Like other trends of the 1990s, aggressive skating is making a comeback.


        Aggressive skating emerged in the 1990s as a flashier, more niche style of roller skating. Like other '90s trends, it's here again.
Katie Viola takes a breath of fresh air while actively skating at the skate park in Venice Beach, Los Angeles. The sport, also known as street inline skating, had its heyday in the 1990s but has begun to make a comeback. Credit...
On a May afternoon at a Venice Beach skate park, Kayla Dizon raced down the sidewalk on roller skates as the setting sun cast an amber glow on her.
Dizon, 25, doesn't leisurely cruise the Pacific coast like so many skaters in spandex and bathing suits. Dressed in a T-shirt and shorts, Dizon had large purple and yellow bruises on her legs, the wheels of her skates scraped the park's winding curves and the edges of steep slopes, her dyed red hair falling to the ground. Air.
Like many people, Ms. Dizon took up inline skating (often called inline skates, thanks to a popular skate brand) after a friend gave her a pair of skates during the pandemic. It was this friend, she said, who encouraged her to try what is known as aggressive, or roller, street skating, a style filled with tricks and stunts such as sliding along curbs, sliding along rails and spinning around a halfpipe.
“I fell in love right away,” Ms. Dizon said, although, she said, “things didn’t go very well for me at first.”
Aggressive skating, also known as freestyle, emerged in the 1990s as a high-adrenaline alternative to recreational skating. In its heyday, the sport received coverage in magazines and newspapers and became a staple of competitions such as the X Games, but interest began to wane in the 2000s. According to some longtime players of the sport, aggressive skating is enjoying a new moment, along with other elements of '90s fashion and culture that have been revisited in recent years.
“Ever since I got into this industry, I had a feeling it would come back,” said 46-year-old John Julio. 1996: He pointed to an October article in Vogue Italia about freestyle skiing as evidence of renewed interest in the sport.
Julio, who began skating while in high school in San Jose, California, said the 1993 film "Airborne," about a teenage figure skater, deepened his interest in the sport. He said that when the X Games dropped aggressive skating as a competition category in 2005, many thought it was the death knell: “When I talked to people, they felt like it was dead—it was practically dead in pop culture. "
But, he added, some people, including himself, never stop riding aggressively. “I love it,” said Mr. Julio, who in 2018 founded Them Skates, a skateboarding brand in Santa Ana, Calif., that sells gear and sponsors aggressive skaters. (He also ran the similar Valo brand for 15 years.)
Soon after he launched Them Skates, the company partnered with streetwear brand Brain Dead (where Ms. Dizon works as a studio manager) and shoe brand Clarks to develop roller skates and other products. In 2021, Ms. Dizon joined the Them Skates team, which appears in the brand's videos and participates in events.
After watching some of the team's videos, she remembered, "This is a group of people I wanted to be a part of."
Ms. Dizon was introduced to Mr. Julio and their skaters, Alexander Broskov, 37, another team member who had been skating since childhood. “He was my mentor,” Ms. Dizon said of Mr. Broskov, who owns his own brand of skating equipment and apparel, Dead Wheels.
On a recent Sunday afternoon, Broskoff was skating with friends at Huntington Avenue Elementary School in Lincoln Heights, east of Los Angeles. Several features of the campus make it an attractive place for skaters, including long concrete ramps that appear to be designed for tricks.
The group spent hours skating on campus paths and paved playgrounds while the skaters performed their tricks. The atmosphere was subdued and congenial: when a skater who had repeatedly failed to perform a trick finally nailed it, his friends cheered and applauded.
With his hair dyed blue, neatly parted in the middle and sporting a silver and turquoise ring, Mr. Broskov crossed the campus's metal railings and climbed the steep slopes with a grace that belied the intensity of his movements. He said he was glad to see new interest in radical figure skating, noting that the sport has always been a niche sport.
Jonathan Crowfield II, 15, has been inline skating for years, but took up aggressive skating during the pandemic. He said he didn't know much about the sport at the time and was introduced to it by a friend at the Horton Skate Park in Long Beach, California, where he learned to bowl and skate on the park's concave surfaces. . “From that point on, I just wanted to improve further,” he said.
He'll be a sophomore in high school this fall and regularly goes to the skate park on Monday nights, sharing the sidewalks with aggressive skateboarders of varying ages and skill levels. Recently he brought his sisters. “We skated until the lights went out,” he said, adding that fellow skaters encouraged him to try new moves.
At Horton and other skate parks, skaters also train with BMX riders and skateboarders. “You have to be patient and wait your turn,” he said. “There’s competition and you never know what’s going to happen.”
Mr Julio said interest in aggressive skating had gradually declined as skateboarding became more popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s. According to him, the sport has an intertwined history and is not without controversy between figure skaters and skateboarders.
“I used to get spat on all the time,” Mr. Julio said. “There were definitely fights.” But lately, he said, the skate park has become more of a “melting pot.” “I think figure skating has evolved over the last few years through inclusivity rather than exclusivity,” Mr. Julio said.
Mr. Crowfield met Mr. Julio last year and is now a member of the figure skating team at Pigeon's Roller Skate Shop in Long Beach. In April, Mr Crowfield finished second in the under-18 mini-slope competition at the Bladeing Cup event sponsored by Them Skates.
Mr. Crowfield said that sometimes when he told friends he was going ice skating, they thought he meant skateboarding. "When I tell them, 'No, it's roller skating,'" he added, "they're like, 'Oh!'

Post time: Nov-05-2023