A Case Study: The Frontside Heelflip, Why Is This Trick So Damn Hard?

Ok so yesterday I was looking at this stupid ad realizing once again, that Ishod is everything I ever wanted to be in a skateboarder and I'm just, well...Me :^\

BUT THIS IS NOT A SADBOY ARTICLE. 

I realized something. I realized that the frontside heelflip is actually a really, really fucking hard trick. Have you ever tried a frontside heel? (yes, you have) Have you ever landed a good frontside heel? (probably not)

Note: We are talking about regular frontside heelflips for all of you out there saying "well, I have em switch". Yeah, you and the rest of the world, champ. 

So I was pondering, and I noticed that there are actually only a handful of people that I've seen do a really good frontside heelflip. Let's go through some of those examples. We'll start with possibly the most important one of all time, Clyde Singleton. 

That little tack at the end. :'^)

Clyde changed the game right here. Just a classic catch and turn. I could go on about this one, but if you know you know, and if you don't know, well your ass better call somebody

Moving right along. You know - for the next one I initially thought about the one he does over the rail into the bank in Can't Stop - but then I remembered that Ray actually does an ODE TO CLYDE. Man this is really just tying itself together nicely. 

I love this one so much. I know you can't see his face in this pixelated gif, but I like to imagine that he has a huge smile on his face as he roasted this bad boy. Really, a beautiful example right here.

I actually like to think that all of my favorites are secretly best friends and go to the movies and stuff on Sundays. Is that weird?

Anyway - the next one is equally important, but for different reasons. Ladies and gents, Louie.

The insane thing about Louie's is that he doesn't do the catch and pivot, it's all one fucking motion. He lands on the tail, guys (and girls). It's not even scooped like a varial heel. It actually makes no damn sense at all, and shouldn't really work, to be honest. 

So you're probably saying "here goes Smltalk again, only talking about stuff from 10+ years ago, what's next a PJ reference?". 

You're damn right. PJ did a frontside 360 heelflip, and we can't not talk about it. I'm sorry, you're just going to have to deal with it. 

Take it in. 

This doesn't mean that there aren't any modern pros out there...Team Handsome seems to account for a large percentage of modern regular frontside heelflips.

Austyn and Dylan roast fs heels all day, and probably fs heel all night right into a pool of hot chicks. Good for them. 

This is where we at Smltalk took out the scalpel and really dissected the trick, and it's place in modern skateboarding. Dylan and Austyn are not ordinary skateboarders, they are two of the best. In fact - it seems that the only skateboarders doing frontside heels are ones that are very skilled, because this trick is, as stated earlier, incredibly difficult. 

People all over the world are doing insane tricks every day, grinding longer, going faster, and just doing generally more difficult, complicated things. In a recent Mini Top 5's, Carroll was asked what tricks should go back to being referred to by their original names. Observe number four on his list:

Hardflip—frontside varial flip. Shit ain’t hard anymore

Our point here is that everything has been mastered, so tricks that are secretly easy (e.g. varial flips) regain popularity because handsome individuals with cool clothes bring them back. But something has been left behind folks, and I think you know what it is by now. So let's do this:

CONCLUSION

IF: Hardflips are no longer hard, and Frontside Heelflips are actually INSANELY hard.

THEN: The name hardflip is incorrect.

SO: We are now renaming Frontside Heelpflips "Hardflips" going forward. You can call the trick formerly known as "hardflip" whatever you want. We don't care. 

The end.

Note: This is not a comprehensive list of all great fs heelflippers, we'd like to note Wu Welsh has an exquisite frontside heelflip @ Three Up Three Down in SF, and even Mr. Eric Koston will tell you this trick is hard as fuck (but he can still do them really, really well).

The Varial Flip, Revisited

It’s no secret that the varial flip, like the no-comply, has found a new acceptance in the #current world of skateboarding today. Even when QS decided it was worth appreciating two years ago, there was still a hesitation in accepting it with such open arms. How did we get where we are today? Was it Sebo Walker? He’s varial flipped high and low, and even with griptape that looks closer to Joseph’s Technicolor Dreamcoat, it’s rare to hear even the corest of #core skaters gripe about his gear/trick selection. Hmm, I don't know, varial flip acceptance is a little bit older than young Sebo.

Well maybe it was the members of New York’s Most Productive Crew™ ?

