Five Favorite Parts With Sage Elsesser

Photo by Ben Colen

We spoke to Sage about the pivotal moment he realized he was a heelflip guy, and how pop is skateboarding’s greatest superpower. Any young QS readers would be well-advised to put a certain Maple part in their viewing rotation, given it’s a recurring bit of inspiration for those with good verticals.


Kein Lieu — Maple: 7 Steps to Heaven (1996)

Dill showed me this part when I was really young: “You should study this. Watch it all the time.” It made me understand the power of the ollie. “Wow, you could just ollie shit and it looks so cool.” It’s such a flex. Kids will always ask me in my DM, “What’s your favorite trick?” The answer is ollie. You do everything from that. I began to understand guys like Reese, Paulo, Pfanner and Dylan — the guys that are known for height. Jumping high is an admirable act; that’s why we have world records for jumping. Especially for a regular pedestrian, they don’t understand how gravity works with us. If you see Chris Pfanner do his shit, it doesn’t look real. I even underestimate myself so often, because it’s what I do. I’ll tailslide something and it’ll be high but not so high. I have to remind myself that’s it it’s actually impressive on some human shit.

He 5050s a blue wall that has like an argyle print on it, and it’s the most satisfying clip. The way it’s filmed, everything about it, the colors. Having colors play a part of the story — that shit has really left skateboarding. When I’d go skate with Jesse, Cruz and them in L.A., they wouldn’t white balance their VX, so the colors would be kind of yellow, and that was always some L.A. shit. I think it was just a part of the look: the warmth of the west coast versus the colors that Bill captures.

Stevie Williams — Transworld: The Reason (1999)

Again, the VX color was so crisp. It helped you see all the elements of Stevie’s style and what he’s wearing. The music, the clothing, the shoes, and the colors. You time travel to that moment with it. I’m glad I got to go to Love, and fully fan-out on some nostalgic shit.

That part is just so black — it was so important. It was clear that it was all so natural for him. Stevie is so important to skateboarding in general, but specifically to black skateboarders, because we didn’t have that representation. He’s undeniably himself. In the same way Allen Iverson was with basketball, it was a lens into a lifestyle that a lot of other guys couldn’t comprehend because it was different. It came from a different place, and had different inspirations.

Marcus McBride — Deca: Sneak Preview (2001)

Rodrigo says all the right shit in the Thrasher “Classics” thing. He talks about the song — that song is so sick.

There are two monumental heelflips in that part. One is the one he does at 3rd and Army over the bike rack and rocks — the way that he catches it is so important and one of kind. The other one is over the bump-to-barrier that everyone skates in S.F. They run them back twice.

I got to skate with Brian Lotti at a young age. I did research on him, and saw like “Oh word, this comes out of this chronologically.” I’d go through the years of which videos were when: like the H-Street videos, Planet Earth. Skating with Brian opened up my mind to nerding out more on skate shit. I found Lavar from Trilogy, and then Marcus because of DGK. As a kid, I was fucking with DGK because it was a black-owned skate brand.

Antwuan Dixon – Baker 3 (2005)

This was a key moment in my life. It was one of the first videos I watched with my friends on a TV. The reason I wore the éS Square Ones so much was because of that part.

That first line he does — he turns around, that tre flip, and does that heelflip — that heelflip was one of the most important in heelflip history. That was the moment I knew I wasn’t about kickflips. I felt that with all my being. I remember running the heelflip back before I even let the part play. I remember learning specifically that heelflip at the skatepark. Before, I would kick my foot down on my little kid shit or hang my toe off the edge.

He was undeniably effortless. A lot of the guys are sweating and bleeding in their clips — I respect that — but Antwuan rarely even sweated out his shirt in his clips. He’s just chilling.

There’s not much to say about that Baker 3 part because it is exactly what it is. It’s two minutes and it has everyone prepared for what was next.

Dylan Rieder — Gravis: “Dylan” (2010)

He was the first superhuman skater that I knew. I knew that he would be someone I’d learn from. Everyone had their own experience with that part, it was so personal. And I realize that’s an overarching theme with a lot of the parts that I chose: they all feel hyper personal. You know something about the person with them. They’re all vulnerable parts, because it shows these people prior to things changing or while they are changing. In this part, things are clearly evolving for Dylan. He was already incredible in Mind Field, but he always said he wasn’t happy with it — for some people, that’s their favorite Dylan part. It has the fakie tre and all that.

And the fact that he was doing it all in those shoes. I bought the black leather ones because of it, and they were destroyed the first day. It was a big step with the fashion. It was offensive to a lot of the older guys, but say whatever you want, it is undeniably good skating.

After I saw that part, I knew what kind of skating I wanted to do. I saw he was looking more at height. With the impossible over the bench, I thought, “You can do a trick over something high and that’s just what it is.” Even in “cherry,” the front blunt kickflip is about how far he traveled out of it. Those little details — this part was the first time they were made very clear to me. He was aware of them, he wanted to pop out of the trick in a specific way; that wasn’t a tailslide kickflip, it was a tailslide kickflip. That was the first time I realized someone was trying to elevate higher than the ledge and not just coming out of the trick. That was eye-opening, like “I gotta look at skating differently.” This one pushed people I can think of, like Nak or Sean. I know that they aspire to filming a part like that: your part, the one everyone looks at.

Honorable Mention: Jason Dill — DVS: Skate More (2004)

It might not be everyone’s favorite Dill part, but I love that it’s goofy. I love that Cass McCombs song, I love the shants, the snakeskin DVS shoes, Fat Kid Spot. I remember going there and being surprised at how hard it was to skate. That skatepark they built there sucks, man.

Previously: Bobby Worrest, Nik Stain, Anthony Van Engelen, Dom Henry, Bing Liu, Andrew Reynolds, Cyrus Bennett, Jacob Harris, Jamal Smith, Paul Rodriguez, Gilbertt Crockett, Ben Chadourne, Tom Knox, Louie Lopez, The Chrome Ball Incident, The Bunt, Lacey Baker, Andrew Allen, GX1000, Brian Anderson, Gino Iannucci, Josh Kalis, Sean Pablo, Wade Desarmo, Chris Milic, Chad Muska, Hjalte Halberg, Danny Brady, Bill Strobeck, Aaron Herrington, Jerry Hsu, Brad Cromer, Brandon Westgate, Jim Greco, Jake Johnson, Scott Johnston, Josh Stewart, Eric Koston, Karl Watson, Josh Friedberg, John Cardiel, Pontus Alv, Alex Olson, Jahmal Williams


  1. I ask homies with pop to film some ollies over shit in the street, because it is cool. Instead they want to film late shoves and half-cab noseslide heel outs. Dudes waste their super powers!
    That was a sick 5 parts.

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