Skateboard Icon Danny Way Talks Olympics and the Absence of the Mega Ramp

That is Half 3 of my ongoing conversations about the upcoming Olympics (Learn Half 1 with Josh Friedberg here and Half 2 with Tony Hawk here). Skateboarding being in the Olympics is a humorous factor. Everyone has an opinion on one thing that has by no means occurred. I’d chalk that as much as how a lot every and each one of us loves skateboarding as it’s—pre-Olympics—and our fears, actual or imagined that being an element of the largest sports activities occasion on the planet would possibly change that.

For this installment, I checked in with Danny Way—on the eve of him celebrating 30 years of skilled skateboarding—to get his two cents on how he thinks Tokyo 2020 will have an effect on the broader tradition and particularly the counterculture of skateboarding. I additionally requested him—as arguably the founder of the Mega Ramp—what his response was to the absence of one at Tokyo subsequent yr. And eventually, as an organization proprietor (of Plan B and with deep ties to DC Footwear) I needed to understand how Way felt about Nike’s outsized position subsequent yr dressing the skaters from Group USA and past. Right here had been his responses.

What are your ideas on skateboarding becoming a member of the Olympics generally?

You already know, it’s cool that skateboarding has gotten that validation—that it has matured to that degree. It’s cool to see—it’s been round for a very long time and it’s paid so much of dues to kind of get thus far of mainstream recognition and lastly being accepted. On the different hand, the half of skateboarding that we had been all drawn to was the incontrovertible fact that it was non-conventional, it was this subculture of society. The rebelliousness of skateboarding was a giant half of what so much of us had been initially drawn to. I really feel like the motivation at that degree (the Olympics) and the mentality that it’s creating amongst the skate boarders is sort of shifting away from that rebellious aspect and shifting extra towards issues like athletics and a structured, machine-like mentality. Additionally, the huge companies which can be coming in and posting up in the trade—what was so particular about skateboarding was that we owned our personal trade. At totally different occasions that has modified however for the most half it had been skateboarder owned.

So it’s a little bit bittersweet?

Yeah. It’s one thing to have fun. However at the identical time there are some issues which can be taking place with the Olympics that skateboarding tradition would usually insurgent towards in the previous. I’m a little bit bit like “How important are the Olympics?” They’ve gotten everybody to sort of hand over their morals about skateboarding tradition to be an element of it. That half to me is a little bit like, “Okay, how far does this go?” Over time, is that facet of skateboard tradition going to be misplaced as a result of of this? I don’t know, however I hope not. Loads of the youthful youngsters that weren’t an element of the generations that had been affected by that endemic tradition and group and trade don’t actually know what they’re lacking out on or what that’s about so that they don’t actually have the identical protecting mentality to protect that. I don’t know. We want the Phelps’s (RIP) and guys like that round to sort of blow the whistle right here and there.

danny way
Tweaked Indy air, Feb, 1989. Photograph: Courtesy of Grant Brittain/TransWorld SKATEboarding

Having lived by means of the ‘80s NSA contest model that then gave way to the video part model that emerged around ‘88/’89 and took over with Shackle Me Not, Hokus Pokus, Questionable, Digital Actuality, and onward—the place do you assume we’re at proper now? Is the video half format nonetheless related? Are we in the social media format now? Or are we simply in a no-man’s land with the Olympics coming?

There are nonetheless guys which can be succeeding on that path. There are nonetheless some actually huge guys that don’t conform, like a Wes Kremer or any person like that. He’s by no means going to exit and attempt to qualify for the Olympics. He’s not on social media. He’s so f*cking good and badass. Nevertheless it takes guys like that to maintain that tradition, that facet of skateboarding alive and there are so much of individuals which can be nonetheless devoted to that. However with all these public skateparks and all these younger youngsters that by no means actually bought a style of that rebellious aspect coming into it. There’s going to be—and it sort of already exists a little bit bit—a little bit bit extra of a line between it in the previous however over the years it has gotten extra gray. All of the guys that you just wouldn’t have anticipated to compete are competing now.

Is it doable that it simply makes the counterculture—the rebellious aspect push again tougher although? Will it provoke the “core” for lack of a greater time period?

