because rollerblading is in its dark ages, it shouldn't mean we have to
ski in it.
From left to right: Franky Morales, Brian Shima, Chris Haffey, and JF
CussonWords and photos by
Chris Haffey, Brian
Shima, and Franky Morales are naturally talented athletes who just happen
to be learning to ski. They also happen to be three of the best inline
skaters ever. Sunice sent JF Cusson to oversee the project, and for three days at Mammoth Mountain they skied and had a
good time, you can't hate on that...but scroll to the bottom and start
flaming if you so desire. Otherwise read on and be enlightened.
Skiing and inline skating (or rollerblading, whichever you prefer) have actually
had a longer standing relationship than newschool skiing itself has existed.
If you were alive in the early '90s, cross-training on line skates was fairly common for skiers, and if you still read SKI magazine, it could still be
today. There are two vastly different sides to rollerblading: the purely
recreational side with its fashion blades, and aggressive street
skating. Most of inline street skating's image issues could be blamed
on the generic commercial success of its other side. Being highly accessible
sounds great, but anything associated with soccer moms and one-footed slalom
is so at odds with a "core" lifestyle, it's hard to exist separately,
let alone be distinctively unique. Newschool skiing doesn't have to worry
so much about these issues—skiing is still skiing to anyone else, and stretch pants were never that warm anyway. Still,
street skating goes on regardless of being dropped from the X-games, losing
sponsors, and contests disappearing. Remember when the X-games had inline
downhill, you probably remember street luge, so let's not measure a sports
relevance by its acceptance in a made for TV spectacle put on by Disney.
Today in 2007, think
about skiing 12 years ago, then imagine it eight years from now. Consider
what would happen if in eight hypothetical years, skiing went into decline
again, like a tech bubble bursting. All the haters who said skiing was
lame when the park was dominated by snowboarders, are saying, "See, I told
you so." Would you stop skiing, or even pretend you never did it at all?
That's the path aggressive inline skating has taken the last 20 years.
If skiing never quite eclipses snowboarding, you might see something like
this happen... not saying it's probably, but it's possible. Meteoric
rises are usually followed by a steep descent, after all. You could say
that newschool skiing is just now taking off after fueling up the last
10 years. Sponsor dollars and the pure number of pro-level events make easy indicators. Ski superpipe went from a non-event to the
headline event live on ESPN in only four years, with that event alone probably the reason for Simon Dumont's major sponsorship with Target. Thankfully, newschool
skiing has the huge benefit of a well-established, centuries-old lifestyle image
to lean on for support. In contrast, nobody's parents ever taught them to skateboard
secret to staying warm is of course layering.
Tricks and technique
aside, inline skating and skiing don’t share a whole lot if you disregard the manufacturers who make both skis and inline skates.
K2 was at one time a huge player making park skates, but what hasn’t
K2 made over the years? Until now the two sports have never shared a high-level
athlete (I’m not sure Nicky Adams counts). Kaya Turski (NSRadio
interview) is the new shining example of someone taking her inline
experience and translating it so directly into ski success. Back in the
day, the three Phills all skated inline park together as well. There have
always been skiers who have skateboarded too, and if skateboarding can
make you ski like Candide Thovex then maybe he knows something we don't.
I'm not suggesting that skiers should be rollerblading to become better
skiers, that is not the intent of this article. A little bit of variety
is good for everyone and drawing influences from outside of skiing can't
be a bad thing (snowboarding has been sucked dry). Nothing exists in a
bubble anymore; the free exchange of ideas, the internet, all that good
stuff. Hopefully all three of the skaters in this story have taken something away from their skiing experience
to change the way they look at street skating as well.
So if Kaya can do it, why not a male professional? Kaya maybe has the
advantage being French Canadian (I haven't quite figured that one out yet),
but there’s no logical reason why three of the best male inliners
couldn’t pull it off. This is where Chris Haffey, Brian Shima, and
Franky Morales come in. However, all three take up residence well towards
the Southern Hemisphere, with more sunshine in a year than most Scandinavians
have seen in a lifetime.
calmly cruised off his first chair off load ever... disappointing everyone
who's ever seen a Warren Miller movie.
and JF are keeping a watch-full eye on Franky's $70 binding mount.
Franky Morales’s first day skiing was normal enough: fell down a
few times, learned how to turn, side slip, stop, jump, and tried a rail.
