Skaters Might Be Athletes, But Sometimes They Still Drink Their Own Piss

Street culture runs strong in season two of SBS VICELAND's "King of the Road."

by Nat Kassel
09 June 2017, 4:52am

Daniel Lutheran in a golden moment

Season two of King of the Road is available to watch on SBS ON DEMAND right now. You should watch it.

In the world of elite sports smoking bongs, getting shitty tattoos, and drinking your own urine is unusual. But then skateboarding has always been a bit different. Most skaters still don't even consider what they do as a sport, and any gronk or grandma can tell you that there's nothing elite about it. Thrasher magazine's King of the Road competition is a perfect example of how pro skaters shirk any assumption that they—as sportspeople—should be role models.

King of the Road is the skate comp that skaters respect most, and non-skaters can best appreciate. Veteran pro skateboarder Elissa Steamer has described it as a "scavenger hunt for debauchery and skateboarding tricks," which is a pretty good summary. It's also appealing because it's not just a measure of who can do the hardest tricks, but rather a dog-eat-dog road trip endurance-contest that encapsulates all the grit and glory of a real skate trip.

Each comp sees three three teams of professional skateboarders given a loose itinerary and a bunch of challenges to complete. Each team then brings a camera crew along to document the trip. You earn points by completing challenges, and whoever earns the most points wins.

Some of the challenges are skating related—skate a rail in the rain, do a blunt kickflip while holding hands with someone else on your team. But it's the array of weirder and more fucked up stuff that makes things interesting. Such examples include taking a dump in the van, butt chug a beer, drink your own pee, get a questionable tattoo. The behaviour that is most rewarded on King of the Road is the exact thing that most athletes get in trouble for. Some of you might remember that when NRL player Todd Carney pissed in his own mouth at a urinal in 2014, he got sacked instantly.

You have to wonder whether skateboarding's debauched dude-centric culture can last forever, especially now that skateboarding is set to become an Olympic event in 2020. According to Ted Helliar, who co-runs a sports management and marketing agency, the rules are beginning to change.

"Once those skaters come into a team environment—such as an Olympic team—there's going to be a stricter set of rules of engagement for those guys. [There will be] a much closer eye on them, so no, they're not going to be able to get away with it," says Ted.

But to be fair, most of the dudes competing for King of the Road aren't trying to qualify for the Olympics. The whole question about the rules for pro skaters really represents the fact that, from here on in, there will be two very distinct incarnations of being a pro skateboarder. There'll be guys who want to compete in mainstream events like the Olympics, but also dudes who are happy to get raw for alternative events like King of the Road.

Ted says there's still plenty of opportunities for the guys who don't conform to the mainstream sporting expectations, and a lot of it comes down to personal branding. The marketability of skateboarding depends largely on what people want to watch.

For me, personally, the unpredictability, creativity, and raw debauchery of comps like King of the Road make it far more entertaining than any clean cut skateboarding competition. And I don't think seeing skaters enter the Olympics is going to change that.

Because while skateboarders respect good skateboarding above all else, we're also glad to see Jaws butt-chug a beer, Ben Raybourn smoke a homemade bong, and Daniel Lutheran drink his own pee. These acts are more true to the core of our subculture than a panel of judges ranking kickflips in a stadium.

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Season two of King of the Road is available to watch on SBS ON DEMAND right now. You should watch it.

King of The Road