It may strengthen that facet, that’s true. There will likely be extra separation to the level the place there will likely be two separate lanes. So long as there’s the Olympics and platforms like that, clearly there will likely be company cash and some individuals will go that path and some guys will nonetheless go for the endemic offers. However as somebody who lived by means of that earlier period of skateboarding like I did, that rebellious facet has been fairly particular to me and I’m undoubtedly protecting of that half of it.

danny way
Danny Way, 360 flip. August, 2008. Photograph: Courtesy of Jody Morris/TransWorld SKATEboarding

So far as the terrain they’re going to have Park and Avenue. And a few of the reasoning was that they wanted sufficient ladies/ladies for every occasion and that there weren’t sufficient for Mega and Vert. Do you could have any response to Mega not being in there, since in my thoughts that was a terrain that you just kind of based?

Right here’s my opinion, and that is simply mine so I’m not saying something is correct or mistaken—that is simply my perspective. Once I assume of the Olympics, I feel of—there are such a lot of judged contests already, so many historically formatted contests from Avenue League to X Video games to every part else—whereas the Olympics has such a nostalgic standards of metering top and distance and pace and issues like that which might usher in some traditional minded Olympic occasions. So as a substitute of having these two conventional judged occasions that we’re used to doing and that there are such a lot of contests like already—make one thing distinctive. Do excessive air—like Mega Ramp quarter pipe “biggest air.” They may have highest Ollie and issues like that. And possibly actually have a judged occasion too, however it will’ve been cool in the event that they introduced some of that facet to it. Simply to be totally different from every part already in our world and to observe the conventional Olympic theme.

That’s really an excellent level.

It might make it that a lot cooler and it will be its personal factor. It wouldn’t overlap or distinction a lot with our world or be such a sellout factor if that they had their very own standards and their very own signature type occasions that had been Olympic themed. On high of that they bent the guidelines. It was once that you just couldn’t be knowledgeable athlete to compete in the Olympics. They appear to miss that rule so I don’t know why they’re so hung up on the male/feminine factor. The one means these occasions (Vert and Mega) are going to progress doubtlessly on the Olympic platform is that if they get that publicity in order that ladies begin doing it.

Individuals additionally talked about the “wow” issue of the Mega and the way it looks as if the best occasion for mainstream audiences to know. Do you assume that’s a misplaced alternative?

From a advertising and marketing standpoint for the Olympics, having a Mega Ramp could be a large draw. I do assume it’s the best occasion for individuals who know nothing about skateboarding to observe and perceive. I feel with technical avenue skating it’s nearly like anticipating a bunch of individuals to talk a unique language with out ever having heard it. Don’t get me mistaken, I like watching avenue skating and for the most half it’s spectacular to anybody who watches it.

What about conventional Vert?

Vert has a really historic place in skateboarding. Vert was what pulled skateboarding alongside by means of a number of a long time. It paved the means for a very long time. The joy of Vert skating to the normal public was one thing that helped the mainstream perceive it. I perceive the causes for selecting what they did however at the identical time it appears to me they’re the Olympics and may make their very own guidelines in the event that they needed. It doesn’t look like anyone made a giant deal about the cash issue—individuals getting paid, though they’re purported to be amateurs at the Olympics.

danny way
Helicopter drop, December, 1997. Photograph: Courtesy of Dave Swift/TransWorld SKATEboarding

What do you inform your riders and teammates who is likely to be going subsequent yr? What sort of recommendation would you give them?

Effectively, when you’re going to go soar on that stage and be an element of that, you could as effectively capitalize on it in the highest means doable. There’s no level in leaping on that stage except you’re able to take benefit of it. Why conform to permitting the Olympics let Nike monetize branding on the skate occasions in any other case? That’s one thing that skate tradition would by no means have accepted of or allowed in every other occasion.

Let me simply ask you as somebody who has deep ties to DC and as an proprietor of Plan B—as an organization proprietor—how do you’re feeling about each rider sporting Nike attire for this? From what I perceive all the uniforms and clothes worn will likely be made by Nike. Whether or not that particular person rides for Nike or not. Skaters can nonetheless put on any footwear although.

To every their very own. Clearly, Nike is getting theirs and they’ll do no matter they will to take as a lot presence and market share as they will. However once more, if this had been X Video games and one thing like this occurred, I feel everybody would boycott it. No person would compete if that had been the deal.

I’m undecided how overt the logos will likely be, however the jumpsuits we’ve seen for Group USA undoubtedly have a small Nike emblem on them.

It’s simply my opinion however when you’re going to get the blessing of skate tradition at that degree it is likely to be value working with the tradition a little bit bit extra to do issues proper. I feel they [the Olympics] may have been barely extra courteous to the tradition and additionally to the different manufacturers that helped pave the solution to get skateboarding to the platform that they’re making an attempt to capitalize on.

