In defence of the layback air

The layback air is a much maligned skateboarding trick, condemned by many to the forgotten dustbin of 80s vert trickery and yet to be unearthed and dusted off in any real way by the current trend for resurrecting tricks once thought outdated. But, as with nearly any trick in skateboarding, in the right hands the layback air is transformed into a thing of pure excitement. It stands as one of those tricks that, even when performed badly, feels incredible, with a few managing to convert that feeling visually as well.

Here are some of those who can throw it down, whether that be the ‘Todd Twist’ inverted variation or the humbler ‘body parallel with the coping, front leg pointed’ example.

Bill Danforth

Patron saint of mongo pushers Bill Danforth is definitely in the running for best layback air of all time – upside down, held and pivoted back in with the right balance of style and aggression. Both his runs from the Duel at Diable include examples!

Christian Hosoi

Christian Hosoi’s layback airs take a slightly different approach than Danforth’s – seen at 1:38, rather than swivelling back on his arm he throws his legs behind his head and, just as a slam seems to be imminent, manages to fall backwards and around and get away with it. If you freeze the screen at 1:40 his legs are in full sadplant position, which is fucking bonkers.

Jeff Phillips

Jeff Phillips did everything with the utmost power and style, with his layback air being no exception – in the words of Lester Kasai, ‘He was one of the few guys who could make the layback air look cool‘.

Skip to 1:55 to witness, or watch the whole thing to enrich your day further.

Sean Goff

One of the few to master the layback air roll around – fully inverted before turning back using your shoulder as a pivot point – Sean Goff can still bang them out in runs when the situation calls for it. Check out Channel 4’s coverage of a 1988 Wigan contest courtesy of Focus Skateshop to see him throw down a lesser seen variation at 13:49 (if you can handle the editing without having a seizure…)

Erick Winkowski

Erick Winkowski teaches a new generation about properly stalling your inverts, as well as bringing the ho ho plant to another level of gnarliness. In the midst of all this he finds time for a properly shaped layback air at 1:14.

Ross Goodman

In 1991 vert skateboarding was heavily focused on the twin poles of technical lip tricks and big airs, but Ross Goodman still finds time in his Troops of Tomorrow section to throw one in – less contorted perhaps than the rest of this list, but there’s a certain controlled aggression in the quick nose point before reentry which has always made this one stick in my brain.

Jeff Taylor

Underrated video, underrated skater. Jeff Taylor’s section in Blockhead Skateboards’ ‘Splendid Eye Torture’ is packed with style, he skates to ‘Stumped’ by Minor Threat and he does a layback air that looks like an invert fakie until the very last second…

Tony Hawk

What better way to finish this list than with invert sorcerer Tony Hawk – here he throws in a banging one amongst 15 inverts to celebrate the 15th anniversary of well known skater owned brand, err, Google. Ignore the bizarre sponsorship and enjoy the shapes…


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