Historically, people created curbs to separate carriages from people. And while I imagine they still serve this function in some places (Scotland? Disney World?) they do more now. For one, they can be slappied. Shiftied up and fire-crackered down, clipped and no-complied, coffined, and in the case of P.J. Ladd mini fiends everywhere, kickflip-back-tail-stalled to Youtube campaign’d to hell. But, for the most part, we ride off of them. And at the end of the day it is best to ride off of them, I think.
This is because curbs provide dividing lines between “rolling away” and the “rolling away feeling”. Without them, landing a trick poses more questions than it answers. Okay, you think, I have just made it down a flight of stairs and we – my skateboard and I, are still bonded together somehow. But how do I proceed, what direction is my life heading in? Do I need to toss out a listless front shove or a weak willed powerslide or should I just put my hands to my face in disbelief, a la young Sheckler.
No, the curb says, all you need to do is let go and ride off. She is that most holy border wall, cut in stone and six inches high, welcoming us calmly into the new world of, “Fuck man. It is done.” Here are ten curbs and ten of the best to ride off of them:
10. Satva Leung – Welcome to Hell
Satva Leung’s boardslide shove is a classic instance of the fade to black curb drop. The clean landing, the immediate glance given to the oncoming traffic, and that 90’s square-set certainty in motion all add up to an ender of an ender.
9. Bobby Puleo – Static II
This curb drop reminds me of that feeling of almost falling down but somehow landing in a comfortable position in a chair or against a wall. I have watched this clip approx. 40 times. Where are you Bobby Puleo, heir to the Oyola throne? Where are you?
8. Joseph Delgado – Bronze 56k
I had never heard of this guy and likely would have forgotten his part had it not been for this totally satisfying treflip-hill-bomb-curb-drop. The sound of this tail smacking double clop woke me up to the quiet elegance of this guys skating, and I have been a huge fan ever since.
7. Aquil Braithwaite – 411 15.1
Young Aquil’s drop off of a New York curb holds a special place in my heart. It is a textbook tail tapper and it reminds me of the (albeit, fairly recent) feeling of being the finally accepted skate baby. In this ollie are the signs of A: The uncontainable joy of skating in a city, surrounded by people and things way bigger than you and B: The unbridled thrill stemming from the acceptance of the older dudes. There is a potent combination of wild energy and forced nonchalance that comes with a young skater’s “first time”, and it is on full display in this curb drop.
6. Mike Maldonado – Welcome to Hell
The curb, while often a friendly crossing, proves to be a more sinister boundary for Mike Maldonado. Here, after having 50 50’ed a waist high rail, the east coast powerhouse must face down an equally worthy adversary: the too-close curb. Instead of providing a final respite from the metal tightrope, these steppes take our prizefighter down. Curb after curb and mountains beyond mountains, Maldonado takes one for the rest of us.
5. Mike Mo – Fully Flared
Mo knows, as they say. He knows when he’s going to land his tricks and how they are going to look and what he is going to do after he rolls away. In China, at this double set, surrounded by a sizeable conglomerate of interested natives, Mo knows that he is going to land this switch tre flip. Mo knows his feet will land on his bolts. Mo knows that he is going to roll straight across this granite plane, and Mo knows what he is going to do when he reaches the end of this world, this trick. He is going to fakie pop off of the curb and it is going to be so. And we know this because Mo knows this. It may as well have been decided a thousand years ago.
4. Heath Kirchart – Mind Field
What’s so great about this curb roll off is that Heath seems totally conscious of the curbs power to make a closing statement. He back lips a monstrous rail and then, in some sort of dark victory gesture, lets his arms dangle behind him like he has just entered a wind tunnel. It would be a ridiculous move if performed by anyone else, but this is Heath Kirchart, the Johnny Cash of skateboarding. He can do silly shit like this if he damn well pleases.
3. Gino Iannucci – Yeah Right!
Gino Iannucci is that pretty girl. Do you remember that time she (he) did that thing (backside 360) that was so charming and attractive that you mentally replayed it for approx. an entire year? Remember when you thought about it and realized that what really made you remember that, that thing which made your stomach hurt it was so damned pretty, was that she topped followed that thing with some kind of little flick of her hair? It was that little fucking hair flick you remember! Gino Iannucci’s curb nollie is that little hair flick.
2. Mike Carroll – Girl Outbackwards Tour
If I fancied myself a scholar, one who whiled away his days in a well-furnished beachside villa, sipping Merlot and bitterly contemplating the last years of the 411 archive, I would probably call Mike Carroll the “fullest realization of the skateboard aesthetic.” But because I am not, and God willing never will be, I’ll just say that Mike Carroll is the absolute best. This kickflip is daunting, lofty and gentle and more than anything, a trick that belongs to Carroll alone. But what solidifies the pop-float-land trifecta is the curb drop that follows. His effortless two wheeled descent shows signs of full-on catharsis, as if this kickflip had been years in the making, and can now, for all times to come, be placed to rest. It is the total embodiment of a curb drop, and daunting in its near perfection. We are watching a master hanging up his hat.
1. Mark Gonzales – Video Days
I think that this is the greatest curb drop of all time because it doesn’t really fit the definition of a curb drop. There is no finality to it, no sense of relief we get from watching it, and no sense that the trick it follows warranted any kind of struggle. Mark’s drop leaves us only with a hunger to see what he’s going to do next. It’s not a beautiful and celebratory release, it’s a manic leap towards the future. It is a pop of unbridled hope, video proof of the skateboarding dream realized. Mark crosses here not into a land of total satisfaction, but a world of boundless potential. This curb drop, shows that for at least one of us, the line may never really end.