I’ve been to two Street Leagues in my life. Between the mush of free alcohol and conversations with #industry #friendz who you otherwise only see at such events, memories of tricks at those contests are foggy. Except one.
Chris Cole needed some high score to avoid elimination (pretty sure that’s what was going on…), and there weren’t a lot of tricks available that would yield a score high enough, especially with one try at his disposal. The dude rolled up to a handrail frontside, did an alley-oop frontside 270 over it (he’s not rolling backside so nobody say it’s a 270 lip), and front boards down it. No test run, no warm-up. Just threw his board down and did it. Needless to say, he got whatever score he needed.
Other than that, I can’t remember a single Chris Cole part since he got on Zero. Not “hating” at all — the dude is probably one of the top five skateboarders working today if you’re using raw talent as your metric. Either Cole or Mariano are the first names that pop up to answer the question “Has anyone ever done..?” His skating just never crossed that 1% threshold of relate-ability required for repeat viewings of a part for an adult sk8r boy. It’s on another planet.
And as Cole recently descended on an even further-advanced planet of un-relatable skateboarding (shout out T-Puds and Shecks though #respect), we remember that has not always been the case. Once upon a time, Chris Cole was a kid who skated Philly in baggy carpenter jeans, XL yellow t-shirts, and did sick piledriver backside nosegrinds that are inconsistent with modern skateboarding’s stylebook.
People who grew up on VHS tapes were first introduced to Chris Cole through Digital, a 411 knock-off. He’d do low half cabs on flat mid-line, have a one-foot ollie down a ten-stair as his second-to-last trick, and simply do flip tricks off high ledges — not unlike some 14-year-old skating a loading dock in the suburbs. There was no concern for being #onbrand like in the Zero days, as the dude skated to everything from Twisted Sister to Common to Smashing Pumpkins in these early parts.
The most memorable Love lines of the era are known for their stylistic hallmarks (Stevie’s flat, Kalis’ cool switch mongo push, Wenning’s hunched over nosegrinds), but they rarely got more ambitious that hitting a few of the ledges in a row. It’s hard to think of someone who was messing around with the set-up at Love Park like Cole was. Skating the middle benches between the planter ledges, using the already seldom-skated step-up ledge to end a line, or treating the spot like a three-up-ten-down — nobody really bothered to look at Love differently. Chris Cole the Love Park Skater is worth remembering because it is such an anomaly from what he went on to become.
The young Chris Cole who wore raver shirts — as incredible as he was — looked doofy. He was every bit as ahead of the curve with tech skating as P.J. Ladd was, but didn’t have the finesse to earn himself a decade-plus of goodwill from tough-to-impress skate nerds. Compare his and P.J’s throwaway parts in this griptape company video. P.J. already skated like his adult self and looked chill as shit. Chris Cole didn’t really get there until The Chief started curating his #look.
Outside the pages of this stupid website, none of that matters. Cole went on to become one of the most prolific skaters of the past ten years; he’s the first one any of us remember doing a kickflip back noseblunt down a real-sized handrail, like, actually probably maybe even over ten years ago. Now riding free from J.T’s rules of gothic conduct, it’d be nice to see Cole revert back to his residual raver days of frontside 5050 back foot flips. Plan B has zero ;) concern for keeping #onbrand — it’s just a bunch of dudes in SoCal who rip and chief dank nugz. I’m sure T-Puds has a yellow tee he could lend Chris, along with all the good vibez that come with it.