Ever race through a line of cones? Or carve a long, fast giant slalom course down a wide road? Or when was the last time you threw down a fifty-fifty casper? Or busted a railwalk (no, not “railslide”). Do you even know what I’m talking about? Do I know what I’m talking about?
Slalom and flatland-freestyle skateboarding, popular in the 1970s, are dead sports, so far as the mainstream is concerned. Many freestyle tricks and its technical nature formed the basis of modern street skating, which eventually eclipsed pure freestyle. But small pockets of die-hards have survived the stormy winds of change, and the freestyle purists seem eager to reintroduce their technical form to the masses.
Freestylers around the world have banded together to form the International Network Of Flatland Freestyle Skateboarding, an organization that produces contests and publishes a zine and Web site. “The INFFS is not working to bring freestyle back, we’re working to take it to the next level!” says INFFS’ Stefan “Lillis” Akesson. “Freestyle never died–those of us involved with INFFS have never stopped skating. But it’s up to us to create the future as we’d like to see it.”
Recently, INFFS reported that Russ Howell, World Professional Skateboard Champion during the mid 70s, and Big Brother interviewee in the 90s, will be appearing on the U.S. television show Guinness World Records, probably in February. He will attempt to set a new official 360-spinning record, and may also do some handstands and footwork for the T.V. cameras. This would be the most television exposure that freestyle has gotten in the U.S. in about a decade.
That this will usher in a new era of flatland freestyle skateboarding is highly doubtful, but it is a testament to the survival of this form of skateboarding, and the perseverance of its practitioners.