Jonathan Mehring’s short documentary Walls Cannot Keep Us From Flying follows two young Palestinians who have found freedom in skateboarding while surrounded by walls & barbed wire and facing harassment from Israeli authorities and their own families & communities.
What do I feel when I skate? What do I imagine? I imagine there’s no occupation, there’s no wall. I feel freedom.
With every new trick, it’s like you become aware of a new life, new ideas. It’s not something that I can describe, it’s something you feel in your heart. It’s like when something has been missing and you’re looking for it and slowly you find it.
According to one of the young skaters in the film, when a new skatepark opened in the West Bank, the Israeli army came and fired tear gas. And no wonder — when oppressed people start doing things like skateboarding and begin to feel like they are free, authoritarian regimes can’t have that — they’ve got to crack down.
Antonio Alcalá designed the stamps, which feature skateboard decks created by four different artists:
Di'Orr Greenwood is a member of the Najavo Nation who does pyrographic art, burning images into the wooden decks of some of the boards she designs. Greenwood also carves cedar wood flutes and teaches skateboarding. From her Instagram, one of decks she's designed recently:
Crystal Worl is "Tlingit Athabascan from Raven moiety, Sockeye Clan, from the Raven House" who currently lives and works in Juneau, Alaska. Her Instagram is here and here's a recent deck from her website:
Federico Frum is a street mural artist from Colombia who is based in Washington DC; he operates under the name MasPaz. From his Instagram, a recent desk design:
I’m excited to get some of these stamps when they come out later in the year. (via lizzie armanto)
If you’re a skateboarder from Southern California, you have probably dreamed of a Los Angeles landscape full of empty concrete and devoid of cars, buses, bikes, and people. This video delivers exactly that — skating around a big, empty LA with everything else automagically removed. (via the morning news)
I traveled to Cochabamba in September and was struck by the strong prejudice that exists in Bolivian society against indigenous people. There are medical cholitas or lawyers there who radically change their way of dressing if they go to the city and you hardly see young cholitas. It is a culture that is being lost. However, these women, beyond emboldening girls with sport, show their pride in being cholitas.
The 2020 Summer Olympics are over, but it’s never too late to find inspiration in the athletes who competed. For the New Yorker, Nathan Fitch made a short film about professional skateboarder Lizzie Armanto, who was then preparing to represent Finland in the first ever skateboarding competition at the Olympics.
“There [are] no masters,” Armanto says. “And even the people that we call masters — they haven’t done every trick. No one can do everything on a skateboard at all times without failing. Everyone falls, and everyone will have something that they can work on.”
Armanto didn’t medal at these Games — she broke several bones and underwent surgery after a skating accident in late 2020 and was perhaps still recovering from that. But she represented Finland and her sport in fine style; she helped design the uniforms she wore:
Those distinctive squiggles were actually an homage to Finland, the country Armanto was competing for. Specifically, she was inspired by architect and designer Alvar Aalto. “In 1939, he designed a kidney-shaped swimming pool which became synonymous with pool skateboarding much later in the ’70s,” Armanto says. “The various patterns on the jumpsuits are modeled after empty swimming pools around the world.”
Werner Herzog doesn’t know anything about skateboarding. But suspecting the director was a kindred spirit, Ian Michna interviewed Herzog for skate mag Jenkem. My favorite bit is when Michna asks Herzog if he shot a skateboarding video, what music would he choose as a soundtrack:
What comes to mind first and foremost would be Russian Orthodox church choirs, something that creates this kind of strange feeling of space and sacrality — so what you are doing is special, bordering the sacred.
I recently made a 720 and it was a battle. The last one I made before this was over three years ago, and it’s much harder now all things considered: recently dislocated fingers hinder my grab, my spin is slower so I need to go higher for full rotation and… I’m really old. pic.twitter.com/u8pbwRhS9j
Hawk says it’ll probably be his last one — he’s getting too old, his spin is slower, etc. In 2016, at the age of 48, Hawk hit his final 900:
There’s a way in which watching Hawk perform these tricks and watching, say, 11-year-old Gui Khury perform the world’s first 1080 is the same: they’re both attempting something they aren’t sure they can do at that moment. But Hawk has both the benefit and hindrance of wisdom to draw upon here. He knows he can do a 720 because he’s done probably hundreds of them before, but he’s also battling his body, self-doubt, and probably the tiny voice in the back of his head saying “why exactly do you need to do this, dumbass?” Hawk probably knows better than anyone that as you get older, the true battle in sports (and life) is not against others or the record book, it’s against yourself.
Update: On Twitter, @limitedmitch says: “If you want to feel desperately sad today, Tony Hawk has been sporadically doing tricks ‘for the last time ever’ on his Instagram”.
The video showcases a style of riding where their wheels stay mostly on the ground, harkening back to skateboarding’s “history of freestyle flat-land skateboarding in the 70’s-80’s and the footwork that longboard surfers sometimes use”.
