Writer, Surfer
Zoltan Torkos lands possibly a $20K kickflip. Possibly.

Zoltan Torkos lands possibly a $20K kickflip. Possibly.

The Inertia

When I read on The Inertia this morning that “Zoltan Torkos lands potential $20k kickflip,” I was a little bit sick in my mouth. I honestly thought I had seen the last of Zoltan and his flapping around the flats. Now don’t get me wrong – this is not an attack on Mr. Torkos as such – he’s just a victim of Volcom’s shortsighted decision to endorse this anti-surfing behavior. But he really is a victim.

I am all for progress and pushing the boundaries – it is the very essence of evolution and what makes us as a species so fascinating – but evolution cannot be unnaturally forced by the evolvees (I just made that word up). There comes a time when someone needs to stick their head above the parapet and just say: “STOP.” Change for the sake of change is not progression. I could duct tape a banana to a cat’s face but it wouldn’t make it work better as a cat. Or as a banana, for that matter. Volcom, please just stop. Surfing does not need the kickflip. It belongs to a different landscape.

Volcom’s attempt to force the kickflip into contemporary surfing vernacular is as ill-conceived a notion as the introduction of the rabbit to Australia. At first, it’s a bit of a novelty; they’re vaguely interesting to observe and a bit funny despite being obviously dumb and useless. Then you start to see them more often and they get a bit annoying. And then even more often and even more annoying. Then all of a sudden, they’re everywhere. They get in the way and the vast swathes of young ones are especially problematic. These youngsters have appeared so rapidly that they can’t control themselves, and before you know it they are causing serious ecological damage to the very foundations of our landscape. In the end, they are infected with a disease which makes them bloody ugly to look at but unfortunately doesn’t quite get rid of them. But they definitely need to go.

Now I’m not suggesting that we should shoot or poison anyone polluting the visage at your local beach with thousands of hideous kickflip attempts (though I don’t think hunting them with ferrets is entirely out of the question). But I do think that collectively, as surfers, we have a responsibility to try and discourage this sort of throwaway-trick behavior – particularly with regards to the kickflip.

Call me old-fashioned, but I still believe that the fundamentals of surfing are speed, power, and flow. The kickflip and overly-technical maneuvers like it contribute to none of these aspects. I get thoroughly hacked off with the term “progressive surfing.” How exactly can a maneuver be defined as “progressive” if it actually impedes progress on the wave?

If you need any consolidation of the pitfalls of “progressive” surfing (and you don’t object to feeling like your eyes are bleeding for three minutes) then I implore you to YouTube “Zoltan Torkos” and then try and explain to me why Volcom encouraged him by giving him $10k in the first place and are actually considering giving him another $20k!? I will gladly condemn myself to a lifetime of debt repayment to match that fee if the self-titled “Magician” makes himself disappear. (Did I say this wasn’t an attack on Mr. Torkos? Sorry.)

In Zoltan The Magician’s entry to Innersection, he succinctly defines everything that is truly awful about the public perception of “progressive surfing.” I should actually thank him for highlighting my point so well. In his three-minute abortion of a clip, he attempts all manner of skate-inspired tricks in 2-3 foot surf whilst traveling (it would be a misnomer to call it surfing) nowhere near the critical part of the wave and with barely enough speed to make a bottom turn. He actually manages to make surfing look geeky – I’ve never seen anyone do that before.

Change for the sake of change is rarely positive. Surfing is not snowboarding, nor skateboarding, nor anything else. It is surfing. Have a word with yourself, Volcom, and give yourselves a firm slap on the wrist. Then, before he does any more damage, please take Mr. Torkos down to the clearing by the riverbank and tell him once again about the rabbits.


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