The Flamingo is one of those tricks which looks fairly simple until you try it. I used to watch Stefan “Lillis” Åkesson glide around on one foot and think “that can’t be that hard?”
I rapidly found out I was wrong – and understood why so few people were doing it back then. Of course, now it’s had somewhat of a resurgence, with folks like Mike Osterman and Josh Dunstone making this a regular part of their trick selection.
Good foot placement, balance and confidence are key to making this one work. Well, that and repetition. Stick with it – there are few feelings more oddly satisfying than gliding around on one foot.
This is the foot placement you want. The Flamingo is very picky about where the front foot goes – you need to have your weight over the front toeside wheel, and this foot position enables that.
This is the foot placement you really want to avoid. A straight foot like this will mean you won’t be able to carve effectively and is more likely to lift the back wheels – which is where it all goes wrong.
I start the trick by carving frontside slightly, twisting my body in the opposite direction. I have to pre-wind to create the energy needed for the 180 powerslide which begins the trick.
As I unwind, you can see I’m already leaning forwards. My weight is all focused into the ball of the front foot so the back wheels can break loose from the surface.
As I lift the back foot off, ready to whip into the 180, my body has continued rotating past the board. My shoulders should face the nose throughout the trick.
Now the trick really begins. I’m bending at the waist, the back foot is off the board, and my shoulders are leading my body – and the board – through a 180º slide.
If you hadn’t seen this trick before you’d think I was mid-push here, travelling forwards. The back wheels are skidding across the surface as I hold my front leg rigid.
This angle is really important – first, notice how far off the deck my hips are. I’m not centered – I’m off the toeside edge of the board to facilitate the carve. Second, look at the calf muscle in my front leg. I’m about to stop the slide dead by tensing that leg up, holding it in place.
The slide is coming to an end now, and that front leg is locked. I’ve also stopped my torso rotating, allowing the board to stop drifting round. Now I transfer completely to the carve.
Here the carve’s begun in earnest. This is what separates a good flamingo from a bad one. Mine aren’t as dramatic as, say, Kevin Harris’ ones, but I try to make sure I can get a good, long, carve.
My weight is still over the front toeside wheel, and I balance in this position by holding my arms out in front of me, and sticking my back leg out. Really stylish skaters have their torso near horizontal at this point.
Having gone through a sufficiently wide enough arc, I’m finally running out of speed and am looping back the way I came. At this point I can start to stand up straight, bringing my back foot back towards the board.
The back foot makes contact somewhere near the kicktail, but I don’t want to straighten up entirely yet – I should still be carving slightly at this point to make the end of the flamingo as fluid as possible.
Having travelled across one end of the area, I can now straighten up and ride away. On a personal note, I don’t like just rolling away backwards, so I normally follow up with some footwork. Get creative!
This is an odd trick – hence why it’s the first one to fall into the Oddities category. It’s not really like a wheelie, nor is it really footwork, so there’s a good chance that this will take some getting used to. However, having a good amount of experience in both of those categories will help.
As I mention at the end of the video, there are a lot of setup variables to consider here:
- Steep concave isn’t going to help, as you may end up with your front foot locked into the concave, pointing at the nose, as in frame 2 above. You want to avoid this.
- Tight trucks will reduce the amount of carving you can do, and you’ll have to push the board through the arc using your heel. On the flip side, loose trucks will obviously make the board carve far sharper than you want.
- Hard wheels may slide out of control through the initial 180, but softer wheels will require more force to get through that slide.
In short, you can learn this on basically any board, but if you’ve got a particular problem that’s coming up again and again, look at the bullet points above and consider making an adjustment to your setup to make this a bit easier on yourself.