Words by Mackenzie Eisenhour
Since the dawn of urethane, key tricks have opened the doors to progression and helped evolve skateboarding from something surfers did on a flat day to the most influential pastime on the planet. The following are 10 of the most important building blocks. From our 30 Year Anniversary issue.
1. The Frontside Air
With an assist from George Orton, Tony Alva is credited with launching the first vertical aerial ever at the Dogbowl in Santa Monica in '77. The frontside air changed everything, opening up endless new possibilities above the coping and beyond.
There are some epic T.A. frontside air photos in this section from Dogtown And Z-Boys
2. The Ollie
After Alan "Ollie" Gelfand unveiled his no-handed aerial in late '77, Rodney Mullen added another entirely new dimension to the pastime in '82 with his freestyle "Ollie Pop" on flatground. Mark Gonzales and Natas Kaupas picked up the baton from there and street skating was born.
3. The Kickflip
Originally called the "Magic Flip," Rodney began doing ollie kickflips sometime in '83. Before the kickflip, skaters pressure flipped or gorilla grip-flipped the board in freestyle routines. As with the ollie, Natas and Gonz became the first to apply it to the streets.
This Kalis gem at 1:12 is one of the best kickflips ever captured on film
4. The Nollie
The same year as the kickflip, Rodney started doing the Helipop—a 360-frontside nollie popped off the nose. Up until '89, only freestyle boards had enough nose to pop with. As street boards eventually caught up, Paulo Diaz straight nollied up a picnic table in '92.
Paulo Diaz brought the nollie to new heights in Chocolate’s Las Nueve Vidas De Paco
5. The Tre Flip
Tired of seeing Rodney's name yet? Too bad. He single-handedly built the parameters of flatground. Mullen had added 360 flips to his routines by '87. While a number of street pros began attempting the trick, Jason Lee can be credited with making it magic in '88.
Some of Jason’s best 360 flips (forward and fakie) are captured in his A Visual Sound part
6. The Switch Ollie
Mark Gonzales first consciously skated switch; launching switch methods off launch ramps in '88 after seeing Steve Caballero carve pools backwards. Switch ollies on par with forward skating arrived circa '90 from people like Gonz, Diaz, and Salman Agah.
Switch ollies of all types abound in Salman’s The Real Video part
7. The McTwist
Certain spectacular tricks over the years have helped give skateboarding its "wow" factor with the general public. The McTwist was the mother of all such additions and was honed by Mike McGill in Sweden over the summer of '84 then unveiled later that year at Del Mar.
McGill still has them 25 years on
8. The Handrail Boardslide
Natas shocked the crowd at an Oceanside "Streetstyle" Contest in '86 by attempting to ollie onto a small handrail near the course. Opening yet another frontier, a few months later Natas and Gonz would boardslide the first legitimate rail in Westwood, California, on the same day.
Mike V explains Natas’ first handrail at 4:31
9. The Slappy
After getting kicked out of his local skatepark and relegated to the parking lot, John Lucero began doing tricks on curbs and ledges around '78. Central to what would eventually become ledge skating, Lucero's invention of the slappy remains central, and extremely fun.
Classic slappies and then some with Lucero in his Label Kills part
10. The Wallride
Last but not least, Natas first gained notoriety in '84, when as a complete unknown, Craig Stecyk shot a photo of him riding up vertical walls in Venice. After the photo ran on the cover of Thrasher, yet another realm was opened in skateboarding's march to the present.
Natas again; starting with the photo at 0:43, then shit gets real at 3:50