STREET MEMO - What on earth got us to the Olympics??
What on earth got us to the Olympics??
Words by Stephen Serrano
The cold hard truth is that skateboarding is in the Olympics. How did we get here? What happened? I’ll be attempting to target the moments in skateboarding I believe in my opinion were pivotal, that led to street skateboarding being in the Olympics.
Peggy Oki, hopped a schoolyard fence to skate a bank.
Photo: Glen Friedman
The concept of the Olympics is pretty inclusive, people from all over the world no matter the gender, race, or creed, doing some shit. Peggy Oki was a pioneer, an Asian-American woman hopping a schoolyard fence to skate some shit. Something that people from all walks of life would do in the future.
Julien Stranger skated this handrail in San Francisco.
Photo: Bryce Kanights
Skateboarding is not a sport in the traditional sense, a lot is about aesthetics. Julien Stranger jumped onto a handrail and made it look good, so good that they took photos and ended up in a fucking magazine. Killed it.
The Savanna Slamma shook things up a bit.
Photo: Kevin Thatcher
A few dudes out in Georgia from 1987 to 1989 decided to shake things up a bit and put on a street style contest with some unique obstacles. Skaters from all over came out and combined, power, style, and technicality. People like Mark Gonzales, Lance Mountain, Eric Dressen and Christian Hosoi ripped it up, setting the tone for future contests… Like the 2021 Olympics.
Wade Speyer Crooked Grinded Hubba Hideout before the term Crooked Grind existed.
Photo: Bryce Kanights
Wade Speyer was doing a staple in competitive skateboarding on a massive ledge before it even had a name, some called them nosegrinds. The ledge also became the definitive title of a ledge down stairs. “Hubba” a term used for Crack Cocaine became the name of the ledge, because the spot was ducked off, so people would go smoke crack there. It is now a term used in the Olympics.
Then came Henry Sanchez and Mike Carroll.
Photo: Mike Blabac
Henry Sanchez’s and Mike Carroll's rapid progression at San Francisco’s EMB led to many arguably claiming that Henry and Mike are responsible for inventing many of the modern street skating tricks that we see today. For example the trick on Hubba Hideout in this photo is a Switch Crooked Grind, only a few years after Wade Speyers crook.
Kareem then made his mark with style.
Photo: Atiba Jefferson
Kareem Campbell’s signature street style is unforgettable. From the trick selection to the execution, to his company endeavors like Menace. Kareem left his stamp on skateboarding forever. Just look at this fucking photo.
Tampa Pro sets the bar for street contests.
Photo: Bryce Kanights
Brian Schaffer and a few of his friends decided to build a skatepark in a warehouse in Tampa, Florida. They decide to put on a pro contest, which Mike Valley does a kickflip 5050 in his winning run, a trick now done hundreds of times in the olympics. Tampa Pro is now an annual staple in professional skateboarding.
Mouse came out and subtly changed the game.
Gino Iannucci does the “Yuto” in this video, (Nollie 360 switch backtail). And it’s just thrown in the middle of his shared part with Keenan Milton, this video is still good today. Street skateboarding at it’s finest.
Some vert dude did a 900 at the Xgames, and overnight everybody cared about skateboarding.
Photo: Rob McConnaughy
This moment might not be street skateboarding but Tony Hawks 900 at the 1999 XGames had such an impact on the general populations perception of skateboarding that it’s impossible to ignore. All on live TV for the world to see. Shit got serious...
There even was a video game.
The popularity of the 900 led to Tony Hawk receiving a major video game contract. The game was huge, it even renamed tricks, and led to a mental picture of major technical trick combos. These combos were deemed impossible at the time, only for that shit to be executed perfectly in real life by the next generation of skateboarders.
The DC Video brought us Rob and Big, and the Dyrdek empire
DC Shoes major video release “The DC Video” brought us larger than life skateboarding from street legends like Brian Wenning and Stevie Williams, ill shit. But a small skit with Rob Dyrdek and Chris “Big Black” Boykin about Rob’s frustrations with security at skate spots led him to “hiring” his own security guard. The media success from this skit, and Rob Dyrdek’s smart business decisions led to an empire. This empire gave him inspiration and confidence to come up with his next big idea…
Dylan Rieder R.I.P.
Rob Dyrdek came up with a concept that would be the foundation for competitive street skateboardings scoring format, that would eventually go further than Street League. It brought the tricks legends like Henry Sanchez & Mike Carroll pioneered to a place that “normal” people could understand, without wanting to change the channel to Pimp My Ride or someshit.
Then it finally fucking happend… Street skateboarding in the Olympics
The success of Street League, and the general popularity of skateboarding finally led to the conclusion of Street Skateboarding included in the Olympics. And the rest is history? We’ll see where this all leads us, hopefully somewhere good.
Words by: Stephen Serrano