Switch Stance Innovators

Ambidextrousness is such an essential part of what is necessary to become a pro skateboarder these days that, half the time, it can be hard to tell what stance somebody actually has. The slow disappearance of ‘switch mongo’ has made this even harder to judge, and with the likes of Carlos Ribeiro and TJ Rogers pushing the boundaries of what can be done in switchstance then it can feel like it is something which has always been a part of skateboarding.
However, the rise of switch skateboarding and its potential was not truly realised until the advent of the double kick board, so its roots can be traced back to the early 90s. This article aims to shine a light on some of the innovators of going backwards – from obvious legends like Salman Agah and Bob Burnquist, to the likes of Paul Silvester and Rob Selley who were busy pushing the boundaries over on these shores, to perhaps some less obvious choices. Enjoy…
Cover image: Paul Silvester switch frontside wallrides to put truck to concrete, captured by CJ.

Andy Howell. New Deal – 1281 (1991)

Andy Howell kicks things off in New Deal’s ‘1281’, with an early piece in the switch skating puzzle. Recognise the roots!

Salman Agah. Real Skateboards – The Real Video (1993)

The obvious starting point for any discussion about switch skateboarding, Salman Agah’s section in The Real Video displays how he bought a power and speed to the burgeoning discipline of switch that had previously been lacking. To take a quote from his Chrome Ball interview, “Nollies and skating switchstance were my ways of rebelling in a way. It was my way of interpreting skateboarding and not following what others were doing. Now it’s the norm.”

Henry Sanchez. Tim and Henry’s Pack of Lies (1992)

The early to mid 90s saw Embarcadero cementing its place as a progressive tech skating mecca, with Henry Sanchez playing an important part in that cementing. His section in ‘Tim and Henry’s Pack of Lies’, a year before the Salman section above, shows a similar comfort with stomping switch tricks full powered, full speed.

Curtis McCann. Element Underworld – Skypager (1993)

The first documented switch flip trick down an iconic set of UK stairs on a globally seen video – Curtis McCann opened his section in Element Underworld’s ‘Skypager’ with a definite head-turner…

Rob Selley. Panic/Blueprint – Anthems (1997)

We couldn’t have this article not include MK OG Rob Selley doing switch crooks to Camp Lo, could we?

Lavar McBride. Trilogy (1997)

The next generation of EMB locals after Henry Sanchez, Lavar McBride made a mark early on with one of the best styles out there and ambidextrous abilities. His section in the classic 1996 video ‘Trilogy’ cemented his reputation. Daewon’s manual insanity in this video also deserves a mention…

Keenan Milton. Girl- Mouse (1997)

Starting a section with a switch pop shuvit that powerful is definitely a statement of intent. Keenan was undeniably as stylish going backwards as he was forwards…

Fred Gall. Alien Workshop – Timecode (1997)

Fred Gall’s section in Alien Workshop’s 1997 video ‘Timecode’ undoubtedly warrants his inclusion into this article, with a barrage of switch madness down Hubba Hideout closing things off…

Bob Burnquist. Transworld – Interface (1997)

Bob Burnquist still hasn’t really been touched when it comes to switch vert skating – the line at 1:49, taken from Transworld’s 1996 video Interface, is still insane today, as is the madness which follows it…

Jody and Leo Smith. Hello Coco (2004) and Six (2009)

Cornish twins Leo and Jody Smith both skate in different stances, so it should be easy to tell them apart – except for both skaters’ ambidextrous abilities.

Jerry Hsu. Emerica – Stay Gold (2010)

Jerry Hsu’s credentials were obviously very well established by the time Emerica’s ‘Stay Gold’ was released in 2010, but this section cemented him even further as one of skateboarding’s finest. A savage collection of slams works out to be longer than his actual landed footage itself, but that’s not important once you notice that every trick done is either nollie or switch…

Paul Silvester. Weather Permitting (2015)

Just a small portion of what Paul ‘Man’ Silvester has in his arsenal – all terrain as fuck, ambidextrous as fuck!

Tom Penny. Es – Menikmati (2000)

The switch frontside flip at 2:15 says it better than we ever could, as obviously does the chain to bank assault in Uno


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