Skateboarding has, over its short lifespan, produced many legendary moments and, in turn, affixed these moments as badges of honour to individual participants of this great pastime. Sometimes it's the interpretation of a piece of street architecture that creates an iconic spot or a person embodying the spirit we all collectively aim to achieve that merits this glorification. This story, told firsthand to Mackenzie Eisenhour of Transword Skateboard Magazine, contains both examples of both...
We're all familiar with the phrase "All hail Cardiel" and it's easy to see why; run over by a trailer whilst touring Australia in 2004, an injury that would have permanently paralysed most, John not only fought back to fitness but returned to skateboarding, his infectious positivity seemingly carrying him through and always by his side. His attitude in the face of adversity is an example to us all and numerous people have used his spirit to guide them when facing battles of their own. But to assume the respect we hold stems purely from one tragic accident does a disservice to the man who pretty much changed skateboarding completely; a man that is still likely your favourite skateboarder's favourite skateboarder to this day.
Nor Cal born and Thrasher SOTY at age 19, Cardiel's full throttle style broke constant ground over the course of 15 years, culminating in the seminal Sight Unseen part that still sends shivers down spines. Back when Cards won his award in '92 street skating, though still in its relative infancy, was progressing daily and the participants of this era shaped the very core of what we do today. LA born Mark Gonzales led the charge and no spot was as infamous as his eponymously titled gap at SF's Embarcadero plaza. John, forever inspired by the Gonz and his attitude for thinking outside the box, took Mark's idea and completely turned it on its head, as this story tells.
We revere these spots and relive these moments because people like Mark and people like John blazed a path, showing us what was truly possible when we put our minds to it. This is definitely a story worth retelling as it encapsulates all that we still strive for today, 26 years later. You really can't argue with prestige like that.
All hail Cardiel!