There are some tricks that you just don’t see often. The Frontside 360 heelflip is one.
The first time this trick hit my radar was in 2002 when PJ Ladd threw one down a set of stairs in Boston [Timestamp: 4m58s] in the prophetic video, PJ Ladd’s Wonderful Horrible Life. I’m sure other skaters who have done this trick and there’s video evidence to back it up (probably early 90s big pants-small wheels era), however, PJ took his to a legitimate street spot which required a higher skill level than say in a safe and controlled skatepark environment. It is important to note that PJ Ladd is a veritable skate savante.
A quick disclaimer to note that Pat Channita and Eric Koston [Timestamp 1m12s] were both doing Nollie/Switch Frontside 360 heelflips before PJ Ladd but somehow those skipped my attention – and again, they were done in controlled skatepark environments.
The next time I encountered the Frontside 360 heelflip it was done switch. Even though I am incapable of doing this trick myself, I have a strange feeling the switchstance variety is easier because of the way the shoulders turn and the body twists as the skater plants their rotation of their stronger lead leg. Either way, Brian Brown did a picture perfect one into a crusty bank [Timestamp: 2m32s], under a bridge far from any medical help should something have gone wrong. The video was ‘Viajeros Locos’, a rare gem of a feature from the now defunct Listen Skateboards (later resurrected as Boulevard, BLVD, …).
After this outing, French premier professional skateboarder, JB Gillet must have said, “Oh, mais attendez là! Je maitrise les frontside heelflips! Je peux faire ca moi!” (Roughly translated into English as “Oi, hang on a minute! I am a master of frontside heelflips! I can do that!” Joking aside, JB took this trick and ran with it hard throwing out all sorts of variations including varial heelflips, manuals etc. The one he opened his line with in ‘Fully Flared’ is truly magnificent [Timestamp: 55s]. Personally, I believe JB Gillet is the king of all frontside heelflip variations. This switch one is on par with PJ Ladd’s.
Seeing as JB Gillet has a strong hold on frontside 360 heelflips, it’s only natural that a couple of his close friends, Flo Mirtain [Timestamp: 28s] and Lucas Puig [Timestamp: 3m19s] also have this trick on lock.
Thanks to Thrasher Magazine, Liste/BLVD Skateboards, Lakai and Es Footwear for the links to clips and photos.