Skaters Who Shaped Us – Part 1

Skateboarders do more than just skate. They can inspire millions of young kids, and influence people in hundreds of different ways. From unique tricks to clothing style, from board width to preferred terrain – the choices skateboarder’s make can have consequences felt the world over. I’ve been talking to people about the skaters who influenced them, and how they made them who they are today. What follows is part 1 of a series of anecdotes from skateboarders describing the people who have influenced their lives. Enjoy!

Henry “Swampy” Moore – Pete “The Ox” Colpitts

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The first thrasher I owned was a back issue that cost me a quid. Featured in it was a photo article of a trip to japan which included a picture of a pissed off looking guy in a backwards cap, frontside grinding with the lip of the ramp crumbling under his back truck. I appreciate all skateboarding but pool skating resonates the most with myself. 

I started to collect pool skating videos, and got to see footage of this guy named Pete ‘The Ox’ Colpitts, destroying whatever was in his path. Attacking gnarly looking pools with loads of vert and perfect looking and sounding coping. This no frills, straight-forward, attacking style of skating spoke volumes to me early on. The Ox’s slash grinds were the best I’d seen and being younger I couldn’t help but want to emulate them, and smash the coping with my back truck.

Going for it and either rolling away, or eating shit has always been a personal rule which I took from seeing footage of Pete the Ox. I feel the slams a lot more nowadays, but I can’t help it – that early influence has stuck and I doubt it will go away. Smash the coping, take some slams, and most of all have fun doing it!

Claire Alleaume – Justin Strubing

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The skaters who have had the greatest influence on my skating have always been the ones I’ve actually sessioned with. From the guys at the park where I learnt to drop in, to the first other women I met in 2002 and the friends I play SKATE with endlessly at the local. They inspire me by being fearless and creative, showing me their favoured foot placements, encouraging me when I’m on try number 54 and taking the piss when it’s ugly as hell. They will forever be the ones most closely shaping my trick selection and outlook.

But I was asked here to write about my most influential pro skater, and that’s a different story. Someone whom I’ve never met, connecting only through video parts and photos. A stranger with unwitting impact. Not my favourite skater, but the one who might have had the greatest effect. At first many cross my mind, from McCrank to Nick Jensen, Drehobl, Danny Renaud and the Gonz, and I struggle to identify a stand-out candidate. But one surprising name keeps coming back – Justin Strubing.

I skate nothing like Justin Strubing. He would not recognise his influence anywhere in my slow, popless skating. I can’t bluntslide, tailslide or bomb proper hills. Yet watching his Foundation parts over and over fuelled a passion for cruising down the street and trying to learn basics well. Strubing embodies what I love about skating – versatility, style, speed and originality. His pushes are nice, and numerous. His ollies beautiful and equally plentiful. His arms balance without notice, except for the occasional Chris Pulman-esque afterbang. 

The approach feels nonconformist, as he flips in or out of one ledge trick only to do a simple five-o on the next, but at 100 mph. Banks, rails, ledges, transition – spot selection, too, is decidedly indiscriminate. He’ll throw a melon into his part just because it’s tweaked and beautiful. Mosher drops also sneak in, like a discreet ode to not giving a fuck. Strubing lands everything bolts and can make a backside boardslide look good. And like me, he loves a good button-up shirt.

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