Words by Mackenzie Eisenhour, photo by Gabe Morford
(As seen in our December, 2010 issue)
Let’s be honest—skating slow is for chumps. If you want to play it safe, stick with the video game. Going fast not only looks better, but feels a shitload better too. Speed is skateboarding’s lifeblood—the active ingredient that separates a stationary freestyle routine from the Full Monty adrenaline rush of racing through traffic and dodging pedestrians. As such, in no particular order, here are ten professionals more than willing to up the ante with a couple of extra pushes. Listen to Slayer.
1. Dennis Busenitz
Some of us adjust our speed according to necessity. For others the speed itself is the necessity. This isn’t truer for anyone than Dennis Busenitz. It is seemingly physically impossible for Dennis to go slow. He’s left scorched earth behind nearly a decade of faster-than-f—k skateboarding and has won a legion of devoted fans in the process. Whether trapped in the guardrailed confines of a Manny Mania event, or opening up down the steepest of San Francisco hills, going fast is the only way Dennis wants to do it.
Dennis’ part in Adidas‘ Diagonal.
2. Tony Trujillo
If you’ve ever witnessed TNT carve a bowl firsthand, you know the nickname wasn’t some fancy marketing shtick. Having surfaced during a time when skateboarding could be best described as The Storm (’99), Tony was one of the rare young guns at the time interested in something other than the old flip-in, flip-out. Thankfully for us all, that something was no-holds-barred high-velocity skateboarding.
3. Anthony Van Engelen
AVE also came of age in the late ’90s. But even through the haze of swishy pants and schoolyard-ledge tech you could plainly see Tony had the eye of the tiger. Few others could make a switch front crooks look like a slash grind. AVE more or less blazed the trail for the whole hesh-tech world of skateboarding that Andrew Allen, Taylor Bingaman, and the rest so beautifully inhabit today.
AVE’s part in Alien Workshop‘s Mind Field.
4. Danny Way
The Guinness Book is usually the last place these tens look to for justification, but while Danny broke the skateboarding land speed world record last year—reaching a solid 74 mph thanks to a tow from Rob Dyrdek and his modified race car—I would argue that Way could lock down a spot on this list if only for the incredible speeds now commonplace in skateboarding based on all things Mega.
5. Kris Markovich
I will forever remember marveling at a specific Markovich clip from the cult classic Color (’93) video. Mixed in with his back 180 down the Frankie Hill dirt gap and the ender Rick flip down the EMB seven, he takes about five full force pushes before back tailing what looks like a four-foot-long, curb-height box. As with Busenitz, Markovich just couldn’t help himself—there are no lanes but fast.
Kris’ part in Foundation‘s Art Bars.
6. John Cardiel
Mark Gonzales summed it up best in John’s Sight Unseen (’01) intro: it truly seems that the faster John goes, the more control he has. My theory is that in the grips of light speed, skateboarding becomes little more than survival instinct—the mind and body are left no choice but adapt and prevail or falter and perish. John happens to live and breathe in that danger zone. His skateboarding never makes any mistake about that. Hail Cards.
7. Vincent Alvarez
Every once in a while a dude comes along that defies all the prescripted categories. In Vince’s case, the trick selection, stance, and persona are hard enough to pigeonhole, let alone the spots. But drench the whole package in the sweet nectar of the quickness and you’ve got yourself a full-fledged winner. As Ben mentioned in his First Words a few months back, life does move pretty fast sometimes. Especially if you skate like Vince.
8. Emmanuel Guzman
Anyone can skate fast in principle, but very few have the nerve to stay calm once they buy the proverbial ticket. The recent Web clip of Eman ollieng off an eight-foot drop into what looks like 50-foot bank proves this point. While the ollie in most definitely requires balls from another planet, living to talk about it is another story. The fact that Guzman walked away with little more than a hipper separates the skilled from the suicidal.
9. Brandon Westgate
Brandon has been on an absolute tear over the last couple years. His chest puffed carnage in State Of Mind (’09) and Stay Gold (’10) paint a portrait of a man on a mission. That mission seems to involve finding the most diesel spots on earth and barging up them, over them, or through them at the highest speed possible. Anybody that finds time to push in a downhill line should be on this list on principle.
Westgate’s part from Zoo York‘s State of Mind.
10. Justin Strubing
I am a huge Justin Strubing fan and you should be too. Justin straight up made a career of the warp-speed assault style. Since he’s somewhat of no-brainer on this list (go peep That’s Life [’04] down below if you’re lost) I’ll go ahead and shamelessly add Chris Pfanner because it’s an absolute outrage we left him off. Actually let’s add Donny Barley too. And Gino. Actually I just thought of about ten more dudes who should definitely be on here. You know who you are.
Strubing’s part from Foundation‘s That’s Life.