PROs on the mound | Simply Ranked

Plus: Olympic skateboarding stats and consultants, time stops for Alltimers, some additional whinging, and more.

PROs on the mound | 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.

Gossip corner: Time stops

Rank: -1

On Wednesday, SLAP message board user 144p shared a message in a long-simmering topic that appears to be from the gang behind Alltimers to skateshops and stockists announcing that the company is winding down.

Wassup guys,

I hope you're doing dope. I'm writing today as bearer of some weird news. After 11 years, Alltimers is *actually* going out of business. We started with a drop of 50 red Lamborghini-shaped boards, and in the time since sorta turned it into a full-blown skate company.  We never really had a plan other than to show who and what we thought was dope ... and to not take anything too seriously.  I think people responded to that...that we did something unique and special. I am forever proud of that and in that respect will always consider Alltimers to be a success.

We've showcased and supported some of my favorite skateboarders of all-time: Zered, Dustin, Elijah, Will, Chuck, Etienne, BEN BLUNDELL, Alexis, Stafhon, Coles, Sully, Dougie, Brianna, Dana, Gabe, Eddie Vargas, Aoto Yoroi.  As TM and shit I've spent weeks with these people, shared beds, bailed them out of Greek jail...gotten run out of an Alabama morgue parking lot for grilling steaks.

I want to thank all of you guys for dealing with us, supporting us, maybe explaining to some kids' parents the potential use (or lack thereof) of say...a skateboard shaped like a six-piece chicken nuggets going into a tub of sweet n' sour sauce. If making skateboards is tough, running a skateshop is psychotic - it's a thankless role that too often gets taken for granted until it's too late.  You guys actually keep skateboarding - as me, Pryce, and Rob know and appreciate it - alive and thriving.  We can't thank you enough for that.

We're ending things on a high note, a second project with Creative Growth, some Thunder Trucks with Marv on 'em, and a Going Out of Business tee. These things aren't built to last forever and this one has run its course. We're grateful to have played some role in this thing--sk9ing--that we love so much and are looking forward to whatever the future holds.  With that said, don't be a stranger ✌️❤️
Love & gratitude,
Zach & Pryce & Rob

If true, what led to the decision to close up shop is unclear. Running a skateboarding brand, especially a board brand, is difficult in the best of times, so it shouldn't be surprising to see any of your favourites pack it in. That said, it's still tough to see. Alltimers did a good job at carving out their own niche in the industry, put out some great videos, and were home to a full roster of unique and talented skaters who can hopefully find homes somewhere new.

So, if this is it, rest in peace, brand. Who's going to sponsor Canadian skateboarders now?

Olympic hot spots, stats

Rank: 1-3
Mood: 🥇🥈🥉

As we sit, following the final Olympic skateboarding qualifying event in Budapest, Hungary, last weekend, we are now one month away from the start of the Paris 2024 Olympics. If we look at the current World Skateboarding Rankings and their top three ranked positions across the four competitive fields (men's street, women's street, men's park, and women's park), the stats tell us a story.

Men's Street
1. Ginwoo Onodera (14 | regular | JPN)
2. Sora Shirai (22 | goofy | JPN)
3. Yuto Horigome (25 | goofy | JPN | Tokyo 2020 gold medalist)

Women's Street
1. Coco Yoshizawa (14 | regular | JPN)
2. Liz Akama (15 | regular | JPN)
3. Rayssa Leal (16 | goofy | BRA | Tokyo 2020 silver medalist)

Men's Park
1. Tate Carew (19 | goofy | USA)
2. Keegan Palmer ( 21 | goofy | AUS | Tokyo 2020 gold medalist)
3. Gavin Bottger (17 | goofy | USA)

Women's Park
1. Cocona Hiraki (15 | regular | JPN | Tokyo 2020 silver medalist)
2. Arisa Trew (14 | regular | AUS)
3. Sakura Yosozumi (22 | regular | JPN | Tokyo 2020 gold medalist)

Seven Japanese athletes, two Australians, two Americans, and one Brazilian occupy the 12 top-three ranked positions. Japanese skaters sit in 58% of those ranked positions. At the 2020 Games, Japan won 41% of all medals in skateboarding, including 3/4 golds. The only category that Team Japan doesn't have an outsized presence this year is men's park, with Yugo Nagaraha being their highest-ranked athlete at seventeen.

The subplot turned main storyline of Japan's dominance in competitive skateboarding is still taking shape, but Niall Neeson — founder of Kingpin Magazine who currently writes for World Skate's website — took a stab at the reasons behind it when interviewed by last month.

