Skateboarders are often categorized by people outside of our community as thrill seekers or adrenaline junkies, a comparison that always makes me cringe. For the most part, (speaking from personal experience here) skateboarders remain low to the ground – their biggest adrenaline rushes come from doing a backside tailslide slightly faster than the one they did before. However, as skateboarding progresses, it does seem to be more of death defying stunts performed by fearless daredevils than anything else. With that in mind, I give you a list of 10 death-defying-why-would-he ever-try-that-I-can’t-believe-he-actually-made-that tricks. A tribute to those who literally risked their lives trying to capture a four second trick on a skateboard.
1. Koki Loiaza, Tengu: God of Mischief (2013)
Tengu: God of Mischief reminded us that raw street skateboarding remains king no matter who won Street League or how many tricks so-and-so squeezed into a ledge combo. It also featured a number of unknowns who seemed to enjoy the thrill of near death experiences, evidenced in both the rooftop and subway sections of the video. The most famed of these madmen, Koki Loiaza, braved the dreaded third rail and ollied the whole damn subway track. This is something you can’t second guess, you come up short and it’s game over. We salute you, Koki, and this guy too, who also made the jump a year before Koki and crew filmed it.
2. Clint Walker, Real Street (2013)
Clint Walker has yet to slow down since making his huge debut in Ambig’s Modern Art video. His recent X-Games Real Street part continued his destruction of all things enormous and sketchy. His ender, a backside lipslide down a huge handrail on a catwalk, was first attempted (unsuccessfully) by one Heath Kirchart in 1998, but Clint was able to do what Heath could not. The first angle shows just how absurd the drop is on the other side of the rail, something Clint seems completely unfazed by. We may never know what compelled him or Heath to try this, but when you’re trying to come up in skateboarding nowadays, risking your life is an easy way to make a name for yourself.
3. Chet Childress, Back In Black (2006)
You ever see those perfect barrier set ups on the freeway? Maybe there’s new pavement that makes the barrier perfectly flush with the ground but, you know, it’s on a freeway so skating it would be totally insane? Well Chet Childress decided that he had had enough and had a full on session to close out his Back In Black part. What makes this really gnarly is that the barrier Chet skates looks to be a story or two above another freeway, making your chances of survival, should the worst happen, zero. This is as raw as it gets, Chet footage always makes me want to skate.
4. Jeremy Wray, 411VM (1998)
Regardless of how many times you’ve seen this clip, it will never get old. It is by far one of the gnarliest things ever done in skateboarding and I’ll even say one of the gnarliest things ever done in human history. Not doing this first try means that Jeremy Wray had to run and jump the gap to try this again, so even just to set up for the trick means he might die. What else can you say? You’re a maniac to try it and you’re a legend to roll away from it.
5. Joe Valdez, China Banks Ollie
Joe Valdez has seen some recent shine thanks to Dime’s tribute video and if you watched that then one thing is very clear: the man loves danger. This is why, even in 2014, the man is still responsible for one of the gnarliest tricks ever done at SF’s famous China Banks. With a 35 foot drop to a busy street on one side, Valdez ollies behind the ball from one narrow ledge to the other, dropping safely onto a bench and then onto the brick. The slightest error and Valdez would have been a dead man. We thank you Joe Valdez, for your strange and terrifying contribution to skateboarding. You are an inspiration to us all.
6. Dane Burman, Cold War (2013)
Though he wasn’t completely unheard of, most of us were unprepared for Dane Burman’s year of destruction in 2013. His Cold War part was full of death defying rails, the most famous being the City Hall rail to drop in Philadelphia, PA. Roughly two stories in height from the top of the rail, with about a story drop to take coming off the end of the rail, Dane even tried grabbing out of the 50-50 to try and keep the board from coming off his feet when dropping off of the rail. But you know how this story ends, you saw the video. The rail was grinded, the drop was landed, and Dane wrote himself right into the history books.
7. Bob Burnquist, Loop of Death
Bob Burnquist has always skated on a level far and away from everyone else on planet earth and based on his new footage in the Berrics recent In Transition contest, he has still yet to return to our world. He has looked death square in the face numerous times throughout his career and his conquering of “death loop” is no exception. Yes, not only does this loop have a gap at the very top, but Bob took it one step further and did this thing switch. While he makes it look easy, don’t let Bob’s expertise fool you – top or no top, the loop has threatened lives of skateboarders multiple times.
8. Al Partanen, CSFU (2013)
In the same vein as Ludacrooks, Al Partanen realized the full skate potential of a dried out waterslide and front blunted the shit out of that thing. The drop so casually ignored by Mr. Partanen, looks well over 30 feet. His board even shoots over on one particular try as if to let the viewers at home know that death is very much a reality trying this trick. You can either block the drop out or face the fear, we may never know if Al was even scared.
9. Squints, Welcome to Creature (2014)
Squints Welcome to Creature part had all the elements we’ve come to expect from any Creature production: high speeds, gnarly trannys, and the occasional death defying, why-the-hell-would-you-ever-try-that, clip. Squints literally risks life cruising down an absolutely monstrous bank – a bank so big in fact, that had he just dropped in on it, it would have sufficed as an insane clip. Well, he actually heelflipped into that thing…’cause why not right? Death factor is already high, how much worse could it get?
10. Geoff Rowley, Extremely Sorry (2009)
For some skateboarders, risking your life isn’t just for the young and reckless, it’s something they continue to do their entire lives. Such is the case for Geoff Rowley, an avid mountain lion hunter and still one of the gnarliest skateboarders well into his 30s. An example of his persistent deathwish? How about the massive container gap Rowley frontside 180’s in Flip’s Extremely Sorry video? Hitting a rock, some heavy wind, the absolute slightest mishap and you can forget hospital bills and surgeries – you’re in the market to buy a coffin.