This winner of the Best Bocumentary (Short Subject) Oscar this year went to the film Learning To Skate In A War Zone (If You’re A Girl), about the courageous girl skateboarders in Afghanistan.
I fear for the individuals involved in this just as I revel in their enthusiasm. Having been a skateboarder myself, I recognize what an important outlet it can be and I believe that goes doubly for these girls from Afghanistan.
Every once in a while, I’m painfully reminded that I’m a middle-aged man. Sometimes, it creeps up on me, like when I get to Friday night and can’t get myself off of the couch. Other times, it smacks me in the face, when I’m the closest I can get to forgetting that I’ve already spent 40 years roaming this earth.
The latter situation happened to me a couple of months ago. We had a much-hyped winter weather event that was supposed to dump significant snow in our area. In this part of North Carolina, when rain is predicted to turn to snowfall, it frequently becomes more of an ice event. Ice is not as pretty as snow, and it can be a lot more dangerous. With this winter storm, instead of the snow we were told to expect, we got about an inch of ice and maybe an inch of snow. Nevertheless, when kids like my two boys, get it into their heads that they are going to go sledding, the amount of snow we actually get doesn’t usually alter their plans.
In order for my 4-yr.-old to go sledding down the brutal hill near our house, I had to go with him. I do not exaggerate when I tell you this is a tough slope. Kids have broken bones sledding there several times. With blades of frozen grass sticking through sheets of ice, that day, the hill was rock hard. The soft fluffy snow we had dreamt about was in short supply. It was in those conditions that I put my hand down during a run, to steer the sled, and bent my fingers back in a most unnatural manner. The pain was pretty intense, but I’ve always understood that being the ultimate dad comes at a cost. So I decided to play injured and kept on sledding. I pulled the same move a second time and by then the pain was getting pretty unbearable. I calmly let my youngest son know we were going home. By the time we got home, I could hardly take my glove off because hurt so much. I spent the weekend with ice and ibuprofen, sure I had just sprained a muscle. Two weeks later, still swollen and hurting, I trudged to the doctor’s office, where I was informed I had a pretty bad fracture and would have to wear a cast for the next three weeks.
I made it through all of my teenage years skateboarding and never broke a bone. It was a point of pride for me. Okay, yes, I wasn’t Frankie Hill and I never tried to ollie the Grand Canyon or drop in on a massive vert ramp. I was mostly a flat-ground flippity trick guy, with some mini-ramping thrown in for good measure. However, I put my time in with the sport and had a lot of fun doing it.
Alas, that was over 20 years ago. This is the curse of being middle-aged: Looking longingly at things you can’t or shouldn’t be doing anymore. Part of that is the discovery that you no longer had the capability to relive some of your memories.
However, there is some salve for these wounds, when it comes to sports like skateboarding. We now have videogames that do an excellent job of recreating the experience. One such upcoming game, Skate City, is being brought to you by Snowman, the makers of the meditative Alto’s Adventure endless snowboarder. The teaser for Skate City appears to feature very little actual gameplay, but the Instagram feed fills that gap. Skate City looks like it will bring skateboarding to iOS with the kind of focus on environment, style and mood that made Alto’s Adventure so charming.
It was after my hand fracture that I realized the two skateboards in the trunk of my car should probably remain mostly unused. I’ll have to live the skateboarding life vicariously, and through games like Ollie Ollie, Skate City and various titles with Tony Hawk licenses.
Checkout the highly stylized trailer below and prepare to get stoked.
Mot nord (Northbound) is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful skate videos I’ve ever seen. It has a focus on conquering the elements in a man vs. nature kind of way and feels very introspective at the same time. The tricks are impressive, but the video is more about the environment of frozen beaches and found objects than the skaters themselves, who are so covered up for the cold that they almost look like shadows dancing.
Ice, driftwood, foamy waves and … skateboards? Four skaters head north to the cold Norwegian coast, applying their urban skills to a wild canvas of beach flotsam, frozen sand and pastel skies. The result is a beautiful mashup — biting winds and short days, ollies and a frozen miniramp.
I’m tempted to buy or rent the full video documentary on the making of Northbound, called On Thin Ice, which can be found here.