“Because of its geographical size, street skating doesn’t really exist in Japan that it does elsewhere,” Neesom [sic] said. “Most of them come up skating in skate parks which isn’t to say that it’s institutionalised, but they learn the basics earlier in a way that isn’t necessarily true in the rest of the world.

“I used to think that it was the Japanese sense of learning and refining what other people do. It’s more about respect. They respect the opportunities that have been given to them. They respect the coaches, they respect the culture of skateboarding. And they all have smiles on their faces while they’re doing it. It’s more of a wholesome activity; it doesn’t have the outlaw edge in Japan.

“If there was a two-dimensional answer to it everybody else would be doing it. It’s not just hunger because the Brazilians are plenty hungry. It’s not just the time they put into it because there are a lot of other countries that have got bigger problems devoted to it including the Australians."

Okay... Want another stat? Out of those 12 top three rankings for the 2024 Games, they are split down the middle with 50% goofy skaters and 50% regular footers. Wow. Goofy vs. Regular? More like Goofy = Regular.

And how about this: The average age of the top-ranked male skaters is 19.6. The average age of the top-ranked female skaters? 16. The average age of all the top-ranked competitors? 17.8. Good luck to absolute dinosaur Ryan Decenzo, who officially qualified for the games this past weekend for Team Canada and will be 38 by the time they start — more than double the average age of those top competitors.

What else. Well, each category has at least one Tokyo 2020 medalist ranked in the top three, which is interesting, I guess. Oh, one more fun fact: I tried to apply for media accreditation to cover the Games this year and promptly found out that you need to apply through your country's respective Olympic governing body two years in advance. Suffice to say, you can expect more of this trenchant analysis delivered to you from the comfort of my apartment.

An Olympic-level consultant

Rank: -172,000,000
Mood: 💼

At the Olympic qualifiers in Hungary over the weekend, I noticed one event sponsor whose name dotted the course that I'm not sure I'd ever seen or would ever assume would want to insert themselves into a skateboarding contest before. Deloitte is one of the big four globe-spanning consultancy firms that's wormed its way into all levels of business and politics. A long-time Olympic sponsor, I imagine they're more invested in the five rings than Caballarial-backside-tailslides, but it's still a sight.

That's because Deloitte and its contemporaries have been involved in an untold number of scandals; as the National Observer reported in 2019, "Increasingly, [Deloitte and other consulting firms] stand accused of turning a blind eye and even enabling, corporate fraud and questionable accounting. They’ve also emerged as central players in the creation and abuse of offshore tax havens. And they've become champions of the privatization of government services."

Despite all of this, their tendrils still reach far. This past April, a report from Deloitte analyzing Canada's forthcoming 2024 federal budget, criticized what it calls the country's "productivity problem" but was bullish on the $2.4 billion the Liberal government would later announce it's putting toward "securing Canada's AI advantage." Not a great sign, considering the damage "AI" is already doing to the environment, the fact that the majority of those startups and their products are complete bullshit, and that most of these AI companies have partnerships with the big consulting firms, including Deloitte, whose technologies those firms then encourage businesses and governments to invest in.

The Canadian government spent an estimated $172 million of taxpayer dollars on consulting contracts with Deloitte from 2021-2022, even though the government is supposed to have its own employees that do this type of research and analysis. Cool stuff. Something to think about while you watch Kairi Netsuke heelflip-backside-tailslide down a giant ledge in the run section.

PROs on the mound

Rank: 1

Major League Baseball and professional skateboarding share a rich history. Specifically, a far-reaching timeline of PRO skateboarders throwing out the ceremonial opening pitch at MLB games. In the last few years, the San Diego Padres have formed something of an alliance with the San Diego-based SK8MAFIA, with Wes Kremer, TJ Rogers, and, on Tuesday, Jimmy Cao throwing heat to get the day's festivities started. The Padres also had Nick Tucker on deck a couple of years back and, just last week, Nora Vasconcellos. Tony Hawk has also been on the mound for them a few times, too. Hell, even Beaver Fleming got a crack at it.

But the ceremonies extend beyond the Padres. In honour of their griptape-inspired uniforms, the Tampa Bay Rays had Elissa Steamer and Kris Markovich open games in recent weeks. Last year, The Chicago White Sox had Chaz Ortiz toss one out in celebration of a capsule collection collaboration with DGK. In 2022, the Los Angeles Angels invited Olympic champion Yuto Horigome to set things off.

But this isn't just recent history. Rob Dyrdek has thrown the opening pitch for the Dodgers (2010) and the Mariners (2011).

Photo: Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers

Paul Rodriguez and Eric Koston also threw out an opening pitch for the Dodgers in 2010. While I can't find an image of it, multiple sites note that Koston winged one for the team all the way back in 2003.

