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Weekly updates

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Like most of my generation, I spent the majority of my early teenage years with a skateboard permanently attached to my feet. It was a great era of the subculture – back when wheels were tiny, jeans were huge, and there were a plethora of local brands offering quality product. I think it’s fair to say that skating was my first love, but eventually the siren song of drinking and girls overcame my monogamous relationship with the board and I found myself drifting away from the local skatepark and into the wider world. Like with any ex, skating became something that I’d only ever revisit in moment of personal weakness or when I was extremely drunk, but come the next day I’d be full of regret and covered in strange bruises. Of course as with any young romance there was definitely a sense of nostalgia, and over the years I’d keep an eye on developments of the skate world in the same way that you’d visit an ex-girlfriend’s facebook to see what she’s up to nowadays (is this metaphor getting creepy yet?)

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So when an invitation from the Nike SB team asking me to attend an ‘exclusive skate mission’ crossed my desk the other day, I jumped at the opportunity to reconnect with the culture. Nike have only been a player in the Australian skateboard scene since 2004, when a local team was kicked off with the sponsorship of Melbourne skaters Shane O’Neill and Lewis Marnell (RIP). Since those early roots, Nike SB has become a dominant force in the scene – constantly pushing technical innovation and supporting a constantly growing local team. We kicked off the day with a visit to Fast Times, the stalwart destination for any skater passing through Melbourne, where the Australian Nike SB team greeted us – the guys had even flown Shane O’Neill out of LA to spend the day with us which was pretty surreal, to say the least.  Stepping into the recently refitted store I was immediately struck by how much the game has changed. The last time I stepped on a board the only choice in skate footwear was whether you wanted a wide or extra-wide fit (shout out to Globe’s white-on-white CT IVs). These days, Nike have split their range into three tiers – Impact, Control, and Boardfeel – depending on your preferred style of skating. And even further than that, the shoes actually look good and easily double as an everyday pair of kicks.

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After a brief rundown on the three tiers from Australian ambassadors Shane O’Neill, Nick Boserio, and sixteen year old wunderkind Mikey Mendoza (who was also only in town for the day because he had an upcoming science exam) I found myself kitted out with a pair of Koston 2’s (salmon pink!), a brand new setup, and a waiver that guaranteed that my family couldn’t sue in the not-so-unlikely event of my accidental death. For real though, the humility of the Nike team can’t be overstated, these guys are professional athletes who made themselves completely available to a bunch of media – many of whom had never stepped on a skateboard before, and they took it all in stride with absolutely no fuss at all.

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Before I knew it I was being ferried by mini-van to Nike’s personal skatepark, nestled deep within their HQ. Once there we got a front row show to the SB team’s skills, a pretty intimidating intro considering we were expected to jump on our boards shortly after. The dudes from skateboarding Australia gave us a quick bootcamp before turning us loose with our boards, it was a strange experience watching the SB team throw hammers while I was trying in vain to get reacquainted with the not-falling-on-my-ass part of skating.

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After a session that mainly consisted of me trying not to get in anyone’s way, we were back in the vans and on our way to the iconic local street spot that is the Flemington drains. Recently revamped by the Fast Time’s crew, the drains are a mecca for local and international skaters alike. Of course, because we were in Melbourne it immediately started pissing down rain as soon as we got there. But the shit weather didn’t deter the team from throwing down, with special mention to Nick Boserio’s ridiculous second-attempt pole jam over the gap into a massive puddle.

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Our day wrapped up with a low-key exhibition of Nike SB history that featured an enviable collection of covetable sneakers, including the legendary Tiffany Dunks and the Melbourne Dunk Low, as well as quite a few beers. All in all it was a pretty amazing day. Shout outs to the Nike SB team, from the skaters to the managers and videographers, for all the work they’ve put in to making Australia’s scene everything that it is today. Skating and Nike seem to go hand-in-hand and they definitely make for a beautiful couple.