Red is the Coldest Color: The Plight of the Redheaded Skateboarder

November 21st, 2014 | 5:00 am | Features & Interviews | 35 Comments

red is the coldest

Hair has been having quite a moment in skateboarding. Mid-line hair flips are now acceptable skate video etiquette, and even encouraged in some circles. Skaters show up to their barbers with magazine cut-outs of their favorite handsome pros. Some people have entirely supplanted the act of skateboarding with doing their hair. And when spring hits, at least one-third of your friends are getting their heads bleached.

Yup, we’re just comfortable being open about how our hair looks…but aren’t we avoiding the elephant in the room? Skateboarding remains a blonde and brown-haired activity. Redheads are shunned by our superficial skateboard society.

A 2010 viral video revealed that “gingers have souls.” It turns out that they have tricks, too. However, the closed-minded skateboard industry treats even the most talented redheads with with a degree of disinterest otherwise reserved for flow riders wearing Flex-Fits and skating handrails in former Soviet Bloc countries without adequate mail systems. It is time that we acknowledge how redheaded skateboarders are unforgivably underrated. The ignorance must end.

Exhibit A: Wieger van Wageningen

wieger red

Let us begin this study of oppression with perhaps the most visible red-haired skateboarder working today. Wieger has a longstanding Nike contract, tenure at a respected board company, and even a pretty cool haircut, which is essential for relevance in a post-#menswear skateboard industry. Except it seems like the spotlight on Wieger does not burn as fervently as his fire red hair.

Wieger is not some middle-of-the-road pro. The dude has one of the only still-revisited parts in the forgotten Nike video, the best part in either Chronicles video, and was the main reason why Enjoi got $11.99 from the Quartersnacks company card via iTunes this week. He does all the right tech tricks, is tall thus aesthetically glorious on a skateboard, singlehandedly brought the backside 180 nosegrind (one of skateboarding’s most photogenic tricks) to new heights, and even makes inward heel flips look cool.

He should be at the very *least* on the cusp of Literally Everyone’s Favorite Skater™ (L.E.F.S.)-status, if not completely adored by every snob who thinks Torey Pudwill’s tricks are too confusing. Yet because his hair is something that we are less accustomed to seeing in a blonde and brunette-biased skateboard industry, he is never brought up in that conversation. Prejudiced skateboarders do not allow themselves to be dazzled by the Wieger experience, and that is a shame.

Exhibit B: Aidan Mackey

Allow us to further break down Charles Rivard Ph.D’s graph:

chuck graph

If ninety-percent of skateboarding is shooting the shit, then sixty-percent of skateboarding is taking about “cherry”. You could fill an entire evening of TED Talks with people pontificating on Sean, Sage, Chuck Taylors, high waters, no complys and beanplants. People have a mental rolodex of each trick T.J. learns in every new bit of footage he puts out. Na-kel overrode any previous mental image of how a nollie hardflip should look in skateboarding’s collective consciousness. Mention something about “cherry” to a bunch of skaters mid-session in 2014, and they stop trying to slappy some rock so they could talk about it until their bodies physically cannot talk anymore. Except there’s one subject less conducive to chunks of skate nerd word vomit…

aidan red

“Oh, the redhead kid? He’s chill, I guess.”

Anyone who has seen Aidan skate in real life could attest that he absolutely rips, and is as talented as any of the “cherry” kids in his owned redheaded way. See, Aidan was born with a capillus far brighter than mine and yours, or Sean and Sage’s for that matter, so he unfairly gets glossed over by people who would otherwise never dare to to gloss over anything “cherry”-related. Ironic, seeing as how cherries are red and all.

Exhibit C: Brian Brown

The following three parts came out within the same calendar year.

Releasing three parts in twelve months would be a big deal by Californian standards in 2007, but for a guy hailing from just north of New York City, it was unheard of. Before Ishod et al. rolled around and increased the productivity expectations for east coast-residing pros, the bar was far, far lower. You could spend three years at the Fish and not lose your sponsors, as long as you turned in two minutes of footage by year four. Sponsors knew the deal, “He’s our raw, east coast ‘lifestyle’ guy. He’ll get some shitty model to wear our gear or something.”

