First freestyle session of 2020

The early sunsets and temperatures of winter always suck. This is the first time I’ve been able to have a good freestyle session since October 2019. I did OK. It just takes me a couple of sessions to wake my feet up for the year. I always start the year just working on footwork, trying to get my feet moving smoothly. Afterward, as usual, I came up with stuff to work on tomorrow.

First Session of 2020 from Bob Loftin on Vimeo.

Board retired, new board built up, ready for 2020.

This is my board from the 2019 Paderborn Germany freestyle contest. After each of these trips I get all my friends who were in the contest to sign the board, plus any of them who are there but not skating in the contest (judging, taking photos, etc). This past year was especially meaningful because it was the first time my wife was over there with me, meeting my friends from the UK and Europe, and experiencing what a special event it is. Magical, really.

2019 was a hard year. This contest was in July. For the past 5 years I’ve known that any time I leave the country I may have to return at any time if my mother got sick. Amazingly, we made it through two weeks in Germany with no emergency calls from home. By mid-November, my mom would be gone. It seems likely that I will have to skip Paderborn this year, but I’m looking forward to doing a run there for my mom in the future.

Anyway, I officially retired this deck tonight and set up a new one. I’m pretty easy on boards. Rough on wheels, but my boards usually last about a year, depending on what I’m doing trick-wise.

My board from 2019, used at the 2019 Paderborn Germany freestyle contest. I got 3rd in the “Legends” (old bastards) division.

A walk

Yesterday, New Years Day 2020, we went for a walk in a nearby nature preserve. While we do enjoy the preserve, it is pretty close to the highway (like everything around here) and you can easily hear the drone of traffic.

The only time you don’t hear that is after it slows and/or there is an ice storm and the roads are empty. You don’t realize how much noise there is in the suburbs until such a time, then you go out and it is actually quiet, and it is just glorious. No cars. No AC units.

Things I obsess about #2

I’ve posted this in various places before.

When I was growing up reading the various skateboarding magazines it was pretty frustrating not being able to see the events. Occasionally there might be something on television, but that was rare. When I read the second Stacy Peralta interview in Skateboarder Magazine, he mentioned this banked freestyle contest.  Man, I wanted to see it! Then a few years ago this showed up on youtube, and man, I have watched it every so often since then. Stacy Peralta, Mike Weed, Dennis Martinez, and Ty Page. So cool. It was especially weird to see this as a 50-year old man, because this is the way I skate.

Bones Brigade

From Tony Hawk’s Instagram feed.

I recently saw these dudes compared to the Alva crew on a video, and it was mentioned how much cooler the Alva guys were. Fast forward 30 or 35 years. Every one of these Powell guys still rips. With the possible exception of Mullen, who looks like he’s damned near crippled himself from insanely obsessive practice. Make of that what you will. These guys are all rippers.

Things I obsess over #1

Over the last five years there are a number of old skate images and video I’ve been obsessed with. Things that just hit me so hard at the time I originally saw them in the 1970s or in the case of the videos just a few years ago, when they were finally put on the internet.

I’ll start with this image, from Skateboard World Magazine. The skater is Steve Day, who was a pro freestyler at the time for the Russ Howell team, and then later he skated for the short-lived Bad Company team. Steve was a top freestyler for a while, and while he is usually remembered for the handstand kickflip, this simple, beautiful image of him doing a 1-footed nose wheelie was on my wall when I was a kid, and it still hits home for me today. Steve got 4th place at this contest, the 1978 Oceanside Pro Freestyle. The results were as follows:

1. Doug Saladino
2. Matt Barden
3. Steve Cathey
4. Steve Day
5. Dan Ewell

If footage of this even evert finds its way to video I think some third eyes are going to be opened.

Why this image? Well, first it’s just a great full-page shot. His positioning on the board is superb, projected strength, balance, and control. The Howell freestyle wheels look really cool. He’s riding a flat fiberglass Howell board with a “foot stop” attached to the top of the tail to keep his foot on while spinning 360s. There is a real crowd there to see the skating. Man, it must have just been fantastic to be there.

Everyone on that list of placings was a great skater. There were lots of great images from this event. Soon I’ll be going on and on about Doug Saladino at an even earlier contest, but that’s for a different post.

Libraries and free movies

If you have a public library card, there is a reasonable chance you have free access to Kanopy, which is a streaming video service that a lot of libraries make available, for free, to patrons. It’s kind of like Netflix for smart people. Lots of great films, documentaries, indy stuff, etc.

Last night I was in the mood to watch a science fiction film, so I checked out this little independent film called Prospect. It’s fairly low budget, but well done. Good practical effects. I would classify it as hard SF. Highly recommend it.

Two-Footed Nose Wheelies

Sinus Infection Winter 2019 continues, which means I’ve been sitting around thinking about skating. Tonight I’ve been thinking about my favorite trick, the 2-footed Nose Wheelie. Some people call it a Hang Ten Nose Wheelie. Bad people replace the word Wheelie with “manuel”, which is of course incorrect for reasons I’ll not go into here (but words do actually mean things, so I’m not flexible on this).

Modern freestylers tend to do the trick with their feet centered on the board, while older skaters often had their feet offset or not exactly facing forward, or at least have one foot a little further up the nose than the other. The new way is better for variations like Nose Wheelie Spacewalks. I can do it both ways, but I tend to put one foot a bit farther up the nose, as I learned this in about 1979. It never occurred to me that a spacewalk might be possible from this wheelie.

If you want to learn this trick, here is Tony Gale’s tip for it on FreestyleTrickTips.com. Tony will harsh on you for moving your feet to the offset position, but don’t let that fool you. He’s a top bloke, and certainly in the top 5 freestylers in the world now.

Talking to my friend Terry Synnott (of Mode Skateboards) tonight, I was telling him that a shorter nose allows you to lift the rear wheels higher, and that I think it looks better. Terry thinks this opinion comes from the era in which I started skating. He’s probably right. Still, it looks better with those rear wheels held high. Anyway, here are some examples.

Me, Oct 2019. Photo by Joe Makarski. You can see how much less nose I really need. That long nose is actually a problem. I’m generally happy with the wheelie. Good rear wheel height.

Doug Saladino, late 70s, offset feet, great style.

Tony Alva, from cheesy Playboy Magazine video, but with great style. Very offset feet. Sometime in the 2010s.

Steve Cathey, late 70s, Jim Goodrich photo. Great wheel height and wild back arch. Feet pretty well centered.

Steve Olson, Indy Trucks ad, early 80s Thrasher mag. Again, great style, wheels held high. So cool. Offset feet.

More Peralta

Looks like Stacy Peralta will be posting more of this footage from the old Marina Del Rey skatepark. Good.

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Stuff

Tonight I decided to make this a “general” skate blog. Since it’s my blog, it will mostly be about me and my friends.

So here’s my part from the third NeverWas video, which was released back in October at StupidFest II. I am running out of tricks, so for the fourth video I will have to learn some new stuff and go to some new spots. I have some ideas, which is frustrating because for various reasons I’ve not been able to get out and skate. And right now I’m four days into a sinus infection, which sucks.

Anyway, here’s the video. My goal on this part was to do some freestyle on a bigger board, to sort of demonstrate to some of the old guys that FS can actually be like it was before stationary tricks and specialization temporarily ruined it. That’s its a fun thing to do, and there’s no reason one can’t have a few such tricks in their arsenal.