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skateboarding Writing

Guilty Pleasure – Moses Itkonen in The Reason

Everybody has a favourite video part. More often then not everyone shares the same favourite video parts. Mark Gonzales in Video Days, Gino Ianucci in Trilogy, Guy Mariano in Mouse, John Cardiel in Sight Unseen… The list is fairly exhaustive and predictable. However, there are video parts that people wouldn’t dare admit to taking pleasure in watching. These guilty pleasures are diamonds in the rough. Visual danger wanks of sorts. Round pegs for square holes… You get the idea. A guilty pleasure of mine is Moses Itkonen’s part from Transworld’s The Reason (2000) and here’s why.

As a skater in their Forties (unfortunately not the discontinued skatewear brand, Forties) who doesn’t actually skate much, I enjoy watching older skaters who still get out there and get busy on their board. Ben Degros is a one of these elderly statesmen and he has a pretty cool Youtube channel full of videos of him keeping his level up. Ben lives in Canada and the first thing you notice watching his skating is that Canada has a lot of concrete parks. Now, as a skater who was riding everyday at the turn of the century, when I think of Canadian concrete parks, I think of one skateboarder and one skate part in particular: Moses Itkonen in The Reason.

Moses is Canadian and a long standing member of the infamous Red Dragons from Vancouver. He was amateur then pro for Mad Circle (Nineties reference for those who know what’s up), did a stint with Platinum before finishing off at Powell. Moses is also the Noseslide God. Whether it’s a regular noseslide, a frontside noseslide, halfcab noseslide, noseblunt slide 180 fakie nosegrind… Moses has them locked in.

In 2000, Moses was one of the chosen few to feature in a Transworld video, The Reason. Transworld Skateboarding Magazine was releasing videos every 12 months during this period and with Jon Holland and Ty Evans behind the camera and editing decks, each video was a certified banger. Either because most of the tricks were filmed North of the border (Canada) or Ty and Jon felt there had to be some alternative to all of Moses’ noseslide variations, fellow Red Dragons Paul Machnau, Rick McCrank and Colin McKay shared filming duties with “Killa Moe”.

Before breaking down the tricks in this full Canadian part, it’s important to mention the soundtrack that accompanies the skating. This also adds a first layer of guilt to the pleasure. Through My Fingers is by straightedge punk band Pegboy. At the time of filming for The Reason, Moses was a vegan which is a stance that often aligns itself to straightedge philosophy. With or without knowledge of these cultural beliefs, Through My Fingers is one of those driving punk tracks that actually has melody to it so a certified Hip Hop head like myself can appreciate and get stoked even if I’d never think to add a Pegboy record to my collection.

Now for the skating. As I already mentioned, Moses is the Guardian of the gate for the Noseslide. It’s actually a fairly common trick that a lot of kids master fairly quickly when they start to skate but abandon it fairly easily for its funky cousin the Crooked Grind. [Sidenote: A quick shout to the Quatersnacks family a.k.a. The New York Noseslides, to quote AZ for “carrying on traditions”!] Moses manoeuvres through kinked handrails, over channels, into quarterpipes, over dirt gaps, across and over walls and along endless blocks of chunky grey concrete with his nose. He also throws in some solid variations like straight wallie to nosegrind pop-in, noseblunt slides transfers to drop-off, and a picture perfect 180 fakie nosegrind. I’m no statistician but I’m quite certain 90% of Moses’ tricks in The Reason involve the nose of his board one way or another. He should change his nickname to “Noses”…

Spoilt for choice… Moses knows the Nose
(Screenshots from The Reason)

As for his fellow Canadian bretheren, they also appreciate long noseslides and nosegrinds but they also spice things up a bit in the tech and gnar departments. Paul Machnau is a bit like the 5th Beatle of the Emerica camp. He had all the balls and control to manhandle massive rails but somehow the politics of geography never saw him gain the global notoriety he deserved. Rick McCrank has long been a crowd favourite with his nerd-turned-superhero demeanour on a skateboard as he sits nonchalantly on long rails and launches massive caught 360 flips over even bigger ones. Finally, there is thew technical wizard of transition Colin McKay. Even if these tricks were filmed when Colin was enjoying his last heydays as a relevant pro, that didn’t stop him from getting totally wild on the mega ramps. Moses made sure he got the memo so Colin sprinkled a healthy dose of nose variety in his tricks but the stand outs for me were the nollie hardflip on the mega ramp roll-in that could have probably cleared Moses’ old Mad Circle boss Justin Girard, and the stomach turning / brain twisting switch backside 360 late bigspin on vert. Yeah, Colin got tech like that and nobody else could match him.

So there you have it, a true guilty pleasure of viewing for skateboarders who know. Yeah, we all know Stevie Williams and Cairo Foster are the popular choice in The Reason but check your heart rate when Moses, Paul and Rick run a train on a head-high gap to looooong ledge spot (an electrical box for reference) and Pegboy kicks in.

Moses has been nosesliding since September ’95 (at least!) Ph. c/o www.thrashermagazine.com

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