Wild and Crazy

By Lou Earle – June 4, 2012

I am at great risk of exposing my age in this month’s publisher’s letter, since I want to take you back to 1965, when I was a young and foolish lad. That year, there was a wonderful short movie that was produced called “Skaterdater.” According to Wikipedia, it was “the winner of the Palme d’Or for Best Short Film at the 1966 Cannes Film Festival.” It was also nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Short Subject category.

The film tells the tale of a group of teenagers who are bonded together as skateboarding buddies until one day, one of the boys meets a young girl and his enchantment creates a rift in the group. As a result of this dalliance, one of the boys challenges our starry-eyed hero to a skating dual down a very hilly street. Our hero loses the duel but wins the girl. Soon after, the skateboarders are spied by a few more young ladies and the rest is history, as they say. The entire film is dialogue-free, with just surfer background music playing, and comes and goes in just over 17 minutes. Wonderful stuff!

I appreciated this movie in the same way I did “Stand By Me,” another classic with great meaning for me, which came out years later in 1986. They both left an impression on me and I have reminisced about them often.

A few years after “Skaterdater” was released, I found myself happily ensconced at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, a city with many wonderful smooth and hilly streets. A good fraternity buddy with flowing blonde hair from (where else?) California just happened to be an outstanding surfer and skateboarder. With his surfer grin and positive encouragement, a whole group of my frat brothers formed up every night at about 2 a.m., when the traffic was scarce, and kicked off down Walnut Street to 36th and Spruce for the long run down to the Palestra. It was a trip indeed.

My musings of the past really do have something to do with this month’s terrific issue because innovation, fun, and sport are all a part of fitness and this month’s feature on Wakeboarding is all of that. It is not just that surfing, skateboarding, and wakeboarding all are inextricably linked, but each of these fabulous sports was born from a common stream of creativity. Further, a good deal of the innovation that built the sport of wakeboarding actually came from our fair city of Austin and that legacy is continued with some of the best world-class wakeboard competitors on the globe living among us mortals.

Wakeboarding, like most sports, requires a fair degree of fitness and to do it well, one must be an extreme athlete. Balance, gymnastic abilities, strength, and a high degree of endurance are just the entry fee for competitive wakeboarding. But there is also grace and artistry to this sport as the complex routines and exotic maneuvers are invented and executed.
Whether behind a boat or a cable, it seems like a truly wild and crazy sport but, wow, is it a lot of fun!

Keep Austin Fit,



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