His skateboard was perched atop a rain gutter. In his head, it seemed easy enough. Drop from the rooftop and let gravity do the rest. The margin for error was great. His landing pad was the downslope of a cement banister barely as wide as the skateboard itself. One misstep and a trip to the emergency room was imminent. He jumped.
Zane Timpson’s, a SF State Cinema major, leap of faith landed himself in the September issue of Thrasher Magazine.
The best part of all for Timpson was legendary skateboarder Danny Way’s reaction to viewing the photograph.
In a Thrasher magazine video series called “First Look,” where they film professional skateboarders flipping through the magazine, Way said “that’s f—ing nuts right there. Is he landing on the hubba [ledge]? Holy sh-t.”
Way is considered skateboarding royalty for jumping the Great Wall of China. Shocking him takes a seriously treacherous trick.
“I try not to seek too much external validation for what I do and try to find as much acceptance and drive within myself, but to have Danny Way acknowledge my existence in the form of a trick that I risked my life for was a complete life hammer.” Timpson said. “The 12-year-old and 22-year-old Zane were both freaking out equally.”
Way’s skateboarding has clearly left an impression on Timpson in the sense that he pushes the limits of what’s possible. In videos of the skateboarder online, Timpson has jumped off freeway overpasses and down large flights of stairs, and has slid down one handrail that looks rather familiar to any SF State Gator.
As a sponsored amateur skateboarder, Timpson is equal parts athlete and artist. Using San Francisco’s urban environment as his playground, he rides the ruins of the 21st century with complete disregard for his bone structure.
For Timpson, the love of skateboarding started when a skate video playing in a surf shop caught his eye.
“I remember seeing John Cardiel do the most tweaked out frontside air over this bowl, and from then I knew that’s what I wanted to do,” Timpson said. “Got a board that Christmas, and I haven’t been able to part ways with it since.”
His earliest memories of skateboarding are at the Magdalena Ecke family YMCA Skatepark, where he would see legendary skateboarder, Tony Hawk, ride the 13-foot-6-inch wooden structure nicknamed the “ramp of dreams” for the careers it has helped launch.
“I would be completely starstruck,” said Timpson, on sharing the ramp with Hawk. “My favorite thing to do was to pump back and forth on the vert ramp and try to get as high up on it as I could.”
Timpson’s skateboarding talent was recognized early. As an adolescent, he starred in an action sports television show called “Camp Woodward.” Today, he is backed by Vagrant Skates, Bones Wheels and Bearings, Adidas, Western World Clothing, Jessup griptape, Dakine, and McGill’s Skateshop.
Brandon Parks is an SF State psychology major and former employee of McGill’s Skateshop in Encinitas, California. When asked about Timpson’s skateboarding prowess, Parks said that his ability has improved since moving to San Francisco.
“His style is more raw and creative, which is, in part, completely him and maybe a hint of SF,” said Parks.
Timpson’s success isn’t without sacrifice. Currently, he’s milking a fractured foot he sustained skating an empty swimming pool somewhere in Arizona.
“I slipped back and folded my foot in half with my full weight,” Timpson said. “It hurt real bad and I wasn’t able to skate the rest of that trip. I couldn’t even fit that foot in a shoe.”
Upon graduating high school, Timpson applied only to colleges in San Francisco, the unofficial skate capital of California. When he arrived at SF State, Timpson found a community with other skaters on campus.
“A few years back, before the school demolished those tennis courts to spend an unnecessary amount of money to beautify the school, there were some rad ledges,” he said. “We called it the SF State skate park. That’s where the scene was when I was a part of it.”
Skateboarding isn’t his only interest, as his pursuit of higher education suggests.
“I frickin’ love painting and writing and all art,” said Timpson. “Catharsis is so important for the whole existing thing.”
Timpson approaches his creative pursuits with the same zeal for life as he does skateboarding. He sells zines at Needles and Pens, a bookstore in the Mission District, runs a collective art magazine called Old Youth, and draws influence for his skateboarding from poetry and music. In a video for a skateboarding part, he said his mantra is to “live for a living.”
“I’m mainly inspired by my friends. I try to only surround myself with passionate people, and simply because of that I have found myself surrounded by extremely talented folks,” he said.