Sunday, May 18, 2003

Extreme sports put new spin
on English language



By Ryan Ernst
The Cincinnati Enquirer

You know the guy. He's the ESPN2 version of George Plimpton, spouting off little-known vernacular and making you feel stupid and terribly unhip.

He is the extreme sports announcer. And he's coming to town this week when the Mobile Skatepark Series rolls into Sawyer Point on Friday.

"It's gonna be sick. Guys are gonna be carvin' it up. Dropping in and doing some ill fakies and fishbrains during all the sessions. There'll even be some grommets biffin' tryin' McTwists and backside airs. It's gonna be off the hizee."

Huh?

It's like Pauly Shore. You don't so much care what the guy has to say, but you'd like to at least understand it before dismissing it.

So here comes Top of the Second to the rescue. No matter what side of the fence ... uh ... rail you stand on when it comes to skatepark culture, we're here to teach you the lingo of that extreme sports human dictionary of hip.

OK, first things first. Throw out all conventional wisdom. It will do you no good here. For instance, the center photo - as we have been told - is a "sick mute into transition." Now, where most of us come from, a sick mute sounds about as sad as anything imaginable.

"Look, a sick mute."

"Awwww. He can't talk, but I can tell he doesn't feel good. We should help him."

No. No. No. In skatepark lingo, it's a good thing. A mute is an inline skating trick during which the skater grabs his bottom skate with his top hand and pulls both legs up into his body. The word "sick" is an adjective that is used similarly to the word awesome. "Transition" refers to the curved or sloping terrain between flat (0 degrees) and vertical (90 degrees).

Next, in the top left photo, we have either an abubaca or a fufanu. Now, you may be offended that the Enquirer would even print such filthy words. Relax. Apparently, they are BMX tricks. But we can't tell exactly what the trick is, because we don't know if the rider is going to go back down the ramp "fakie," meaning backward, or spin the bike around and go down forward. If he opts for fakie, the trick is considered an abubaca.

The lower photo shows a skater "going big on the vert ramp and sticking a varial before re-entry." Ah, yes. That. Now, "that" means the skateboarder is getting a lot of "air" while riding a halfpipe ramp. While in the air and out of the halfpipe, he spins the board from backward to forward beneath his feet.

So there they are: the three elements of the Mobile Skatepark Series - skateboarding, BMX and inline skating - along with a few hints on the terminology.

Will it make the extreme announcer any less irritating? Probably not. Less confusing? Maybe a little.

E-mail rernst@enquirer.com




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