Senior Editor

The Inertia

A long, long time ago, Zoltan Torkos started doing kickflips on a surfboard. You probably remember it, because he was basically the only one. It was 2011, and four years prior, Volcom started a contest that would award $10,000 to the first person to do one. The second rule stated that the contest “will run until there’s a winner.” The third was this:

The kickflip must be a real air “above the lip” – No backwash, No chop hops, or anything in the flats or below the lip of the wave.

Zoltan Torkos, also known as the Magician (for his hat, card tricks, and of course, surf tricks), submitted this video on March 4th, 2011:

Without reading the rules, it looked to be a clear win. Zoltan completed a kickflip–but it was definitely not above the lip. Volcom announced that they wouldn’t pony up, and soon faced the wrath of surfing’s most vile place: the internet. Some people loved it. Some people hated it. After a few days of condemnation, Volcom changed their minds, padded the Magician’s bank account, and upped the ante. Now the award was up to $20,000. I spoke with him four days later, and he was excited, to say the least.


Zoltan, who has a pretty heavy story behind his reasons for his steadfast dedication to the kickflip, kept at it. And he’s kept at it for years. Here’s the story behind it, straight from Zoli. In 2015, during an interview with Juice Magazine, he explained.

“Prior to 2011, I was surfing with my good friend, Carl Reimer and he told me, joking around, You need to pull that trick and do the kickflip and do it all the time.’ I was like, ‘Oh, whatever. I don’t even care.’ Then he left my house and got shot to death and that was the last thing he ever told me. After that, I was really determined to do it. I didn’t care if I broke myself. I broke like 50 boards on my face. I’m chewed up right now and I have ten stitches in my arm and I’ve been stabbed in the eye by my surfboard and I couldn’t see for like three days. I wanted to make it my goal to make it like, ‘Hey, this is the Reimer kickflip.’ I wanted to help kids to pull tricks, not triggers, you know?”

Now, six years after he landed the kickflip that won him $10,000 and ten years after the contest started, he’s just completed one to (most of) Volcom’s specifications. It is undoubtedly off the lip. It’s not a chop hop. And, like Volcom said, the contest will continue until someone wins it.

There are, however, a few small issues. First, and perhaps more importantly, Zoltan says that Volcom told him that the contest was over. “Volcom called me and said I didn’t come enough off the lip or something weird like that and then they told me that they ended the contest,” he said in the same interview with Juice. “I was determined, though, so I kept sending them in. They sent me three emails back saying, ‘Zoltan, we told you the contest is over.’ I’m like, ‘Well, you’ve got to tell everyone.’ They never really told anyone, so I just kept sending them clips of my kickflips, and I’m still sending them in. They said that I was the only one to enter the contest for two years, so they ended the contest because of me.”

Second, and perhaps of less importance, involves the very first rule, which states, “Your entry must be on video from the start of the trick through the ride out.” Watch the video at the top carefully. Tell me that he didn’t fall at the end. I will not believe you.


Either way, Zoltan’s dedication to the kickflip is unequaled, and whether he fell at the end or not doesn’t really matter–especially if the contest is over. What matters is that he is one determined surfer. And to everyone watching, Zoltan Torkos is the first and only guy to REALLY do a kickflip, even if it’s because no one else is really trying.


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