Veterans of Vert - Kenny Means
Kenny Means was a skater known for big airs and plants. In the '70s and '80s, Kenny was often invited to demonstrate at events. He skated alongside some of the top names in the quad and skateboarding industry. Even though he's hung up his skates, Kenny is still passionate about the sport and loves seeing it grow. We caught up with Kenny to find out a bit about his epic past.
When did you first start roller skating?
I first started skating when I was about five years old. I got into speed skating, but I was about fifteen I started hitting the rinks skating in side-stance aka 'surf-stance' most of the time. I would weave in and out of people on the floor and pretend the walls of the building were waves; it was amusing. Once the skateboard craze started, I got into skateboarding banks at schools, and I thought hey I'm going to try, and roller skate the banks, the rest is history. I think the first time I roller skated a vertical wall was in early 1974 because I was still in school.
What has been the driving passion behind your aggressive quad skating career?
There's no doubt that surfing generated the passion behind skateboarding and my skating. I think to some degree roller skating vertical walls feels closer to surfing than skateboarding. I know that when I hit the coping backside, it felt exactly like surfing but frontside was quite different. I wish all quad skaters could have that experience of wave vs. concrete.
Who were your biggest competitors?
Initially, I didn't have any competitors. I was the only skater that I knew of for the first couple of years. My brother Bobby skated a little early on, but later in my career, I saw a handful of skaters popping up here and there. The skater I thought had a lot of potential back in the day was Duke Rennie. He always had the surf style flow. I used to see Fred Blood a lot also.
You've demonstrated at many events, tell us about your favorites?
Wow! There are some good ones. The one that sticks out the most today is an event in San Francisco for Green Peace. There were so many celebrities there, and they had a plexiglass halfpipe in the middle of the football field for the skaters and celebrities running the exterior. It was a huge event. I remember meeting a lot of people that day.
Also, I skated in a Spiderman costume to live music with Tony Alva, Bruce Logan, and many others in a live show in a couple of big arenas. That was good times.
What is your favorite trick, and how do you feel when you pull it off?
I always loved the backside air and the handplant, but if I had to pick, I think the BIG AIR would win due to the feeling of being weightless while floating over the wall.
Do you prefer skating in front of an audience or with a smaller crew?
I used to love big audiences; they would pump me up and make me go big !!!
Were there many female skaters who stood out in the '70s and '80s?
The only female skater I knew was Helen Hennessy; she was pretty good too.
Do you still skate?
No, sadly I don't skate anymore, and I don't even own a pair of skates that would be usable in the park. All I have is the OLD tour skates from back in the day.
What would you say to anyone wanting to give it a try?
Learn to skate flat land way before getting in a pool.
Then have fun, it is a blast.