dance.
I've also been searching for and watching as much 70s freestyle as possible. For instance, I have watched Stacy Peralta and Russ Howell in the documentary Skateboard Kings from the late 70s several times. The thing that is noticeable about their skating, in that particular documentary, is that their boards turn. In fact, their boards turn a lot. Modern freestyler's boards tend to turn when they pivot on them. I'm not saying all freestyler skaters have boards that don't turn at all. I'm saying they don't accentuate the turn. They damper it. Carving is not part of the beauty of modern freestyle.
I've decided that I want my board to turn more freely and, more importantly, to rebound better. I've ordered new bushings for my setup. I'm going with a barrel setup both board and roadside for better rebound.
I'm also removing some grip tape from the board to make toe spins and walking trick easier. Hopefully this will improve both cross-stepping moves and walk the dogs.
Interestingly enough, I feel as if I'm finally, after nearly 40 years of skating, fully developing my own unique way of riding a skateboard. For so many years I borrowed those things from my favorite skaters that I wanted to do. I did tricks as a kid based on pictures of Bill Danforth and Duane Peters. I imitated Natas video parts. I started learning the obligatory freestyle tricks. Hmmm...
....let me go back in time to the mid 80s when I knew nothing of pro skateboarding, but only that I loved rolling around on a skateboard. Ah, the memories of putting my "ghetto blaster" on and skating in the quiet rural neighborhood streets to whatever music was on the cassette player. No real "tricks" just turning, tictacking, spinning. That was all I needed. I feel like I've gone back to that place with a wealth of knowledge. A flat patch of concrete and a skateboard. It really is all I need.
The two pictures above are tricks that I have no intentions of doing in the contest. However, they're tricks that I needed to do this week. While I'm still working on and improving my run (I have approximately two thirds of the run dialed in), I need some changes of pace. Some kicklips, 360 tailspins, and ghost ride shove-its have been the trick to change things up.
I've also added some pumping and carving to my run. I call it the 1975 Del Mar Nationals part of my run. As I've said before, I want to dance, freestyle, skog, and carve/pump in this run. Finding the right times to carve, dance etc...is the tough part. I'm filming the run each day so I can see how it looks. I'm not a great judge of things in the moment, but I think I'm getting better at that. Over the next week I'm hoping to get the final 30 seconds of my run planned so I can feel better prepared.
What looked to be a week of rain turned into a beautiful spring week full of sunshine. I've added some new tricks to my bag, but most of them aren't appropriate for a freestyle run. While I don't hold the "foot down doesn't count" statement as freestyle gospel, I wouldn't do a ghost ride trick in a freestyle contest. I've been doing ghost ride kickflips and ghost ride shove-its quite a bit lately. They're fun, very easy, and I think they look good on a longboard. The one "foot down" trick that I will do in a run is a 360 push. Basically, it is a skog to rolling backwards then a second push back to forward. Barely a trick, I think it fits in fine for a freestyle run.
I've been trying to get a little more analytical about the run. While I new that I wanted it to convey a certain feeling, I wasn't sure how I should attack the run. It struck me that the run is all about circles. Whether I'm carving in a circle, turning my board 360 degrees, or turning a circle on my board, the run is about 360 degree turns.
I've started thinking about the turns I'm making in the run. In truth, I haven't figured it all out yet. And constantly turning does make things more difficult. It is easier to do footwork in a straight line. However, the arcs made carving make the slower motions of the longboard more interesting. So much of current freestyle and longboard dance is about doing tricks as fast as possible. You watch videos of people moving so quickly you can't exactly tell what is going on. For this run, I want to move slowly, deliberately. I want each step to count.
Another week of skating is in the books. Rain and vehicle issues threw off my normal skating so I moved to the garage at the begining of the week. My garage, which is great for stationary work on a traditional (small) freestyle setup is terrible for any type of work on a longboard. First, the sheer size of the longboard makes tricks difficult in a small space. Even working on 360s becomes difficult in a confined space. Add in that the longboard really wants to roll and sessions lose a lot of productivity.
