A quarter-century of spin | Simply Ranked

Plus: Sole Tech sells, Last Resort's Doom(ed From the Jump), put a logo on it, and more.

A quarter-century of spin | Simply Ranked

The definitive weekly ranking and analysis of all the skateboarding and other things online that I cannot stop consuming and how it makes me feel, personally.

Sole Tech sells

Rank: Unknown
Mood: 👟👟💰

Pierre André Senizergues skates flatground with the Nidecker bros. Henry, Xavier, and Cédric. Photo: Nidecker Group.

Sole Technology will soon be no more. In an interview with Tiffany Montgomery from ShopEatSurf, Sole Tech founder, owner, and CEO Pierre André Senizergues announced that his company's flagship brands, Etnies, Emerica, and éS footwear, along with the snowboard brand ThirtyTwo, will be purchased by the Nidecker Group, a Swiss company that according to SES "has been family-held for 137 years, started as a furniture maker, moved into skis, and now owns several snowboard brands, including Nidecker, Yes, Jones, Rome, and Bataleon."

Sole Tech will also cease operations, and "[a] new entity will be formed to buy the brands themselves, and Pierre will hold a minority interest, with the three Nidecker brothers – Henry, Xavier, and Cédric – becoming the majority owners. Pierre will take on the role of CEO of the brands and focus on product, marketing, design, and sales. Terms of the deal were not disclosed."

Senizergues says that he feels happy with the deal, as the Nidecker brothers understand the action sports industry and respect the history of their new acquisitions. In a quote from a Nidecker group press release, Senizergues says they "share the same values, and they represent the next generation with the energy and scale necessary to ensure that our brands can thrive in new and exciting ways."

What those new and exciting ways are is currently unclear. The SES piece says that a "good portion" of Sole Tech employees are expected to be kept on by the Nidecker Group, which is not terribly encouraging language if you are a current Sole Tech employee. Acquisitions tend to result in real or declared "redundancies" and cost-cutting measures, generally at the expense of people's livelihoods.

It's telling that this hasn't been bigger news. Sole Tech's trio of shoe companies were the last remaining skater-owned legacy brands on the market. They helped define multiple eras and generations of the industry and culture. Now, they are assets to be offloaded. Given the way the market has evolved, it's surprising they've lasted this long, especially as SES highlights, "Sole Tech is one of the few companies in the industry who have remained privately held with no outside ownership through all that – many competitors have either gone bankrupt, or sold to private equity or to licensing companies."

The skateboarding industry hasn't been the same since the 2008 financial crisis. Senizergues told SES that was an inflection point for his company following "14 straight years of revenue growth," where Sole Tech "had to nearly triple its warehouse space every year." He also says that the incursion of big-budget athletic shoe brands and eventual record inflation following the COVID-19 pandemic made the realities of his business more fraught.

“When we made a lot of money, I also understood we could lose a lot of money... so I invested in other things to diversify, knowing I might need to put that money back in the company at some point. I have done that over the years, and now there’s not much left.”

Senizergues paints a bleak picture. Does it worry the Nidecker brothers at all?

“We don’t do calculated stuff or base a decision on the financials,” Cedric said. “We really go on passion, what we love to see, how we can grow in the future and what can we learn.”

Cool. So what about the brother's passion and knowledge of skateboarding?

“We love the vibe, the spirit of the community,” Cedric said. “It’s not something we want to change, we want to cherish the brands and help them go to the next level.”
“We know nothing about product, sales, and marketing on the skateboarding side, and we believe ThirtyTwo can also teach us a lot of things,” Henry said. “And our company will need to adapt. Today, we have one product launch per year, one season, now we need to do one every few months. We see it as an exciting project because it will make our company more flexible, it’s a new challenge for everyone. Pierre’s team will need to teach us a lot of things. But we will try to help as much as we can on other elements as well.”

Alright then. Godspeed.

