Floating away | Simply Ranked

Plus: Skateboarding for solidarity, World Street Skateboarding Championships, tree > hardflip, and more.

Floating away | Simply Ranked
The definitive weekly ranking and analysis of all the skateboarding and other online things that I cannot stop consuming and how they make me feel, personally.

Floating away

Rank: 1
Mood: 🛟

Gou Miyagi has had a singular career as a professional skateboarder. To anyone who’s followed it, even distantly, that may be obvious. He’s the guy that does wacky tricks! Walks up handrails to slide down them! Flaps his board between his legs so it looks like he’s got a lil wagging tail! You know, a weird skater. But he’s much more than that.

Whether intentional or not, the crux of Miyagi’s career has been to question what we understand a skateboarding trick to be. His part in Rob Taro’s TimeScan 2 is the apotheosis of this. Because now, what Miyagi has been asking us to consider is whether or not we even need to ride away from a trick for it to be a trick — or even ride toward it, for that matter.

We watch as he runs across grass to place his board on a flatbar, grinds it, jumps off and runs to another rail that he puts his board on top of, sliding it, before landing back in the grass. These fits and starts, counterintuitive entries and exits, are in direct opposition to the common approach to modern skateboarding. It’s an eschewing of momentum and its inertia. Yet, everything flows, feels quick, quirky, and, most importantly, fun.

Is this all provocation? Is Miyagi daring us to think and act a bit lopsided or to whine about conventional standards? Perhaps. Whatever the case, he doesn’t seem to mind and is enjoying himself all the same, floating away from how things are and toward how he prefers them to be.

Stray thoughts on the World Street Skateboarding Championships

Rank: 1-3
Mood: 🥇🥈🥉

While there are any number of reasons to feel weird about Olympic Skateboarding or the unsettling actions of skateboarding’s Olympic governing body, World Skate, one thing that shouldn’t be overlooked is the actual skateboarding. Because what “Olympic calibre” skateboarders are up to these days is, in impolite terms, absolutely fucked (positive). That level of fucked was front and centre this past weekend as Tokyo, Japan, played host to the 2023 World Street Skateboarding Championships.

As per usual, the Women’s final was another competitive back-and-forth affair. The lighting-quick progression and ever-increasing parity in the division always lead to a fun watch. Given that all of the skateboarders in the Women’s final are still literal children, most barely teenagers who are kickflip-frontside-feebling the biggest rails on the course, the prospect of the level of skateboarding we’ll see from them in the next handful of years — not to mention at next year’s Olympics in Paris — is an exciting one. Yumeka Oda won, Rayssa Leal took silver, and Momiji Nishiya bronze. Good show.

On the Men’s side, Team Japan swept the podium, with Sora Shirai, Kairi Netsuke, and Yuto Horigome taking the top spots. While the consistent domination of the competitive circuit by Japan’s skaters is impressive, what I found to be even more so are the tricks that people can now do in active competition. Here’s a handful of ‘em that made me shout at the television:

  • Cordano Russell, big rail: fakie-heelflip-backside-lipslide (first try!)
  • Yuto Horigome, big hubba: Yutornado (nollie-270-noseslide-270) (first try!!)
  • Kairi Netsuke, big rail: heelflip-backside-nosebluntslide (first try!!!)
  • Sora Shirai, big hubba: nollie-bigspin-backside-tailslide-bigspin-out (!!!!), alley-oop-frontside-180-fakie-five-oh-revert (!!!!!!!)

That’s twisted, man. What the actual hell. Most twisted of all? Steve Berra was there for some reason.

Whatchu up to, Steve? Are you involved with USA Skateboarding in some way? Or were you there under the auspices of Cariuma, the footwear sponsor of multiple Olympic skaters, whom you may or may not be the brand manager for? If so, did you hear about what Cariuma rider Trevor Colden did while you were away?

Tree > hardflip

Rank: 0
Mood: 🪓

Colden in Maniquí.

Trevor, was this hardflip really worth cutting a tree down over? Before you answer, I want you to take a moment to consider the question. How many hardflips have you done in your life? How many different “bump-to” obstacles have you flung this trick over? Historically, this is one of your staple maneuvers. Presumably, you could do it over any number of taller, longer, and more aesthetically interesting spots than this. Yet, you and a filmer made the effort to go out late one evening to clandestinely Sawzall a tree. Premeditated. Stupid.

You could’ve spent that effort driving around to find a different, better spot. You could’ve used that time to pick out a less visually offensive pair of Cariumas — Jesus Christ, my dude. Speaking of, isn’t Cariuma’s whole schtick their commitment to sustainability and reforestation?

