The current generation of skaters wins

To say there is a generational war in skateboarding would be exaggeration or a flat out lie. But there are differences in the skaters of the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and up to today. Most of the differences are because the progression or direction that skating has gone. I think the past has helped make today and the current crop of kids the best and with the most opportunity.

Other than watching Lords of Dog Town and the original documentary on the Z-boys, the 1970’s were before my time. But I know without that generation pushing the limit, the creation of the urethane wheel, and dudes simply figuring out how to ride skating would have nothing today.  I’m not a transition skater, but the few times I’ve gone to the Pier 62 park I’ve seen people from that generation skating really well. Steve Olson was a big name back then, and I saw him skate Pier 62, he was fast and looked like a Johnny Cash rock star, it was rad.

In the 1980’s, skaters wore fluorescent clothes, and had strange hair. But they developed ramp skating. Vert skating and mini ramp skating really took off. I’ve read that the first skate video was a Powell video in 1985. If you watch those videos from 1985 to 1989, and watch the ramp parts all the standards came about. Smith grinds, disaster slides, rock n rolls, rock to fakie, blunts, axle stalls, and all sorts of other tricks. Those standards are still done on ramps today. If you get past the jump ramp tricks and the grab stuff the standards for lip tricks on ramp all came about in the 1980’s.

In the late 1980’s to 1990’s street skating came about, and in came the tech stuff. That is the generation, 1990 to 1994 that I identify with because of my age, and when I reached a better skill level. This was a good time, but also a very judgmental time. I remember when I moved to Ohio someone at the private school I was going to attend in fall knew of an older student that skated and I went to his house. But he had big wheels on his board and didn’t do tech stuff, so I didn’t pursue the friendship. People were so trendy back then, you had to wear baggy pants, shirts, and even your shoe laces had to look loose on your shoe. Looking back I was a jerk with the rest of them and judged people on how they dressed. Yes, that’s part of growing up, but it was also part of that time period. In Rodney Mullen’s biography, he said the same thing about the loose shoelaces and the self-imposed dress code.

In the late 1990’s to early 2000’s according to things I’ve read online skating went from tech skating to tech skating and gnar skating. So people no longer did frontside kickflips on flat, but did them down twelve stairs. Also I think in the 2000’s transition skating came back with a slew of skate parks being built everywhere.

I recapped the different stages of skating I could think of because every adult that skates has a different memory of the sport and what they consider the best time in skating.  So today in 2012, the memory for a 40 year old is different from a 35 year old, and yet again different for a 30 year old and so forth.  In most cases those three ages would be considered the same generation, but with skating their golden days would be different.

I’ve noticed today the kids that skate do not have a dress code like the 80’s kids or the 90’s kids. Some of them wear skinny jeans, some wear baggy jeans, but it looks like they wear whatever they want. Also some skate transition or street, and a lot skate everything.  There seems to be a lot more of variety with tricks and styles. In 1993 you wouldn’t be caught dead doing a no-comply, because that was an ‘old school’ trick. Now there is an emphasis on creativity, and people do what they just gravitate towards. This generation is not perfect, every time I’m at a park I hear more derogatory words then I care to, but as skaters I think they are less harsh on each other than skaters of the mid-nineties.

Lastly, I think this generation is the best because they have no reason to quit because older skaters like me have proved this is something that can be done for a long time. I took long breaks from skating, and I remember right about graduation from high school some of my friends started to quit. There was a lot of pressure to grow out of it from society and in a lot of cases from family. Also young adults in their late teens or early twenties are busy with college, work, learning a trade, or partying. But I think today more kids that love skating will continue to skate as adults. For one thing it’s accepted now and similar to an adult playing any other sport as a hobby. If I’m right that less kids will quit as they transition to adulthood that can only mean good things for the skateboarding world.

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