The track record of snowboarding companies acquiring and shepherding skateboarding brands is not great, but the industry is better with more players in it, so hopefully, they can make sense of their new acquisitions. If not for skateboarding, at least for the "good portion" of Sole Tech people who will soon be in their employ.

The big question left unanswered in all of this: what happens to longtime Sole Tech property Altamont Apparel? No one wants Altamont? Did you forget Altamont exists? Don't lie.

Put a logo on it: a local news update

Rank: -10o,000,000
Mood: 🤑

Acquiring a brand? That's bush league. Child's play. If you're a business person and really want to step your game up, consider running for mayor of a major metropolitan centre, like, say, Vancouver, on a platform of fearmongering in lieu of anything substantive with the financial backing of your billionaire developer cronies and an unprecedented endorsement (negative) from the local police department.

Once in office, try warming up with things like musing about how the public library system should start making money to pay for the dramatically inflated police force you promised on the campaign trail but didn't have the budget to pay for, enacting brutal street sweeps of homeless encampments, attempting to dissolve the Parks Board, scrapping plans for the city's only and long-awaited covered skatepark, and illuminating city hall in the colours of the flag of a rogue genocidal state. When you're finally feeling loose, it's time to get back to your bread and butter: cronyism. Start offering companies naming rights deals for all manner of publicly-funded Parks Board assets, from arenas to parks themselves.

Why pay for a brand name when brand names can pay you.

That's optimization! Budget diversification! Why should your constituents get to live in a city where they aren't, at all times, reminded of the crushing weight of capitalism? Where they can turn their head in all directions and not see an advertisement? Is it funny that there's a Rogers Arena, Rogers Centre, and Rogers Place in Vancouver, Toronto, and Edmonton, respectively? Yep! Is it actually quite sad? Oh, you bet, buddy. Soon, your picturesque neighbourhood greenspaces will be rebranded to things like Crypto.com Park and SodaStream Lake.

But don't worry, your blue-lives-matter-promoting-former-police-officer city council member says this is more than fine. In fact, it's just another example of the mayor's dynamic leadership and business acumen. You stupid fuck. You goddamn idiot. Can't you see that a greater future awaits if you just take the initiative and put a price tag on it?

Doomed from which jump

Rank: 1
Mood: 🥭

I would like to echo the sentiment shared by Genesis Skateboards CEO Ian Ostrowski earlier this week on Twitter:

These niceties come in response to the release of Last Resort AB's latest video, Doomed From the Jump, which sees Christopher Milic skate all manner of quirked-up handrails. In typical Milic fashion, he oscillates between "wut the..." and "buck," hitting legitimately frightening rails and finding some that had no business even being considered spots if not for the Eye of Mango.

Add in some wonderfully hairball Dane Brady clips, the rest of the team slamming and sliding in captivating concert, another demonstration of Frankie Decker: Skateboarding's Most Unheralded Guy, all tied together with a tight Daniel Dent edit, and you have an excellent video on your hands.

So what, out of any of this, was doomed from the jump? Is that a not-so-subtle reference to the difficulties facing any new company — especially one making shoes — in an industry as fickle as skateboarding? One where the last-remaining skater-owned legacy shoe brands have just tapped out? Or is it a more defiant stance? Last Resort a headlong rush into a merciless market. Doomed? Sure. But not afraid. Or! Or, is Doomed From the Jump the fate of your feet when you fly down a stack of stairs in a pair of Last Resorts?

It could be any of 'em.

A quarter-century of spin

Rank: 1
Mood: 🌀

According to the agreed-upon workings of the passage of time and the X Games Instagram account, this year marks the 25th anniversary of Tony Hawk landing the first-ever 900 at the Summer X Games in 1999. Twenty-five whole years, huh. Isn't that something. Isn't that... old. That's a quarter century for all the time-heads out there. The 900 would have graduated college by now. It's almost hard to grasp, how we could be so far removed from history yet still feel so close. So here, let me lay it all out for you.

