Straight on rail tricks seem like just about the scariest thing you could try. Hanging up at the top is obviously the worst-case scenario, but it also seems like an infinite number of other things could also go gravely wrong. That being said, since Sheffey made them a reality in Mouse ('96), straight on rail tricks have become their own little niche kamikaze corner—attracting some of the toughest applicants skateboarding has to offer. Here are 10 good ones, starting with Sean.—Mackenzie Eisenhour
1. Sean Sheffey: Mouse, 1996
Sean on the very first one that became his last trick in Mouse: "I had thought about it for a while. I mentioned it to Rick [Howard], and he was like, 'That would be really cool. You should get it for the video.' It came to a point where I needed a beastly move and Rick sent [Tim] Dowling down to San Diego. I was afraid of landing on it and not having the board all the way under me. It was one of those things you really had to commit to. The first one I landed on the rail, I got on and the grind started to spin me 180. My front leg went way over to the side and behind me as I was still going forward. I ran out backwards and my knee got really stiff, but I was sure I could do it after that. I just had to get it before my knee swelled up—you know how you still have that little window before it sets in? I went back up and got it in two more tries, but my knee was wrecked for weeks after that."
2. AVE: Photosynthesis, 2000
Sheffey's new approach to rail skating didn't catch on immediately, possibly because it was really fucking scary. But four years later a "Searching and Destroying" AVE notched a straight over 50 on an NYC eight-stair into his breakout Photosynthesis part.
3. Reese Forbes: Nike ad, 2003
In the haze of the mid '00s tech shoe revival, admitted Sheffey disciple (and fellow owner of a powerhouse ollie), Reese Forbes ollied straight onto and 50-50'd a long and flat rail in the South Bay, near SF for a sequence in a Nike SB E-Que shoe ad.
4. AVE: Mind Field, 2010
Ten years after Photo, a sober AVE dug the trick up with a vengeance and went back to the same NYC rail for straight over five-0 and a straight over nosegrind. He also ended his Mind Field part with the straight on 12-stair 50—the biggest (and steepest) straight on trick done at that point.
5. Jake Johnson: Mind Field, 2010
Also in Mind Field, and also on the same East Coast rail (which, truth be told, favors the trick since it starts on the second stair), Jake Johnson did the first switch version (switch 50) of Sheffey's brainchild in what remains one of the raddest breakout parts to date.
6. James Hardy: Since Day One, 2011
Fittingly skating to Molly Hatchet's '79 hit Flirting with Disaster, Alabama's favorite son, James Hardy, took the long way home himself with a 13-stair straight on five-0 toward the end of his part in the Dan Wolfe–sculpted '11 Real opus.
7. Alex Olson: Pretty Sweet, 2012
Meanwhile back to the seeming designated rail of choice in New York, Olson added his own twist on the AVE eight-stair with his straight over ollie to back Smith in Pretty Sweet. For inquiries, call (917) 692-2706 and leave a message.
(Sorry, you’re going to have to cop Pretty Sweet to see this one)
8. Mark Appleyard: Soul Rebel, 2013
By 2013, straight over rail tricks were more or less standard. Appleyard made somewhat of a statement of his own when he started his long-anticipated Element solo part last June with an eight-stair straight on nosegrind in a line.
9. Nick Boserio: Cold War, 2013
Then last November, Aussie beard terrorist Nick Boserio clocked his first big part since his coveted Life Splicing section and closed it out with a beastly straight on 50 at the Brooklyn 16. This one is gnarly.
(1:00, harsh song!)
10. Daryl Angel: Chronicles 2, 2013
Finally, Daryl Angel had both a switch straight on 50 (à la Jake Johnson) on a seven-stair and a straight on five-0 on a nine-stair in last December's Nike SB part. But I'm still claiming his last trick (that fakie pop-switch back 50) is the best trick in the video.