Skaters Who Shaped Us – Alex Walker

BS Flip / Photo by Robin Englefield

It has taken me a while to get back to Ade with this because the question, due to being a nobby pseudo academic, has so much depth. Whenever I thought of a list of pros I began to theorise my answer in two different ways. Firstly, the obvious, the pros who shaped me and some reasons as to why. Secondly, the deeper and more cultural impact of skateboarding and relationships built with those around you. If you get tired you can skip the second part entirely…

Part 1 – The Pros

When I first started skating at the dawn of the millennium, Daewon Song and Rodney Mullen were at the height of popularity. The Almost ‘Vs’ videos were everywhere and what they were doing was totally mind blowing. Although I was never able to fully emulate what they could do I loved waxing up floors and trying to casper-slide and spent lots of my time standing in primo and flicking it all over the shop to land on top or back in primo. They both embody creativity when using the board and at times look like dancers and I will forever be captivated by their footage, no matter how old I get.

Eric Koston is another who I have always appreciated watching. Regardless of whether you think he is a turd or not he always looks like he is having fun and as far as modern street skating goes in the 2000s was one of, if not the best in my opinion. 

When I went to university I was not skating much and was really struggling with my mental health. Pretty Sweet had just come out and Guy Mariano’s part (yes I know it is a twin part with EK but he has had his moment) really resonated with me. This is a guy who has just been through the mill for the past few years but comes back with easily one of the best street parts ever and completely blows everything up. His story is really influential and allowed me to take solace whenever I thought I was struggling; if anybody else reading this struggles at all with their mental health know that there is a way to deal with it. It is not always skateboarding, but that sure as hell helps!

Now anybody that knows me will know I am absolutely turgid at transition and the next skater is not somebody that inspired me for their skating. Mr Tony Hawk everybody! The edgy purists are probably wincing but anybody my age will remember playing this game in the late 90s and the massive skateboarding boom that ensued. Skateboarding would probably be some underground cult if that game had not been released. Some may say that is a good thing but I believe the more people that skate the better. So many people are out having fun now because of that lanky dork and the rag tag crew of mo-capped, real life, characters.

Part 2 – My community

It may seem cliché but the real people that shaped my skating were Mane, Cullen, Biggs, Wildman and all the other homies I skated with at Vicki Park pool back in the 2000s, and all the people I have met through skateboarding over the past decade.

I love skateboarding and these people have been with me for most my life, sharing that love and passion. It is difficult to explain when somebody asks when I started skateboarding as I would go all the way to being a child and riding up and down the garden on my backside, and not just starting to ride a popsicle deck when I was ten years old. I would never claim to be very good at it either, although I respect everybody’s ability objectively. It should not matter whether you ride for fun or competitively, nor whether you ride street, park, bowl, or even mega ramp. 

As skateboarders we are blessed with inter-cultural and generational learning wherever we may choose to ride as their will be people of all ages and backgrounds using the same spots or facilities. That is what brings so many people together across the globe and strengthens our sense of community, and for many has evolved beyond a hobby or sport and become our lifestyle or culture. It also provides new opportunities to reduce social isolation and meet new people, as well as doing something active and challenging.

Any skater will tell you skating has helped them through hard times. This is a message we need to articulate to everybody as anybody deserves the opportunity to do some rad and silly manoeuvres. 

Go out and skate, have fun, help shape the future for others. And do not be afraid to allow others to shape you. 

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