This new feature is really about trying to revive something that has been lost or perhaps more accurately — consciously forgotten. I certainly tried hard to repress away my days of unflappable TRS and wax-coated sweatpants. On the opposite side of this boulevard of self-loathing lies a foundation around which blading needs to come together. You look backward into history and gain something from the good and bad equally. We need to look for diversity to force a greater expansion. For this reason, I give you a selection of seven underrated sections buried in the annals of rollerblading lore.
#7 Charles Dunkle, Able Frames, Out of the Dark, 2006
Chuck is one of the few pros to ever feature a manual pad in a major video profile. That says something, I think. Following in the exploratory tradition of Riggle and Andrews, his reworking of themes is shaped by the aged terrain of the South. Only Mathieu Ledoux has come close to nearing his creative oeuvre in recent years. Always a divisive figure, this section arrives as his career was nearing its peak. The switch from Razors to Roces afforded him a new level of agility as well as the chance to form that roman candle of a team that made Face the Music such a cult classic.
#6 Abdiel Colberg, FP Productions, FOR 2: Higher Power, 2000
In a video with such thug love stars as Yung Frankie and Yunger RJ, it would have been easy for this short but stylish part to go unnoticed. Vying for best song in the video, Abdiel brings several of the most flawless full-cab tricks ever done. Style Nazi dictates that you must grab BEFORE you lock on. Abdiel abides. Full-cab true fish. Woof. Filmed in a short time with a smaller selection of spots, this section showcases one of rollerblading’s effortless practitioners.
#5 Chris Farmer, Fifty/50, Juice, 2003
All discussions of pantz aside, Salomon/Deshi era Chris Farmer is the Hipster Select incarnation of The Farm. A hipster picks the version where he skated the brand for the shortest time and the tricks have just the right amount of being fucking out there. Just like Chuck, I see this change as a move away from the bulk of the TRS and to the agility of a more fitted skate. A skater who’s constantly progressive makes it hard to pick the apex. He one-ups his classic tricks as an uncommon 360 acid shows. He begins supplementing with experimentations like the handplant to fish or the one-foot roll backslide combo. Wonder how many were “inspired” to jump through a blackboard? To this day, I’m still staggered by the sheer magnetism in the soul to topsoul ender.
#4 Matthias Ogger, Clip Video Magazine, Clip 2, 2005
In an attempt to stray away from my Americentric views, I have to throw in a long held favorite. Video magazines generally aren’t as hyped as a manufacturer’s release, if for no other reason than the nebulous roster of talent on show. Ogger’s section came at a time when certain elements of rollerblading had gone stale. This was a fresh breath of both tricks and more importantly, unique spots. A willingness and ability to skate everything really sets this section apart from others of the same era. Highlights include a heel roll to savannah cess linked to a BS pudslide. Seems sort of improbable. This video really flew under the US radar and is well worth a watch.
#3 Oli Short, Kingdome Magazine, The Rain, 2006
Some photographers make their best work by never leaving their neighborhood. It is nearsighted to call Oli provincial but the return to his native environment makes this section the most mature and well-crafted of his career. He combines that unique way of looking at the world while revising his hammers of old. Accompany this with a videographer’s defined vision and this section steadily simmers until the gap to bank crescendo. The community gave him large amounts of abuse for other in-progress works he put on display. Very rarely does an artist’s new themes receive the plaudits. This profile is a masterstroke.
#2 Rob Thompson, Rejects Skate Magazine, Rejects #1, 2003
Where do you start? Unfortunate circumstances colluded against one of the better stunt skaters of the 2000s. Between a serious injury, college and the withdrawal of Salomon, Rob Thompson’s professional career ended too soon. Both his profile in Denial’s Underestimated and the more widespread Life+ overshadow this particular profile. To some on the outside of the process, making a good profile is mystifying or oversimplified. A shared vision is all too important. This arrangement of filmer, editor and skater really are in sync. Jaws will be not be the only thing dropped.
#1 Julian Bah, Razors and Adam Johnson, Ego, 2004
Including this section is an inherent meditation on how something becomes underrated. On paper, this section should be right up there with the recognized classics. It has a great song, tricks that are killer without filler, and it is aided rather than hindered by the creative direction. So how did it end up here? It really has to do with the narrative arc of Bah’s career. From the infamous CocoGate, to being “out there” in the Razor scooter house, his off-skate activities have eclipsed his past blading achievements while simultaneously his current skating hasn’t outshone its predecessor. Is it really possible to outdo that ender, damned to your own shadow? Being underrated isn’t simply about an objective assessment; you have to dig deep into the narrative construction.
What do you know about that JHo?
— Thomson Dryjanski