It would usually happen on some random night at Whirling Wheels Skateboard Park-I would be learning how to kickturn in a dark, scary cement pool. On this particular night, Ted Nugent was blaring out of nowhere as Eric Grisham and Eddie Elguera flew into the eleven-foot bowl on a doubles mission from hell. They boardslid eighteen pieces of pool coping while skating only three feet apart, pulling it and exiting the pool entrance.
Unbelievably, I saw it live.
They were it for that generation. I was nine, they were seventeen. It was 1980, and it has been etched in my mind ever since.
My nine-year-old eyes have been watching skateboarding for the last twenty years. I hold these memories in my mind, having no control over them. It’s as though only the really monumental greats have stood the test of time. So without consent or control of my own choosing, a Hall of Fame was formed.
One thing would never change, the Hall of Fame could only include skateboarding and surfing-because of the style, speed, power, and all-around aesthetic beauty. No other sport was to be allowed-no way. They could never be as visually pure and natural in comparison. All the media hype in the world could not force anything else in.
Over the past twenty years there have been new generations of athletes and progression points. At every change, a few ridiculously talented and charismatic athletes are allowed into the unshakable Hall of Fame. The year was 1983 and my nine-year-old eyes were watching Tom Curren and Mark Occhilupo do battle in Huntington Beach for the first time. I couldn’t believe their speed and fluidity. These eyes have seen fifteen years of amazing feats and amazing athletes who have earned a spot in the Hall: Chris Miller and Lester Kasai freighttraining around Upland’s Combi death pools; Tony Hawk’s absolute technical mastery; Christian Hosoi doing eight-foot lien airs at Del Mar Skate Ranch. Just three months ago, on a foggy morning, Kelly Slater blew my mind at my home break in Cardiff, California.
My nine-year-old eyes were there, too.
I hope there are a lot of people who have this closed-minded criteria for their Hall of Fame. We’re probably one percent of the masses. That’s fine. The other 99 percent can have their football, baseball, volleyball, whatever.
But recently the unthinkable happened-snowboarding has entered into my locked box of heroes. I couldn’t believe it. The sport that only six years ago was too goofy looking to even be mentioned in the conversations that included Tom Curren, Tony Hawk, etc. is now housing members in the same hall of surfing and skateboarding. Undoubtedly, diehard surfers and hardcore skateboard historians are pissed off I am mentioning them together now. I hope they are. That makes the Hall of Fame what it is-unshakable.
A lot of people haven’t seen Jamie Lynn whip up a 900 off of an icy death kicker-it’s scary and beautiful. Or Terje Haakonsen doing a ten-foot backside air in a halfpipe with freakish power, hung over on a warm-up run-and that’s just the start of it. Tom Burt pioneering Alaska, hauling ass down stuff that most people would be calling for a rescue on before their first turn.
There are thousands of unbelievably talented athletes in these sports, but in my Hall of Fame, only about a dozen every ten years are allowed in. The Hall of Fame for kids of the future or the past won’t have the same names I have, but snowboarding will be allowed in the elite group. To me, this is the greatest feat snowboarders could accomplish-timeless style good enough to sit with the greats of surfing and skateboarding. Hats off to all the people who have slammed in the name of