Next week is the deadline for my World Round Up Online Showdown freestyle run, and I'm very glad. As I believe I have mentioned before, I'm very much over doing the same run over and over in practice. I'm ready to incorporate new tricks, but I can't for filming because (a) I want the run to be as smooth as possible and (b) I don't want to have to film it five million times just to get a clean run. I'd rather get several usable videos and choose the best from all of them rather than get one video and have to use it because it is the only one that is clean.
So, Monday through Friday this week I took a video everyday. On Friday evening I went back, looked over them, and chose the cleanest for the competition. Now, my run is very simple. Simple footwork, simple tricks done the smoothest I can on a longboard NOT a freestyle board. I have, essentially, made this a freestyle run without any of the rail or pogo stuff (which I don't care much for). I know I made claims that this run would combine freestyle and dance (and I still do a cross-step at one point in the run), but I ended up with trucks so tight to make the freestyle oriented stuff look freestyle-ish that the dance elements looked stiff and terrible so I took most of those out.
Over the course of the weekend I've skated a little but I've done zero freestyle. I've set up another hybrid longboard deck with Caliber 160mm trucks and I've been switching between that deck and an OG Dancer from Funbox Distribution that is set up with Gullwing Chargers. I'm really enjoying the turn this weekend. I've been working on basic dance stuff: crossteps, Peter Pans, crossover carving (in Peter Pan position but carving back and forth without changing foot position) and some ghost ride stuff. It has been fun, but it looks like I'll have to switch back over for this last week so I can put my best freestyle foot forward.
If I'm honest, signing up for a contest sounded great, but I do think I regret it now. I don't know that I have the correct attention span to be a competetive freestyle skater. I enjoy going with the flow a bit too much, maybe? Next week is a cyber slalom challenge from the folks at the ISSA. I'm thinking about doing that, but it would be like my 100 mile ride for the IDSA, a one and done mission so I can go back to dancing.
Well, I guess it has now officially been two months since I decided to skate in a freestyle contest, and I have to say I'm ready to be done with it. I'm over doing the same pieces of footwork over and over again, and I've found that I've been ignoring a lot of other things in my repertoire. Honestly, it makes the three pieces (I've broken the routine into three 30 second sections for practice purposes) I've been doing feel stale and old hat.
So, I've been learning some new things for the last couple weeks. I've learned tiger claw, aero grab, ghost ride fakie big spins, tailstop underflips, and some kind of Peter Pan-ish move where you cross-step and carve/pump from that position. All but the tailstop underflip are longboard dance moves, and the only dance move I would give strong consideration for a freestyle run would be the cross-step pump thing. The rest require stepping off the board which is just not freestyle in a pure sense. You know the old freestyle saying, "Foot down and it doesn't count." It doesn't necessarily apply as law, but unless you can do no comply tricks into your run like Conner Burke, stepping off probably isn't a great look much less two feet down to ghost ride (although I've really learned to enjoy ghost ride tricks).
The one thing I did finally accomplish this week is decide on my music for my run. This is my third and final song choice. I had started off with The Church's song Under the Milky Way, but switched over to Pentagram's Be Forewarned. After seeing myself skate to Be Forewarned I decided that wasn't the right song. It just didn't fit my skating. Finally, after trying multiple songs, I have decided to skate to Maps by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. It seems to fit my skating perfectly, and it is an underappreciated song.
This is an unusual blog post for me. I'm a writer, and I like to sit down and write my own updates, but this morning Bob and Tony have just about written the whole thing for me. I quote Bob first because, man, yeah, exactly.
Then there's this from Tony Gale:
I've spent the last year (and more) working on footwork, and I've never really been able to put into words how much that footwork flows. It has become very second nature. Tony Gale is right when he talks about learn, perfect, forget. I'm a little embarrassed that I've never connected wu wei with skateboarding. Doing footwork that you've mastered really is effortless action.
My biggest issue these days is that I go to the well too often on certain footwork and longboard dance steps. I have to remind myself to do tricks other than the handful that come to mind first. I've started forcing myself to do new combos because I've don't want to do the same few over and over again.
tAccording to the weather forecast, this week was going to be a total bust, but just the opposite happened. It turned out to be a pretty great week to skate, and the sun was plentiful. So plentiful that I got the worst sunburn I've had in years mid-week. I've never had a sunburn take down my activity level like it did this week. My energy felt off and I can't think of anything besides the sunburn that could be the cause. It is stupid really. I carry sunscreen in the side pocket of my bag every single day. For once it just slipped my mind.
Anyway, about the skateboarding. I completed my 1 mile sprints for the IDSA, logged a new PR for a mile, and got that sunburn in the process on Thursday, but the rest of the week was spent doing freedance and getting ready for the Online Showdown in a few weeks (more about my 1 mile ride in another post).
So, I completely redid the opening 20 seconds of my run. I've been starting the run with longboard dancing, but decided to make the run freestyle-centric with some spin shove-its, walk the dogs, and a tailstop fingerflip before going into some dance moves.
I've also been working on a carving 360 wheelie. It is more difficult than it sounds. The first 200 or so degrees is pretty easy but getting to exactly 360 is a little tougher. You have to try and find the centrifugal force to keep the turn going, but it can be hard to find the balance. That said, I've upped my workouts to include ankle mobility issues.
I came to the realization last week that I've had issues with 360s and spacewalks because of my right (rear) ankle. I broke it about 17 years ago, and while the break healed well, one of the ligaments in my ankle was ripped in two. I elected not to have it surgically reattached. The doctor had told me it would be very painful and that the other ligaments in my ankle would most likely strengthen so much that I wouldn't notice a difference. He was correct except that I am a skateboarder and my ankles are very important for the act of skating.
So, here I am 17 years later, starting some PT to strengthen the other ligaments in my ankle to help my freestyle and dance skateboarding.
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.