by Erik Olsen
Let me tell you the story of Jerry Hsu. My first encounter wrs ago while I was mopping the floor at Safeway, where he was shopping with his mother, Sue Hsu. He was a preteen with hair down to his back, and he had many holes in his black clothes. I believe he was rocking a Fotsom and Gotsom or Pantera shirt. He said, “Hi Erik.” I was wondering who this Chinese rocker was, but he seemed friendly enough.
Days later I saw Jerry skate. Seeing him push, he looked like he had no reason to be on a skateboard¿until he’d try a trick. Boy would he try some crazy moves, and he often pulled them. He and his long- haired friend Will lived only blocks from me, so I began to see Jerry more and more. My friends and I took him skating with us, and I began to see the potential he held. We were blown away when Jerry just rode up and railslid the infamous Cabana rail. We gave him the cover and the first-ever “Who Is?” in our local ‘zine ’cause we knew others would soon see what we did¿skill.
I helped him build a ramp in his yard, and he asked me if I thought any pros would come to skate it. He was the typical little kid. He asked me to check out his (mostly self-filmed) sponsor-me video and give him tips. My first tip was it had to be edited down, because 25 minutes was a bit long. Jerry did every tech trick from darkslides to half-Cab double flips, as well as hitting up all the big stuff within south San Jose. I wanted to help him get sponsored, so with the few connections I had, I tried. I mentioned to my friend at NC Boardshop that they should hook him up. After Marc Johnson had seen the likes of the now-short-haired Jerry, it was done. He soon was getting flowed by Maple and NC and was the buzz around the area.
I was lucky because I got to know Jerry as a super cool and creative person first, then as an amazing skater. I taught Jerry to drive a car, and soon after he turned pro. He’s still the same fun guy, just a bit older and with some facial hair. He can sure take a slam, but he always gets the job done. Most importantly, he is humble and down to earth, and at only eighteen, he’ll continue to impact skateboarding for a long time. Jerry rules, the end.