Come day two, he was pretty much on his own, hitting the three jump lines and
just generally flying around faster than I thought safe for someone who
had never been on snow before yesterday. Haffey and Shima had a few days
head start over at Bear Mountain before coming to Mammoth, which at times
left Franky pushing hard to try and keep up. But in the Unbound
south park on the three-jump line at the end of his second day skiing, Franky Morales attempted
and landed his first 360.
version 2.0 on his second day on skis
looks on as Brian Shima cross trains for rollerblading
Brian Shima and Chris
Haffey got in a few days at Bear Mountain in the weeks leading up to their
trip to Mammoth. That head start served them well in getting their skis
under control and gaining the little confidence they were lacking to take
a few leaps in the park. To say that everyone learned fast would be misleading,
because either I didn't know what fast learning was or I'm just lacking
a lot of talent. Regardless, witnessing such constant progression over
such a short period was more inspiring than demoralizing. The fact that
nobody fell hard or even at all, was for a while... sorta scary. Ideas
were being thrown around that just didn’t sound right—thankfully
, Chris Haffey did not hit the huge bottom kicker in the main park. Then
at times, things progressed out of nowhere fast, like when Shima and Haffey
started one-upping each other with 180s in the mini park. Or when
rails became too easy just to slide, we have to start spinning off now.
A couple 270 attempts may not have been successful, but it was only day two,
after all. Shima did clean a one-footed grind at the end of the day in true rollerblading fashion on a flat down rail. I guess it was to be
expected then that the guys could handle rails no problem—after all, they're
used to much burlier rails high over flat concrete.
Shima de-tunes his skis early on day 1
Haffey follows suit
#2, a down kink on day 2. Lesson #3 switch on, back side 360 change up,
So with the rail progress on the back burner, day three on snow brought about
a more focused jump approach. Day one and two had plenty of 180s and
a few warm up 3s. JF Cusson was along the first two days giving
pointers and the ground work was well underway to then progress into the
main park with some larger jumps.
On our last day, after just a few jumps Franky unfortunately had to take
a seat due to a pre-existing hand injury. That left Brian Shima and
Chris Haffey to try and match each other hit for hit on the two top jumps
in Mammoth's main park. Until now they had proven themselves fast learners,
or at least that years of doing extremely gnarly things on rollerblades is decent preparation for instantly grasping the basics of park skiing
overnight. All thre guys were in agreement that the only thing worrying them
while jumping was speed, it just wasn’t quite instinctual yet on
skis. The high winds and frigid temperatures didn’t make for a comfortable
learning environment either.
Haffey launches a lofty 180 under calmer winds on day 3
goes large in a large setting. Speaking of setting, a broken bone in his
right hand which doctors said should keep him from skating for a while,
finally forced an end to his ski trip not long after this shot.
warms up with a 360 lui-kang
The guys warmed up with 180s and 360s before attempting
their first ever 540s on skis. The jump was a reasonable size for
trying new things, with about 15 feet of deck to clear and a good long
landing to go bigger if needed. Brian Shima employed his now signature
Lui-Kang style on some smooth 360s and was the first to throw a
540. From that point on Chris and Brian tossed a series of 5s,
usually airing the second larger table and lapping the park as quickly as possible.
Chris Haffey, learning to land backwards was best done with more air time
to think about it.
why spin faster when you can just go bigger.
Time was now running out on the experiment, and the only thing left to
do was switch tricks. Bigger spins and a variety of grabs will come with
time and experience. Yet the hypothesis for now is proven by the existence
of some real potential. Brian and Chris had done all these tricks before,
not necessarily on a smaller scale but certainly in a more familiar setting. Skate ramps are to tables as urethane wheels to wax and snow, and the instincts
that kick in while traveling through the air didn’t need any translation.
So when the first switch 3 was done on the first attempt by Chris Haffey,
I think I was over being surprised. Or when Chris went for the first switch
5, losing a ski on takeoff, finishing the rotation and landing on one
ski wasn’t out of the ordinary. Stomping the second attempt, then, was obviously
logical.The only important question in the end was, can three people
who have never skied before become addicted like us? So while you're reading
this article on a website designed for feeding and spreading the addiction,
you can hopefully identify with genuine excitement and newfound passion.
We all know you're never to old to learn something new... sometimes you
just have to find out if you're willing.
Shima is more than willing to do a 360
If you're ever around
Bear Mountain on a weekday, look for Franky Morales, Brian Shima, and
Chris Haffey having a lot of fun and probably trying not to freeze their
asses off... they’re beta testing to see if wearing all black might
Check out Barely Dead
by misled lab films http://misledlab.com
see where rollerblading came from and where it is currently.
Chris Haffey rides
for Remz, 4x4, Ground Control, Juggernaut, Vibralux, Night
Brian Shima rides
for 4x4, Razors, Ground Control, Vicious
Franky Morales rides
for Remz, M1 Urethane, Ground Control, Juggernaut, Skatepile, Renegade