Luckily, I fixed my truck on Tuesday afternoon and the rain was gone by Wednesday. I was able to move back to the local park. While most parks in the area are closed due to Covid-19, the park closest to my house is still open. I live in a very rural area outside of a larger town. So few people come to the park near me that it has been allowed to remain open. Generally, I stop here and skate on an afternoon, and if other people show up to the park, I just go home.
I have the first 40 seconds of my run mapped out. I've added walk the dogs, a spin shove it, and what I call pivot walk the dogs to my run as I begin to add more freestyle moves to it. Things are coming together. I am also working on the other tricks I want to do later in the run quite a bit. G-turns, 360 variations, turn-ins, backwards walk the dogs, and toe spins will all be included in the run.
Here is a g-turn:
First, let me say that it is official. I have finally registered for the World Round-Up Online Showdown! I'm very excited to have entered my first contest in over twenty years.
Wow. I feel uglier than ever! That pic of me is rough! Ha! When you submit your application you also send them a picture of yourself standing in front of a white wall. They take the background out and insert your country's flag behind you. I realized the only white wall in our house is a very small bathroom, so I'm actually standing in front of the toilet for the picture and my wife snapped the shot.
Anyway, I am very happy with the progress this week. I've been focusing on the first 15 seconds of my run which is all longboard dance footwork into skogging. As I told Bob on our Frontside 360 podcast, I want this run to be everything I love about flat ground skating. At first I wanted it to be freestyle done on a longboard, then I was going to do some dance and freestyle, but I love skogging, pumping, dancing, and traditional freestyle footwork. So, I am doing a little bit of everything in my run and trying to make it seamless like it all always fit together.
Last weekend was very wet so I spent my days practicing dance footwork on an upside down board in my living room. Doing this seems to have helped my Peter Pans, and toe spins (called pirouettes in longboarding) are my newest trick because of this inside skating. Thanks to Tony Gale's trick tips website (and YouTube videos) I've been able to get them dialed in pretty well. I'm not sure where in my run I'll do any, but I'm sure I will. The weather cleared up during the week and I started rolling again.
The music on this clip is currently my choice for the Round Up. I want to skate fairly slowly and smoothly, and I feel like this song will compliment the feel of the skating well.
Most of you don't know that I have secretly loved Daniel Gesmer's take on freestyle since I first saw him skate on Public Domain. Was he included as a joke? I know my friends got a good laugh at his expense, but I was secretly admiring both his skill and his desire to carve his own path in skateboarding. His ballet-like style (more like ice skating, really) was, in some respects, beautiful.
Additionally, there is a guy on Instagram under the handle @stefan_albert_swc that does some amazing turns on his skateboard. His movements aren't really similar to Gesmer except in the circular motion of his skating, but they're equally as flowing and amazing as Gesmer's.
I have decided to integrate basic freestyle footwork with longboard dance for my run. So, I've started working on various combinations. Peter Pans into pivots and carving backwards are two of my favorite things to work on right now. Carving backwards has taken some work to get used to. Sure, I've ridden fakie to do fakie rocks or fakie ollies or whatever for years, but just to carve fluid figure 8 turns while going backwards is a whole new ball of wax.
So, this week has started this strange process of figuring out my place in freestyle skateboarding.
Last May I wrote about The World Roundup Freestyle contest held in Canada every year. This year, due to Covid-19, the contest has been cancelled. This had to be a blow to competitive freestylers all around the globe that make the annual journey to compete, and it was yet another reminder of what an odd year 2020 is gearing up to be.
However, the Roundup has gone online! The contest will go on with the skaters remaining in their home countries. Submissions will be done via video and the judges will judge each video. Now, my initial thought was that people will be doing take after take until they get a "perfect" run (you aren't allowed to send edited/spliced videos of multiple takes put together). But that is kind of cool. Rather than be a traditional skate contest it is a one continuous shot skate video contest, and like my Frontside 360 partner Bob Loftin, I am entering.
