I chose this photo for no other reason than the fact that Chris ‘Avi’ Atherton IS skateboarding. If you haven’t seen any of Avi’s skate videos, such as ‘Shit on the Lens’ or his most recent offering ‘A Golden Egg’ (In conjunction with Jesse James – click here to watch), then I suggest you take the time to watch them.
Avi’s way of looking at skating vastly transcends the term ‘unique’, rather it defines it. The Oxford English Dictionary should change its definition of the word to simply ‘Chris Atherton’. Who else would spend all their spare time constructing skateboards from anything and everything, ride them in all conditions on all terrain, but not stop there – make their own oversized skate shoes, arm extensions for layback grinds, punch balls attached to the noses of boards so that a flip can be performed by punching not kicking, saw a board in half only to join it back together with an extendable pole so that half board kickflips are possible. Need I go on? Watch ‘A Golden Egg’ now!
On the day I drove up to Accrington to shoot this photo for Avi’s Sidewalk Issue 200 interview, the British weather had just seen fit to dump a load of snow across the Lancashire hills. I normally wouldn’t even have bothered to try and shoot a skate photo in such conditions, but knowing Avi, he was more likely to want to skate in a January blizzard than a July heat wave. After perusing his ‘spot list’, (written on the back of a flattened Lancashire tea box, complete with illustrations), we decided upon the ‘big three steps on top of the hill’. Possibly the worst spot to try and hit considering the conditions, but why not! Avi wanted to try and use a jump ramp to grind the top step, so he carried that, a shovel and his board up the steepest hill, through a forest and 3ft snowdrifts with seemingly no effort at all. I kept slipping on my arse with a mere camera bag on my back.
Upon reaching the summit and ‘the spot’, which turned out to be three dry stone stairs normally surrounded by rugged tarmac/gravel mix, now surrounded by snow, we realised that the wind may be a factor. It was blowing that hard we could barely stand up! After shoveling the snow away, Avi decided that the jump ramp idea really wasn’t going to work as he was pushing into the wind and couldn’t get any speed. Most people would have turned round and called it a day at this point. Actually, most people would have looked out of the window, laughed at two idiots lugging a load of gear up a mountain and turned the central heating up. Avi on the other hand, decided to try and no-comply the steps. As you can see in the photo, there is no run up. One push and pop the trick and hope. The wind was actually so strong that it lifted the board against Avi’s knee on each attempt helping him gain more control. After only about 10 minutes he was actually rolling away (not very far because of the wind and utter dog shit surface) but rolling all the same. Thanks to Avi for staying true to himself and skateboarding for all these years and absolutely not giving a single shit about any mainstream nonsense whatsoever.
If more people were made this way, the world would be a much more interesting place.