Photos by Phil Young
We’ve joined forces with Nikon, who’ve just released the brand new KeyMission 360 Degree action camera, to create a series which focusses on the missions that drive those at the cutting edge of action sports. As one of the first vert skaters, Steve Alba’s influence on the sport can hardly be overstated. But as he explains here, his true passion remains pool skating – the original, purest form of vert riding.
“They say skateboarding is not a crime, but I would say skateboarding is a crime if you’re doing it right.” Steve Alba might be 54 this year, but the legendary vert skater and punk rocker is showing no signs of mellowing with age. “If you’re doing it right then you’re trespassing,” he explains, “and you can get in a lot of trouble for pool skating”.
As the earliest form of vertical (or ‘vert’) skateboarding, riding empty swimming pools was the precursor to today’s X Games vert and megaramp contests. But while these are now big money disciplines, attracting corporate sponsorship and TV coverage, vert skating in its original form is more likely to attract the unwanted attention of the police. Sometimes, Alba says, “they [just] want to throw the book at you”.
“I fell to the bottom onto my head. I was completely KO’d, blood everywhere. There was so much blood it was just pooling around me. I had 98 stitches.”
Yet over the 40-odd years he’s been at it, neither the numerous run-ins with law enforcement nor the multiple injuries he’s suffered have stopped Steve Alba from skating swimming pools. To understand why he keeps throwing himself in at the deep end, and how finding and skating pools became his life’s mission, you have to wind back the clock to arguably the most important era in skateboarding’s history.