September 30, 2010
We have all pondered the question “Who is the greatest skateboarder of all time?” and it’s one of those questions that might be impossible to answer. One can’t really pick the best painter in history, or even the best musicians–sure we have our opinions and they’re all usually based on style, technique, output, longevity, attitude, influence, accomplishments, ability, etc. With skateboarding, some people will say there is no such thing as “the greatest skateboarder of all time,” but chances are, when the question is posed, Danny Way will be mentioned more often than most.
So how did he get there? By six years old Danny was already frequenting Del Mar Skate Ranch with his older brother Damon and skating with the likes of Kevin Staab, Steve Steadham, Billy Ruff and Tony Hawk. While tagging along with Damon and Damon’s friends, Danny spent a lot of time skating street, but was also bullied into skating pools, vert, and mini ramps by the Vista Skate Locals (VSL as Damon’s crew was known) in order to make Danny multi-terrained. “Danny was trying gay twists on vert when he was twelve years old, before he could even do decent airs or inverts. I think after years of that, he figured out how to eliminate fear from his mind,” says Damon. By ten years old, Danny was already sponsored by Hosoi and Vision. He was small, but an obvious talent and there was a buzz going around California about the up and comer. By twelve, Danny Way was asked to turn pro for the newly-formed, soon-to-be-legendary H-Street skateboards. Danny refused and joined as an am. Once on H-Street, Danny produced two video parts for “Shackle Me Not” and “Hocus Pocus” easily two of the most important skateboarding films of all time. At fifteen, Danny was collecting paychecks in the range of $20,000 for board sales. Most importantly, Danny became close friends with Mike Ternasky, who supported Danny’s decision to leave H-Street for the greener pastures over at the newly-formed Blind skateboards, sister company to Steve Rocco’s World Industries. Which soon, with the help of Mike Ternasky, formed another sister company known as Plan B.
Danny joined Plan B and “The Questionable Video” was soon released. The video, and Danny’s part, changed skateboarding forever. The follow up Virtual Reality did the same. In 1993 many riders from Blind and Plan B left to form Girl, shortly after, in 1994, Mike Ternasky tragically died in a car accident. As if the demise of Plan B and the loss of his friend and virtual father weren’t enough, just as DC was getting underway, Danny suffered a near fatal injury while surfing. Recovery was long and hard, doctors were clueless at times, but by Tampa Pro 1996 Danny was rehabilitated and better than ever, winning the vert contest. In 1997, the DC Super Ramp was built and Danny broke the world’s record for the highest air on a skateboard. The same day he did a 12-foot kickflip indy and bomb dropped from a helicopter into the ramp. Two years later, now riding for Alien Workshop after the decision to finally close the doors on Plan B, MTV asked Danny to try the same stunts again for their Sports and Music Festival. He accepted, did the helicopter drop with a dislocated shoulder that he earned on an earlier attempt, and although he didn’t beat the 1997 world record, he still won the high air contest. In the following years there were some knee and shoulder surgeries, some recovering time, and some filming for The DC Video. Everyone knew Danny’s part would be insane, but no one could even anticipate what was to come between Danny’s mind boggling MegaRamp part in The DC Video and his unfathomable follow-up part in the Deluxe Edition less than 8 months later.
In 2004 the milestones continued. Danny brought the MegaRamp to the X Games, telling officials that competing on the MegaRamp would be the only way that he’d ever consider doing the event. And, rightfully so, he won the first ever Gold medal in the event… it’s no wonder considering how much time he’d clocked on the massive structure while filming for the DC Video / DC Video Deluxe Edition. The following year, 2005, Danny took the MegaRamp across the Pacific Ocean to China for his jump over the Great Wall of China. On day one, on his first drop in, he clipped the edge, bounced upside down, and slid the rest of the way down the biggest skateboarding structure ever created. The slam tore ligaments in his ankle and possibly tore his ACL. The next day, with a swollen ankle and barely able to walk (let alone skateboard), Danny became the first person to jump the Great Wall of China on a skateboard. He did it four times too, and did three legit and distinct tricks over the 60-foot gap. Less than a month later, ankle still bruised and battered from the Great Wall slam, Danny returned to Los Angeles to win his second Big Air Gold Medal at X Games XI. It’s hard to believe Danny could even skate well enough a whole month later to take Gold at the X Games. He repeated Gold again in 2006, making three straight Golds in the Big Air event. In April of 2006 Danny bomb drops 82 feet from the top of the neon guitar outside the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The feat earned Danny another world record: highest Bomb Drop. Danny is currently busy filming a Plan B video part, and is in the process of putting together a full feature documentary about his life. It seems like everything Danny does is packed with evidence of astronomical progression, larger than life skateboarding, and unmatched talent. To anyone who wouldn’t already acknowledge that Danny Way is one of the greatest skateboarders ever: he actually isn’t. Danny way is the greatest skateboarder ever–period.