The 900 is older than:

  • Victor Wembanyama
  • 2x Reese Nelsons
  • Half-Life 2
  • Little Nicky
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (US hardcover release)
  • Flip's Sorry
  • Apple's iPod
  • The euro
  • Survivor
  • Bush v. Gore
  • 9/11
  • Boris Yeltsin resigning as president of Russia
  • The book I wrote that has an entire chapter about the first-ever 900

The 900 is so old and beloved as a cultural touchstone that it generated little buzz when a child (Gui Khury) landed a 1080 on vert in front of Tony Hawk in 2021. That's not because it isn't impressive — it's downright absurd — but I'd chalk up that lull in reception to the 1080 simply being too much. Who needs that many spins? We've already seen all the ones we like; anything more is just a novelty. Case in point: this week, Arisa Trew, 14, became the first woman to land a 900, which absolutely rules. Hawk is stoked and it made headlines the world over, further evidence that the 900 is the last great spin. Here's to another 25 years.

Programming note

Rank: 1
Mood: 🕶️

Earlier this week, I talked to Don Luong about the making of Toy Machine's Real Life Sucks, along with a bunch of other stuff, and I was going to include that in today's newsletter, but it's since grown into its own separate thing that should be out next week. That means I have run out of time to write something new for this last section. As an act of contrition, please enjoy this video of Walter Matthau on Johnny Carson in 1982:

Some things to consider:

Alexander Smith, a contractor for the US Agency for International Development (USAID), said he was given a choice between resignation and dismissal after preparing a presentation on maternal and child mortality among Palestinians, which was cancelled at the last minute by USAID leadership last week.
Two more US officials resign over Biden administration’s position on Gaza war
The officials accuse the administration of not telling the truth about Israel’s obstruction of aid to Palestinians in Gaza
All Eyes on Rafah’s Virality Creates Market for AI Spam About Palestine
AI images and AI spam variations of ‘All Eyes on Rafah’ are now flooding Facebook and Instagram.

Good thing: This is a great series. I've beat this drum before, but skateboarders should be celebrated more when they become PRO AF.

Another good thing:

Culture Needs More Jerks | Defector
This week, Defector has turned itself over to a guest editor. Brandy Jensen, former editor at Gawker (RIP) and The Outline (RIP), and writer of the Ask A Fuck Up advice column (subscribe here!), has curated a selection of posts around the theme of Irrational Attachments. Enjoy! Fans of country music will be relieved to learn that Beyoncé has “revived [the] […]

A sad shrug emoji thing: The Atlantic writer Damon Beres on The Atlantic signing a deal with OpenAI.

A Devil’s Bargain With OpenAI
Publishers including The Atlantic are signing deals with the AI giant. Where does this lead?

A thing from earlier this week:

Mythologizing Failure
On lessons real and imagined.

Until next week… thank you all for reading. It means a lot that you let me into your inbox each week (sometimes twice a week!), and I haven't said it in a while, so I just wanted to touch base and let you know I appreciate your readership. Also, I love your outfit! And did you get a haircut? You are firing on all cylinders right now. Have a great weekend <3

Laser Quit Smoking Massage

NEWEST PRESS, available April 1, 2024


My new collection of essays is available now. I think you might like it. The Edmonton Journal thinks it's a "local book set to make a mark in 2024." The CBC called it "quirky yet insightful." lol.

Book cover by Hiller Goodspeed.

Order the thing

Right, Down + Circle



I wrote a book about the history and cultural impact of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater that you can find at your local bookshop or order online now. I think you might like this one, too.

Here’s what Michael Christie, Giller Prize-nominated author of the novels Greenwood and If I Fall, If I Die, had to say about the thing.

“With incisive and heartfelt writing, Cole Nowicki unlocks the source code of the massively influential cultural phenomenon that is Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and finds wonderful Easter-eggs of meaning within. Even non-skaters will be wowed by this examination of youth, community, risk, and authenticity and gain a new appreciation of skateboarding’s massive influence upon our larger culture. This is my new favorite book about skateboarding, which isn’t really about skateboarding — it’s about everything.”

Photo via The Palomino.

Order the thing