Sunday, July 24, 2005

What Next?

Today I was at the local skate shop watching one of the latest skate videos and marveling at the moves. It was one thing when professional skaters started to do all of the tricks that my friends and I used to fantasize but never thought were possible, but now there are skaters doing tricks that I would never even have concieved in my wildest dreams!

So I was wondering out loud how much further the sport can progress in the street skating direction, and the fellas at the shop seemed to agree that it may have reached a kind of limit. Sort of rehashing old and forgotten tricks (a major Fakiegrind pass time), there doesn't seem to be a lot more that people can do on a skateboard. Jump the Grand Canyon maybe, but I'm sure that Danny Way has a ramp plan already in the works for that stunt.

Tonight on TV was a show about a sport called Free Running that seems a lot like skateboarding without a skateboard. This highly athletic form of locomotion involves jumping, climbing and careening off of surfaces as you sprint through the urban (or any other suitably challenging) environment. It was quite amazing to behold. The free runners moved like a cross between ninjas and circus acrobats, with Spiderman grip and agility thrown into the mix.

Watching them made me realize that skateboarders do not hold the monopoly on utilizing the urban infrastructure for ends it was never met to service. These maverick forms of locomotion are some kind of cross between dance and martial arts, and I think they have the effect of taming or humanizing our often abstract and alien urban landscapes. To see someone making his way across the roof of an arcade, or leaping down a balustrade and over some bushes onto a walkway, somehow celebrates and transforms the environment.

I think I will stick with my wheelieboard. I've already made the investment in learning how to pilot the thing, but I can see how this free running thing might catch on big, since it requires far less equipment, and perhaps a little less preliminary training than skateboarding to practice. And you can free run in areas that skateboarders normally only dream about, like shopping malls and other indoor public spaces.

I'm greatly enjoying my new skateboard deck and wheels. Today I found a paved pathway that follows the train tracks along the water, and I played the game called "dodge the goose crap" all the way to Cootes' Paradise. Tomorrow is the fist day of skate camp, so I'll be getting up early to catch a bus to the meeting point. We're just staying in town tomorrow, but it will be fun to meet all of the kids.

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