More like “people in these sneakers cut down trees,” amiright? Whatever. Happy holidays.

If you must collab, pt. 3

Rank: 3
Mood: 🤔🙂

It’s been a while since I’ve bemoaned, whined about, or shat upon the brand collab as a concept and practice. If you’re a longtime reader of this newsletter, then you know my feelings on the subject and my love of shatting upon it. But for a quick summation, the brand collab often tends to be nothing but a slapdash, lazy marketing ploy with the sole purpose of squeezing two logos onto a single product in the hope that their respective brand loyalties will encourage the purchasing public to have more interest in it than they usually would. As if brands working together is somehow a noteworthy endeavour.

I know this is one of those things that’s stuck in my craw that I could easily let out and be a happier person, but there’s almost a sick satisfaction to witnessing a half-backed collab go to market. To see brands stumble and vomit over themselves and their reputations while in a desperate search for social and financial capital is a reminder that none of this means anything; no one knows what they’re doing, and someday soon, all of this nothing will be in the landfill.

This doesn’t mean I am completely unreasonable or willingly ignorant of the exceptions. Case in point: the commercial for the WKND Skateboards x New Balance Numeric shoe is excellent. They clearly put a lot of effort in; it’s very “WKND” and isn’t just a quick copy-and-pasting of one logo near another. It made me literally LOL (but not quite ROFL). What else can you ask for? That I buy the shoes? No.

Skateboarding for Solidarity

Rank: 1!
Mood: 🇵🇸

Art by Jeff Cheung

As of writing this, over 20,000 Palestinians have been killed by brutal Israeli aggression in Gaza since October 7, and that’s likely a conservative estimate. The IDF continues to target civilians, journalists, academics, artists, schools, hospitals, houses of worship, graveyards, and anything or anyone else its dystopic AI-enabled target-generating program points a finger and a bomb at. It’s the deliberate destruction of a people and their culture. Ethnic cleansing, genocide — all of it fit Israel’s actions, which are a continuation of their 75-year occupation of Palestine.

For many of us, our governments and tax dollars support the siege or run cover for it. It’s sickening. Enraging. While our political leaders may be devoid of morals or conscience, they still react to pressure. Call and email your elected officials to demand an immediate ceasefire, join local protests, share resources on social media, educate yourself and others, and actively boycott the companies that support the Israeli apartheid regime.

Within the skateboarding community, there’s a growing global movement to organize in solidarity with Palestine; you can get involved and find more information on Forever Playground’s website along with signing the open letter created by Seven Hills Skate Park, @gaza_skate_team, and Forever Playground.

Lastly, to our friends in the skateboarding industry: your voices matter. Consider sharing your support for Palestine and calling for an immediate and permanent ceasefire. As the photographer and activist Nan Goldin recently said, “The more of us there are, the more of us there are.

Something to consider:

Judy plays a big, criminally unheralded role in Vancouver’s skateboarding scene. If you have the means and want to kick in a few bucks to help her and her family during this particularly tough time, you can do that here.

Good thing: Cam Jimmo’s excellent Mountains Please, an independent video filmed in and around Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska, is exactly what I mean when I talk about Getting Clipped Up.”

Another good thing: Quartersnacks’ Readers Poll Results for “The Best Skate Videos & Parts of 2023” is back. I’m stoked to have been able to write a little something about Curren Caples for Vans. Shoutout Snackman and all the great writers blurbin’ great video parts in there.

Holiday reading thing:

A serious thing: Again, if your writing received a SSOTY, send me a message with your mailing address, and I will send you a print of a Wordy of your choice (all wonderfully illustrated by Aaron Read).

Until next week… if you’re celebrating or just taking some time off, may your holidays be happy and perhaps even, dare I say, merry.

I wrote a book about the history and cultural impact of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and I will keep posting about it at the end of the newsletter for the foreseeable future. Apologies. Right, Down + Circle is in stores now and you can also order it from your favourite local bookshop, my publisher ECW Press, Palomino(!), or all of the usual devils (Amazon, Barnes & Noble). I think you might like it.

Also, if you like book clubs, you can join the inimitable Ted Barrow in reading Right, Down + Circle on his Berate The Birds Patreon, which you should also subscribe to because it rules. He just finished with the last chapter, so you’ve got a whole companion pod to listen to whilst reading. Ted goes on some fun, interesting detours while reading/talking about the book. It’s a nice time.