The challenge of coming up with a run, and filming it without falling is a huge task for me. It gives me a goal for the next few months, and I've desperately needed a goal in my skating. My freestyle improved greatly over the last year, but after I finished my NeverWas video part, I lost vision. I wasn't sure where I was going next. In the end, I moved more toward longboarding again (I always seem to go back to longboarding). Now, I have something to work toward and I get to start thinking about what MY freestyle run should be about.
I think that, because I skated for several years without knowing anything about professional skateboarding, and because I lived in a town of 900 people for my teenage years (shout out to Shawn Force for making the drive to pick me up so I could skate with others so many times) it made my skate style distinctly different from others. I want to tap back into my individualism for my freestyle skating. As many of you know, I don't care for most pogo, rail, and stationary freestyle. So, there won't be much of that, and I'm considering riding a longboard in the contest. A few dance steps mixed with some freestyle footwork and lots of turning and carving.
Later today I'm going to start my "training," and I'll be posting my progress here on Luchaskate.
Sometimes I think about skateboarding and I want to go back to the Skate BDCD days. Forget all tricks, just push, carve, pump...go!
At other times I reflect on last years foray into freestyle with fondness. The joy that came from my first decent spacewalks. The challenge of learning casper disasters. All of those hours spent learning tricks offer a different enjoyment from the joy of the carve.
They are different, but equal. Neither of them outshines the other in my mind. So, I continue searching for the one skateboard set up that will check all the boxes. It will carve like a dream. It will pump. It will be capable of freestyle footwork and I'll even be able to pull off a few dance moves on it.
So, I'm trying out a Globe Gold Trucker longboard deck. It is a 39" board with a 21" wheelbase set up with Slant trucks and some AWOL Mini Logo 80a 59mm wheels. I'm hoping this board can be a "quiver killer" that I can take with me on a daily basis. It will work for putting on a few miles but also will be capable of footwork as well. In fact, I'm hoping to add a few dance moves to my skateboarding that I can do while putting a few miles on.
So, yeah, dance moves. I'm working on improving my cross-stepping, and adding Peter Pans (perfect for an old guy staying young through skateboarding), pirouettes, ghost rides etc...I'm hoping to combine longboard dance with freestyle skateboard footwork (walk-the-dogs, spacewalks, g-turns) into an odd blend of both.
Odd. I think that's the right word.
The Freestyle Attitude
When I first started attempting to freestyle, I was trying to learn as many tricks as I could as quickly as I could. I was watching several trick tip videos everyday, and I was trying multiple new things each session. It was frustrating, but I started landing some things and felt like I was progressing very quickly. If I landed a heelside railflip or a rolling fingerflip at some point during the session, I felt like I could do the trick. That is a very street skater/filming for a clip type of attitude. In those instance, getting the trick on film becomes the thing not mastery over the trick on every attempt.
The freestyle attitude on what constitutes being able to do something is very different.
The freestyle mentality on tricks seems to be: If you don't have it locked down, you don't really have it.
In the freestyle world, landing one or two out of ten doesn't constitute having them. It means you have an idea on how to do the trick, and you get lucky ten to twenty percent of the time. If you land less than you make, they aren't yours yet. When a trick can be done consistently and could be considered for a video run or a contest run (which I will probably never enter), well, then I can consider them one of my tricks.
This has greatly slowed down my learning of new tricks, but I don't feel like it has slowed down my progression. It means that my progress is consistency, and consistency is more valued than sheer numbers when looking at freestyle skating. I've gone from landing a couple rolling fingerflips per session to landing nearly every rolling fingerflip per session. I no longer touch my tail to the ground when doing spacewalks. My walk the dogs are faster and smoother. I can put a line together instead of just practicing tricks, and it feels like I'm skating more because I'm spending more time on the board compared to falling off.
And now, as I progressively get better at tricks that I could already land, I'm able to add on from those and get new tricks down.