Frontside Jed goes off the deep end, Stalefish. Photo: Chris Swainston
It was a casual, sunny Sunday afternoon when my phone rang. The call was about a super shredding session in Heber Park. “So sick,” I thought to myself, to escape the toxic carbon dioxide soup in the city and fill my lungs with the fresh mountain air. I was thinking it would be a mellow afternoon of snake lines and 5-0 grinds. Little did I know there would be a pack of heavyweight rippers, all literally old enough to be my father, going off in the deep end. It was madness I’d never seen in person before. The pool at Heber is no glass of milk and cookies—it’s a stein of concrete, poured for a man. Nine feet down in the deep end and a steep five feet in the shallows with full pool coping, there’s no pussy footin’ in this pool—you just dive in and go for it. Consequently, that’s exactly what these old dogs were doing. I would later learn some of their names (Mike Martin, Cory “Cowboy” Bateson, Dan Jones, Mean Jean and “Frontside” Jed Fuller), but at the time I barely said a word. I actually completely stopped skating to gawk in awe. Seeing dudes blaze grinds through eight or nine tiles and boosting huge airs is something I just can’t really comprehend.
Like most, I’ve grown up so saturated in street skating that high-velocity vert skating wasn’t ever a thought in my mind, which is weird, considering vert pros in the 80s, like Tony Hawk and Christian Hosoi, were making upwards of $40,000 a month on board royalties alone. Sure, Real Ride had a vert ramp, but I was obsessed with 50mm wheels and Rodney Mullen’s part in Second Hand Smoke. Vert was “lame” because you wore pads and none of the cool kids skated it. I was about 12 back then, and 12-year-olds are pussies that don’t know shit about shit. So there I was, practicing standstill kickflips in a crack, while these dudes were two stories up catching fucking air. Fast-forward over a decade and here I am, standing still again, watching full grown men with families, real jobs and houses skate harder than I will ever come close to. Sure, I could beat them in a game of flat ground skate, but fuck, I would trade my three-flip in a second to sit on a frontside 5-0 for nine tiles in the deep end of a kidney bowl.
I went to the car to wipe the drool from my chin and grab my camera. This session had to be captured, and I figured it’s better to photograph the session than stare hard like a retard. From wall to wall, these dudes were tearing that pool apart. I couldn’t even follow their lines to set up for a good shot. Every man that dropped in was a tornado of chaos—just imagine putting a quarter in a blender and pushing liquify. When the session came to an end, my brain had officially been liquified and I still hadn’t said more than a handful of words to anybody. I got wind that this was a “Sunday Funday” tradition for these old dogs. Naturally, I had to witness this again.
As I drove east that following Sunday, I thought about how fucking epic these dudes are. They’ve been ripping since before I was an orgasm, and they still make it a point to get out and skate every weekend. Needless to say, they are all lifers when it comes to their skating and the proof is in the pudding. Skateboarding is not a sport but an addiction. Once infected, you will eat, breathe and sleep skating until the end of your days. Even when hefty responsibilities (like raising kids) might push skating into the backseat, your obsession will live on forever. I just hope that in 20 years I can still push it as hard as these guys, whether it be a backside tail or frontside crail.