Craig Snyder, Skate Culture

Published on August 9th, 2015

8002015-02-08 13.49.37-SINGLE BOOK-no BG copyJust as there are revolutions that fuel change in everything from music and to governments, there are revolutions in sports. They don’t call these moments “game-changers” for nothing. In A Secret History of the Ollie, Volume 1: the 1970s, author Craig Snyder has meticulously documented the birth of modern skateboarding in the 1970s, including the influence of technology, while putting an emphasis on the one aerial skateboard trick that helped define an era: the Ollie.

When you see skaters somehow lift off the ground with the skateboard still stuck to the bottom of their shoes, that’s the Ollie. Snyder spent seven years working on a book on skateboard history and ended up with a single 912-page book on this era in skating that actually doesn’t just focus on the Ollie.  Though the length of the book sounds daunting, it actually has over 1,200 pictures and illustrations, and it’s broken up into 75 compact chapters while having a kind of story arc. “There is a story there,” Snyder says, speaking via phone, “and there’s a layering of building blocks.”

17 Beware of Imitations64Snyder doesn’t want the title to confuse anyone, as the history of modern skateboarding is much more than that one trick that helped change the skate scene. “It is not just the Ollie,” he says. “This volume covers the birth and evolution of modern skating, which begins with the introduction of the technology that allowed skateboarding to progress and evolve beyond anything that happened before in the 1960s or earlier. This leads to new moves, and one of those is the Ollie, which later becomes the dominant the move in the street style of skateboarding.”

And so his book is more than the myth-making of one skate trick. He also credits skateboard designers for helping usher in a new era of skating. “It was the creation of new technology that led to new ways of riding skateboards,” he says, “new equipment and allowing people to do things they never did before without 21 Four Wheels Out6knowing what you could not do, and what emerged out of that were the first aerials. Not just the ollie but every other kind of aerial that happened in the 1970s is covered in the book, including the first aerials on a surf board.”

The book has gone on to win two awards. Most recently, in July, up in Buena Vista, Florida, Snyder won the Gold Medal for Best in Category for Sports and Recreation Books from the Florida Authors and Publishers Association, which means his book will be on a list of books recommended for libraries across the state. In May, he won Best in Category for General Trade, Illustrated books at the 58th Annual New England Book Show.

Snyder will be at the world premiere of his photo exhibit “Rebels, Riders, Rejects: Pioneers of Modern Skateboarding” at GENERAL PROVISION during the FATVillage Art Walk, 521 NW 1st Ave., Fort Lauderdale, FL, on Saturday, Sept. 26, from 6pm – 11pm He will have copies of his book to sign, as well. RSVP

~ Hans Morgenstern | The Independent Ethos