How are you doing nowadays with your personal skating? When can we count on to see one thing new from you? Are you continue to motivated to movie an element and even simply new tips? Are you wholesome?

I’m good. I imply I’m by no means wholesome [laughs]. I’m skating right here and there, however I’ve a pair of issues that I want some upkeep surgical procedure on that I’m making an attempt to determine proper now. I’ve been skating although. I’ve gathered sufficient stuff—I’ve a little bit half that I filmed on my ramp in Hawaii that I’ve been sitting on. I’ve simply been making an attempt to determine when to launch it. It’s executed although. I’m making an attempt to make a plan with DC to launch that in 2020. However hopefully I can get some surgical procedure and get some extra footage.

Is it only a bodily battle at this level? Simply bumping up towards the limitations of the physique?

Yeah, it’s not for a scarcity of motivation. I’m fired as much as go skating and I’ve really been skating so much alone. I’ve been avenue skating at the park. Skating the ledges and stuff like that and it’s a battle. To be trustworthy, skating the Mega Ramp is in methods simpler than avenue skating for me now. I understand how to fall and keep away from these areas of my physique which can be so fed up with me smashing them.

It might really be rad to see footage of you simply cruising round a skatepark and skating a ledge.

I’ve been posting some tales right here and there however nothing too spectacular. In any other case, I’m stoked on what I’ve for that Hawaii half. I’ve been sitting on that footage for a minute, looking for a car to place it out.

That is that huge Euro Hole factor you guys had inbuilt the documentary (Ready For Lightning[‘12])?

Yeah, precisely I had filmed an element on that ramp. So hopefully that will likely be out in 2020.

danny way
Photograph: Courtesy of TransWorld SKATEboarding

That was just about all my questions. I assume from the broad strokes perspective—are the Olympics going to make skate tradition stronger or weaker?

I hope that skateboarding tradition—really I do know that skateboarding tradition—will likely be robust sufficient to outlive regardless. It might have been good in the event that they had been a little bit bit extra aware of making an attempt to harmonize with skate tradition although.

One factor Tony [Hawk] talked about was that possibly the first move gained’t be good however possibly the subsequent Olympics, possibly the second time we’ll be capable to get it nearer to what we wish.

Like I stated, every other occasion platform that may have are available in with that mentality—if it was X Video games or one thing—individuals wouldn’t tolerate some of these items individuals have agreed to with the Olympics.

The entire thing sounds extraordinarily advanced. Even to get it to the place it’s now, we’re being instructed they moved mountains. That it may’ve been ten occasions worse in the event that they hadn’t collaborated with them or no matter.

Yeah, I’m certain it may have been ten occasions worse. However hopefully if it was then no person would have proven up.

It may need been higher simply to have barrel leaping or one thing such as you stated. Have Wes Kremer soar some barrels?

[Laughs] However once more, if they really would have gone that route I feel it will have made extra sense and been it’s personal factor. Like longest guide, highest air, SF type hill-bombing contests or no matter. It’s what it’s. I’m certain Tony [Hawk] feels the identical means. It’s not likely our time anymore. At the finish of the day, I don’t actually care as a result of I gained’t be competing in the Olympics. However at the identical time, if this occurred a decade in the past I may need been much more involved about it.

Yeah, these interviews had been extra simply checking in with individuals who have had a long-term love affair with skateboarding and how they view this new factor coming in. We’ve got the luxurious of not being the individuals competing however I nonetheless additionally assume it’s vital to listen to these opinions.

That stated, there will likely be so much of individuals who have a primary notion of skateboarding based mostly on viewing this.

Precisely, all of us keep in mind that first glimpse. Even when it was in Police Academy 4 or Again to the Future. You always remember it. These Olympics will likely be that Again to the Future second for billions of individuals.

And the skateboarding expertise itself I’m certain will likely be subsequent degree. They are going to be completely ripping. I feel that it’s going to look rad to the youngsters who’ve by no means seen it and it is going to nonetheless be an excellent illustration of skateboarding. I simply really feel prefer it could possibly be much more highly effective if they’d have used the simpler to know elements of skateboarding for the individuals who don’t actually perceive the language. It’s going to be complicated for lots of the individuals watching.

marty mcfly
Marty McFly introducing skateboarding & skitching to a complete new technology in 1985’s Again To the Future. Photograph: Courtesy of TransWorld SKATEboarding

Tune into the Olympics on Friday, July 24, 2020 on NBC together with 5 billion different people. Or don’t—and go skate a Mega Ramp a la Heath that day as a substitute.

This text initially appeared on and was republished with permission.

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