This article features an excerpt from the Mad Beef Rollerblading Podcast ep. #127. Originally released on Sept. 13th 2018. Transcribed with permission.
Written by Daniel Nodzak
Australian vert legend César Mora recently started sharing his collection of memorabilia spanning his professional inline career and the stories behind them on instagram. When Mikey Lynch caught wind of it he invited him on the Mad Beef Rollerblading Podcast to talk at length about his time as a professional, what made Australian skaters unique compared to their US counterparts, internal divisions that drove a wedge between us in the '90s, and a number of other topics.
After listening to this interview I wanted to share what I felt was a particularly relevant excerpt. I encourage everyone to take some time today to consider what can still be learned from our history of passing judgement on forms of skating that don't fit popular notions of what rollerblading should look like. Are we actually more open minded than we were twenty years ago or is our relatively recent willingness to blur the lines another passing trend with the same resentments bubbling under the surface?
I hope we’ve matured beyond that and won’t repeat the mistakes of the past but it’s important to remain cognizant of our community’s much lengthier track record of shunning outliers while championing ourselves as a sport built on individuality. This hypocritical attitude from the not so distant past doesn’t get discussed or acknowledged as much as it should but the fracturing of our community and infighting was a part of our sport for a very long time and a major factor in our own downfall.
The only way to make strides toward a healthy future for rollerblading is by looking over your shoulder occasionally to be sure those attitudes that bogged us down aren’t gaining new ground. Stay vigilant. Don’t believe the hype. Skate the way that makes you happiest and demand nothing less out of anyone else. The ‘90s aren’t coming back but rollerblading will continue on as long as the focus remains on the fun of it all and the many different paths we take to arrive at the same destination.
Podcast timestamp: 23:57 - 27:26
Mikey Lynch: It’s funny, isn’t it? Like Arlo Eisenberg is seen historically as a street skater because of the Hoax videos and stuff but he’d skate vert as well, right? And was in some of those early competitions skating vert and was a really solid vert skater as well. And yet again, someone gravitates in a particular direction for a combination of what they’re most wired to and a whole bunch of other factors.
César Mora: Yeah, and this is another thing, okay, I’m glad you brought that up because Arlo could skate vert but a lot of people didn’t know that he was actually a good vert skater. But Australians, us, and the Kiwi’s too, we just all skated. We skated vert and then we’d go and street skate, and then we’d go back on the mini ramp and then we’d go to the skatepark. We just all skated. We didn’t section it off. That came later, that’s kind of what killed our sport. But that came later and in America it was like you’re either this or you’re that, you know? But in Australia it was just like, whether you were good or bad, you just road everything. You went everywhere and you skated everywhere. If there was a ramp everyone had a go on the ramp and if there was a rail everyone had a go. My god, the amount of times I killed myself on a rail, but we just did it.
Mikey Lynch: So killed our sport? So you reckon that it cut things up too small and splint things apart?
César Mora: We weren’t strong enough. We were barely strong enough united to compete against skateboarding and BMX and ESPN and the whole thing. The established sports. It was already a struggle, I was over there and I was seeing it happen. Then we divided ourselves and we had street get mad at vert for whatever reason. It was funny because you’d get guys saying “I don’t skate street I just do banks” or “I just do park” What do you mean you just do.. So you just do park that’s it? [...] We’re just so separated now. There’s no way we can survive because you know how they say, divide and conquer, or whatever.
And another thing […] With ESPN they want to promote the sport, they want American heroes, we didn’t have an American Hero in our sport [inline vert] over there. So they couldn’t promote anything, so they’d rather promote the Dave Mirra tour, the Tony Hawk tour, that was all good, but in our sport [inline vert] we had a couple Aussies, a couple Japanese who didn’t speak english, a french guy who was from Europe, there was no American hero and we were the newer sport […] so since they owned the Dave Mirra tour and the Tony Hawk tour it was in their interest to promote those sports. We kind of shot ourselves in the foot and it was hard to survive after that.
Mikey Lynch: And so I mean it was partly in a sense, that, that sectioning off meant that emphasis within the aggressive skating community in the US so swung toward emphasizing street that it didn’t create a healthy kind of farming system out of which American vert skaters could come alongside street skaters, was that what you saw happening within the American skating scene?
César Mora: Yeah, you were either one or the other and very few respected both.