Shylio Sweat – Kickflip front board, under pressure – Provo, Utah

Every skater has been there. You’re about to get booted from the spot, and you know you only have one more try to get the clip. Not sticking the trick will mean returning to the spot only when you know things have died down and you have time to work on it again. That could be days or weeks, depending on how much of a bust it normally is. On this Sunday afternoon, Shylio Sweat felt that pressure as a bystander with way too much time on his hands began taking down license-plate numbers of the crew and prepared to call the cops. Calling out that he’d land it right then and there, Shylio rolled up with confidence and stuck it on the next try. No better feeling …

@Flatspotter footage check. Photo: Sam Milianta

Click images for captions

In the social media age, content is literally at our fingertips all the time. Platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook make it simple to see what your best friends, idols and favorite stalk subjects are doing at all times. When it comes to skateboarding, Instagram’s skateboard content is mind-boggling. If you are a Utah local skater, chances are that you are part of the 33,100-plus people following @Flatspotter. An organically grown and natural evolution that came from the love of skating and videography has become one of the biggest and (in my own personal opinion) best platforms to see your favorite local skaters at your favorite local parks, absolutely killing it. Mastermind of the lens Dustin Hill and longtime friend and business partner Bryce Parkinson are the enveloped whole that is @Flatspotter. While Hill takes the cake on the filming, Parkinson is the man behind the scenes pushing fresh wood, wheels, soft goods and whatever other items the duo can dream up. What started as a platform to upload videos and get the community hyped is now a killer team of rippers (pictured here), a line of skate products (available at your favorite local shops) and still an engaging and active community with whom to share skateboarding. @Flatspotter was born out of love and thrives on that love—and the duo agrees that it’s something skateboarding needs more of.
(L–R) Bryce Parkinson and Dustin Hill. Photo: Niels Jensen
(L–R) Bryce Parkinson and Dustin Hill. Photo: Niels Jensen

With A combined 39 years of skateboarding under their belts, both Hill and Parkinson are no strangers to the industry. From @Flatspotter’s original montage of Utah rippers and head explosions, @Flatspotter has grown up and out in many ways. “It started probably about 2012 as a video and online persona where I could share my videos (since that’s my trade),” says Hill. “At first, it was all about just sharing Utah skateboarding and a bunch of my friends, and there was really no outlet to share what I was already filming. It’s definitely still about Utah skateboarding, but now we have the team and we are pushing boards, so there is a lot more direction and focus.” Parkinson, on the other hand, who is the former owner of Shortbus Skateboards, joined in the movement roughly three years back with the idea and resources of putting wood to the streets. “It started with some wheels, and then Dustin talked about doing some boards, so we just came together since we were both pushing towards similar things,” Parkinson says. @Flatspotter has been a slow progression of what it is today. “It’s all come about in such a non-traditional way”, says Hill. “There was a website, then the Instagram and social media side went crazy, and now we have product and a team, so it’s all come very organically and kind of randomly,” Hill says. “Now we feel like we have a real board company and a team and an actual direction.” With products comes a financial responsibility, but both Hill and Parkinson agreeably say they are still about keeping the Utah scene hyped, especially on the social media side of things.

Speaking of the team, the @Flatspotter roster is, to no surprise, a heavy bunch of rippers. With all-time Utah killers like Matt Fisher and Shilo Sweat and young gun Deng Tear as well as a couple of “flow” Utah homies, there is no shortage of banger footage coming from the @Flatspotter squad. If the one-minute Instagram video feature only heightens your anxiety to see more of the @Flatspotter homies, there’s good news! “We are working on a video, a half-length, as we like to call it,” says Hill. “It’s a full-length, but no one has any attention span anymore, so a 15-minute video is now considered full-length.” Parkinson adds, “It’s been in motion for about four months now, with about six weeks of really skating and really filming, and I’d say its pretty good so far. Between Matt [Fisher] having a case of the warmup bangers and then Shilo and Deng just ripping, we’ve seen some pretty cool tricks go down.”

As far as the future, Hill and Parkinson hope still to be ripping and staying afloat in the scene. “Hopefully, we are maintaining and still moving product,” says Parkinson. “The newest boards have been moving the best as far as online sales and the local shops who have been supporting us, so we’re optimistic.” Of course, they’re staying humble. Hill says, “Thirty-one thousand Instagram followers doesn’t necessarily mean you are killing it, since you’re competing with literally every other skate company out there.” As a whole, the skate industry has seen some real fluctuation, not only in brands and skaters, but a vibe in and of itself of what is considered “cool and core” and what is considered “corporate and lame.” “We just want to see more love,” says Hill. “Not only in Utah or anything in particular but from the industry and collectively, just as skaters coming together and being hyped on the same thing.”

