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According to the skateboarding historians at CCS, it was exactly 40 years ago today, on June 27th, 1982, at the Rusty Harris Pro-Am Series at Whittier Skatepark, that Rodney Mullen executed the first documented flatground ollie.

Rodney Mullen Thrasher

While the frontside no-handed air may have been invented and named after Alan "Ollie" Gelfand in 1976 (and shout out to Jeff Tatum who did 'em backside around the same time), it was Rodney's execution of the "ollie pop" in 1982 that revolutionized what would become street skating. This is the foundation of the house that Rodney built; the house we all skate in today.

Ollie Pop Trick Tip

From Rodney's autobiography, The Mutt: How to Skateboard and Not Kill Yourself:

"In 1982, I went to California for the first of three summer contests, The Rusty Harris contest in Whittier. I opened my run with a new trick I had learned, the flatground ollie.

Alan Gelfend, another Floridian who skated ramps and bowls, had invented the first no-handed aerial in skateboarding’s history back in 1977. It’s impossible to overstate the importance of this trick, which was named after Alan's nickname, “Ollie.” To be able to make your board do an air using only your feet was mind-blowing at the time, and skating might easily have petered out due to lack of progress if nobody had invented this trick. (This is the same trick that allowed Tony Hawk to get higher airs by grabbing later.)

I always liked the way the trick looked, and was impressed by the unique thinking behind it. On ramps you could scoop your tail and keep your momentum. You still had to guide the board 180 degrees with just your feet, but I began dissecting the trick, taking it from a vertical plane to a horizontal plane. The trick didn’t translate well, because the scooping mechanics of it totally fell apart when you had to go straight up from a flat surface. But I noticed that Alan drilled his rear trucks back so that he could hit the tail of his board quicker. Freestyle boards were so much smaller and lighter and the tail and wheelbase shorter, so that my tail already hit the ground fast.

Years earlier, I had invented a set-up trick that could get me into position on the nose of my board. I popped my board into the air and drove the front down so that I landed with the nose resting on the ground and my body leaning forward. That solved my scooping problem, because I realized that I could already pop my board up, but it was such a severe see-saw motion that I wasn’t sure how to level it out at the top of the pop and land on all four wheels.

One Sunday afternoon, after trying different techniques, I just backed my front foot towards the tail, hit the tail harder, and dragged my front foot up the board to lift it higher and slowed down the seesaw motion of the trick, so that by the time I was descending, it was level. The seesaw motion was the essence of the trick.

It was easy. Once I had the foot placement figured out, I practiced doing the trick higher and higher. In less than an hour I could pop a foot off the ground." 

Rodney Mullen Ollie 1982

Rodney's ollie would go on to appear on the cover of Thrasher in October 1982 (photo by Mofo), and then as a "Stationary Ollie Pop" trick tip sequence in December 1982. He won the Rusty Harris series that year.

40 years and, like, hundreds of invented tricks later (you know, obscure tricks like the kickflip, 360 flip, and the impossible) and Rodney Mullen is still pro. Check out the selection of his Almost Skateboards brand on CCS right now.

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Huge thanks to The Godfather for all his contributions. Now go out and crack an ollie pop of your own.

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