A celebrated legacy can be a real weight for a skateboarding board brand. Sure, it may sell a bunch of logo boards and provide a lot of material to dig into for possible reissues. But it can be a real anchor around the neck of your current riders. Or perhaps more of an invisibility cloak.
Just ask Alien Workshop’s Frankie Spears or Stereo’s John Lupfer or new H-Street pro Isiah Hilt or Powell’s Brad McClain (or anybody on Powell since, like, 1990) or Black Label’s Jake Reuter or Zero’s Tony Cervantes, who has been that team since 2008 but hasn’t made a fraction of the impact Wade Burkett did when he was on Zero for about a year in the beginning.
No matter how good you skate and how much charisma you exude, people’s memories of the brand are locked into some golden years and golden teams of the rose colored past. You’re likely to be judged that much harder for having the audacity to think your name belongs among the hallowed firmament.
No team has created a heavier estate to bestow than Sorry(s) era Flip. We’re talking Tom, Geoff, Arto, Ali, Bastien, PJ, and Appleyard (and to a lesser extent Rune Glifberg and Alex Moul). Characters so popular you know them by first name alone. Starting with Rowley and Penny arriving in the states in 1994 and ending with Shane Cross’ death in 2007 and Arto’s subsequent departure, Flip was unstoppable. This is a brand that could be considered in decline as it added Bob Burnquist, Rodrigo TX, Lance Mountain, and champion Luan Oliveira. In 2012, the same year riders David Gonzalez won Skater of the Year and Alec Majerus won Tampa Am, Flip released a video called Weight of the World. Would their best ever be enough?
The fact that Louie Lopez, nurtured at Flip’s teat and turned professional in 2013 at age 18, had to leave the team to establish himself as a full-grown skateboarding superstar speaks volumes.
And, in 2019, into this shadow stepped South American Lucas Rabelo.
Lucas, whom I had never heard of but apparently has been an up-and-comer in Brazil with Matriz skate shop since he was little, has a lot of tools on display here starting with very first trick: A mammoth yet crispy clean alley-oop frontside 180 to switch hubba grind. Between that and a similar skatepark alley-oop 180 to switch smith that went viral earlier this year, Rabelo has dibs on making this thing (and its variations like the 5-0 later in the vid) his signature trick, perhaps even with naming rights.
He also demonstrates advanced levels getting twisty and tech into the handrails. That frontside 270 the hard way into a switch bs lipslide is both a mind bender and a face melter. I’m not a huge fan of long pinched grinds on mellow rails which are trending right now, and thankfully only one of them is in here. It’s presence is as if to point out that, yes, he can do those too. Same “don’t think I can’t” thing goes with the switch handrail hurricane.
We also get some ledge slides measured in yardage to help counterbalance all the flip outs (one as part of a 4-trick line), some flatground pop over garbage cans, a heaved frontside 360 for fans of the gap, and a surprise bs 360 ollie out of a rail 50-50.
But, with all this expert level skateboarding happening, the clearest sign that this kid could be something great is the line at the 1 minute mark. Solid fakie backside nosegrind 180 with enough speed leftover to go straight into a popped flatground nollie heelflip. Then ending with a nollie backside 270 to frontside noseslide (done in a polished ‘switch-fakie’ style). The discipline to throw in a ‘simple’ line like with nary a flip or shove it in or out shows an eye for style, and when everyone can do everything, power, form, and selection are what can separate and elevate.
Now, it’s not entirely impossible for a brand with a long and glorious history like Flip to write a new chapter that shines equally bright under its own renown. Some would argue that Real Skateboards, fast approaching its 30 year anniversary and sporting such immortal alumni as Gonz, Huf, Salman Agah, Tommy Guerrero, and Julien Stranger is setting high water marks for itself. Somehow the current Foundation team, even without Corey Duffel, will probably go down as its most memorable.
Hell, Blind lost Gonz, Jason Lee, Tim Gavin, Rudy Johnson, Henry Sanchez, Guy Mariano, Keenan Milton, Jeron Wilson, and Brian Lotti by late 1993. But whose legacy are TJ Rogers and Kevin Romar currently laboring under? Ronnie fucking Creager and a cartoon Grim Reaper mascot, who joined the team to pick up the pieces from all those departures, that’s who.
So here we are at the dawn of a new decade, Flip’s 5th if you count the years in the UK when they were called Deathbox. 45% of the pro team is middle aged, Luan appears to be waiting out his contract, Arto is just a bloated shell of his former self who clearly isn’t riding a skateboard anywhere other than his custom built backyard pool, Ben Nordberg is still am at age 31, and Lucas Rabelo has been elevated to professional.
Between Lance and Bobgnar and Tom Penny (who appears to have hit a comfortable plateau in his abilities; seriously, I can him skating at this level, selling mushroom boards by the trunkful, and wearing these exact same outfits well into age 70) Flip has the nostalgia market covered. Will Lucas Rabelo and Denny Pham and Matt Berger be enough to rebuild Flip. Probably not, but it’s a good start. If he can keep skating at the level we saw in this part, and not get lost in the lucrative world of contests, Berrics clips, and inevitably Monster energy logos, I can’t wait to see what’s next.
Giving that tears-of-joy kid the ender in their recent Spain Tour edit is also a solid feel good move from Flip.
Here’s a quick edit of 15 year old Lucas skating for LRG Brazil back in 2014.