“Just about everyone one that started riding skateboards before 1976, at some point, stepped on an Alva deck. As for Tony’s contemporaries that rode with him, they all said in interviews and articles he was just more advanced and more aggressive. For some of us, the iconic photos of Tony, particularly his frontside airs, made us want to belong to this elite group of aerial land pilots. We were dead set on tucking it up and not going stink bug.”
“When the eight inch Alva deck came out we got one. Maybe we hand-drew an Alva shirt, because buried away in east Los Angeles, we were not even sure if the shirts were sold or were made just for him. Finding a hat — like the fedora he wore (that we thought looked close) — we dreamed one day when we were old enough, we would be in the gang.”
“When Steve Alba won the first Hester Series pool contest, there was a short time when the board was hand painted over with a Badlands cross. I’m always on the fence. After this, a Wynn Miller photo of Tony Alva at the Gonzales pool appeared in the magazine. It had a quote from Tony that said, ” …if kids are trying to copy me, they better be ready to suffer the consequences” That said it all to me. I knew that I would suffer from then on if I could.”
“Just then, pig decks showed up and the ten inch Alva deck came out. I was back on board. I made my set up just like his with two yellow wheels, two orange wheels and pizza grip. When Tony had the Boyd Harnell photograph at Lakewood on the Wes Humpston hand-drawn deck a bit later, you know my board got a makeover and I had my pops shoot a photograph there that I thought was reminiscent of it.”
“So, you can see how this all begins to shape up. I can’t explain why it hasn’t stopped, but I do know after many other times and places playing skateboarder, when I was in a position years later in 1985 about to win a pro contest, I decided to pull out the old T.A. dream. I lit my tail on fire, hoping to burn down a forest in Tahoe.”
“Skip to the present day. Last summer a group of us, Grosso, Olson, Wally, Peters, Saladino, Katan and Strople, went up to Jeff Ament’s house on a skate trip. Amazingly, he allowed us to try out his skate collection in his indoor bowl. The Jay Smith board came first and laybacks were tried. Orton’s board and Inouye’s board were rolled around on. Jay Adams board was pulled down and flyways were tried. Bobby Valdez board brought inverts out. Olson’s board drew carves and frontal assaults. No shame. Steve Olson is standing right there. I think he was laughing. I look up and he is pulling down the Tony Alva board, almost taunting me to make more of a fool of myself. The shirt came off and the home made Alva shirt was drawn. “Do we have any gasoline?” Arto Saari sets up his camera, Olson starts some toilet paper on fire and the coping erupts in flames. Montana’s finest skateboard collection almost goes up with it. When we get home, Swifty from the Skateboard Mag saw the photograph and wanted to run it. I asked Arto if we could shoot it again at the Ridiculous pool and try to set it up a bit closer to the original Wynn Miller image.
Arto is down for anything and Ozzie loves memory lane. Thirty- something years later, Tony’s air is still so much better, but the idea is really to thank him and show him how much of what he did and still does affects us all. What do they say? Imitation is the highest form of robbery?” – Lance Mountain
Thank you to Lance Mountain for taking the time to do this. Thank you to Arto Saari for the images and thank you Tony Alva for inspiring a whole bunch of us. Skate- Ozzie