In 1980 as the death of the skateboard industry spread across the States and the famous vert bowls and concrete skateparks started closing down. Skateboarders took matters into their own hands by again skating anything they could find or make; riding ditches, school yards, streets, driveways and backyard pools. However, the vertical bowls, ramps and pools of the 70's had opened a generation of youth's minds to the exhilarating experience of blasting off, grinding or sliding on a vertical lip. This would fuel the fire of many skateboarders to build there own VERTICAL HALF PIPES and then proceed to "shred them to bits". The soundtrack to this era was punk rock. Bands like The Dead Kennedys, The Germs and Black Flag.
Many good times and now legendary icons of the sport were nurtured at the grass roots backyard vert comps of the early 80's. Good old back and forth vert skateboarding then thrived and blew up in the mid to late 80's.
Fast forward a long way, to an awe inspiring Autumn morning on the Gold Coast of Australia in 2016 and vert is still alive, maybe a little bit sleepy but definitely not dead. Its 9am and there is an eclectic mix of sk8boarders meeting up at the Upper Coomera Vert Ramp. There is Todd Shirley and Trevor Ward, two veterans of vert sk8ing and Samuel Whinehorst and Louis Newman, both rippers from the next generation.
A rad crew sharing good vibes, enjoying hanging out and shredding vert ramp.
The banter between Todd and Trevor was a psych up to roll away from the 540 Mc Twist before Todd turns 40 in a few months and for Trev to do another before his 40th in a few weeks! For Sam it was to get some Bs airs and a fakie stalefish. For Louis it was just to conquer his fears and feel his way into riding the 12ft beast.
Even though Trev has only sk8ed vert twice in the past year he hit beast mode quickly. He started his runs with lofty bs airs and nose grinds. Indy and bs 360 were thrown down seemingly at will, along with half cab nose slide reverts and switch grinds. Trev said he doesn't do stalefish airs but the one he tried and landed was bio! A big kicky indy went down and then after nailing all his twists he made the call that a fakie to fakie 540 would go down. After a hand full of attempts the big man stylishly stomped one out. The look on Sams face when watching this gnar go down was priceless.
Todd is getting back on the vert train after some time off, however the way he rode the ramp was super stylish and solid. His bs airs were a thing of beauty. Effortless airs and grinds we're rad to watch and even though he didn't get the 540 on this session, the ease and height of the Gay Twists Ive seen him do of late are a good sign that he will ride a 540 out before his 40th.
Sam took to the ramp like a duck to water and after some mentoring form Todd and Trev he was riding out of some solid backside airs! Watch out for Sam as I've never seen someone look so comfortable on a Vert Ramp so quickly! Sam also mentioned that he wanted to do a fakie Stalfish as he had learnt it at Elanora the previous week. Sure enough I witnessed him not just try one but just do one. Good to see the next generation enjoying the vert.
Louis Newman joined the session late. He padded up and was watching the the lads session from the bottom of the ramp. I had to leave before Louis had a roll but I know he would have given it a good crack, Louis rips Elanora Bowl where he does smith grind reverts, fs airs and more.
It was an epic session to watch. When my wrist is healed up I will be cranking up the punk rock playlist and getting on the vert train.
Vert skating was created in the 70's and continues to evolve 40 years on. It complements all areas of sk8boarding. Lets encourage the next generation to experience the exhilaration too.
Thanks for tuning in.
See ya on the next sk8sox blog post.
This is an interview with Nick Heppenstall, one of Australia's best vert and bowl masters! Nick recently won the Masters division at the "Bowlzilla Gold Coast" event at his local bowl Elanora. Nick is a super fun dude to hang out and sk8 with. In the interview we hear stories from the late 80's about skating "The Edge" skatepark in W.A to encounters with Tony Hawk to a 15 year hiatus from skateboarding. Now that Nick is back on the board he is on an absolute tear - you can't help but be inspired. Enjoy!