Words and Photos: Aaron Smith
Let’s get back to my Kansas City homies. Here’s some more photos from when I was working on my Kansas City article.
I’m sorry but… how crazy is Sean’s backsmith!? Look at this freakin thing. Let me count the ways of why no one should ever skate this rail. First, it’s one of those triple rails where there’s a main rail in the middle and two on either side of that. That alone should be reason enough to stay away from it. Second, there’s a kink on the end. Mind you this is not a mellow kink. This is one of those big kinks that wants nothing more than to go up your ass or crush you balls. Third, there’s really not enough run up to this rail to be able to skate it and on top of that you land pretty much run into a wall afterwards. So, with all those reason combined, this rail shouldn’t really be skated. Ok, maybe a boardslide but that’s it. Now, take all those factors into consideration and take another look at Malto’s backsmith. How insane is that!? To top all this off, Sean did this fairly easy. Go figure.
Here’s a photo of Mikey Taylor doing a backsmith. Mikey came out with Davis Torgerson in the summer of 2009. This was the first time I had met both of them. This photo of Mikey also happened to be the first photo of Mikey I ever shot. This rail is pretty crazy. It’s close to a wall, it’s long, and the worst part about it is the air conditioning box that’s above Mikey’s head. Having that box there makes tricks a lot scarier. Depending on your height, Mikey is tall, the box can be a real problem. He handled it by leaning his upper body away from the box. I’ve only seen one person get taken out by it.
Here’s the unfortunate fella who got taken out by that damn box. This is Garrett Olinger, I’ve been friend with this guy since freshman year of high school. We’ve had parts in the same video and even shared parts when we were kids. Anyways, enough with nostalgia, Garrett was trying to front feeble this rail. Definitely a tricky one to be able to grind the whole thing while leaning away from the wall to avoid the box. I guess what happened was he was standing too straight above the rail, like you should be to grind that far, and forgot about the box until the corner nailed him in the head. At first I thought he just hit his hand on it until I saw blood coming out of his head. Of course, being a photographer, I had to take some portraits of him. Poor guy, over the years I’ve seen him take some gnarly slams. This one however might be the worst. Now he’s a graphic designer in NYC.
Now let’s focus on Garrett landing tricks. Here’s one of him ollieing over a fire hydrant. This was a cool day because he had this trick in mind so we got out early and shot it. Side note, that is the greatest thing ever for photographers, when someone has a plan and you get out early to get it done. I am well aware of the rule I broke in the unofficial “Skate Photography Rule Book” that states “no ass shots”. Sometimes you need to sacrifice seeing the person’s face for a better background. For this photo, I made that sacrifice.
Here’s another one of Garrett doing a smithgrind. This rail is really weird. Somehow it was cut and the top and bottom and set next to the stairs. Now it’s attached at the top to that yellow pole by a rope and wedged at the bottom between the railroad ties and the concrete wall. The rail is relatively small to get onto but then you have to grind for awhile and finally drop off pretty high at the end.
Here’s another angle of Malto grinding this rail. You can tell more in this photo how crazy it really is. Also, if Malto just 50-50s something you know it’s gnarly.
Sometimes as a photographer…you blow it. Here a case where I blew it. This gap to ledge is freakin gnarly! You gap from the parking lot at the top of the grass on the left, grind, avoid the tree, and into the parking lot below on the right. I’m sure there was a better way to shoot this crook but I couldn’t find one while we were shooting. The funny thing about shooting skateboarding is you most often you don’t have the time to try every angel without the skater either landing it or getting bummed your jumping around so much. As much as I love stills, I should have shot a sequence. You win some and you lose some.
This spot is one of those “rescission” spots. When the economy took a dump in late 2008 it effected a lot of companies forcing them to close. On the bright side of that debacle there were more abandoned business than ever before which made perfect places to skate and not worry about anything. This bar is one of those examples. This use to be car dealership but now it’s just one big empty slab on concrete with this bar that divides the “show room” with the parking lot. Sean did this ollie first try as you would expect.
