Last night I went to the NYC premiere of the new documentary called ‘Waiting for Lighting.’ The story chronicles the life of Danny Way highlighting his 2005 jump over the Great Wall of China on a mega ramp structure not previously built or designed that big before. I recommend all people interested in skating should see this. Comparing the two I think this documentary has more wide spread appeal than the recent documentary on the Bones Brigade, but I’m not sure about it being hugely popular. But for skaters it will be an essential watch.
As a kid I got introduced to Danny Way from H-Street’s skate video Hokus Pokus in 1989, and I thought that was near the beginning of his career. I was wrong, although born in 1974 he was part of the famous Del Mar skate park that reached its peak in popularity around 1980. In the documentary his mom claims he started skating at age 3, and by 6 was skating the gnarly pool park in Del Mar. Christian Hosoi, Tony Hawk, Tony Magnusson, and several other older skaters attested that he was the little kid that tried everything.
In my opinion, the documentary explains his chaotic home life well without overdoing the drama and puts the focus on his accomplishments on a skateboard. His father died in jail while he was an infant, throughout his life he lacked father figures, and his mom had some lifestyle problems while Danny Way and his brother Daman Way were growing up. In these documentaries I’m noticing a trend that the early skaters that pioneered and progressed the sport had a huge drive in them. From problems at home or other reasons, they put everything into skating.
In the early 1990’s Danny Way got huge in the skate world with Plan B, and went through a wild phase. He drove dirt bikes like a maniac, did donuts in a Porshe, and may have started to go down the wrong path. This documentary does not glorify the wild behavior and states in quickly. In 1994 he had a serious injury from surfing. It could have been career ending but with finding a quality rehabilitation expert, he was able to get back on his board. After that, he did not take things for granted as much, and focused on the skating. To me it seems that all the skaters that kept at a good level for a long time had something happen to bring their focus back to skating. Partying and recklessness is part of skating, but on the elite level for longevity I think the skating has to be the focus.
Mike Ternasky was a skate coach and mentor for Danny Way among other skaters. He passed away in a car accident in 1994. This documentary goes into his relationship with Danny Way and how he drove him and other skaters to new feats. The documentary ‘The Man Who Souled the World’ also goes into how Mike Ternasky was able to work with skaters and develop them. I had the fortune as a kid to see Mike Ternasky interact with Danny Way and Mike Carroll at Woodward skate camp in 1991. It was amazing to see Mike Ternasky just talk to them after each run and give pointers. I was amazed with skateboarding before that, but it was something to see those interactions. I realized that skating was a real discipline, and these guys were shaping the future of it by tweaking the tricks. This documentary treats the legacy of Mike Ternasky well and with tact.
Lastly on this documentary, the Great Wall of China jump really was impressive, and the Chinese really appreciated it as well. Now, seven years later, it’s interesting that quite a bit of the skate filming is being done in China, street skating is being filmed in Shanhai, and I guess ramp skating is being done there too. They are building some of the biggest parks there, and what a market for the industry being the most populated country in the world.
These documentaries are trying to bring out that there is a skateboard history and it’s worth making it common knowledge. From what I can guess is anyone age 50 and under involved in skating really saw the sport evolve, and it’s still evolving. Skateboarding may never have mainstream popularity, but it is here to stay and will only get more popular. Just like my grandfather had a Ted Williams story to tell me when I was a kid, I’ll have stories about the origins of skateboarding to tell my grandkids, and that I’m sure about.
*Here is the Danny Way part from the DC video from 2003, right at the start of the new Mega Ramp skating craze.