Few tricks evoke as much dread as the fabled darkslide. Sliding on obstacles griptape down is an idea from the other side of reality… the darker side. They look like a mistake, like something that was invented on accident — a kickflip boardslide gone wrong. But I assure you, the invention of the darkslide was no accident.
The darkslide is a trick that only a mad genius like Rodney Mullen could have come up with, but you don’t have to be mad to do one. They are an oddity, a riddle, and some might say… an abomination. But they’re not the most difficult trick in the bag. They’re just perplexing.
To decode darkslides, look at them in three distinct parts. You can learn each part on its own, or you can just go for it. Remember, though, the darkslide is not to be trifled with. It can snap a board or an ankle like a twig.
How to Darkslide
Regardless of the variation, darkslides always start with a half kickflip. This move is necessary to get the board griptape side down. Step two, landing on the now-upside-down board, is a trick in itself, and sliding is an art. But the true wizardry in the darkslide lies in the dismount. The return trip from the upside-down world is fraught with peril. Many enter, but few escape unscathed.
Before even trying to tame the darkslide, there are a few things you have to get down first. This is big-league, and it isn’t for the uninitiated. You should be able to roll and balance, of course, and you must also have ollies down pat. It also pays to have kickflips and pressure flips down, though you’ll only be flipping the board half way.
The wises skater starts with a simple boardslide on a curb or ledge, but whatever trick you’re attempting to darkslide, learn its light-side version first. Be certain you can boardslide and come out fakie. The steps of preparation for a darkslide may be many, but they are written in blood.
Assume the kickflip position: Situate your front foot halfway between the front truck bolts and the middle of the board. Angle it slightly so the toes point a bit forward. Place the back foot on squarely in the middle of the tail. When you pop, be sure it is strong and true. The clap of the maple must strike fear in the hearts of the damned.�
Make Your Approach
Approach the obstacle backside at a 30- to 45-degree angle. Check your fear before you get to the point of no return. If you’re not 100 percent in the moment, scrap the run and start over. Better to turn tail and run than to face the demon distracted. You must commit.
Snap off the ollie when you’re about a deck’s length from the obstacle. Kickflip the board, but do it more gently than you would for a full kickflip. The jump must be higher than a normal kickflip as well. You don’t catch a darkslide; you just land on the board and pray.
Mounting the Ledge
Fear has no place here. The board must half-flip onto the obstacle, and its tail must be positioned so that it hangs off the edge. This will create a fulcrum which you’ll use later to make your escape. You’ll need this fulcrum to create leverage, so if the board isn’t situated properly, abort the run.
It is crucial that you land with your feet in the proper place on the bottom of the board. The back foot should be on the tail, behind the back truck. Your front foot position is more a matter of preference. The most common landing place is on the nose, just ahead of the front truck. This position forces the feet to be uncomfortably far apart, though.
Some skaters find it more comfortable to place the front foot directly behind the front truck, practically right up against it. The choice is yours, but make it carefully. The placement of that foot will have a direct effect on how you escape from the darkslide.
Ride the Darkslide
Landing on the board upside down is sketchy enough, but forcing a slide is truly perilous. The demon laughs hysterically at our feeble attempts to conquer the darkslide, and it revels in our spilling of blood. You can hear its cackles as the griptape scratches across the obstacle.
That crunching sound is friction, and it is the enemy. No matter how waxed the curb, the grit on griptape wants to dig in and halt the slide. To fight it, you must lean back enough to force the issue. Not too much, though. The line between stopping and slipping out is a fine one, but that is where we must ride.
Escaping the Darkslide
When you’ve had enough, and just before the demon calls your bluff, it’s time to make your escape. Do not get greedy. If you’ve made it this far, he may not have noticed you trespassing. Trying to eke out an extra couple inches of slide may alert him to your presence. Get out while you still can.
Now listen carefully, because escaping the darkslide is one of the hairiest things you’ll ever do. To flip the board back over, push down on the edge of the tail with the toes of your back foot. If everything is positioned precisely, pressing down will allow the board to teeter on the edge of the obstacle.
The front foot does nothing; just lift it out of the way. If you’ve put in the work and learned to scoop pressure flips, that is the motion you need here. Do a gentle half-pressure flip, and only force the board to turn the 90 degrees that it must to get in line with your direction of travel. If your front foot was on the nose, this move will be simpler. If you took the beaten path and put it behind the front truck, you’ll have to work harder to get it out of the way. If it catches on the truck, the demon catches you.
Let the board flip over and spin beneath your feet, and turn your body in the opposite direction to land fakie. It is critical that you cease leaning back and redirect your weight to be directly over the board before you land. If you’ve done everything well, and if your heart is true, you will roll away triumphant, having conquered the darkslide.
Eulogize the Vanquished
If you made it to the darkslide and lived to tell about it, count your blessings. Do not allow overconfidence to be your undoing. Very few ever master the darkslide. Those that do bear the scars, on deck and flesh, that read like a book written in blood.
The darkslide is a hallucination conceived in a madman’s fever dream. It reveals itself only briefly and is rarely glimpsed by mere mortals. Some say this universe and his crazed mind are one, and that we exist only in that dream. When the madman awakens, we’ll all be gone. Poof. The end.