There’s no question that Utah’s is a strong and growing skate scene and that companies like @Flatspotter not only give this scene a platform but are now contributing with their products. As long as the support goes full circle, more companies, shops and industry influencers can stay afloat and keep the progression alive on all bases. Hill and Parkinson do what they do out of love and out of the need to share their creativity with whomever is hyped on it. If you are not already, follow @Flatspotter on Instagram and support them online and in your local shops. –Steve Goemaat

Gabe Spotts – frontside-flip. Photo: Niels Jensen

Gabe Spotts – Frontside Kickflip – SLC, Utah

If you ride a skateboard in 2017, you’ve no doubt noticed the amount of media presence on any given skate session. Every trick anyone does is constantly being filmed and photographed for social media. This day was no different, as a myriad of people had their phones out to film Gabe Spotts’ frontside flip down this new set of stairs (coincidentally in the exact same spot as another old skateboard spot). It was no surprise that Niels Jensen and I both shot the trick with our cameras (the non-smartphone variety) from two different angles. –Sam Milianta

Gabe Spotts – frontside-flip Photo: Niels Jensen

Gabe Spotts – frontside-flip. Photo: Sam Milianta

Thaynan-Costa-MACBA-Barcelona-Spain-Niels-Jensen-composite
Thaynan Costa – Backside Lipslide – MACBA, Barcelona, Spain
Thaynan Costa – Backside Tailslide – MACBA, Barcelona, Spain
Thaynan Costa – Backside Tailslide – MACBA, Barcelona, Spain
Thaynan Costa – Backside Lipslide – MACBA, Barcelona, Spain

 

Thaynan Costa – Backslide Lipslide, Backslide Tailslide – MACBA, Barcelona, Spain

Thaynan recently went pro for Enjoi Skateboards. He was surprised by the news at this very spot by friends and teammates with his pro board. I’ve admired his raw talent and unorthodox approach to skating for several years now, especially when I saw his Oververt part. I knew that in going to such an iconic city and spot, I would likely run into a few pros, but it was great to come across someone who was as friendly and fun to watch as he is. Both of these tricks were part of longer, far more tech lines, but there are few things better than classic tricks done at a classic spot, with style.

Photo: Niels Jensen

Rocky Hudson Jr. – Nollie Frontside Crooked Grind to Fakie – SLC, Utah

Some people just own certain tricks. Ray Barbee (no complies), Tom Penny (switch frontside flips), Brandon Beibel (nosegrinds). Rocky owns this trick. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone do it any better in person. He can no doubt do it on much taller and longer ledges, but regardless of the obstacle, he makes it look better than anyone in the city below.

Photo: Niels Jensen
Photo: Niels Jensen
Jared "Snuggles" Smith

This is not a classic California mini–picnic table (those iconic symbols of schoolyard skateboarding). But it’s about as close as you can get to one in Salt Lake City. Between work, school and the mountain of art Jared “Snuggles” Smith is producing lately, he found a short window to come shut this table down. Within about a half hour, he landed seven to eight tricks on it, including this noseblunt to fakie to cap off a line. It was rad to watch a new take on a classic Avenues spot in Salt Lake City.

Sam Hubble – Boardslide to Fakie – SLC, Utah

Sam Hubble battled this rail. Not only is it super tall with an awkward run up, but it’s unstable, so it would wobble like crazy every time he got on it. Those things would be deal-breakers for most skaters, but it shows how he approaches everything that he skates differently. It wasn’t long before he was riding away.

SLUG Skate Photo Feature - Mark Judd and Erik JensenSLUG Skate Photo Feature - Mark Judd and Erik Jensen

Every skater knows the feeling. Getting a trick at an amazing spot that is nearly impossible to skate provides a unique sense of satisfaction. Unfortunately, we all know the other side of it as well. With Erik Jensen filming, Mark Judd of After Dark Skateboards attempts an extra-long nose manual at the new Federal Courthouse in Downtown SLC. It only took two attempts to alert security, robbing him of the landing. You win some, you lose some. But knowing Mark, this ledge hasn’t seen the last of him.

I didn’t think I’d see anyone even attempt this gap when a crew of seven or eight rolled up on it. Most skaters just laughed at it—it’s really big … and awkward. It has an uphill runway where you are blind to the landing most of the way up. Clark Thomas punished himself with multiple attempts before getting the make.

He says he still hasn’t seen Welcome to Hell, but he subconsciously channels classic Toy Machine riders of the mid-’90s anyway. Someone get this kid a copy …