Is this skateboarding? | Simply Ranked

Plus: USA Skateboarding off certification, trend manifestation watch, advancements in trick-list technology, 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.

Trend manifestation watch

Rank: 1
Mood: 📈🔍

Jack Springer in Smile.

It’s always interesting to watch a potential trend emerge and evolve in the world of skateboarding, especially when it comes to people skating similarly-themed spots. How does this happen? Is it intentional? Incidental? Did Jack Springer know that once his Smile part for Garage Skateshop was released last week, wherein he does a frontside 50-50 ollie up into frontside wallride, that the following Monday, Louie Lopez would backside boardslide himself into a wallride in a new Spitfire Wheels video part?

Louie Lopez in Honor Roll.

Doubtful. But now, here are a pair of kindred tricks showing up near each other in the ever-so-crowded timeline of skateboarding content that rushes past us each day, which can feel like the start of something, even if that something is simply a coincidence. Because two, unfortunately, is not a trend. And there are multiple instances of this style of spot interpretation showing up before fading back out of the public consciousness, so it’s also not a new phenomenon. Seven years ago, Chris Haslam even gave us a predecessor of sorts to Lopez’s trick in a Transworld Pro Spotlight video part.

Chris Haslam in Chris Haslam’s Pro Spotlight Video (2015).

And if more of these ledge-to-wallride combos appear in videos released over the coming days and weeks, that would mean they’d all probably been done months or years previous. The nascent trend toward this style of spot and trick potentially already over as we finally begin to see its fruit.

But man, do I want it to be real. We’re in dire need of a cool new spot trend. And sure, ultimately, all I’ve done here is connect a piece of red string between two points of interest to try and prove something’s existence. But if I stare at the corkboard long enough, I swear I can see it.

Same old Game of Thrones

Rank: Ugh
Mood: 🚽🪠

In the wake of a United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) audit that highlighted USA Skateboarding’s (USAS) many failings as an organization and ultimately forced its board chair Gary Ream and CEO Josh Friedberg to step down, USAS’ High Performace team and several board members have resigned.

Coach Andrew Nicolaus described the situation and his resignation in an Instagram post over the weekend.

Unfortunately, current leadership at USA Skateboarding is no longer aligned with our High Performance team, and in turn are no longer laser focused on helping our athletes. The self interest of leadership, and their own idea of what’s best for the entire program, have taken over. On more than one occasion, I was witness to the horrible treatment of our staff. Constantly shooting down our ideas and concerns. Unfortunately people with no experience at all in the space decided we did not need to be heard. My hope is to one day return to the role of a lifetime, but under leadership that will listen to reason, treat everyone equally and with respect, and not use our athletes as a way to positions and financial gains.

Oscar Loteto Jr. would post about his decision to leave the board.

What I believed was going to be a pillar for the adaptive skateboarding community turned out to be nothing more that the same old Game of Thrones where organizations and corporations paraded adaptive skateboarding to benefit themselves and have the appearance of inclusion and not come through.

What does this mean for the future of USA Skateboarding? On Wednesday, ESPN reported that due to their audit results, the USOPC is moving to decertify the organization, a serious repercussion that the USOPC had started previously against USA Gymnastics in 2018 and USA Badminton in 2019 before reaching settlement agreements with both. There is currently no timeline for when a hearing on USAS’ decertification will take place.

In the meantime, for the people who helped make this mess, ousted USA Skateboarding chair Gary Ream is still chair of World Skate’s (the IOC’s governing body for skateboarding) technical commission and will oversee skateboarding’s appearance at Paris 2024.

Stay on Board

Rank: 1
Mood: 🛹

Speaking of people who stepped away from USA Skateboarding, a new documentary about Leo Baker started streaming on Netflix yesterday. The doc focuses on his experience in the lead-up to the 2020 Olympics, coming out as trans, his decision to quit the U.S. Olympic team, and a lifetime spent in an industry that defined him by his gender.

In an interview with Rolling Stone supporting the film, Baker is asked how he’d “…like to see the skate world change in the future for trans, queer, and non-binary kids?” His answer is incisive and two-fold.

The first thing is, whether it’s trans kids in more traditional sports or something like skating, I’m not saying I have the exact answer [to what this should look like], but let the fucking kids play. Who gives a shit? Nothing matters. We are floating on a rock in space. Stop tripping.
And then the other thing is, I’m hoping that by creating Glue, — and Jeff Cheung, the owner of There Skateboards also has a queer-centric skate thing in Oakland — I’m just hoping that the more momentum there is for us, the more people will decide to start something, and then there’s a queer skate industry where the people at the gates are not straight white cis hets. It would just be cool to see like, more than one trans person being successful at something, and to see more examples of how you can be trans and live a dope life. It doesn’t have to be all fucked up all the time because of the fact that you’re trans. There’s going to be more suffering inherently because of the way the world is, but it doesn’t all have to suck. So that is really what I hope to see happen in skating and also in the fucking world. We need to diversify the people at the top so that the people underneath can be seen.

You can watch Stay on Board: The Leo Baker Story now.

Is this skateboarding?

Rank: 2
Mood: 🦅

This is skateboarding. Well, not literally, but in the specific feeling it gives me while watching it. It’s a moment most skateboarders have seen in our own lives before, just in a different context. First, a friend finds a new, scarier way to skate a spot, and then the crew points the camera and eggs them on. They hesitate, get hyped up, attempt, and either eat shit or claim some small piece of glory that lives only in the hearts of those present—the former not precluding them from the latter.

And when you watch the second, lesser angle—the b-side, if you will—you get to see just how messed up your friend is for trying such a feat. The close-up of the crew’s reaction is both celebratory and a little guilty. Your prodding is the reason that friend risked their health and safety, but that cajoling is also why they ascended, becoming—if just for a moment—the only thing in the sky.

Trick lists of the past, future

Rank: 1-10
Mood: 📜 >📱

In the age of the smartphone, the device designed to simplify and expedite all aspects of our lives (as well as harvest reams of our user data to sell to third parties), I keep a loosely followed trick list in my Notes app. It’s divided into sections by the obstacles I think I can do specific maneuvers on. Notably, the Gaps and Rails sections are empty. My friends and I also have a shared Google Sheet where we’ve listed spots with photos, locations, and the potential clips we’d like to get on them.

That’s far beyond the lengths I’d go to in my youth, when a tattered spiral notebook contained pages of tricks I thought I could or wished I could land. Each checkmark I managed to place honestly beside a trick’s name was a hard-earned victory I’d hold on to, that notebook dogeared and kept beside the bed. A diary of sorts I’d return to each day—a simple, effective tool.

But now, even with the advanced technology available in my pocket, the photos and maps and lists of desired maneuvers to attempt and capture, my friends and I still struggle to decide what spots to hit each weekend; my digital trick lists largely unchecked.

Something to consider: Your inability to break the illusion.

Good things: Ian Browning’s “Civic Center — A Profile of the L.E.S. Skatepark at Ten Years” up on Quartersnacks.

Until next week… somewhere in your neighbourhood you’ll find a blackberry bush, find and pluck its fattest, juiciest berry. Admire it for a moment. Then, wipe it on your t-shirt. If you’re with a small child, offer it the berry. If not, enjoy it all for yourself.