“I mean there was times when we were out there, making this video,” Guy Mariano says in the beginning of The Final Flare, “that it was more than just Lakai, it was more than just selling shoes, it was just a part of something so much bigger than that.”
The same could be said for Guy’s jump from the flare to the swoosh that happened only a few days ago. Normally, another skater added to Nike’s payroll doesn’t feel much like news, but this feels like a move made in a room where it’s so quiet you can hear a pin drop, but that pin is an anvil. Guy has been on Lakai and Girl since he came back into skating in 2005, so the nature of this news is as momentous. How quickly time flies: just ten years ago, Guy was filming for Fully Flared, but is now on Nike.
Crailtap has taken a huge hit for their image with Guy’s departure. In both of Crailtap’s major releases, Guy was a serious contender for closing out both videos, as well as being a major force for winning Thrasher’s SOTY. Losing Guy is significant for Crailtap because it is just as significant for us skateboarders as a collective. Known as an internal industry myth, word has been spreading to outside companies to never approach Crailtap riders because there was no use in buying them out. It appears that myth has now backfired to be just the opposite, as riders not only continue to jump ship from Crailtap, but these jumps are made by more of the staple figures of these companies.
When you think about all of skateboarding’s most beloved pros, such as Gonz, Koston, Arto, BA, PJ Ladd, Lance Mountain, and now Guy, and their involvement with companies outside of skating, those names become investments for those companies for the long haul. All of these names are all on the older-side, so who knows how long they will continue to be involved in skating, but they all help cement giant corporations’ presence in skating. These companies have been known to water-down and make a skateshop struggle to achieve success and although Guy can hopefully provide a voice of change for Nike, chances are he is seen as nothing more than an investment. But who could blame Nike? Guy has the rare quality of being well-known amongst several generations of skaters while constantly producing a gratuitous amount of high-caliber footage. How many times have we read articles or interviews of the new kids coming onto these larger board companies and how they will eventually leave to make companies of their own? Yet, BA left Girl to start his own company, which (though we hope not) apparently may already be a thing of the past, and now Koston and Guy may end up making their own brand. One thing is certain: the reign of Crailtap is hitting a decline.
As stated before, pros are an investment for companies that may or may not help that company grow. These “investments” are what make any company worth noting a force to reckon with: éS in the mid-2000’s parallels to the modern day Patriots of the NFL. You have a member of that team who was the best in their discipline (PJ on ledges, Bob skating vert, Tom Penny as the enigma we love today), but does that entitle us to respond aggressively to a skater joining a brand by parting ways with another as Patriots fans did regarding “Deflategate?” The question falls back on what will change resulting from such a move, and with this subject, a lot will change if those changes aren’t yet underway. Guy will end up filming a part for Nike in one of their upcoming SB Chronicles series, that much is definite. Instead of seeing Guy on the Crail Couch or doing a Mini Top 5, we will see him in Nike features, which lack the light-hearted identity that the Tap is known for. All of these differences are for a more generous check for Guy, which enables him to pursue skating. If skating is what we love Guy Mariano for, then why isn’t everyone happy for him? Are we obliged to continue to love Guy for his skating even if he left his long-time supporters for a pay raise?
This circumstance has skaters so divided that there have been many different kinds of comments regarding Guy’s decision. Some say that Guy doesn’t deserve to be a Skater of the Year contender for his switch, others find it to be disloyal to Mike and Rick’s support for him, and more say that it is good for Guy to take the money while he can. We may all be skateboarders, but that doesn’t negate the personal histories and backgrounds of each commenter. The numbers may not be even, but of course the skaters who have followed Guy since Blind’s release of Video Days have a differing opinion than those who have gotten into skating only just prior to the release of Girl/Chocolate’s Pretty Sweet. The former saw how a helping hand can change the life of someone, while the latter sees one of the greats and wonders why he’s not a part of probably the most powerful company in skating. Even in saying this, some of the voices of these groups of skaters differ amongst that group. As an individual, a skater can be upset that something happened, like Guy’s new mix of sponsors, but rare is the moment when all skaters can share a unanimous voice about an event like this.
What further complicates this situation is Guy’s well-known history. A story like Guy’s gets mentioned in so many of his features because it’s a huge reason why people follow him. Then again, it all depends on when you got into skating – if you weren’t even born when Girl’s Mouse was released, the reason someone may not fully comprehend it may be because they weren’t even skating to the caliber in which Guy shook the world with his switch skating. However, the resources to investigate a skater’s career exist and are available for anyone who is interested. For someone who wants to know what some of the earliest footage of no complies looks like, they can find Ray Barbee’s part in Ban This. A skater who has followed a pro for an extensive period of time cannot shed the path that led to that pro’s current position.
Sure, with every pro comes a story, but we follow and root for them because we hope that they continue to add to that story. The question is, what does the move to Nike add to Guy’s story, or better yet, what does it take away?
Written by: Jeffrey Adams Martin
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