Not Brian Brown. He put expectations on himself five or six years before skate companies put any expectations on their east coast pros whose names didn’t begin with a Z whatsoever. Yet, said companies did not rush to give him millions of dollars (“Yes, we finally found a guy in New York who does something!”) and his name is not brought up nearly as quick as it deserves to be when discussing the greatest — not even east coast talents — but skateboard talents ever. Could it be…the hair?

Exhibit D: Casey Rigney

Casey Rigney is one of the best skateboarders ever.

“Who? Casey Rigby?”

“Doesn’t that guy skate for Cirque du Soleil or something?”

“Oh, didn’t he switch backside noseblunt the BAM 2 ledge? I never saw the footage.”

“Yo, who nollie heel nose wheelied the Santa Monica stage? Biebel? Or wait, it was that Brazilian kid, right?”

Watch this part:

Casey Rigney is one of the best skateboarders ever. He also has red hair.

The name is typically brought up when you’re stuck watching your friend try some ABD at BAM 2. And even then, his accomplishment on one of the best ledge/worst set-up combos in the city is appreciated in diminutive terms: “Yeah, it’s basically just a switch ollie into a front blunt.” No, it’s a switch backside noseblunt on a curved ledge that has a bench to dodge three feet after you land.

Rigney could have had a part in any major blockbuster video of the 2000s, and if his hair was a tad less vibrant, we’d still be talking about it today. Instead, he wallowed in obscurity on a company we otherwise associate with Tyrone Olson and Rodney Torres’ noseslide down the Hooters rail. The skate industry is all politics, but trying to make it with red hair is like running as an independent. The machine isn’t there to help you win when you’re different.

“I have a dream that the [hypothetical] four little children of these four red-haired skateboarders will one day live in a skate industry where they will not be judged by the color of their hair, but by the content of their footage tape.” — Anonymous

Have a good weekend :)

35 Comments

Comment by Alex Olson
  • Aidan is the best! He`s in nyc right now and I`m gonna put him on bianca listen to my show it rules

    November 21, 2014 @ 8:05 am
  • Comment by hu
  • Doesn’t MJ have red hair?

    November 21, 2014 @ 9:07 am
  • Comment by Flagrant Foul
  • Damn, that Casey Rigney part is no joke. How did he not become more well known?

    November 21, 2014 @ 9:16 am
  • Comment by Graeme Schulz
  • Adrien Bulard should be mentioned too.

    November 21, 2014 @ 9:55 am
  • Comment by bosco
  • MJ does have red hair, before going full shave, some clips in old 411 and the maple video black cat show it i believe

    November 21, 2014 @ 10:08 am
  • Comment by CEEZ
  • Jamie Palmore SK8MAFIA fam.

    November 21, 2014 @ 10:08 am
  • Comment by h8er
  • I cant watch wieger or that last guy, they suck.

    but adios are sick

    November 21, 2014 @ 10:42 am
  • Comment by Adrian
  • I think MJ is a Day Walker, or reddish hair with no hardcore freckles.

    November 21, 2014 @ 11:55 am
  • Comment by eric the red
  • mj might be the biggest testament to our struggle

    he had to cut it all off to make it and be respected!

    November 21, 2014 @ 12:05 pm
  • Comment by pinches gringos
  • lee ralph is like the columbus of gingers

    November 21, 2014 @ 12:24 pm
  • Comment by hey killa
  • MY PEOPLE ONE DAY WE WILL RISE

    November 21, 2014 @ 1:40 pm
  • Comment by spnlo
  • Jack Olson is killing it right now in the ginger game

    November 21, 2014 @ 1:54 pm
  • Comment by Bakingsoda
  • Curtis Rapp?

    November 21, 2014 @ 2:05 pm
  • Comment by Johnny
  • Don’t forget Frecks. He killed himself for a part and then $lave folded before they could turn him pro.

