When I look at this picture I see more than a front side grind… I see a period of transition which signaled the end of an era and the beginning of another. A few years previous to the point represented in this image and in the history of pool riding, our only boundary had been the coping. Technically speaking, every maneuver being done on a skateboard in an empty swimming pool was being done with the skateboard and riders body “inside” the pool. Our feet were up near our heads, and our wheels or a part of our board were in contact with the coping. We were skateboarders, but the large majority of us were also surfers passing time in between swells. One wheelers, edgers, and tail taps, or as they’re known now, “tail blocks” were the maneuvers that represented the norm, but skateboarding and skateboarders weren’t satisfied yet. As far as we knew at the time… there was nothing left for us to do on our skateboards in an empty swimming pool except disconnect from the riding surface.
There really was no place left to go but into the air, and so… we went into the air. It happened first on the round lipped, near vertical and made-to-skate transitions of Skatopia’s half pipe. I give George Orton credit for being the initiator when I’m asked. Soon after, guys like Alva, Shogo, and myself began hopping over the coping and doing little airs in backyard pools. By the time this photo was taken, those little airs had evolved from bunny hops into bionic blasts, and a new wave of rippers had arrived. Guys like Brad Bowman, Jay Smith, and Eric “Shreddi” Repas, were making their presence known. This new wave was armed with the next generation of wider trucks, and wider decks, and they were responsible for changing the typical body position from “inside” to “on top”. They were the first skaters that I saw taking their grinds onto the top of the coping… they were lapping their rear truck over and locking it in with their bodies above their feet in a fully upright, or “stand up” style grind, and it happened right here in Mondo's pool.
This subtle transition did not go unnoticed and soon everyone was on top instead of inside. I feel it’s fair to say this transition ushered in the era of the “trick”, first, with lip tricks and grab variations on the standard airs, then with air-tricks like hand plants, and eventually with spinning and flipping aerials. These next generation rippers, in my opinion… were more like athletes than kids having “fun”, they looked a lot like jocks dressed in padded uniforms with their sponsor’s logos printed front, back, and center. The industry was also evolving, big dollars were being generated, and with the big money came slick marketing and the undeniable exaggeration of relevance that comes with it. Skateboarding stars were being manufactured and artificially inflated with the intention of simply selling products. Whatever innocence, if there was any left, was quickly being sapped from what we previously knew as skateboarding. This new generation of “pros” were into practicing, they had set contest runs, and they were deadly consistent, polished, and brilliantly innovative. It’s hard to say that they hurt skateboarding, because in fact, they moved it forward in a big way. But in the end, all these observations which come to me from looking at this old picture of myself in a pool named Mondo’s… are just that, simple observations of the past.
I’m one of those types that prefer to live in the moment as much as possible. I want to be contemporary in my thinking, and most of all I want to be honest… so I’ll end with some brutal honesty. I’m very fond of my days as a professional skateboarder whether it matters to you or not. Because of that, it hurts me deeply to see so many of the notables from my generation acting on their egos and trying so hard to find this thing they seem to have forgotten that they already possess. It hurts me, not only because I’m one of them, but because I don’t feel the same need to demand attention or recognition for something that happened so long ago. I don’t like hearing the younger skaters talking disrespectfully about us, but the truth is, many of us are giving them good reason to do so. I wish this would change, and I wish skateboarding could somehow find some of that innocence once again. I know, I’m just an old man dreaming now, skateboarding is what it is and I accept that. I’m just grateful that I can still go find an empty swimming pool in someone’s back yard, and that when the timing is right, I get to jump the fence, or I’m given permission to skate. I can still enjoy what skateboarding gives me, without feeling like I’ve taken something I didn’t deserve. - Kent Senatore
Thank you to William Sharp for the image. Back In The Day / The William Sharp book will be out soon. Skate - Ozzie