I’ve known Sean for about 10 years. In all that skating I’ve seen him do and all the photos I’ve shot of him, this is the only backside 180 I’ve ever seen him do. Sean, like everyone, has certain tricks he does. There’s nothing wrong with that. Hell, even I do that. Then there’s times where you see someone do a trick, even a relativity easy one like a backside 180, and it stands out in your mind because you’ve never seen that person do that trick before. This is one of those instances. Sean backside 180′d over this bar in a line through the packing lot. It was such a rad line because it was filled with tricks he normally doesn’t do. I guess that’s the underlining factor of being a pro skateboarder. Sure you can stick to the tricks you do first try but the difference between pro and not pro is the ability to do the ones you never do. Sean has that ability. You’ll have to wait for the Escapist Video to see the line Sean did here.
Like I said earlier, Mikey and Davis were in town. Here’s one of Mikey doing a switch crook on this yellow out rail in Lawrence. Mikey is really really good at this trick. He did this pretty easily. Now I know that this is a “ass shot” and you can’t really see his face but I still stand with what I said before, sometimes you have to compromise for a clean background. I also wanted to get that chain in there too.
Here’s Davis Torgerson doing a 360 flip down a gap in Overland Park, Kansas. I grew up a few miles from here. I don’t remember too many facts about this photo but I do remember thinking he did the trick super good. I also remember him not liking it for some reason. Shit, if I 360 flipped this I would never skate again. I would feel like I reached the top. I’m glad Davis doesn’t think that way. I like seeing him skate.
Dillon (Dag) is 5-0ing this beast of a hubba in Kansas City, Kansas. This thing is no joke. Before Dag skated this people would normally just do tricks over the hubba. This day Dag really wanted to grind the hubba but there was a rail attached to it that was preventing anyone from skating it. So, in broad daylight, we unscrewed and ripped off the rail and hid it in the bushes. Pretty sketchy seeing that this spot is fairly close to a court house and a police station. Sometimes that’s what you have to do to get photos and tricks like this one.
Here’s another on of Dag doing a noseblunt. This is the only still photo I’ve ever shot without looking through the viewfinder. I understand the benefits of not having your head in the middle of the action but I am too picky about my composition and what is in the frame and what’s not. I decided to try the “no look” on this rail because I’ve shot lots of photos of it over the years and I wanted to try something different. Somehow I ended up really liking this one.
This is DJ Fort, one of Dag’s childhood friends. I remember seeing this kid around when I was growing up. He use to be this small little kid but now he’s a full grown man. DJ switch frontboarded this rail with no problem and then switch lipslide it shortly after that. Side note, that’s Malto’s old white BMW on the right.
Like I said before, I’ve shot lots of photos of this spot. Here’s one of Josh White doing a tailslide against the wall. The more people that skate this wall rail the gnarlier it gets because it keeps breaking off from the wall. So every time someone skates it it gets more shaky. The bottom half of the rail bounces now when someone rolls away from a trick.
This is hands down one of my favorite photos. This was a DIY spot under a bridge in Kansas City. I don’t think it’s there anymore but was really fun while it lasted. This is Connor McCroskey doing a wallride crail tap scrap thing. I have no idea what it’s really called but it looks damn cool!
I can not believe that this is a spot. This quarter pipe is in Malto’s hometown of Leavenworth, Kansas. Sean’s brother Justin stumbled across this while walking his dog one day. It’s completely natural and not “skater made”. Here’s Sean doing a backside noseblunt.
This is another one of my favorite photos. I love how the light is one the grass above Sean and on the water. Malto’s back lit as well which is always a favorite of mine. Sometimes the simplest tricks became your favorite photographs. It’s way easier to capture the essence of skateboarding with a basic trick than something much harder. I like that.
Check back next Friday for more Kansas City photos.