    November 21, 2014 @ 2:16 pm
  • Comment by Monstersk8rSwag
  • Timmy Knuth is way more boss than Bryan Brown and Kasey Rigsby. whens the last time anyone in this list won a contest……??!!?!?!?1/1!?!?!?!1//….. exactly $$4444$$$

    November 21, 2014 @ 3:50 pm
  • Comment by PatRakestraw
  • Chet Childress has the red hair, but so does Patrick Melcher. Redheads come in two flavors: hawt or not

    November 21, 2014 @ 4:18 pm
  • Comment by Scott K
  • Solid article.

    November 21, 2014 @ 7:02 pm
  • Comment by Plato
  • Exhibit E: Tyler Bledsoe. A backtail bigflip – http://youtu.be/XQQEjzOEvMk?t=2m3s – of such calibre wouldn’t be expected to be overlooked by QS and neither the lighter shade of red hair. However, having Wieger as Exhibit A is in true correct formulation of presentation of such an article. He crushes it and is the only person to make inward heelflips look appetising to people who cannot do them.

    November 21, 2014 @ 7:03 pm
  • Comment by Plato
  • Also yes indeed to Brian Brown!

    November 21, 2014 @ 7:06 pm
  • Comment by Kad
  • never heard of that Casey Rigney dude before but that part was incredible

    November 21, 2014 @ 7:34 pm
  • Comment by redhead
  • this was a good read.

    November 21, 2014 @ 7:37 pm
  • Comment by anacortes
  • Casey Rigney, Northwest legend.

    November 21, 2014 @ 7:55 pm
  • Comment by dominic
  • I thought Joey Brezinski did the nollie heel nose manny?!?!?!

    November 22, 2014 @ 11:15 am
  • Comment by roctakon
  • All these parts are sick, but HOLY SHIT Manolo Tapes uses bad music.

    November 22, 2014 @ 1:11 pm
  • Comment by woah
  • aidan is cool as hell met him at south pasadena park

    November 22, 2014 @ 4:20 pm
  • Comment by danny weiss
  • most overrated.

    November 22, 2014 @ 4:33 pm
  • Comment by mike
  • wait slave folded?

    November 22, 2014 @ 8:11 pm
  • Comment by Johnny
  • $lave is no longer under Blackbox distribution, which more or less doesn’t exist anymore. Jamie took Zero and Fallen to Dwindle. Ben Horton supposedly still has the $lave IP and is trying to run a different deal, but no news yet, although small batches of boards still get moved.

    They left this message a month ago.

    https://www.facebook.com/SlaveSkateboards/photos/a.285284464905246.51445.285001458266880/556540174446339/?type=1

    November 23, 2014 @ 12:02 am
  • Comment by bryan
  • Div Adams, Walker Ryan (lowkey ginger as he always wears a hat), Forrest Kirby, and Shaun White OBVIOUSLY. Whoever said redheads are either hawt or nawt is right. Nothin in the middle. Im one of the hot ones. ;-)

    November 23, 2014 @ 9:25 pm
  • Comment by Snack
  • Wow, a company called Slave doesn’t exist anymore?

    November 24, 2014 @ 12:38 am
  • Comment by CEEZ
  • NO FLEX ZONE.

    November 24, 2014 @ 10:20 am
  • Comment by t.a.
  • Brian Brown is so underrated and Casey Rigney is no joke. Loyalty isn’t always rewarded, but I imagine he still kills it with a smile on his face to this day. Been to his local park, it ain’t nothin’ to write home about and makes his skill that much more incredulous.

    December 2, 2014 @ 2:31 am
  • Comment by t.a.
  • Also, there are worse skateboard company names than Slave.

    December 2, 2014 @ 2:31 am
  • Comment by Carmelo Anthony's Knee
  • casey rigney haha havent heard that name in a minute

    March 5, 2015 @ 3:58 pm
  • Comment by Backside Creeper
  • Curtis Rapp! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g903eX2YdYU

    March 6, 2015 @ 8:50 am
  • Leave a comment