Another ‘Minnesota Miracle’ and 4 friends on Tanner Van Vark’s Real Part
By Mike Munzenrider
There’s a third wave “Minnesota Miracle” happening on Real Skateboards right now that’s bewildering, yet it makes perfect sense. Full disclosure: I’m writing from a Minneapolis living room and the proprietors of Village Psychic are transplants from the Land of 10,000 Lakes. We sit in awe of Real simultaneously sponsoring three dudes we watched grow up in our home state, Davis Torgerson, Jack Olson and now, what with his part that posted last week, Tanner Van Vark.
Bewildering, because Minnesota -- it’s a place infused with a Scandinavian modesty and it’s way up north and way out east and west of any of the real places in skateboarding. You combine the eyes-down mentality and a feeling that grows from true isolation, and even some 20 years after Clint Peterson, Steve Nesser and Seth McCallum proved you could be three guys from MN and ride for the same company (good times for Consolidated!), it’s just like, ah, shucks.
Then again, it does make sense, with Torgerson now a decade into a career boosted early by Boondoggle internet fame and Olson, a KOTR-tested crusher who’s set for his own long run. The dudes really do rip. Add in Van Vark, glue-footed and apparently able to skate whatever, and you’ve got the making of another miracle.
The strange alchemy of Van Vark’s skating -- sticky tricks, slightly staccato, all sorts of twists -- is worth interpreting. So it was time to text his teammates, Olson and Torgerson, as well as yet another Minnesotan, Tim Fulton, the Real staffer who shot and edited the new video part, along with Van Vark’s older brother by four and a half years, Tukkur Van Vark, who’s skated and filmed plenty with our subject, to talk his skating, his exploits and just maybe, his secrets.
VP: How would you describe Tanner’s style of skating; what is it?
Olson: To me, Tanner’s style is kind of wildcard and fun. You never really know what to expect when you’re watching him skate and he always looks like he’s having more fun than anyone else when he’s skating.
Fulton: I would describe it as sporadic and creative. He isn’t a dude who plans stuff out; he just gets to whatever spot the van brings him to and thinks of something that hadn’t crossed anyone’s mind.
Torgerson: Instead of exhausting energy on ollieing into tricks, he wallies into them. Work smarter, not harder.
Tukkur Van Vark: He has always been an all-terrain type of dude. His style is like a controlled detonation. It has a lot of finesse and power.
VP: Which skaters do you think influenced him most?
Olson: Shit, I can’t really think of anyone specific, because he skates so different and original than everyone else. I know he’s really into a lot of old backyard pool skaters.
Fulton: He’s such a skate nerd that I swear his favorite skaters are unheard-of transition skaters from the 90s. I think I’ve heard him say he looked up to Davis a lot when he was growing up, too.
Torgerson: Mary Jane.
Tukkur Van Vark: Jamie Thomas was a big one, Andrew Reynolds, Guy Mariano, Wes Kremer, Dane Burman and Jake Johnson. Swamp Trog and 3rd Lair.
VP: What’s your favorite trick that he does in his new part?
Olson: I would have to say the wallie off the trash can to boardslide [on] the kink rail, because that is just so damn sketchy to me and it looked so sick. Or the bluntslide gap to boardslide he does on the out-rails. I’ve always imagined someone doing something like that, and he handled it in like 15 minutes.
Fulton: Probably the wallie 360 over the hubba. That whole session was so crazy. He got out of the car and wallie hurricane’d it first try, and nobody filmed it, wallie 360’d it in like 10 minutes, and then the wallie back Smith in like five [minutes]. It was crazy how easy those insane tricks are to him.
Torgerson: Probably the wallie 360 over the hubba in St. Paul. Partly because I watched it in person, but mainly because it’s insane.
Tukkur Van Vark: Wallie-front-three in St. Paul.
VP: But where were all his flip tricks?
Olson: Ha -- that’s a great question. I’ve known Tanner for probably 10 years now and he’s never been one to do flip tricks. We used to give him shit at the park back in the day because he couldn’t really do them, but he was so damn good at everything else. But lately I watch him skate flat and he can like, switch inward heel and switch tre flip really good, but he’ll still tell you he can’t flip his board. But the way he skates I think he doesn’t need them.
Fulton: Ha! He had another fake flip at the end of that table line that I had to cut out. He’s got fire switch tres too, he just didn’t film one.
Torgerson: He surprisedly eats more shit skating flat than a big rail. It’s bizarre.
Tukkur Van Vark: Tanner will be the first to admit he doesn’t do them much. He pulls ‘em out though, sometimes, and does them well.
VP: Other skaters have been accused of using magnets to keep their boards on their feet because their skating is otherworldly. Be honest now, does Tanner use magnets?
Olson: Not that I know of, but he could be just really good at hiding it. Some of the shit he does makes no sense and might only be possible if he did have them. But I’m gonna go ahead and say he doesn’t use magnets.
Fulton: Haha, shit, maybe! He only skates slip-ons, so maybe they’re better for hiding magnets in your shoes?
Torgerson: Tanner’s actually a pretty smart kid, but still way too fried to figure out the actual logistics of making that happen.
Tukkur Van Vark: I can’t confirm or deny any magnets in his feet, but it must be the only way to control a board like that.
--Mike Munzenrider lives in Minneapolis.