Nike+ FuelBand The Movement Alex Olsen


With his hair braided like a Viking and fingernails airbrushed vibrant colors, Alex Olson looks more downtown eccentric than athlete.
But seeing him navigate the streets on his skateboard with instinctual finesse immediately showcases his athleticism.
His movement is deceptively natural, a product of years of dedication and influence from his father Steve,
a fellow skateboarder who emphasized style. “He would talk about style and how it was more important than anything,”
Olson said about his father’s insight on skating.
“It’s a fine balance between having style and also being relevant.”

Olson has “it,” the blend of poise and strength that he relates to in all athletes, not just skateboarders.
It’s the skill of the exceptional. Unlike athletes who compete solely in an arena or other controlled environments,
Olson’s movement is influenced by his surroundings.

“Musicians don’t deal with people kicking them out of a spot, street conditions, weather–
they don’t deal with people on the sidewalk who give you an attitude,” he says about the perception that skateboarding is easy.
“Sometimes I think, ‘Wow, people have no idea what we go through just to get 2.5 seconds on a screen, to document a trick.'”

Warming up with some flatground at Tompkins Square Park in the East Village, he’s already earned 874 NikeFuel.
He flips, spins, and pops over the patchy concrete effortlessly. A snap, flick, and smack each time as
the board meets his feet at peak height.

Though based in Los Angeles, Olson spends a considerable amount of time in New York City, immersed in art, music, and culture.
Eschewing the perfect weather and terraine of Southern California, Olson’s summer is spent rolling on Manhattan’s sticky asphalt,
where the spot you’re skating is as much a part of the trick as the maneuver itself.

When asked about New York City skating, Olson becomes enthusiastic and animated saying, “I love the spontaneity of it.
What’s incredible is that a spot can be created in a day and then taken down that same day.
I never really experienced that anywhere else in the world. You never know what you’re going to get.”

At 27-years-old, Olson’s now considered a veteran in skateboarding, having contributed to “Fully Flared” and “Pretty Sweet,”
two of the most anticipated videos of the past decade. He’s not afraid to push the limits of his skateboarding,
but what’s makes him stand out is his approach and style. Rather than being fixated on grinding longer or flying off
something bigger than the next pro, Olson lets his personality animate his movements.
“It’s one of those things that you either get it or don’t,” he responded when asked about what style means to him.
“You see Michael Jordan and understand that he has an amazing, graceful style. That elegance attracts people.
When you watch Lionel Messi play soccer, he’s so fluid and has such control over the ball–
you immediately notice that he has a good style.”

“The people that are my heros are always moving and always trying to do something different.”

Circling back to skateboarding, Olson is equally articulate in detailing what’s attractive to him in other skater’s movements.
“Dylan Rieder, is so graceful on a skateboard that it’s almost ballet,” he says before relating skateboarding’s motion to that of the self proclaimed “Greatest of All Time. “Take Muhammed Ali,” Olson says. “He looked like he was dancing with amazing style.
Then you have someone like Sean Sheffey, who’s not necessarily fluid, but there’s something so masculine and brute about him that you identify with it, because it’s the opposite end of graceful.”

He’s broken a sweat now, legs warmed up, mind focused. Charging through the busy streets past store fronts, panhandlers, and sanitation trucks,
he fearlessly executes trick after trick at warp speed, quickly earning 520 in just a few blocks.

Olson’s currently at a new stage in his career. He recently left his longtime board sponsor and is in the early stages of starting his own brand.
He’s taken up yoga to ease the aches he’s feeling after years of impact, and plays soccer to keep active and have fun.
When asked about the difference between individual and team sports, Olson insightfully notes that they are similar saying,
“When you go on skate trips you learn people’s patterns and what sets them off. You learn to respect people’s space and that
translates to how you deal with people outside of skateboarding. That experience gave me and understanding
of the concept of a team at an early age.”

Though he speaks quite introspectively about art and music, Olson’s intensity and competitive nature permeates everything he absorbs himself in.
This isn’t to say that he’s smashing analog synths, or throwing soccer balls the way he’s been depicted in skate videos.
“I know I’m competitive with myself, I like figuring something out–the curiosity of learning,” Olson says about what motivates him.
“The people that are my heros are always moving and always trying to do something different.”

In just a few hours Olson himself has moved around the East Village, skating nothing more than the streets and the distinct rounded steel edged curbs that line them. Over 3,000 NikeFuel up in less than a few hours that serve as his warm up for the day ahead. In sync with his board, in sync with the city.

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