Chapter 5. WHAT THE HELL IS A HUCKJAM?: Innovation and improvisation on a million-dollar ramp




Subject: wut the hell tony?

i sent u an email like 4 years ago when i wuz in ur fan club wen u were my favorite skateboarder. well thx alot because I went to your huck jam show and asked you a question and you didnt answer me so i gave up skateboarding because i thought u thought i was a poser. If u get back to me on this i would greatly appreciate it.

Like most pro skaters, I've always been frustrated that skateboarding's mainstream popularity derives primarily from contests, when that's such a small part of what we do. In fact, most pro skaters shun competition entirely and instead build their reps through video parts and skate-mag coverage. That's what makes the sport and the subculture so hard for outsiders to package: At its core, it's about innovation and improvisation. It's about ignoring rules.

As proof, let me make a confession. It isn't exactly a secret, but it seems to be forgotten amid the hype: My most famous competitive feat, when I landed the first-ever 900 during the "best trick" event at the 1999 X Games, shouldn't have counted. I should give ESPN back its medal. Here's why: It took me 12 tries to finally stick a 900 that day, and somewhere around my eighth attempt, time ran out—contest over. I didn't exactly cheat; I just kept climbing back up the ramp after the buzzer sounded, and nobody stopped me.

I wasn't thinking about winning. I only ...

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