Whether on screen or in real life, you’ve probably witnessed jumps, flips and spins being performed on a skateboard that took your breath away. You may even know some of the technical terms for these tricks. What you may not know, however, is the story behind each one. Skateboarding tricks are essentially the combination of a bunch of small moves. This creates something bigger, more complicated, more difficult, and, therefore, more impressive than your average ride.
Here are the toughest skateboarding tricks out there.
A 1080 is a pretty simple trick in terms of the idea: three full, 360-degree spins in a row over the course of one jump. As for execution, however, this should give you an idea of how difficult it is: only one skateboarder has ever successfully accomplished it, a 12-year-old prodigy named Tom Schaar, featured in our take a dream and ride article. Schaar owes part of his success to the construction of what’s referred to as a “megapipe,” and then the alteration of that pipe to allow him to keep his momentum and speed up. Another part was probably his small size. Even still, a 1080 is clearly a difficult and nuanced trick to pull off, requiring the perfect combination of big air, perfect timing and impeccable balance to avoid putting the rider face-first on the pipe.
720 Triple Flip
The 360 Triple Flip is regarded as one of the most difficult but accomplishable skateboarding tricks in the world. So, doubling the horizontal of the board makes it even more impressive, and that’s what happens here. A 720 Triple Flip involves getting the board to turn over on a vertical axis three times and rotate on a horizontal axis twice, in one jump. What you have, when it’s accomplished successfully, is a board that appears to be in almost zero-gravity rotation, seemingly unmoored to whatever’s going on around it. Of course, for the trick to actually work, the board has to be under complete control, which is what makes it so impressive.
Nollie 360 Heelflip
Nollies are a variation on ollies, one of the most conventional and useful maneuvers you can do on a skateboard. Nollies involve getting the board airborne by pushing down on the nose, thereby allowing you to pull off a number of other tricks once you’re off the ground. One of these subsequent tricks could be the 360 Heelflip, which incorporates both the amount of rotation accomplished by the skateboarder and the movement of the board. In this video, the rider makes one full rotation with his body and does a heelflip. The most remarkable thing about it is that he manages to keep the board anchored underneath him as he turns, timing the movement of his body perfectly to that of the skateboard. If his timing had been even slightly off, he would have fallen.
The 720 Gazelle is another masterpiece of timing and coordination. To pull this trick off your skateboard needs to be an extension of your body. You have to put enough force on the board to cause it to spin twice in the time it takes you to spin once, then have it be there when you come down to land. When pulling off tricks like the Gazelle, your skateboard becomes another limb, something you consciously know the position of at all times. If not, you fall. Unlike the flips we’ve been looking at up until now, the Gazelle involves only the horizontal rotation of the board, but that doesn’t make it any less difficult. If the rider in this video had also turned the board over, then it would be a Gazelle Flip.
The Hardflip is just another old flip trick, right? Wrong. The hardflip takes flip tricks to another level, involving a rotation of the board that is so complicated it seems to force the board through the rider’s legs. In this slow-motion video, you can see the rider putting force on the edge of the board as he rises to cause this rotation, and then he has to do the extra work of getting out of the board’s way, which isn’t easy considering the way it’s moving. The other hugely impressive aspect of this trick is the way he pulls it off from flat ground, without needing a ramp or ground elevation of any kind. That move takes a level of strength and skill that rises above simple technique into the caliber of great athleticism.