Atiba Jefferson pontificates on the rigors of rolling up on some footy.by Atiba
It’s funny when you think about what it takes to come up on one trick. It might take begging a security guard, or paying one off, or getting a generator and lights so you can skate at night. On the following pages you’ll read the tales of Rick McCrank, Ty Evans, Mike York, Robbie McKinley, Tony Fergusson, and me, and what we went through just to come up on a little footage in Vancouver.
On our first day it rained for most of the day. As soon as it stopped, we were driving around in search of dry terrain, and we went to the famous yellow block-to-bank spot. The ground was really rough, so it was hard for everybody to get down, but that didn’t stop Robbie from getting a fakie ollie over to switch K-grind on the block. The trick took two rolls of film (I was having camera trouble), 53-millimeter wheels for the rough ground, and what seemed like an eternity while waiting for passing cars.
The next spot we hit was a double-set by the water that Rick and Tony skated together. McCrank sparked off with the basics and worked his way up to trying nollie flips, but it seemed like he wasn’t getting the right angle, so he switched his trajectory up. Three tries later, he put it down. This trick wasn’t hard to get, requiring only four rolls of film and a new angle to hit the double-set.
After Rick was done, Tony was up to bat. While Tony was skating, a “concerned citizen” rolled up and asked us if we could read the NO SKATEBOARDING sign. I told her I’m nearsighted and can’t read stuff that’s far away. That sent her right on her way. Feeling the pressure, Tony went for the make and broke his tail off as he rode away. That session took two rolls of film, one concerned citizen, and one broken board.
As soon as the weekend rolled around, we went cruising around downtown, where McCrank knew of a double-set we could hit. It was big with a lot of runway, so you could get plenty of speed, but the landing was slick¿if you didn’t land with your feet over your bolts, you’d slide right out. Rick and his homie Keegan were both skating, and a crowd of weekend shoppers was gathering to watch, wondering if this really was the X-Games.
Rick ollied the double-set first try, riding away solidly over his bolts, then he decided to up the ante, going for a long frontside 180. First try he slid out, second try he slid out, and at that point the crowd was psyched and it was time for the make. But still the floor gave him no love. On the fourth try, the check was in the mail¿an over-the-bolts landing, and the crowd went wild. This session took four frames of film, one ollie to get psyched, one crowd of shoppers to add pressure, and a security-guard-free weekend day.
Because it was the weekend, we opted for an attack on the local schools, so we went out to White Rock¿a suburb of Vancouver¿and warmed up at the skatepark. It was your typical skatepark day with kids having fun feasting their eyes on the pros. We didn’t intend to skate for long, but give McCrank home-court advantage and he’ll put you right to work. Within minutes he was flying all over the place, doing backside nollie flips and frontside 270 kickflips in the bowl. Our White Rock session required five rolls of film (he pulled it once on each roll, so five times total), finding the right line for speed, and the kids staying out of the way.
After White Rock, we went to a school that had a couple different roof gaps. McCrank did frontside flips over one of the gaps, while Robbie pulled 360 kickflips across another. The spot was mellow, we didn’t get kicked out, and it only took one roll of film. We also found a way to climb up on the roof, and I had to retrieve everyone’s boards as they fell down.
The next spot on our list was in a business district that’s always dead on the weekends. The spot had a couple skateable things in a row, which made it good for filming a line. There was a bump, a manual pad, and then a ledge that got bigger as it went downhill. Rick started to film a line, and his first trick was a 360 flip off the bump that I snuck up on without him noticing. This only took one roll of film because he did it first try and one Red Bull to get sparked.
The following morning we woke to rain, so we went to all the pawn shops. After our van got towed, we decided to go to the Jordan I-Max movie to distract ourselves from our purpose for being on the trip. At midnight we found ourselves in a parking garage full of yellow flatbars of every shape and size. York and McCrank filmed lines, and while they were busy doing that, Robbie frontside noseslid one of the high flatbars, which made for a good photo opportunity. Our midnight parking-garage session took only one roll of film and a half-hour wait for the store to close and security guards to leave.
The next day was dry, so we pressed on in search of stuff to skate. We didn’t find much, and when we did come across something good to skate, we got kicked out by security. This string of disappointments led us to one of Vancouver’s premium skatespots, which has everything from ledges to rails to basketball courts, and it’s under a bridge so it stays dry. We got to the spot late, so the generators were brought out and the session began. Rick and Quinn Star were working the rail together, when out of nowhere Quinn switch frontside boardslid it in a couple tries. Of course, I wasn’t set up, so I had him do it again and got it. Our night session took one roll of film, getting kicked out everywhere, one generator, and a second round at the trick.
The last day before leaving, we woke up early to try to get in a half day of skating before having to go to the airport, so we went to check out a long, flat rail Ty knew about close to the Convention Center. When we got on the scene, it seemed a little sketchy. The rail ran along a path that led right to the doors of the Convention Center, which meant there was a lot of foot action, plus it was during the workweek so there were a lot of people around. But because we didn’t have much time, we decided to just charge it. At one point, a security-looking cart rolled up, and I figured we were done, but it just kept rolling by, leaving York with a window of opportunity and enough time for York to burn through one roll of film and get the job done.
If you do the math, you discover that the grand total of things needed to make the trip possible were seventeen rolls and four frames of film, one set of 53-millimeter wheels, a new angle to hit the double set, one concerned citizen, one broken board, one ollie to get psyched, one crowd of confused shoppers, one weekend day, finding the right line for speed, kids staying out of the way, fetching boards, one Red Bull, one rainy day, waiting to exhale, one generator, a second try, and an open window of opportunity.
It’s not as easy as some might think to come up on footage these days. It makes me wonder: if we didn’t have to deal with so much shit, would we get way more done? Or is it all the shit we put up with, like being given one last try by a security guard or the rain starting to fall, that makes us ride or die?