The Creation of an Ollie

For me, skateboarding is hard work. While other skaters cruise around all cool, I'm pushing around drenched in stinky sweat. Tricks don’t come easy, but every so often my hard work pays off and I produce an over-the-top rewarding, spectacular, glorious, and completely addictive trick. A move that is almost, dare I say, nasty.

I got into skating after finishing the Seattle Marathon in sluggish 4 hours and 16 minutes. Upon hearing that “Puff Daddy” Combs (Diddy Runs the City) and Martha Stewart finished with faster times, I stopped running and started something new, skateboarding.

To an observer, a nice skate maneuver might be considered art or music and the skater an artist or composer. I've found, however, that when traveling across a very hard surface at a potentially trauma-inducing clip, the artist is not so much concerned with the aesthetics of his/her work; instead a negotiation ensues where the end goal is not beauty, its life, it's survival, and sometimes it’s the creation of something that does not occur naturally. A skater is like Frankenstein, a mad scientist whose baby is an ollie.

An ollie occurs when a skater, i.e. person riding/standing on a skateboard, jumps, lifts the skateboard off the ground with their feet, and then lands on the board without a crash. For me, the entire process is a huge challenge, and with no formal training (only the afore mentioned knowledge of what an ollie's defined as) the learning curve has been rough, consisting of mostly trial and error. As I try to remember where it all started, the technique of how to ollie has been with me for a long time. Maybe someone told me, maybe it’s in my DNA, but in anycase, here’s what I got….

1) Move front foot back, you’ll need the space in the front of the board later, in step 3
2) Press down with the back foot, causing the front of the board to lift.
3) Drag front foot forward on the board, along the grip tape, giving lift to the back, and subsequently the entire board.
4) Press down with the front foot (while in the air), causing the board to level out above the ground.
5) Land on the board and don’t fall off.

This information is general and well known, though the knowledge of how to use it is not so common. Being able to ollie is not a necessity in life…unless, for some ridiculous reason, you’ve decided to be a skater.

Before attempting an ollie, there’s a million moments and a million thoughts for each of those moments, and when the time comes to jump, if I’m not focused and committed to the technique, there’s no creation, there’s no monster, there’s just me falling down on the hard ground. During these unwelcome existential moments, I leave myself and become a stranger, observing what I hope to be a grand performance...which never happens. I always come back to reality, freak out, flail, and eat shit.

Through my trials I have found ways to focus and maintain focus. Certain attitudes help. Not always positive, but always intense. Sometimes, before moving, I imagine I’m indestructible, with bones made of iron…bionic. That helps, mostly I think, by quickly getting my entire body on the same page. Then, once I’ve got my illusion, I push off and begin the trip to takeoff. This diminishing time-frame is used for physical preparation. I find that being unprepared leaves success to chance. And I’m not that lucky. So, instead I look down and get my feet in position, look up and determine when to squat down, compress a bit, while leaving enough time to uncompress and pop an ollie. When it’s time for liftoff, I attempt to shift my weight ever so slightly back so as to lift the nose of the deck, without falling off the back. Then I jump in, which is a paradox in itself. Catching air liberates the soul, but if you're not a slave to the discipline (THE TECHNIQUE) the entire effort won’t work. And this is what makes skating fun.