Sometime in spring 2012 Tom Schaar at age 12 did the first 1080 on a skateboard, thanks to a large mega ramp. A 1080 is three full rotations, and is getting to the caliber of spins performed by gymnasts or figure skaters. Shortly after this feat I read an article online stating that skateboarding should be careful if the young ones could potentially dominate the sport. I can’t find that article now, but I strongly disagree with that opinion piece. Vert skating and contests even though hyped by ESPN are only one component of skating. Pros from the 80’s, and 90’s are proving that people can skate into old age, so I’m not going to spend much time on ageism. For this entry I’ll write that mega ramp skating is not the future of skating. Yes there is room for all skating, but I don’t think in 10 or more years mega ramp skating will be more popular than street or park skating.
In the recent documentary, ‘Ride the Lightning’, they showcase through Danny Way’s biography the development of the Mega ramp. Basically Danny Way was good at all types of skating he tried, and in the late 1990’s or early 2000’s he wanted to build something large and skate it in a way not done before. The documentary does a good job in stating how determined and committed he is to doing what he wants to on a skateboard. Growing up I watched ‘The Questionable’ skate video (1992) over and over. The last trick in his part from that video is a backside 360 down a huge double set. In the documentary it showed him taking like 10 hard slams before landing it. A commentator in the documentary said he would skate in a way that if he didn’t land something he would go the hospital from trying. The DC Video in 2003 might be the first skate part that shows the Mega Ramp with filming. The documentary also highlights his jump of the Great Wall of China in 2005, which is fascinating to watch.
In 2004 the X-Games included the mega ramp as an event. Quickly a lot of the top Vert pros started to skate mega ramps. In the 2007 X Games Jake Brown fell and estimated 45 feet to the flat bottom but was able to walk away. In 2009 Bob Burnquist had a part in the Flip video that primarily showcased his mega ramp skating.
In the documentary on Danny Way a commentator states this is a different type of skating, one that it’s possible that the participants could die. I believe these skaters are hyper talented and are pushing the limits, but I think they are a miniscule in numbers compared to average skaters. I dropped in a Vert ramp when I was 13 at Woodward skate camp, but never had the regular opportunity to skate ramps like that. So now if I see a Vert ramp or anything taller than myself, I’m hesitant and most likely do not skate the ramp. Most skaters these days would be timid with a Vert ramp. I think I read somewhere that an estimated 90 percent of skaters in the United States consider themselves street skaters. More and more the new skate parks being built go for a street plaza park or a mostly street oriented parks with some transitional features. Street skating is assessable to anyone, and some people are even content to simply cruise around on a cruiser or longboard. I think trying flip tricks on flat or ledge tricks fit the comfort zones more so than the big type of skating. In this line of thought, the Mega Ramps will always be built and owned by private skate companies or pros. I do not see cities around the country or anywhere building these for public parks. It’s too much liability and probably not enough people using it. I do think that not every skater is capable of skating Mega Ramps, and it should stay in the hands of the pros. The popularity of the sport will increase only if it remains assessable to the masses. The game of s.k.a.t.e is such a positive trend in my opinion because it can be done anywhere just on flatland. That is why street skating took over in the late 80’s, because it could be done anywhere.
Most people think of skaters as risk it all thrill seekers. That is not the case, learning a trick takes patience. A lot of getting good is repeating tricks over and over until you get it right. There are unlimited variations, and landing something new and figuring something out is the thrill, not the heights or drops. So I think most skaters particularly as they age are content with lesser feats of skateboarding than the Mega Ramp. I do think park skating and in particularly pools will be popular. In ten years I think most of the top skaters will be able to skate transition as well as street. Also I think in 10 years the Mega Ramp will still be part of the X-Games because of the potential for an audience that like the wow factor. I just think that skateboarding is so dynamic and diverse right now there is no way that Mega Ramp skating will be the focus of the skate world.
Lastly, my main beef with the Mega Ramp is that skateboarding should not emulate snowboarding.