In the days of big shoes and baggy jeans, heavy hitters were king. The things that defined a skater:
- The more stairs you threw yourself down.
- The longer the rail you grinded down.
- The bigger the gap you could clear.
The late 90s and early 00s brought about the emergence of spots like the Hollywood 16, Macba and Wallenburg. We saw Chad Muska hitting some of the biggest rails. We saw Geoff Rowley and Heath Kirchart 50-50 two of the biggest hubba ledges we could possibly even imagine.
It was all about Jamie Thomas though.
In 1997, Jamie Thomas threw himself over a handrail into the history books when made the first ever attempt to ollie down the 18 foot 8 inch drop over a handrail at Point Loma High School, appropriately dubbed the “Leap of Faith”. Although he snapped his board and walked away, never to attempt it again, there has never been a successful attempt since. After that, his most iconic video part began filming, and in 1999, Zero’s “Misled Youth” was released.
The hammers thrown by Jamie Thomas in Misled Youth were unheard of, practically inhuman, and The Who’s “Baba O’Reilly” breathed life into his part. It starts out with a gap to back lip and moves from hammer to hammer after that, the sounds of the tricks following along with the beats of the song.
I remember watching this for the very first time and wondering how he could do each trick so flawlessly from start to finish. I took special notice to subtleties like the way he would center himself over the rail for a back lip and pull his back leg over to slide it perfectly and the way he locks himself into a feeble or a smith grind and holds it there through the whole grind. He was fearless in the eyes of adversity with an unparalleled fervor for perfection.
Then the music stopped. Cue relentless series of slow-motion hammers that made the entire first half of the part look like child’s-play (it’s hard to imagine any trick in the first half as child’s play, but watch the part and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about). After about 2 minutes of mind-blowing feats of unimaginable skill, you begin to wonder what could possibly be any better than this to qualify for the ender.
Then it happens. As you watch it, you notice a tear begin to roll down your eye as you bask in its glory because it’s just that…glorious. There is no ender. THE ENTIRE SECOND HALF WAS THE ENDER! As you look back on what you just watched, remembering the at least 6 or 7 different hair styles, the varying width of the pant legs, the pure, unadulterated connection between the board/trucks and the rail when locked in, and the slow motion landings that were more beautiful than a Malibu sunset.
A smith-grind worthy of a Zero board graphic.
A perfect 5-0 that, for some reason, required a second try, and was somehow made even more perfect.
A Hollywood-16 back lip that was just so slightly off center on the landing, so the second try it looks exactly the same, just rotated ever so slightly to ride away.
A tailslide that would be revered for years to come.
These were the last four bangers of the 2-minute ‘ender’ of a part for the ages. This goes down in history as one of the hardest parts of its time, breaking all sorts of barriers and expectations, showing people that what was previously understood as the limits of skateboarding were merely the second stage of a much greater level of skill.
This was the part that kickstarted a new generation of skating.
Written by Steven Santangelo