Saturday, July 20, 2013

Skater Quick Profile: Natas Kaupas

Image copyright Santa Cruz, inc.
Natas was a skateboarder that was truly ahead of his time; he was one of the most innovative street skaters of the 1980's, and far beyond. Doing amazing tricks on curbs, spinning on fire hydrants, and maybe the first to do wallrides, banging yourself harshly against a vertical wall with no ramp or transition to ease you in. It is said that he had one of the first attempts to do a railslide down a handrail at a contest in Oceanside, and later perfected stand up grinds down handrails.

He had a certain fluidity and prowess that was the opposite of a deep end pool rider or vert skater, but came up on the scene at a time when streetskating was making major waves. in 1986, there were many great street contests in California, Atlanta, and the rest of the US, and things like launch ramps and trashed old cars were made into gnarly obstacles.

People like Natas, Steve Rocco, and Julien Stranger really made a big name for themselves, as kids nationwide started to realize they could skate whatever obstacle they had handy, especially curbs. "Wheels of Fire" and "Streets on Fire" were great Santa Cruz videos that really highlighted his ability to do shove its, no complys, wall rides, and many, many more tricks on the streets.

Catching any of the clips of him available on YouTube and elsewhere will show you that back in the day when street masters were born, they controlled the board under their feet like no one had ever achieved before. The setting of Santa Monica, Venice and elsewhere with long curbs close to the beach are still some of the funnest to watch videos of skateboarding ever; where technical tricks were starting to blend quickly with the basic fundamentals of skating.

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