The varial flip occupies a strange space in skateboarding. It’s pigeonholed as a little kid trick — a midway point between the kickflip and 360 flip, and sometimes even the first flip trick learned by a kid who found the shove-it motion easier to land on than a straight up kickflip. Beyond that, it has a far better looking, more shapely and marketable sister trick: The varial flip is the Khloe to the 360 flip’s Kim and Kourtney.
Even when you run an image search for “varial flip” (every result is hideous), Google is right there with “360 flip” as the sole related search. Except when you Google “360 flip,” the term “varial flip” ceases to be relatable. No need to backtrack.
As observers of professional skateboarding, an eternal question burns in our minds every time a pro does a varial flip: “Why wouldn’t he just do a 360 flip?” Whether you agree or not, 360 flips infallibly share the “you can never have enough of them” category with ollies, kickflips, backside tailslides, or anything else you’ve seen Keith Hufnagel do several times in each his Real parts, while the varial flip remains a lumpy oddity that sets alarms off for critics of trick selection. No company would dare introduce a new rider with a varial flip ad, and Skechers certainly had no intention of calling Khloe for their Super Bowl commercial if Kim was unavailable.
Surely the most standard of 360 flips is superior to the greatest varial flip — if such a thing were to exist. Is there even such thing as a “great” varial flip? We set out to find an answer to this question. Here are the ten instances in which the Khloe Kardashian of flip tricks looked jussst right, by ten of skateboarding’s Lamar Odoms.
10. Stevie Williams — DGK: Parental Advisory East Coast YouTube Extras (2012)
Given the disposable turn skate footage has taken in recent years, we try to avoid web clips for these very #important #listicles. However, this was the (switch) varial flip that incited an office debate about history’s greatest varial flips and/or the existence of such a thing, so it belongs here. Stevie ran down exemplary forms of at least fifty-percent of the non-Battle of the Berrics flatground canon in The Reason, so him conjuring up a proper varial flip is not unexpected.
9. Rob Pluhowski — Alien Workshop: Photosynthesis (2000)
Similar to Stevie, Pluhowski spent an entire (albeit short) video part doing
mainly only flip tricks and happened to check off the most difficult-to-pull-off-well one for it.
8. Brian Anderson — Girl: Yeah Right! (2003)
As one of the great 360 flippers in the history of skateboarding, it’s odd that B.A. has simultaneously earned a reputation as one of its great varial flippers. Even Kalis, who is no stranger to flip trick experimentation considering he did a heelflip sex change in a (semi-recent) part, steers clear of it. Luckily, the green screen board B.A. did his fakie Yeah Right! ender on wasn’t edited out in post-production.
7. Clyde Singleton — 411VM #35: “Profiles” (1999)
Arguably the most problematic mechanical aspect of varial flips is that they often cause the skater to closely clap his feet together in midair. Clyde Singleton shows that, like most tricks in skateboarding, if you pop high enough, all else is forgiven.
6. Bobby Puleo — Infamous: INFMS (2000)
Puleo skated on the sidewalk for half a block after a four-foot-long manual and a 180 on flat just to do a fakie varial flip, so you can’t help but admire his confidence in being able to procure a good one.
5. Gino Iannucci — 101: Trilogy (1996)
This is the list’s mandatory concession to the Jimmy Gorecki rule (“If you didn’t see it in Trilogy…assume it shouldn’t be performed and/or displayed.”) In theory, doing (switch) varial flips and putting them in videos is fine; it’s just harder to make them look as good as all of the other tricks that were in Trilogy.
4. Andy Honen — Static II (2004) / Tim O’Connor — Alien Workshop: Photosynthesis (2000)
What’s tougher than pulling off a good-looking varial flip? Doing two of them in the same line! #OMG
3. Nate Jones — Real: Real to Reel (2001)
On paper, Nate Jones’ DWP line sounds like something out of a fourteen-year-old’s sponsor me tape circa 2000: A nosemanul on a bench, a kickflip backside 5-0 and a varial flip on flat. He even lets his back foot dangle off, as some sort of early yo flip appropriation of the 360 flip’s already less attractive sibling. But in the video, it looks incredible, just like everything else in the part. All is possible if your style is good enough.
2. Quim Cardona — Transwold: Cinematographer (1997)
Yes, one of the best tricks over the Banks wall was a varial flip, but sixty-percent of it was due to the “Hang Loose” hand gesture Quim throws up after landing.
1. Jahmal Williams — Zoo York: E.S.T. (2000)
The only varial flip that without a doubt, looked up to par with the best of 360 flips.
(Thanks to Sweet Waste and Jack Sabback for their help in researching this study.)