Estelle Caswell talks to Tony Hawk and architectural historian Iain Borden (author of
Skateboarding and the City) about some of skateboarding’s most iconic spots and how skate architecture has changed over the years, from sidewalks to empty swimming pools in the desert to home-built halfpipes to “if you can see it you can skate it” structures (curbs, handrails, hydrants) all over cities.
Isamu Yamamoto is 17 years old and has been one of the world’s best freestyle skateboarders for years — he won his first world championship in 2014 at the age of 11. He started skating because he saw a video of Rodney Mullen and now Mullen says of Yamamoto:
The way he links his tricks together and the speed of them — it’s beautiful to watch. I would dare say that not many could do that, in that way, if they tried.
The three videos above show off Yamamoto’s seemingly effortless virtuosity on a skateboard; from top to bottom: a session from 2019, a 2017 short film, and his routine for the World Freestyle Round-Up, held virtually due to the pandemic — he ended up finishing second. (via @cdevroe)
More than two decades after Tony Hawk completed the first 900-degree turn, Khury shattered a long-standing record by flying off the top of a ramp and completing three full spins in the air before landing cleanly and skating off. The manoeuvre has long been one of the holy grails of skateboarding.
“The isolation for the coronavirus helped because he had a life that was about school and he didn’t have a lot of time to train, when he got home from school he was tired,” the skater’s father Ricardo Khury Filho told Reuters.
“So now he is at home more, he eats better and he has more time to train and can focus more on the training so that has helped. He has an opportunity to train here, if he didn’t have [the skate facilities] … he would be stuck at home like everyone else and unable to do sport. So the isolation helped him focus.”
Update: Now 12, Khury landed a 1080 at the X Games yesterday and collected a gold medal for best trick. Better yet, he did it in front of Tony Hawk.
I was six when it happened but the doctors said it was super fast. I didn’t really hesitate because I was so young. I used a wheelchair until about the age of 11. I was a kid who wanted to do everything. Regardless of not having two legs I wanted to do it all. I rode my bike, played soccer, pretty much everything out in front of my house. I was a normal kid. It didn’t even look like I was missing part of my legs. My parents were essential in my recovery because they never stopped me from doing anything. They were afraid of me getting hurt like any parents, but they never held me back. When I wanted to give up the wheelchair and ride the skateboard full time, they let me go.
Legendary skater Tony Hawk breaks down 21 increasingly complex skateboarding tricks, from a standard ollie to a kickflip to a McTwist to a 1080 to a couple of tricks that have never been done. As someone who has always been in awe of what skaters can do but hasn’t logged much on-board time myself, I learned a lot from this.
I don’t know what is going on in this video — boards coming apart and then back together again, trucks on hinges, ice “skating”, and other inventive nonsense on a skateboard — but it seems like a lot of it defies reality in a Newtonian sense. Sir Isaac’s all like, feck thee, thou’st foote wagon is not poss’ble. (Yeah, I don’t know either. Matt Tomasello is good at skateboarding and seems to have fun doing it. Watch the video.) (via @bmovement)
Update: Check out Tomasello’s latest video. This is some seriously inventive shit.
Dan Mancina has lost 95% of his eyesight but that hasn’t kept him from skating. Red Bull has an interview with Mancina, who stopped skating for a couple of years after he went blind, thinking that it wasn’t something a blind person would or could do.
There wasn’t a defining moment that changed my mind as to what a blind person was, but the day I started to build that bench sort of started it, and sparked this passion and stoked this urge to skate again.
Seeing how people responded to that, that’s the shit I was searching for. To see me not as a blind person, but as a normal person, a skater.
Ever since I was seven, that’s who I was. I am a skateboarder, I just lost it for a while. I bought into people’s ideas of me and what a blind person is, and really I should’ve been searching for who I was and what I wanted to do.
People who are really good at something talk about doing it “by feel” or being able to do it “in their sleep”. Mancina’s skating ability is a good reminder that after you pass a certain threshold of expertise, so much of athleticism is just your body’s ability to unconsciously perform.
With each beat of the metronome in this visually striking and inventive video of a skateboarder, the scene switches from day to night and back again. It’s not a complicated effect but combined with the simple electronic beat, it is mesmerizing.
Over a period of two years, skateboarder Christian Flores fell down thousands of times, broke boards, went to the hospital twice, and cracked a rib trying to do a laser flip down a triple set of stairs.
Even if you don’t care about skateboarding, watching Flores try and fail over and over and over and over (and over) again should be familiar to anyone who has ever attempted to master something difficult.
In this beautifully shot video, four skateboarders discover the joys of skating on the frozen sand of a Norwegian beach.
Ice, driftwood, foamy waves and … skateboards? Four skaters head north to the cold Norwegian coast, applying their urban skills to a wild canvas of beach flotsam, frozen sand and pastel skies. The result is a beautiful mashup — biting winds and short days, ollies and a frozen miniramp.
