As is so often true in the world of sports, great feats — from dunking basketballs to hitting homers to jumping skateboards — are normalized by repetition. The more we watch athletes accomplish stunning things, the more commonplace their triumphs become until we just expect greatness.
Sure, every once in a while some truly out of the ordinary permutation will force us to take a step back and remember why seeing these (and so many other) physical spectacles first awed us but, mostly, we’re conditioned to respond by thinking “Okay, that’s cool. Next.”
This should not be. We should never become desensitized to the fantastic, especially not in the world of skateboarding. The more we researched, the more we remembered just how special it is to watch boarders take flight.
In recognition of that feeling and to remind us never to take excellence for granted, here are five of the greatest skateboard jumps in history.
Pro skater Jeremy Wray pulls one of the most unforgettable stunts of all time jumping the gap between two skyscraping water towers. The move was so gnarly that it appeared on the cover of the venerable Thrasher magazine.
In an article he did with Jenkem magazine last year, Wray admits that he’s had fewer and fewer endorsement deals and requests for taped stunts over the last few years. We’re scratching our heads trying to figure out why. This guy is one of the best of his generation, and this jump is one of the most impressive (and bone-chilling) of our time.
Great Wall Of China Jump
To most, the Great Wall of China is a landmark: a marvel of construction and tourist attraction recognized the world over. For all-star boarder Danny Way, however, it’s just another obstacle. In 2005, Way traveled to Beijing to undertake the Great Wall of China jump — what many consider to be the most challenging of his shining career.
Planning to coast off a 120-foot-high mega ramp custom built for the 70-foot-wide over-wall gap, Way came to realize the gravity of his task the hard way, taking several nasty spills (things get hairy at the 2:00 mark) before finally achieving the unthinkable. Check out from 2:45 on and you’ll realize why Way’s the ultimate Adventurer.
Grand Canyon Jump
Simply landing a skateboard jump wasn’t enough for Brazilian great Bob Burnquist. He had no interest in coming down using the same hardware he had taking off. In the perfect example of a do-not-ever-try-this stunt, Burnquist had a team of builders construct a mega ramp with a grind rail at the end.
He then asked them to push said ramp up to the edge of a Grand Canyon gorge so he could BASE jump off off the end of the grind rail and let his board fall into a rocky abyss. You need to watch the video to find out what happens next because no words can adequately describe the risk Burnquist took. It looked like he wasn’t going to make it.
Longest Gap Jump
And we’re back to Danny Way. One year before jumping the Great Wall, Way was in Los Angeles setting the Guinness World Record for the longest skateboard ramp jump performed by a professional skateboarder.
On a Mega Ramp at X Games X, Way made it safely across a 79-foot gap. Maybe that’s how he knew he could handle the Great Wall’s 70-feet. Oh, and he also did a 360 while airborne. Just because jumping almost a third of a football field on a skateboard isn’t intense enough.
Up until now, most of what we’ve seen has been ramp related (with the exception of Jeremy Wray’s roof jump, but the dude had some serious momentum there). Ollies are a whole different ball game.
Though they’re often one of the first tricks new boarders stumble through, real deal ollying is one of the hardest, most technically demanding skills to master, because it requires practitioners to jump from a totally flat surface, grabbing air with little to no help from physics.
That’s why Aldrin Garcia’s 2011 Guinness World Record-setting 45-inch ollie is so awesome. It’s the least deadly jump on our list, but it may well be the most impressive.