Imagine you're Wolfgang Puck | Simply Ranked

Plus: A new heelflip champion emerges, Spanky, fav celeb couples to invite to your wedding and more.

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.

A new heelflip champion emerges

Rank: 1
Mood: 🏆

Every crew has one, but it’s not often one of these figures rise, ready to don the heavy crown of skateboarding’s heelflip champion. From Donny Barley to Marcus McBride, Lindsey Robertston to Neen Williams, and now, Brazil’s Vitoria Mendonca. Her recent “For Us All” video part for Thrasher begins and ends with heelflips, but these aren’t just bookends. We’re treated to a glut of the heelfip and its variations throughout the five-plus minute offering. It’s a fantastic technical display and one that should leave us confident that her reign will be an inspired and benevolent one.

Being good at anything is hard

Rank: 1
Mood: 🐎🐎🐎

Whatever it is; basketball, sewing, interpersonal relationships. Being consistently good at that thing is even harder. But to be consistently good on a professional level over multiple decades is a rare feat.

Kevin “Spanky” Long has been a sponsored skateboarder for over twenty years and has lived multiple lives in skateboarding’s public eye: a Sixteen Skateboards and City Stars AM, kickflip nosesliding Emerica upstart, hard-partying Baker Skateboards pro who lost his pro-dom only to regain it in his current sober and shredding dad era. Contemporary Spanky is arguably the best version of his on-board self to date, which is quite something to consider when you pull back and view the long, meandering career arc of the 2003 Tampa Am winner from above.

The same can be said for Baker Skateboarders, a legacy brand that has inspired generations for better and occasionally worse. They’ve managed to stay good and stay relevant at what they do by slow, cautious tweaks of the dial. Turn down the glorification of substance abuse here; turn up the Strobeckian lens work there.

It’s a willingness to change that’s prolonged their respective goodnesses. And to not lose the essence of what made them good at the thing in the first place, but refine it—increasing its potency.

Animal shape holds

Rank: 3
Mood: 😑

Folkestone, a port town of under 50,000 inhabitants in the southeast of England, is now home to Folkestone 51, “The world’s first multi-storey skatepark.” The structure boasts 2100 square metres of “skateable surface” and “facilities for... BMX, climbing, bouldering, boxing and more.” It’s the multiplex my teenage self could only dream of while drinking cheap beer behind the hockey rinks of youth. And sure, it costs £7 for a weekday session (11.72 CAD) and is over an hour train ride from London, but it costs 12.50 CAD (7.46 GBP) for non-members to skate the single-storey indoor skatepark at the West 49 in Tsawwassen, BC. And it takes over an hour to get there from Vancouver by transit.

So does making this comparison help make a point of any kind? Is this just a laborious, petty way to vent frustrations over Vancouver not having a proper indoor or even covered skatepark after years of petitioning the City to make it happen?

Yes, yes, it is. Hopefully, we all filled out our surveys.

The Fundamentals of Skateboard Judging Pt. 2: Imagine you’re Wolfgang Puck

Rank: 9 club
Mood: 🥇 🥈 🥉

“Judges really have to take their jobs seriously, because they are potentially changing the lives of the people they are judging.”

“And they need to deliver fair results at the end.”

“Okay, makes sense.”

That brief, seemingly scripted back and forth between hosts Martin Karas and Alexis Jauzion is a tidy summation of “New Era, Influencing the Sport, Desired Character and Age of Judges,” which serves as Part 1 of Episode 2 of World Skate Academy’s Fundamentals of Skateboard Judging course.

It’s true, judging is a serious job with serious consequences that should be taken on by serious people. What are the qualities that define a serious judge? World Skate Academy says, first, they need to be skateboarders themselves, “to understand what is the act of skateboarding, what is the relationship between the skater and the spots,” and “it’s also a plus if they’ve been competing themselves because they understand the rules of the competition in skateboarding and they can relate to that when they do their job as a judge.”

Potential judges should also be of a certain age, between 18 and 50, specifically. Why? If you’re too young, you might not have enough experience and potentially lack relevance and credibility in the eyes of the competitors. If you’re too old, well, with the high level of progression in skating, it can be hard to stay connected to what’s happening and what’s relevant when distracted by all of the mature people things you’re up to. Karas ends that section with the observation that with “early teenagers, what’s difficult for them was almost impossible for us at their age.”

Does that gradual overall progression of skateboarding ability over the years make the tricks executed in competition by the youngs of today harder to judge for the olds of yore? Will they score something higher than it should be due to their age-determinate markers of what a difficult trick is? You’d imagine that someone who “understand[s] what is the act of skateboarding, what is the relationship between the skater and the spots” could parse that generational shift and follow the judging criteria correctly.

Speaking of…

Episode 2, Part 4 of the course isJudging Criteria and Pizza Theory,” the latter not in reference to the QAnon spurring PizzaGate conspiracy theory (which is the first thing that pops up if you Google “Pizza Theory), but instead, purely focused on metaphorical Pizza. Because judging skateboarding, according to World Skate Academy, is “like cooking a pizza.” Every chef (skateboarder) uses the same kitchen (contest course) and the same ingredients (judging criteria) and the judges are simply doing a taste test, the lesson illustrating as much by featuring this nearly four-minute uninterrupted segment of Hell’s Kitchen featuring Gordon Ramsay and Wolfgang Puck ripping into various undercooked pies.

World Skate’s objective Judging Criteria (ingredients) for all sanctioned events are:

  • Use of Course and Individual Obstacles (dough)
  • Difficulty and Variety of Performed Tricks (toppings)
  • Quality of Execution (cheese)
  • Flow and Consistency (sauce)
  • Repetition (seasoning)

Judges must not rate one criterion greater than another, and all have to be considered at once. So if a skater (chef) is spamming kickflip variations, no matter how difficult they are, that’s akin to overdoing it with a particular seasoning, which if you’re not careful will make “the pizza… too salty.” This theory can also serve as much guidance as it can comfort those judges who reach the bright lights and whose nerves begin to hit, says Karas. “When you’re judging those big names and you’re feeling stressed, just imagine you’re judging a pizza and it will get you through the process much easier.”

All-time celebrity couples I’d have at my wedding

Rank: 2
Mood: 👰‍♀️ 👰 👰‍♂️ 🤵‍♀️ 🤵 🤵‍♂️

  • Serena Williams and the guy from Reddit
  • Truman Capote and Jack Dunphy
  • Elizabeth Taylor and Jeff Goldblum
  • Any couple from Love Is Blind
  • Oprah Winfrey and Roger Ebert
  • Geralt of Rivia and Yennefer of Vengerberg
  • Jennifer Aniston and the guy from Counting Crows

Something to consider:

Good things:

Until next week… return those library books (and take out some more).