Halfpipe Riders Wanted
Many people don’t fully appreciate the absolute importance of halfpipe skating in action sports.
It’s quite often seen by many street and mini ramp skaters as the monkey in the room. It’s the big brother that you don’t wanna mess with, the monster nobody wants to admit is there lurking in the shadows.
Saying that though, halfpipe is THE most important aspect of any action sport, in quite a few ways.
Vert pertains to the longevity and popularity of each and every action sport that uses one. Vert is huge, it’s obnoxious and scary, and it hurts, but we need it.
Not so sure? Read on… … I’ll explain.
My Pro Career
I’ve been skating skateboards since 1986, and pivotboards since first saw them at the first ever World Snakeboard Championships in September 1994.
At the time of writing this article in September 2016, that makes 30 years of skateboarding, and 22 years of riding snakeboards. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have skated snakeboards professionally for around 10 years or so.
I’ve travelled the world, competed in many professional events, met some great friends from all over the world, and made a living skating snakeboards.
By the end of this article, you’ll understand from my perspective, why I believe halfpipe is the most important aspect of any action sport on many levels, for it to succeed.
What is a Halfpipe, Anyway?
I want to make it very clear to anybody reading this article, when I say the word ‘halfpipe’, I don’t mean a mini ramp, or midi ramp, that people sometimes mistake as a halfpipe.
When I say the word ‘halfpipe’, I mean a full sized competition halfpipe, like this one…
Claremont YMCA Halfpipe
Full sized halfpipes are AT LEAST 12-14ft or taller, 30-40ft or wider, and have at least 18 inches or more of vertical surface on each side of the ramp.
Tony Hawk’s Boom Boom Huck Jam
You’ve seen these monster ramps before. You’ve watched them on the X-Games, Dew Tour, Tony Hawk’s Boom Boom Huck Jam, and many other big events such as these.
Even just to stand on top of one of these ramps is intimidating. Halfpipes are big, and scary.
Now that you understand what a halfpipe is. Let’s move onto why it’s so important to us.
The BIGGEST Name Rides Halfpipe
THE BIGGEST NAME in ANY action sports where halfpipe is used, are always the halfpipe riders.
Don’t underestimate this statement. I don’t just mean ANY big names, either, I mean THE BIGGEST name.
Let’s look at this in detail for a second, with a few examples from other sports;
Tony Hawk is THE biggest name in the history of skateboarding.
There’s absolutely NO arguing with this one, he is a gargantuan legend in skateboarding. Even my mom knows who Tony Hawk is, and she doesn’t know the name of any other skateboarders on the planet.
If you ask ANYONE on the street (even old grandmothers) to name just one professional skateboarder, Tony Hawk will be the one guy they know the name of.
Tony Hawk has a net worth of $140 million, which is 3 times the net worth of the next person on the list.
Sean White is the most famous snowboarder that ever lived.
He’s won more medals than some people have had hot dinners. He has movie deals, and a net worth of around $20 million.
No more really needs to be said about Shaun, other than he’s also an amazing skateboard rider on halfpipe, too.
The biggest name in BMX is Mat Hoffman, without question. Nobody even comes close to being as well-known as Mat.
Mat Hoffman re-invented BMX, and is almost solely responsible for the survival of the sport.
Taking halfpipe riding to levels never thought possible before, inventing thousands of trick variations, and the first person ever to backflip a BMX, is there any surprise Mat’s so famous?
Of course, it should come as no surprise to anyone, that Mat Hoffman mainly rides halfpipe.
The second most famous BMX rider of all time was Dave Mirra. Also a halfpipe rider first.
Inline Skating – Yasutoko Brothers
The most famous inline skaters are definitely the Yasutoko brothers. Eito Yasutoko and his younger brother Takeshi Yasutoko, are the most well known in-line skaters on the planet.
Don’t be ashamed if you haven’t heard of these guys, as much as the others mentioned above.
Inline Skating isn’t as big globally as the other sports above, so these guys don’t get as much public exposure, but they are still the most well known, and are the top halfpipe riders, so this supports my claim.
My point is, that the MOST famous (as in the most well-known) people in every action sport where halfpipes are used, skate halfpipe.
Halfpipe Riders Create Pivotal Moments in History
You may disagree with this statement on the outset, but hear me out for a second.
I agree with you, that as you’re reading this article, you’re thinking of other big moments and tricks pulled off by street skaters.
Please, don’t get me wrong here… …there are HUGE moments in street skating captured on video, and in video parts that create history in our sports. At no point am I trying to take these moments away from anyone, but just for a second, think about the impact, and the first time you saw these absolute monumental moments in halfpipe history.
I’m sure you’ll agree that there are great street moments, but not that top these moments.
Mike McGill -Invention of the McTwist – 1984
The first ever to do a backside 540 on a skateboard, this trick looks insane to watch when inverted, which turned into an overnight craze. Still today one of the raddest tricks ever done. Nobody that’s ever been into skateboarding or any ramp action sport, can say they don’t know what a McTwist is, or who invented it.
Mike still skates today, you can often see him at the YMCA in Encinitas. He also owns McGill’s skateshop in Encinitas, CA, one of the greatest skate shops of all time, open since 1987.
Tony Hawk – First to Land Backside 720 – 1985
Not the first, but an awesome 720
Tony Hawk was the first ever rider to land a (fakie)720 on a halfpipe.
In 1985 this was such a huge thing, there was an arcade game created that was sold to arcades worldwide. They still have one of these at Aura Skatepark in Vista, if you ever want to see skateboard antiques.