The result is a lot more contemplative than a lot of other skateboarding videos. The emphasis is not on cool tricks (which were difficult to do in the cold weather) but on the vibe of skating on a frozen Norwegian shoreline with only a few hours of sunlight a day. A longer version is available to rent or buy on Vimeo (and more info here).
Rodney Mullen, one of modern skateboarding’s founding fathers is still skating hard at age 49. (So’s Tony Hawk, landing 900s at 48 years old.) In this short film, he’s captured in 360° video performing some tricks, new and old, in what he refers to as a “stanceless” style. Mullen’s still got it, but he had to resort to some extreme measures to make sure his body came along for the ride.
What makes a soul regular, and what makes a soul goofy? To understand why this question began to grip Mullen, you have to go back to 2003. That’s when his body began to lock up. Decades of skating had yielded decades of scar tissue; his right femur had started to grind against his right hip. “Like anything that grinds, the body will fuse it, will calcify it,” explains Mullen. “I could feel how fast it was cinching me down. I couldn’t roll out of stuff anymore. And if you can’t fall, you can’t skate.” Doctors were wary of breaking up the fusion. One doctor in particular, says Mullen, “said with his eyes what he wouldn’t say with his mouth: There’s no way out for you with this.”
Mullen was determined to find a way out. With wrenches, knife handles, and other instruments, he began to jam open the scar tissue that was locking him down. In time he graduated to pulling the tissue apart, using large objects as leverage. “You know it’s a little rope in there that’s binding you,” he explains. “So you pull, you pull, you pull, and right when you think you can’t take it anymore, that’s when you give it all you have.” Late at night, Mullen would look for things against which he could hoist, heave, and winch himself, tearing the tissue into submission. “Fire hydrants are great,” he says. “Shopping cart racks: Those are really useful.” When scar tissue breaks free, it feels like dried gum snapping in half, or uncooked spaghetti cracking apart. Mullen was twice approached by police who, hearing his screams, thought he might be getting mugged. “You have to be so desperate where you actually don’t care what happens to you at some point.”
Technically, what you’re looking at here is a video shot in 4K resolution (basically 2x regular HD) and at 1000 frames/sec by a Phantom Flex 4K camera which retails for $100,000+. Skateboarders ollie. Dirt bikes spray dirt. Gymnasts contort. Make this as fullscreen as possible and just sit back and enjoy.
My favorite bits were of the gymnasts. In super slow motion, you can see how aerial flips are all about getting your head down as quickly as possible, then snapping your legs around as your head stays almost completely motionless — like a chicken’s! Mesmerizing.
I’ve posted quite a few skateboarding videos here over the years and they all have their share of amazing tricks, but the shit Bob Burnquist pulls on his massive backyard MegaRamp in this video is crazy/incredible. My mouth dropped open at least four times while watching. I rewatched the trick at 2:50 about 10 times and still can’t believe it’s not from a video game. (via @bryce)
It’s a neat piece of science art, and it also tells us something interesting. The arrows show us that the force on the skateboard is constantly changing, both in magnitude as well as in direction. Now the force of gravity obviously isn’t changing, so the reason that these force arrows are shrinking and growing and tumbling around is that the skater is changing how their feet pushes and pulls against the board. By applying a variable force that changes both in strength and direction, they’re steering the board.
Nine-year old Sabre Norris started skating three years ago because she couldn’t have a bike. Here she lands her first 540 after 74 straight failed attempts.
My favorite trick is a 540. I watched Lyn-Z Adams Hawkins do it on the internet, and I just had to do it. That was my 75th attempt of the day. Every time I tried one and didn’t land it I put a rock on the table. It ended up being my 75th rock. I was frothing. I did some 720s too. Not proper. I called it 540 to revert to splat. I didn’t cry though. My goal is to do 100 of them before this Saturday. I’m up to 75. I still can’t ride a bike, but I can do a 540.
I dunno, this may be the most bonkers skate video you’ve ever seen. It starts a bit slow but stick with it: Bob Burnquist shows us what he can do on his backyard MegaRamp.
This video is also a fantastic demonstration of the principle of Chekhov’s helicopter, which states that if you see a helicopter sitting next to a MegaRamp in the first two minutes of a skate video, a skater must absolutely drop in to the MegaRamp from the helicopter in the last part of the video. (thx, dusty)
We are truly in a golden era of skateboarding videos (again). The easy access to relatively good camera equipment on one side, and easy video distribution via the web on the other, have created a perfect storm in the last 4 or 5 years of gorgeous, highly stylized skateboarding videos. What am I saying, skateboarding videos have always been awesome.
Videos of downhill skateboard racing make me nervous, here’s one reason why.
“Oh, deer.” “That skateboarder deerly missed an accident.” “Too bad the skateboarder couldn’t deer out of the way.” “Did you deer about the downhill skateboarder?” “Deer clear of animals on the track.” “Deer we go again!” “No ideer where that came from.” “Nothing to fear, but deer itself.” “Skateboarder should have been in a lower deer.” “Deered up and ready to go.” “Deer force of will.” “Happy new deer.” (via @carveslayer)