20 Years of Girl: The Ben Sanchez Tribute Post


Before anything: Manolo’s Tapes went live with an incredible retrospective of all the Girl and Chocolate videos yesterday. We can talk about Keenan’s switch flip, or how ahead of its time each Koston part was, or all the crazy stuff Marc Johnson has done, but let’s talk about some real shit…Ben Sanchez.

A longtime personal favorite Chrome Ball post is the dual tribute to Ben “Burger Boy” Sanchez and Shamil Randle. For a pair of twenty-year-old companies, very few of their riders have been afforded the ability to fade into obscurity like those two, and nostalgic reminders of less prominent names are among the greatest joys of The Chrome Ball Incident.

If Richard Mulder, Mike York, Chico Brenes were the seventh, eighth and ninth guys off the bench, then Ben Sanchez was something like the twelfth. Not to sound like a broken record, but the era when Girl and Chocolate were a batch of the best skaters alive surrounded by dudes who were more style than pushing the envelope is the one we most frequently put on a pedestal. Those guys helped the videos feel more like skate videos, and less like blockbusters. Koston and Guy were there to show you how good skateboarding could possibly be. Mike York got you hyped to try some pretzel spin noseslide combo that inevitably ends with a tic-tac. Ben Sanchez, on the other hand, was the guy who made you remember, “Damn, I haven’t done a half cab noseslide in a while.”

Though they both enjoy similar “Remember that guy?”-status, an anomaly for the Girl camp, there’s a key difference between Shamil and Ben Sanchez: Shamil looked cool as all hell on a skateboard. His opening line in the first Chocolate video — a switch back 180 on flat, a backside 180 nosegrind on a regular sized ledge, and a switch flip — is something a lot of people reading this could do, but would be hard pressed to make it look as good as he did. Ben Sanchez was a heavyset dude who looked like he was trying. Skateboarding actually looked like it took effort for him, making him all the more relatable to those of us who forfeited our hopes of ever progressing towards flipping into slides. Looking at the rest of the team, it was obvious most of the dudes were “better” than him, but he ripped to Earth, Wind & Fire for three minutes in probably the best skate video ever made regardless. He’s a hero to all of us who stayed stagnant, working to hold onto the dozen tricks we have, while our dickhead friends keep progressing.

Ben’s Mouse part often gets held to high regard by all those wise enough to know it’s not about how hard the tricks are. Skateboarding isn’t set up for a situation where we root for the benchwarmer going off for 23 and 14, but at least we can get hyped off watching the husky dude skate fast and do the most exemplary Chinese ollie ever committed to film. He was the underdog on one of the most mythologized skate teams of all time.

Thank you Ben Sanchez, wherever you are. You continue to be an inspiration to us common folk in the age of superheroes.


  1. a chinese ollie is when you ride down a set of stairs without hitting your tail, he means a nollie off a crack.

  2. he does a chinese ollie at 0:36 in the mouse part. when you use a crack to pop vs using your tail.

  3. Rick Thomas, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Young thug, you too are incorrect. Chinese ollie is w the NOSE, not the tail.

  4. Haha, after mouse came out, me and my homies actually used to call chinese ollies “Ben Sanchezs”.

  5. For me, the quintessential Shamil “style” trick is the fakie f/s pop shuv in the second FTC vid, if I remember correctly.

  6. Riding for Girl/Choc is liking playing for the Yankees; it doesn’t matter if you got a ring, you got to wear the pinstripes.

  7. Awesome post as usual. That chromeball link reminded me of the Shamil inward heelflip at Pier 7. Thats one of the best skate photos of all time.

    And fuck but Gabriel Rodriguez looks better on a board than most…too bad he fell off. I wonder if Guy was trying to pay homage to Gabe. in the mouse era or if it was a coincidence

  8. Brilliant post, as a 34 year old who’s skating hasn’t progressed in 10 years I can really relate to this post. Shamil had the best flatland tricks going, fakie frontside shoves at Pier 7, he made you want to skate even if your skill set wasn’t at an insane level. It was all about the vibe as opposed to hammers and sport like consistency!

  9. great post, the kickflip into the hill sinched up with the horns always got me hyped, way to start a part

  10. In 97 i was at pier 7. Ben was trying to sell some wheels, I asked if he had weed to sell instead. He did. I went back the next day and bought more. I didnt hang out and skate, because Im not down with the cool kid scene.

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