Veterans of Vert - Mark Grindle
You may not have heard of Mark Grindle, but you should listen to what he has to say. While posting the VoV interview with Kenny Means, we stumbled into Mark with a mislabelled photograph. He had an exciting story that we thought we should share with you, no matter how old, it's never too late to skate!
How did you first come across aggressive quad skating?
I started skateboarding back in the mid-’70s, and I was never good at it. We spent lots of time riding embankments and ramps, but I couldn’t get the hang of a board on a transition. In about 1978 we went skating the YWCA pool in San Pedro, and I saw Kenny Means roller skating in it. He was side-skating, and it blew me away. I decided to give it a try just on that alone. I bought skates almost immediately and started practicing by riding them everywhere. We built a little 4x8 ramp up against our back fence, and that was where I started. I now think that I was good enough to compete in the events, but I didn’t have the confidence to try.
How and who did you follow for inspiration?
It was hard to follow anyone because there just wasn’t any coverage in the magazines. Kenny was in skateboard magazines on occasion, but that was it. A couple of years later, I started seeing Fred Blood and Duke Rennie, and they were both amazing. Since all the skate parks were far away and I didn’t drive, I rarely saw anyone roller skate in person. I had to learn all my tricks from photos and to try to figure them out on my own. In the rare times, I did run into skaters at Marina del Rey, Lakewood or Superbowl; I would watch intently. The most significant influence was to side-skate, and that is how I’ve always skated.
Was there much of a roller-skating scene at the parts in San Pedro?
I was the only vertical roller skater in San Pedro, besides Kenny, but I never skated with him. Pedro was all skateboards and punk rock. We had a great halfpipe that we skated every day and a couple of pools that we’d skate, like the Graveyard pool; but that was it. The South Bay always lacked a skate park for some reason so we’d have to travel far to get to one.
Did you find that crossover between skateboarding helped your quad skating?
Skateboarding didn’t really help me in my skating, thank God; I was horrible on a board!
What was your favorite trick from the '80s?
I always loved hand-plants, one or two-handed.
You've just turned 53, and you've come back to quad skating, what drew you back?
I quit because in the early ’80s skateboarding tanked, the skate parks were gone, and ramps were rare. Plus lots of people started telling me I was too old and I feel for that. I kept my skates and went flat-ground on occasion, but that was it. In January 2011, I decided that I was going to start skating again, but I had a heart attack, so I put it on hold. Last year I found the Facebook group “Skaters Over 50”, which is 99% skateboarders, and I started seeing all these “old” guys like me skateboarding. Seeing guys like Caballero, Alva, and Peters still going strong was inspiring, then I saw Duke was still roller skating too. I was bent on doing it again. I still had my tracker roller skate plates from the ’80s with full tracks. I bought new boots and Kryptonics and started skating flat ground to get my legs back. That was about three months ago, and I started skating vertical about a month ago.
What is your current favorite trick?
Right now, my favorite move is not killing myself as I learn again! I’m mainly doing lots of carving and trying to get some air. It’s been a slower process than I thought, but I’m getting there. My goal was to do a hand-plant on my 53rd birthday, but I missed that by two days. I finally landed one today! I have lots of work to do, and the falls take a more significant toll on the body, but I’m hooked again.
Any last words?
Yes, don’t ever let anyone convince you that you’re too old to do anything or that “girls shouldn’t do whatever.” Don’t be intimidated by the guys out there either. What hasn’t changed is that there are lots of loudmouth’s and people who think of vertical roller skaters as second class, ignore them and do YOUR thing. Besides, the loudmouths are the usually the ones with only one good trick and who go home and cry when mommy puts medicine on their boo-boos. Listen to the guys who love that you are out there. Also, encourage one another.