Anthony Van Engelen: A Brief History
Anthony Van Engelen stands out among professional skateboarders, and for good reason.
He's known for having amazing switch control and bringing a powerful approach to technical skateboarding, and despite some short disappearances along the way he's given us more to look at than most pros of his generation.
Here's a quick rundown of AVE's time spent skating in front of a camera:
411 Best of 5 Rookies - 411, 1998
Right out of the gate, Van Engelen is skating switch and hauling ass. He's wearing lots of windpants in this part, which were ever so popular during the this era. Two aspects of AVE's skating that he'll utilize for the rest of his career are visible in this part: picnic tables and switch frontside crooked grinds. Also, it's worth noting that the UCLA curved ledge has been his property since day one. See above for proof.
Feedback - Transworld, 1999
AVE is still in swish pants, and Dill has a gross ass goatee. From this point on we knew that Dill and AVE were a package deal. Van Engelen's backside 50-50 on the kinked rail was a big fucking deal at the time, and it's still nice to look at. It's in this part (although the intro is longer than the actual part) that we see just how good AVE can make nollie flips look.
Photosynthesis - Alien Workshop 2000
This is the part that really put AVE on the map. He skated differently than most during this era, going for bigger than industry standard tricks switch and not being overly flip-trick oriented, all executed with a rawness that few popular skaters exhibited at the time. An illustrated example of this occurs during his line at Love Park. It's obvious that he's hauling ass in that line, in contrast to the the mellow and calculated pace usually used when skating Love.
Sidenote: It's weird to see someone skating so fast in bulky-ass DCs. Another trend of the era that's more clearly visible with our eyes adjusted to 2015.
Chomp on This, 2002
AVE's footage in this video captures him during a transitional phase. We see his efforts to abandon the switch mongo push, and his longer hair foreshadows his stylistic choices of the near future. This part contains Van Engelen's first documented and possibly best switch 360 flip, a trick that has since become an AVE staple.
Mosaic - Habitat, 2003
While not a full part, AVE's skating in the AWS section of Mosaic is notable for a couple reasons. We get our first look at hesh-tech AVE, having replaced his windpants for frayed Dickies. Additionally, his switch flip at 0:53 is the pinnacle of style.
The DC Video - DC Shoes, 2003
It's easy to think about the late 90's-early 200's in skateboarding and think of it as time appears when everyone just wore baggy gear and New Eras, which is mostly true. However it's important to remember that certain skaters put their own spin on that standard kit, AVE being one of the more notable examples. Sure, his pants were baggy and his brims were flat, but his longer hair, and tattered pants and rock t-shirts made him stand out as more rock n' roll inclined than most. His music selection didn't hurt, either.
It wasn't just aesthetic choices that made this part particuarly rock n' roll, the skating had a lot to do with it. For example, AVE's tendency to grind way longer than normal (see the switch b/s 5-0 @ 2:20 for example) gave this part a distinct edge. Also, the bike rack line @ 3:00 is punk as fuck, foreshadowing the current trend of skating bike racks by 10+ years.
Mindfield - Alien Workshop, 2009
This part was way better than what we needed to see from AVE in 2009. He'd been pro for over 10 years and had every right to tone it down a notch. Yet he did the exact opposite, giving us a more ripping version of what we'd seen in previous Van Engelen parts.
It's here in Mindfield that we see Ave seamlessly merge the technical skating that was popular when he first went pro with the hesh tendencies in his heart. This part fully delivers on the skater we were promised more of in Photosynthesis, showing he could do what his contemporaries at Lakai were doing with a little more dirty white boy style.
Also, we'd like to think that it was this part that brought pole jams back into fashion.
The Cinematographer Project - Transworld, 2012
We're not going to make a "We'd rather watch AVE push than..." comparison, but just note how good his push is at the beginning of the AWS section. Although his efforts in this part are limited, it's important to note that Van Engelen shows no signs of slowing down in this part, which can now be looked at as a glimpse of how hard the Sovereign Sect crushed it in its last few years as a company. It's worth noting that Van Engelen and the Alien Workshop crew skate picnic tables in a way that's prescient of how they'd be skated in Cherry two years later.
It's always exciting to see new AVE footage. He tends to shy away from putting out tricks via social media in favor of more standard video parts. While this means we don't get to see him as often as we'd like, his recent involvement in Fucking Awesome / Hockey and a rumors of a Vans video likely mean there's more to come in the near future.