Photo: P-Rod's Twitter

I imagine there's more I'm missing, but this is just what a cursory google turned up. The uptick in skaters throwing ceremonial pitches in recent years is likely related to skateboarding's current wave of popularity, especially in the wake of its inclusion in the Olympics. However, what I really want to know is, has a PRO ever done a ceremonial puck drop? That's when we'll know skateboarding has officially broken through.

One last thing, I promise

Rank: ehh
Mood: 📦

In last week's newsletter, I went in pretty hard on Ty Evans' evolution as a filmmaker in the skateboarding space in light of his production of the recent Nike SB x Sky Brown video part, saying things like:

He's responsible for some of the absolute best and worst skateboarding videos ever produced.
"He's just experimenting! Pushing his craft in new directions!" One could argue, and they'd be right. He is doing both of those things. But as he does, he reaches a painful crescendo — decades of skill, talent, and experience coming together to bring us something completely lifeless. Inert. Projects meant for a demo reel and nothing more. Pieces that check off the boxes in a pitch deck to the client. Tone: Uplifting. Dramatic. Epic.

Not particularly nice, but not wrong, in my opinion of my own opinion. While I don't blame anyone for changing their creative approach to become more appealing to higher-paying clients — people have families to support, after all — when they lose their creative spark in service of finding that brand-safe zone, that's when it feels, well, icky.

A reader noted in the comments last week that part of Evans' evolution, especially in that latest Nike SB effort, is likely due to him attempting to appeal to an audience outside of skateboarding. I'd agree, which is ultimately more of a bummer because it doesn't have to be that way.

Look at what Jacob Harris has been doing with ASICS or what Tom Karangelov and Matt Bublitz just did with their Enter the Museum x New Balance Numeric spot. Credit to those athletic shoe behemoths who either have no qualms about speaking directly to skateboarders or respect the taste of audiences outside of the bubble enough not to pander to them.

Perhaps I'm letting this get to me a little too much. It's just a commercial, after all. Or that's exactly it. It's so hard to escape this type of excruciatingly soulless advertising in our current age. It's nearly everywhere we look online. The social platforms that promised connection are now chumboxes. The streamers that promised an ad-free entertainment revolution have deformed themselves back into cable packages that become blistered with ad breaks if you don't give them even more money. Try looking at a website like Rolling Stone without an ad-blocker, I dare you. Or try looking at MTV News or — oh wait, you can't; decade's worth of music journalism and comedy programming was just wiped from existence this week because Paramount, the unwieldy media conglomerate that doesn't understand how to appeal to viewers and is $14 billion in debt, is doing some "belt-tightening."

It's just nice to have a respite from all of those horrors, you know? Some branded content to look at that makes a person feel good, or at worst, nothing at all.

Something to consider:

The Puzzle That Wants to Destroy The New York Times
When over 100 members of Writers Against the War on Gaza occupied the lobby of the New York Times building back in March, the actionists distributed a variety of flyers, in addition to c

Discoursed thing: Lots of quote tweets about this one.

Social Media Broke Slang. Now We All Speak Phone.
The irony: Online is where we most need the identity cues that idiosyncratic language used to provide.

Universal thing: The appeal and importance of the neighbourhood bar.

Exile on Third Street
You will leave this life, but there’s no guarantee you’ll ever leave the Town & Country Lounge’s wall of shame.

Decent thing: If you ignore the headline, there are some decent musings and quotes in here.

How William Strobeck Elevated Skateboarding to an Art Form
With his transcendent feature-length videos for Supreme, William Strobeck has come to define the look of modern skateboarding. Here, he talks about his painterly eye for beauty and chaos, and his ambitions to direct

Personal branding thing:

Generation Franchise: Why Writers Are Forced to Become Brands (and Why That’s Bad)
Last fall, around the time Britney Spears’s memoir The Woman in Me was published, I went to the Brooklyn stop of Liz Phair’s 30th anniversary tour for her debut album Exile in Guyville. Exile is on…

Speaking of: I'll be reading some writing and talking about writing with some pals if you're in Vancouver tonight.

Short Forms Forever! With Jen Currin, Cole Nowicki and Deepa Rajagopalan | Upstart & Crow
Join us on Friday, June 28 at 7 p.m. for an evening with three wonderful authors who are all about the short form, stories and essays! Deepa Rajagopalan, Jen Currin more

Another nice local event: Daffodil is launching Street Uni X at Antisocial today.

Until next week… there is a space just above your head where the great thinking spirit is kept. Try feeding it new ideas or feelings you'd rather forget. If it begins to get too heavy or takes more than it gives, simply breathe deep and prepare yourself to exist.

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