Tag Archives: Mark Gonzales

Food 4 Thought: Style vs. Difficulty

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Style or difficulty when it comes to skateboarding? Which do you prefer? Or do you prefer both? Does a simple No Comply done proper hold the same weight as a crappy 360 Flip on flat? Is a proper Tuck Knee on a frontside air better than a blasted Stink Bug Air? Is doing an advanced technical flip trick below the lip better than a stylish kickflip blasted over the lip? Is it pushing Mongo or a traditional kick and push; with your front foot forward?

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Suppose it’s all open to interpretation but does style matter? What if the trick was super difficult but executed poorly? Which is more important, difficulty or style? Or is it a mix of both? We’ve all seen the guy at the skatepark who can throw and go while cranking out some really technical tricks in a short burst. But they may not look as appealing as the guy who’s casually cruising around the park doing proper as fuck Kickflips knee-high every try in the middle of a line consistently.

Source: Pexels

Who’s better? The super tech guy who’s got a few short burst bangers under his belt or the fast skating, stylish guy, casually linking lines together with a mix of simple and advanced tricks throughout the park? Is there more value in the more challenging technical trick, even if it looks like vomit and is sketchy? Or is there more value in the stylish, knee-high Kickflip, done at full speed and executed with perfection?

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How do we define style in skateboarding? Suppose it’s in the eye of the beholder. However, many would agree there’s a consensus on what looks “good” and what looks “bad” when it comes to style. Most skaters know when landing a trick feels sketchy. Or if it didn’t feel as good as it could have when rolling away. But that also brings up the idea of “good sketchy” as a style. Like the slight speed wobble or inadvertent powerslide after landing a trick. Or the infamous flailing arms after a gnarly hill bomb or handrail.

Source: offthewalltv

But what is “bad style”? I think most of us know it when we see it. It’s the toe drag or lunch break when landing a trick. What’s a “lunch break”? It’s when you land your trick on transition and pause overly long on a stall. For example, a blunt to fakie, you roll up the transition and lock into the blunt stall. But instead of popping in quick, you wait an excessively long time to adjust your feet right, making sure you’re balanced, displaying a lack of confidence in the execution of the trick. A lack of confidence in the commitment part of the trick. The act of actually landing and riding away.

Source: Skate Box

That hesitation is known as a lunch break, and people notice it. It’s a negative mark against your execution of the trick, your style while doing the trick. It can happen with almost any stall or grind on almost any terrain. “Bad style” could be going too slow when doing a line or rolling up to an obstacle. It could also simply be an ugly trick, like a “Roast Beef” or “Stink Bug” air. What’s a stink bug air? See the photo below.

Source: Pexels

So what’s “good style”? It’s inspiring, confident, and effortless. When you see a person do a trick with style, it makes you want to try it and do it the way they did it. It’s the style aspect that gets you pumped or inspired. The way the person executed the trick with confidence, making it look effortless. Like they’re fully comfortable with the trick. It’s Stefan Janoski’s Trelfips, Grant Taylor’s Frontside Ollies, Koston’s K-Grinds, Chad Muska’s Muska Flips, Tony Trujillo’s Stalefishes, or anything John Cardiel or Mark Gonzales do on a skateboard.

Source: ThrasherMagazine

Is it really about who’s better? Not in our eyes, but does style matter? We’d say fuck yes. The skater who can deliver on both style and difficultly has a leg up over the guy who does difficult tricks but in a lackluster way. Style is the “soul” aspect of a Trick, the “IT” factor. It’s the mastering of a Trick, knowing it like the back of one’s hand. It’s full confidence and control, it’s what makes skateboarding such an artform.

Source: Transworld Skateboarding

To put it simply, some skaters can do tricks, and some skaters master them. Which one are you?

Food 4 Thought: Is Skateboarding a Sport or an Art?

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A question that brings much debate; is skateboarding a sport or an art? Many would argue it’s a sport, pointing to the fact there’s a competitive aspect to it making skateboarders athletes. Others see it as more of art, a form of expression in live-action. With the city or the skate park as a blank canvas, and the board as your paintbrush.  