An affinity for trick selection and style, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that their refined varial flip implementation has eased up judgement of the trick, especially given the high amount of coverage we’ve seen from those dudes lately (always open to more, btw)

Or could it have been the Fancy Lads, who paid homage to the once shamed trick in their "avant-gnar" style?

Perhaps Sir Stevie Williams inspired the Dirty Ghetto generation to varial flip with their heads held high? They already heart the haters, certainly they could withstand a few jabs about a little varial flip, couldn't they? I don’t know, man.

Despite these potential leads, it’s still totally unclear to me when it became cool again...but I’ll say this much: I’m really glad it’s back.

You see, it wasn’t so long ago that a young Kevin Romar was trying to make a name for himself at Thrasher’s Battle at the ‘Berg. A spry young fellow, Kevin began hucking himself into the mix by lofting varial flips down the infamous San Francisco behemoth. Upon doing so, he was vehemently booed, and even publicly shamed by the Phelper himself. Funny that this was such a dark time for the varial flip, it doesn’t seem like it was all that long ago, but seven years in skateboard time can feel like an eternity. A lot can change in seven years...people can change.

Now I don’t necessarily feel bad for Kevin Romar, I’ve never thought much of his skating (sorry Kevin, nothing personal) but I’d be lying if I didn’t think the man had a good varial flip. For him to have been booed at the Wallenberg contest isn’t because he was doing it gross: it’s because the varial flip paradigm hadn’t yet shifted. That was 2009. What happened to us? When did our groupthink go from boos to cheers? Where is this article going?

Well, it’s going back. Back to a time when the varial flip still caused a sour comment in a game of SKATE, or an "ah, yuck" when watching so-and-so’s new part...I'm talking about 2003. We were over a decade away from varial flip acceptance and despite a wealth of anti-varial flip sentiment, there was one v-flip that seemed to sneak right under our hateful noses. A varial flip executed so well, that the seemingly impossible plight of skateboarders who regularly seek flip trick perfection was, for but a moment, achieved. While everybody talks about the hardflip, the frontside flip, the backside smith grind...I’d like to talk about Mike Carroll’s varial flip in Yeah Right!. Yes, I know. Another skate blog talking about Mike Carroll, AGAIN. Please stop rolling your eyes, and listen as I set the scene.

He switch flips up, he turns around, and then it happens. He unleashes the most out of this world varial flip skateboarding had ever seen. When this part came out, I was too young and ignorant to think that what I was watching wasn’t as significant as I clearly see now. The speed, the back foot, the flick...guys, it’s actually perfect. I’m not undermining what happens after the varial flip either - he backside smith grinds the fucking shit out of that rail - only the way that Carroll can, of course. I just feel like watching his part again, I saw something I hadn’t seen before. I felt like Seinfeld, entranced by the power of the black and white cookie.

If people could have just looked to that varial flip, would we have ever been so critical of its place in skateboarding? We would have still been critical, as we should always be, of this thing that we keep so near and dear to our hearts...but that varial flip could have solved wars, man, that thing was beautiful.

What am I saying here? What does this all mean? Why have I spent so much of my life thinking about a dude looking really cool in cargo pants? Why am I asking so many questions in this article? Maybe because anyone that’s been skateboarding for a long time, and specifically those who have accepted that this will not be a career of any sort, live for the little things that make this hobby of ours so great. It’s not how about big the handrail is, or if the trick is ABD at that spot, but about how cool Reynolds throws down his board, Cardiel's hands after the noseblunt, Julien's backside powerslide, or how insanely good Mike Carroll can varial flip. He took something that would make people cringe and turned it into fucking art. You think it’s a coincidence that every skateboarder names like the same three people in their all time top fives? (Cardiel, Heath, Carroll, etc.) No, skate blogs will never get over Carroll so long as skateboarding still takes place on four wheels. Who gives a shit about anything else, style matters and that's the only constant skateboarding will ever know.

And next time you think a trick looks stupid, see if Carroll did it...trust me, he did.

DISCLAIMER: After explaining to my roommate what I was writing about, he very casually said "Oh, you must have saw that new Skateline." Confused, I went over to the Thrasher site and low and behold the latest Skateline is partly dedicated to the topic discussed above. Now I really like Gary's show a lot, in no way do I mean disrespect, but this piece has nothing to do with Skateline...HOWEVER, I did re-watch Carroll's part the other day because Thrasher posted it to the "Classics" section, so yes, in a way Thrasher is part of the reason why this got written, just please don't think I was piggybacking Gary's segment on varial flips...great minds just think alike ok? :