THE BACKSTORY // 11.1


Will Filion, Gap to Backside 50-50.

Words and photo by James Morley

We were midway through a weeklong trip to Puerto Rico (if you look closely you will see that Will is wearing a Puerto Rico Soccer All-Stars shirt he had purchased only hours earlier) and much of our day prior to shooting this photo had been spent avoiding rain rather than skating. Assuming that we would need to wait until sunnier conditions returned before filming or shooting photos, we had settled into our nightly routine of drinking on our apartment’s roof before meandering over to the local plaza where we would hang out, skate flat, and shoot the shit with another group of Canadians whose trip overlapped with ours. The plaza had a few ledges and low-impact obstacles throughout it, but the gap-to-curb was something that Will had pointed out and expressed interest in trying since our first night. The long gap to the ledge, intrusive tree branches, and unique challenges involved with grinding a ledge lower than the run-up all combined to make it a difficult spot to skate, and we knew it would take some serious precision and commitment to land the trick and walk away unscathed. I was intrigued the moment Will talked about skating it, and I already had the photo planned in my head.

 I was well into my beers-on-hand when we arrived at the plaza that evening, and I had moved on to the newly discovered Gasolina beverage—a self-proclaimed “party in a pouch” whose alcoholic-swamp-water had fueled much of my evening activity. I truly did not think we would be shooting anything until the next day, so I wasn’t so concerned that my coordination wasn’t optimal. That all changed the second that Will skated up to me to say that he was ready to try the gap to grind. I was shocked, and immediately thought, “Can I actuallyshoot this photo right now?” 

I skated back to our apartment as quickly as I could to get my camera bag, desperately trying to sober up and worrying the whole time that I was about to totally blow it. I knew that Will didn’t want to wait a long time before getting the trick, so I was rushing to make sure I was ready before his stoke faded away. Once I made it back and got ready, he tossed a few Ollies beside the curb to make sure he would get the distance right. Then, on the first try he committed to, he bashed both trucks into the ledge, muscling through the Gap-to-50-50 and rolling away into the night. 

My heart sank for just a second before looking at the camera screen and realizing everything had worked out exactly the way I wanted. We had somehow managed to get away with shooting the drunkest photo I’ve ever shot in only one try. I put away the camera and Will took few additional tries to shoot a fisheye video clip before the squad’s excitement and celebration propelled us through the rest of the evening’s antics. 

Thank you for trusting me on this one, Will! I’m so stoked that I didn’t let you down!

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