Flip Firm Tour

Flip Hits The Road For Its First U.S. Tour Ever-And Who Better To Join ‘Em Than The Firm All-Stars

This past November, two teams headed eastward from their California home bases to put a thaw on the already icy, dark, and dreary pre-winter months. For the first time ever, Flip and The Firm joined forces in a monumental skateboard tour-six days, five demos, and one shop signing. From North Carolina all the way to Minnesota, these heavyweights blazed through each and every demo, leaving only smoldering remains in their wake.

When heading east, it’s only right that you bring the cream of the crop. From left to right: Rune Glifberg, Lance Mountain, Danilo Cerezini, Geoff Rowley, Mark Appleyard, David Gonzales, Wieger, Jon White, Eric Fletcher, Bastien Salabanzi, Ray Barbee, Tom Penny, Rodrigo TX, and Javier Sarmiento. (Not pictured: Arto Saari, Alex Chalmers, and Bob Burnquist).

Ray Barbee, frontside heelflip.

An outdoor demo was scheduled in Maryland, but the forecasted rain helped put an end to that. After an unscheduled shop signing at Pit Crew, the beasts headed to an undisclosed location in the Washington, D.C. area where Razor Ray Barbee glided his frontside heelflip in a makeshift bowl to the delight of local tribal elders who also engaged in the session.

Wieger, autograph number 574.

Virginia Beach was to be a shop signing only, and on arrival, the group found a huge line of people. Some from as far as Boston had made the eleven-hour-plus hellacious winter drive to get their shirts and boards signed by the legendary crew. Daylight turned into night, and as the last of the fans left, the guys stretched their weary hands after a good three-and-a-half hours of solid signing and zero complaints. Good work, gents.

Javier Sarmiento, backside tailslide.

As humble as he is spontaneous, Javier isn’t always the easiest to get a nice photo of, but here he keeps his wheels dry while painting this backside tailslide over the rainbow and into the pot of gold… only to find the wet floor.

Javier Sarmiento in deep contemplation.

In Minnesota, the park was filled with so many people they had to clamber over one another to catch a glimpse of their heroes in action. The large number of people breathing created intense heat and moisture, which, on top of it being freezing outside, built up the condensation on the park surfaces, leaving them soaking wet and dangerously slippery. Here, Javier looks for a dry line.

Rodrigo TX, frontside flip.

With enough pop to take him from Chicago to Minnesota in a single go, Rodrigo TX blasts an enormous, near-the-rafters frontside flip while the standing-room-only crowd huddles together for warmth, dreaming of the day when the Chi-town winter comes to an end.

Rune Glifberg, frontside disaster.

As additionally evidenced on the facing page, Krush skatepark, just outside of Chicago, witnessed the most ferocious of demos. Here, the children are frozen with fear as the King Of Copenhagen, Rune Glifberg, touches down for only a second with a front D on the ice wall of death.

Bob Burnquist, backside 360.

On one of the long drives between demos, we watched Bob’s new autobiographical documentary where he jumps out of a plane in a special gliding suit that makes him look like a flying squirrel. At this D.C.-area after-rain-out makeshift session, Bob was getting just as crazy. More wallride than carve, Bob whipped this backside 360 out of nowhere during a session the locals won’t soon forget. No goatee, no sunglasses, no hair band, and no milk mustache, Bob was looking like the Bob of old and skating very well indeed.

Bastien Salabanzi, Cab flip.

It takes Bastien the same amount of thought and effort to Cab flip this pyramid as it does for you or I to walk while chewing gum. While out east, Bastien was a little more subdued than in the past, and when you think of it, he really doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone. But if you think he’s slacking, thhen clearly you haven’t seen the footage he’s sitting on.

Arto Saari, switch head scratch.

Ray relaxes while Arto tries to count how many times he spelled his name wrong during the marathon signing.

Tom Penny, frontside bluntslide.

Witnessing Tom Penny skate is like seeing the Loch Ness Monster in the flesh. It’s almost as if he doesn’t exist, only in old San Dieguito High folk legend and chain-to-bank fairy tales. Here in real life, he holds a frontside bluntslide on the rainbow ledge, the only piece of dry real estate in the quite dank park.

Rodrigo TX, hardflip.

When you travel blindside with a hardflip, it’s even more likely to “illusion,” but Rodrigo will have none of that-hard flick over the stairs while human tripod and co-boss man Ian Deacon holds the flash.

Mark Appleyard, 360 flip noseslide.

With time, Appleyard just keeps getting better-every bit the technician but without the drudgery of repeated attempts to conjure up a hot move. Mark would just cruise around the parks, and at semi-regular intervals, just blow your mind, sometimes linking jaw-droppingly difficult moves together like a scripted mini-ramp run, but with a nonchalance that’s strictly improv. Here, he keeps it loose as a goose yet strong as a moose on this 360 flip to noseslide.

Geoff Rowley, no-comply flip.

If you asked Geoff, he’d say this no-comply flip was either dodgy or a bit flappy. But come on, Geoff, it’s practically seven feet long! I believe this particular attempt was dedicated to mustelids. Other attempts were inspired by ocelots and servals, and possibly Jimmy Boyce, who is most certainly a member of the animal world. And that’s meant in the kindest possible way.

David Gonzales, frontside air.

David is one of the newest members of the Flip team, and at each demo, he skated like a demon possessed. A Columbian who can do all the new-fangled moves, he still has a heavy dose of yesteryear in his form. Running circles around the seasoned vets, he kept the fire burning at all times, and here he runs circles around himself while flying high and tuck-kneed in the vertical ice bowl-after murdering the street course, of course.

Photographer’s note: Just a word about Eric Fletcher, who sadly isn’t pictured in this article. Eric is the other little man who rides for Flip, and amidst the chaos of rapid-fire demos and in the tight confines of indoor parks filled to the brim with rabid fans, Eric and I didn’t get a photo. Eric is the antithesis of David. Where David is sort of a mogley-type character, Eric is more of the Alex P. Keaton type. He’s as precise as ice, and if his kickflip back tails, backside flip out on park rails are any indication, he’s headed for greatness. Go get ’em, Fletch.