VIDEO VAULT: BEN PAPPAS

Ben Pappas’s part from the seldom seen ‘Children of the Sun’ is definitely a slept on gem. In just under a minute Ben proved that in 1994 he was at the forefront of the vertical game. The majority of the part was filmed at the Prahran Vert Ramp where Ben had already been honing skillage for years. In true Pappas fashion he skates super fast and to the sounds of Pantera’s ‘Mouth for War’. At this point Ben and his brother Tas had already gone to the States and turned some very influential heads. After a short stint on Prime (alongside Al Boglio), Ben had found a home on New Deal. For those who are unfamiliar with New Deal, it was one of the strongest companies of the 90’s and was home to influential peeps like Ed Templeton, Danny Sergeant, Mike Vallely, John Montesi and Ron Knigge. Da Deal was probably the biggest during the small wheels pressure flippetty era of the early 90’s, as shown in videos such as ‘Useless Wooden Toys’ and ‘1281’. ‘Children of the Sun’ was a bit later on when New Deal had lost some its big names, but it was still a well-respected brand and it was still going to be around for almost another decade.

At this time vert skating was indeed very small, and marginalized, but for those who were left committing to the deserted ramps there was a shakedown from within. There was an entrance of a new found era of technical vert. Aside from finger flips in the early 80’s it wasn’t often you would see a vert skater flip their board. That is until Danny (Way) came along. Danny had introduced the kickflip indy in the late eighties and this kick started a plethora of flippery on ramps around the world. Two of the early flip pioneers were definitely Ben and Tas Pappas. Ben’s mastery can be seen throughout this part in the form of the kick, heel and nollie heel varieties. One of the Pappas trademarks was linking up three to four tricks back to back that could stand as singles in any video part. Another was the backside revert: you name the trick and Ben could do it to backside revert. There is a line in this part where all these trademark skills converge: he does a backside air, into a massive mute, into a face high kickflip indy which he takes straight into a varial backside revert: gnarly.

This part is choccas full of gold; here is a brief look at some of the most pivotal moments within:

1. Alley oop backside ollie revert
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Holy smoke as if backside ollie revert on a vert ramp isn’t hard enough? Ben decides to alley oop this one. What a crazy looking trick. I’ll take that over a 1080 any day. (click image to view bigger).

2. Backside kickflip
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To flip your board on vert (so I have been told) you have to do it kind of late, not as you ollie but as you leave the transition. Looking quite closely at this one and this as close to a street kickflip as you will ever see on a vert ramp.

3. Switch ollie
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Admittedly Danny and Colin had melted minds with their switch prowess a couple of years earlier in the first seminal Plan B production (‘Questionable‘), but 1994 was still really early for switching stance on the half pipes. This wrong–footed ollie to fakie is perfection at its finest.

4. Drifted kickflip to fakie
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Ben must have seen Ryan Denereaz do one of these down at the old Prahran dish and gone back to the ramp and learnt them no worries. This is a bank trick, not really a vert trick, but it seems Ben thought otherwise.

5. Nollie heel indy
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Such a quick snap, flip, extention and catch on this. To say that it is textbook would be a total understatement. Real pity what some of the more frumpy vert skaters have done to this trick when it can clearly be done quite brilliantly.

Before we end this here is a lil’ grab of a backside ollie. Ben once had a full-page photo doing this trick perfectly on this ramp at the age of eight. He is easily one of the top three backside olliers of all time.

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RIP BEN PAPPAS 1977 – 2007

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