I consider skateboarding an art form, a lifestyle and a sport.” – Tony Hawk 

Or could it be a mesh of both? Let’s take a brief look at skateboarding’s origins. Skateboarding stemmed from surfing in the 1950s, referring to skateboarders at the time as “asphalt surfers”. It was an alternative to surfing when the waves weren’t good. An outlet for freedom, mimicking tricks and motions from surfing. As it evolved into an industry in the 1960s, contests began to surface. As businesses got involved, skateboarding became a bit more organized, and like anything with business, it was looked at from the perspective of how can a profit be generated.

The original idea of just “cruising” for enjoyment was transformed into how can this be made competitive? How can we generate a profit? As a result, competitive skateboarding was born. During the 1970s and 1980s, competitive skateboarding peeked with pool and vert competitions. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, street skateboarding became predominant. Competitive vert skating died off until the emergence of the X-Games in 1995.

Source: Logopedia

After landing “The 900”, Tony Hawk became one of the most well-known names in vert skateboarding. Helping launch the X-Games into the mainstream. With the mainstream comes advertisers and sponsors seeking to make a profit off the participants and the event. There’s no doubt that competitive skateboarding has provided careers for many of the most well-known skateboarders across the globe. Most participants who reach the podium at the pro level receive a significant cash payout. Pros often rely on the contest circuit as a source of income. They also rely on their sponsorships, however, in many cases the income from just endorsements isn’t adequate enough to make a living. Unless the opportunity for a signature shoe deal lands in your lap.

“I think that things are poetic when they don’t have a boundary. Without rules. My life is poetic.” – Mark Gonzales

Competitive skateboarding has its benefits. But is it everything? Is being the best and only caring about winning what skateboarding is all about? We say no, from its start skateboarding has always been about enjoying the freedom that comes with cruising on a plank with four wheels. It’s about having no boundaries and most importantly having fun while you’re doing it. It’s about the endless creativity involved with linking lines together. It’s about the endless possibilities that come with learning and creating new tricks. It’s about pushing oneself and improving. At the end of the day, skateboarding has always been about individuality, freedom, and creativity.

We can’t fail to mention the other ways skateboarders make an income. Photo incentives from predominate magazines for ads and interviews land skateboarders a pretty nice check. The art of skateboard photography and videography plays a significant role in skateboarding. Publication companies like Thrasher, TransWorld, and even 411 Video Magazine back in the day offered a creative outlet to showcase skateboarding in a more artistic and cinematic way. Often times skateboard photography and videography is more organic, boundary-free, and sporadic. There are no rules, there’s no competition, it’s just you, the environment, and what you can produce and display. All for the sake of documentation for others to enjoy and consume. This element truly makes skateboarding an art.

Now, who’s to say if skateboarding is completely an art or a sport. Suppose it’s completely up to one’s interpretation. One’s choice, that’s the best part. Skateboarding is whatever you want it to be. No one should be making that choice other than you. No one should be forcing you to compete and no one should be forcing you to produce a video part. Unless that’s what you want… there’s that personal freedom again we’ve been talking about. For example, the guy who likes to stack photos/clips doesn’t have to skate contests, and the guy who likes the organized competitive jock aspect of skateboarding doesn’t have to take part in the more creative or artsy aspect. Some skaters prefer both, this is how they make ends meet as a professional.

Guess the point is you don’t have to choose one or the other and you definitely don’t have to be pushed to compete or produce clips unless that’s your goal or you signed a contract. Skateboarding always has and always will be about having fun. When it stops becoming fun, it’s no longer what skateboarding is really all about. Individuality, creativity, freedom, and most importantly fun have always been at skateboarding’s core since its inception.

Source: Pixabay

One thing is certain though, skateboarding is a unique lifestyle and subculture that few truly understand or appreciate. That makes it special and in comparison to other more mainstream activities, skateboarding’s roots have always stemmed from the outcasts, unpopular, and misunderstood. That’s what makes it different, that’s what makes it what it is. A culture full of individuals who take a different approach to life and see things through a different lens. Those who think outside the box and never really sought to just “fit in”.

Agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments. This a hub for respectful discussion. Thanks for reading.

Sources:

https://www.xgamesmediakit.com/read-me

https://www.azquotes.com/author/29996-Mark_Gonzales