People that would never have had any interest in skateboarding played this game.
Mat Hoffman – First ever Flair on a ramp in 1990
Mat Hoffman landed the first ever backflip 180 on a halfpipe at the King of Vert contest in Mansfield, UK, in 1990.
It was such a monumental part of BMX history, because no longer would you be able to compete unless you went upside down. Not just on halfpipe, but on anything. Now backflips could and would be put into contest runs.
The best part about this ever? Watch in the video, as Mat lands the trick, and ten gives his bike away to a kid that came to watch him, from the Make a Wish Foundation.
If THAT isn’t absolutely MONUMENTAL, then WHAT IS?
Tony Hawk Lands first 900 in 1999 X Games
I think everyone involved in action sports understands the absolutely gigantic pat of action sports history witnessed in the X-Games 1999 when Tony Hawk landed the first ever 900. Tony had been trying this trick since 1986 or so, about a year after landing the first 720.
Almost EVERYONE IN THE WORLD (my mom included) knew about this!!
Shaun White – First Double McTwist 1260 – Vancouver Winter Olympics
Watch the fun in the video above, and appreciate just 2 things;
- Watching this run gives you goosebumps, because it’s just THAT exciting to watch.
- Halfpipe riding is out of this world. It looks completely impossible to do, and untouchable by any human ever.
Shaun White‘s first ever Double McTwist 1260 just blows peoples minds. I don’t know anybody that doesn’t know about this happening, Everyone watches the olympic games. The WHOLE WORLD watched as Shaun landed this run in the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010
Shaun White became shrouded with infamy from the very moment the world watched this run.
Halfpipe Riders are Gods Among Men
When people watch a person ride a halfpipe, it seems like it’s impossible to do. When people watch a halfpipe rider killing it, they cannot believe their eyes. It looks superhuman.
Shaun White going Superhuman
Look at the above photo again of Shaun White at the Dew Tour, and tell me just looking at it for a second, doesn’t absolutely blow your mind.
People cannot fathom in their minds, how this person is capable of such a feat. It looks INSANE.
When you think about it, it’s about only 1 in 100 people that buy boards, that ever become ‘skaters’, as in somebody that skates as a sport. Out of those people, only 1 in 100 will ever decided riding halfpipe is a good idea, and decide to try it.
Even fewer than that actually ride it regularly and stick with it.
It’s a rare human that has big enough balls to ride halfpipe, let alone figure it out and go big.
Why is Halfpipe SO Important?
Read through the section of this article above again, about the most famous riders in every sport.
I want you to think about their inspiration and influence on the sport they’re involved in.
Understand the marketing for a entire sport, based around just ONE of the major events like Tony Hawk landing the first ever 900.
Each and every one of them have made monumental achievements, and created legendary moments in their sport. These moments create more television coverage and marketing for everyone in their sport in just a few seconds, than any other.
Where would skateboarding be without halfpipe skating, without a Tony Hawk?
Would BMXers be doing the tricks today, had it not been for Mat Hoffman destroying himself on a regular basis?
He was going higher than anyone else, and literally inventing almost every trick in the BMX book, on a daily basis.
Mat Hoffman pushed the limits of the BMX bike beyond what anyone else thought was humanly possible. He inspired millions of riders, myself included, to pick up a BMX and go nuts.
Sam Beckett at the 2016 X-Games Vert Final
Without these people, the ESPN X-Games would probably have not been a success. Mat Hoffman and Tony Hawk had a lot to do with the creation and the planning of the first X-Games.
Imagine the ESPN X-Games without halfpipe involved. It doesn’t sound very good, does it?
Would the first ever X-Games in 1995, have been as much of a success without a halfpipe contest? I don’t believe it would.
Just try and imagine any of our sports being as successful as they are today, without the X-Games. You have halfpipe riders to thank for that.
Why is Halfpipe SO Important to Pivotboard?
Vert skaters bring money and recognition to a sport. Not just to the individual, but to the sport itself, on a marketing level.
Professional skaters in all action sports, in all disciplines, are getting paid more because of the influence halfpipe riders have on their industry.
Yago Ferrer – Frontside Tail Grab – Clairemont YMCA
People need to be impressed by your sport.
Nobody ever believes they will ever ride a halfpipe (when they watch it), but it’s the spark of imagination they get, that can create a thousand skaters. If your sport doesn’t have any halfpipe riders, the public believes halfpipe riding is too hard for riders in your sport.
Visually impressive tricks sell, way over one that’s technically difficult, so essentially, bigger IS better. Having a core of solid halfpipe riders helps any sport.
Thousands of skateboarders are born, while watching halfpipe events every year, either on TV, or in person, yet only a few will ever skate one.
Vert skating is so important to Pivotboard. Without it, something will always be missing.
Essentially, no action sport is complete without it’s top halfpipe riders. We need some, and the sooner the better.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting for everyone to go out and starts riding halfpipe right now, and try to become halfpipe masters, far from it. The vert ramp is not one to be taken lightly. It takes some huge balls, and a massive amount of time and dedication to even do anything half decent on.
The point of this article is to open people’s eyes to just how influential and ultimately how really important halfpipe riding is.
You don’t have to do it, you don’t have to understand it, just recognize the importance that vert riding has on the sports it’s involved in. Its time we had some heroes.
Thanks for reading.
I’d be really happy to hear your comments in the comment box below. I read them and reply to them, so drop me a line.
If you have any ideas for a new article, let me know and I’ll get to work on it.