By Adam Creagan
Lance Mountain famously said: “Skateboarding doesn’t make you a skateboarder. Not being able to stop skateboarding makes you a skateboarder.”
That’s as good a definition as any. To explore his observation one step further: “Why is it that some people can’t stop?” The answer, in large part (or perhaps in its entirety), is due to the make. The roll-away. The act of staying upright and riding away from any skate trick or challenge sufficient to generate a jolt of adrenaline. For some people, those sparks ignite a lifelong interest in skating that is never extinguished.
The make easily ranks among the greatest feelings in the world. It is an utterly sole, individual achievement. And they don’t come easy. Makes are earned with blood and sweat, in as literal a sense as those two words can be used. They are born from bruises, lacerations, aggravation, and a thousand other displeasures—but they’re worth it. The excitement of a make involves a surge of stimulating brain activity and physical satisfaction, which in turn spurs the desire for more makes. The stoke of a make is contagious and shared among friends, evident by their howling approval. This same effect can also be transmitted through photos and video. Epic makes travel around the world and exist forever as long as there are skaters inspired by them.
From a basic standpoint, skate tricks are somewhat arbitrary. They are merely a way to demonstrate board control and experience the challenge of learning them. But there is nothing trivial about that sublime feeling of mental and physical accomplishment. And another person's make has no relativity to your own. If something is a struggle for you but a one-try scenario for another person—well, good for them. It has no bearing on the significance of your own make.
A lack of convenient comparisons makes it tough to explain to a non-skater what a roll-away is like. All sorts of activities and sports come with unique thrills, but a direct equivalent or even a parallel is hard to find. A make can emerge only from skating’s wild chemistry of agonizing trick battles, a lack of rigid structure, opportunities for creativity, a propulsive sense of motion, an adaptation to terrain, unforgiving margins of error, and numerous other intangible elements. And most thrilling of all, makes are the direct inverse of those merciless slams. There is a sense of triumph over that looming demon, at least for a brief time. It is like slaying a dragon.
The images below are all excerpted from sequence makes printed in the mag. Every one of these was a substantial trick, involving either a high-risk scenario or uncanny board control, or both. Roll-aways don’t fall into easy categories, but a crude attempt would involve two kind of makes: perfect “bolts” landings, and then everything else—a hugely-varied expression of whatever it takes to keep those feet on the grip. None of the makes here are better than others, but sometimes the do-or-die, razor’s edge ones pack the biggest punch.
But really all that matters is facing down the skate challenge to its conclusion, come what may. Only then can you determine the outcome and soak in the experience, slam or otherwise. And if you remain standing tall and feel the wheels rolling beneath you, that means you made it.