It was during the latest Powell tour in Japan that Steve
Caballero, John Comer, Jody Morris, and I ended up on a Japanese skateboarding game show. Hasco, the Powell distributor, told us he’d booked us for an appearance on a TV show. We figured we were just going to a talk show, but then they told us it was a skateboard game show. Nobody explained the whole situation, so we didn’t really know what to expect.
The show was at one of the biggest stations in Japan. They had official Japanese guards saluting you as you walked in. We went upstairs to the waiting room, and there was a bunch of Japanese skaters and media people running around. I was warming up for skate trivia or something like a regular game show, but when we got out in the production studio, it was a crazy skate maze with cameras and obstacles everywhere. It turned out that the goal was to get through the skate course. The rules were you couldn’t put your hands down, take your feet off your board, and you were out if you fell down. This meant you had to get your speed by tick-tacking and pumping.
The first obstacle was a hip transfer that led to a spine you went over. From there you had to ollie over a plant gap. The beginning was pretty basic stuff. Then it got a little sketchy because you had to carve on this little narrow right turn bank that was elevated off the ground. There were pads off to the side in case you fell. After that there was a ramp that you had to pump to get on the deck, and right when you got on the deck, you had to slide down a little low rail. What made it hard was when you came off the rail you instantly had to four-wheel slide to stop. Once down the rail you had to tick-tack into a roll-in and ollie over a gap then again instantly power slide to stop, or else you fell in a pond. The funniest thing was when John Comer bailed on the gap, and he just jumped into the
pond. He was in the water playing it up. Everybody was having a good time.
If you made it past the pond, you had reached the midpoint where you could take a little breather. It was a pretty energetic scene, the crowd was amped. After your rest, you rode a little elevator that took you up to another halfpipe, and you had to grind across a little coping gap from ramp to ramp. The hardest part for me was riding along the next elevated narrow platform and ollieing up and over onto the next level of narrow platform. Then you were back to the ramp, and you had a one last transfer to make. The ramps were kind of shady, with little nails sticking out of them and sharp
corners (probably would be too much of a liability risk in the U.S. or Canada).
When I landed on the goal mat, huge smoke bombs went off, and a Japanese announcer lady ran up and interviewed me – it was wild. Stevie also was able to complete the course. He had a close call on the coping gap, but hung on to join me at the goal. We earned a couple-thousand dollars each for being the only two guys in the history of the program to complete the course. One Japanese skater
came super close to making it but fell right before the end. His nerves got to him, I guess. Hasco has promised to send us copies of the show, but I haven’t been able to see it yet. It was definitely one of the strangest and most fun situations skateboarding has ever allowed me to participate in. I’m eagerly waiting for a return trip to the Japanese skateboard maze.