Still One In A Million
A friendly, confident, and informal take for the haters.
I keep running into discourse online and in person, putting skaters down. I’m taking a stand here and asking you to reconsider.
If you were born in the mid to late 80s and started skating in the late 90s, there’s a good chance you knew this dude who is the archetype for argument. He was at the park, elusively. Maybe he worked at the shop, or the Toyota Tacoma with the shell indicated he worked in the trades.
In those days, this dude would show up at the skatepark to do every ledge trick, flip or shuv into a couple of them, do a pressure flip for a laugh, and head out.
From trips to parks on family vacations, I knew this dude existed seemingly everywhere: Omaha, Phoenix, Orlando, and the Cuyamaca Mountains of San Diego County.
The impressive thing about this dude was the consistency. He was probably a product of the Video Days, Questionable, Trilogy pipeline and spent the late 90s without missing a crooked grind.
This dude was like watching 411 live. Back tails, nollie noseslide, nollie nose grind revert, fakie front crooks, and a blunt fakie on the qp. Manuals were held comically long around the perimeter of the park.
I’ve been thinking about that dude thanks to the recently resurrected @ColoradoClassicSkate IG. Shout out to them. I’m hoping to find out who some of these dudes are.
I say all this to indicate where we are today: Nik Stain.
A little faster, a little smoother, and a vast example of those who came before.
Nik’s speed is supplied by whatever downhill lay in from of him. Slides and grinds are only dictated by the length of the ledge. In his Bruns part, there’s a back tail (in a line) where he simply runs out of granite. That slide could have gone another eight feet.
A tailslide (in a line) in Moscow? They must have run out of wax, or he probably would have gone further. Like the dude I referenced, Nik shines by whatever the architecture dictates.
Rick said Gino had like three bangers at the Roslyn Banks. Yeah, well, Nik had three in a line. Ok, two were set-ups for speed purposes, but still. The average skater wouldn’t pull up to a flat curb manny with that much velocity.
Picture this post from the ‘gram, but you’re 12 at your local at 7 a.m.
According to his appearance in SLAP’s One in a Million, Mr. Stain pursued a degree in math at Temple University. Maybe it’s a calculated effort. We may never know. It’s hard to cipher the skill of an elusive character.
The seemingly only point of reference we have to who Stain is as a person is a “Five Favorite Parts” feature — a very telling and seemingly devious foretelling of the influence of what was to come.
Many argue his output is underwhelming. Many do not have a trained eye. Go ahead and do an extra two pushes before your next noseslide and let me know how that goes. Try the backsmith without breaking the positioning for good measure.
Stain indeed does tricks a layperson could pull, but the rest of us aren’t going to make it look remotely cool. We’ll look out of control, but not in a way that impresses. Study this ollie-one foot for a moment. The shifty momentarily stops time.
Using the clip above, admit how many pushes you would take to get to this nosegrind. In my head, I could do this. However, I would roll in on the transition and take one big push somewhere past the second pillar. The footage shows that ain’t the way.
Wenning and Pappalardo taught our generation to believe nosegrinds should involve a pop-out. That’s a noble accomplishment, but there’s something to be said for going end-to-end without a flench. Go ahead and beat up the whole block.
Let’s pay respect to those who came before and recognize Nik Stain as the gift from a wheel that’s been in motion for 30+ years. He supplies the ‘gram with Max Palmer content. He’s a T-Eddy award-winner for Haulin’ Balls, and he made it look dope.
Even when we have a million pro skaters, we will still only have one Nik Stain.
Thanks for reading Al’s Skate House. Subscribe for the clout.