When word spread to Van's circle of friends about the guest post Eddie was doing in honor of his brother's birthday, I was soon contacted by an old friend of the Wastell family who felt it was only right that Van's crew stop by and pay their respects as well.
Chrome Ball is proud to be presenting this in Van's memory.
Introduction and Interviews by Ryan Leach
To remember Van Wastell on what would’ve been his 28th birthday, friends were asked to recall their favorite photo or video part of Van. The order is more or less chronological. Because some names might not be familiar to readers, a little bio section at the end of the article has been added.
Ryan Leach: Van’s first board sponsor was Consolidated and this video part is the sponsor-me tape he sent them. Consolidated literally dubbed his promo into their video and added some random song.
Van and I skated together a lot in the late ‘90s so when I think of him, it’s from this time period. I still like the informality of Van’s Is What It Is part. Consolidated adhered to a pretty do-it-yourself ethos. Van was under absolutely no pressure to perform any of these tricks. He skated what he wanted to and a local guy named Steve Ireland filmed him.
If you look in the background at the very beginning of the video where they freeze-frame Van—that’s a young Mike Taylor standing behind him. That opening 50-50 grind was gnarly. The rail was located at a church within walking distance of Van’s house. The front board and Smith grind (starting at 0:14) were done on a rail in Agoura, California; it was the first “real” rail Van ever grinded. It opened floodgates for him and gave him the confidence to tackle the bigger stuff. (And, yes, that’s Mike Taylor’s parents’ minivan in the parking lot.)
The boardslide shove-it at 0:24 was done on a handrail at Fillmore High School. I skated with Van that day. I remember his boardslide shove-it being a total throw-in. The lipslide on that same rail later on in his part was absolutely nuts. I still can’t believe Van did that. We were all taken aback by it. The rail was longer than it looked and Van was all of about fourteen. Pretty advanced for late ’98.
Van’s ender was a Smith grind on an absolutely atrocious twelve-stair rail at a local shopping mall. We only thought of looking at it because we were young and naïve! The runway was curved and on a slant, the rail was extremely steep and the landing was garbage. Van actually tried to boardslide it a little later on but got booted by the ubiquitous security. But when Van pulled this Smith grind, we all knew he was on another level.
I chose this photo because I wanted to highlight one that hadn’t been seen by too many people. I wanted something that wasn’t used in ads. This was taken by our friend Daniel Yagi. It was from when we were kids, when having fun was all that mattered. We were just getting our drivers licenses around this time. We were able to venture out beyond Newbury Park and the San Fernando Valley seemed like a whole new world to us. It was awesome.
My memories of Van from this period—he was gnarly. He was just destroying handrails. Every day would be something new. Like that 12-stair Smith grind he did at the mall at the end of his Consolidated part... it’s a straight vertical handrail. People would skate those stairs, but Van for the handrail that no one else even thought of skating. He was the only one who could skate it. Van would skate rails that shouldn’t have been skated.
I remember Van telling me, “I’m going up to SF to 5-0 that long rail," and thinking to myself how gnarly that was. I didn’t want to call bullshit—if anyone could do it, it’d be Van—but that seemed too crazy.
A short time later, Van called me up: “Yeah, I 5-0ed it.”
He had to be kidding me.
Pete Thompson took a photo of it and I remember running into Pete a week or two later. I said, “Hey, you shot a photo of my friend Van.”
Pete looked at me with a puzzled and amazed face. He told me, “That kid is heavy. I didn’t know anything about him before that day. But the moment he got out of the car, he did a kickflip and right away I could just tell that he had it. He belonged on a skateboard.”
“Yeah, I know. I grew up watching Van. He’s mind-blowing.”
That whole chain of events—Van pulling such a gnarly trick and then running into Pete Thompson a week later—is probably why that 5-0 sticks out to me. It crystallized what we all knew about Van from skating with him. We understood what he was capable of. Now everyone else was going to find out.
Stuart Faught: Van’s part in the Mikey Taylor issue of 411 made a big impression on me. I always knew Van as a cool, humble kid from the neighborhood who could skate, but after that video part, I became a legitimate fan.
The opening line in San Francisco—Van floats the biggest frontside 180. I realized that he had come into his own after watching that part. Van was a powerful skateboarder with incredible board control. If you saw him skate in-person, it was even more impressive because you realized that was how he skated all of the time. A lot of that probably had to do with his older brothers, Jeff and Kurt. Kurt was super good. When I was a kid, I looked up to Kurt Wastell's skating. It really inspired me. I’m positive Van got a lot of inspiration from him, too.
Mike Anderson: I wasn’t there for this sequence that Oliver Barton shot but it really sticks out to me nevertheless. This was shot after Van had broken his arm and wasn't putting out much footage at the time. It’s one of those sequences where you can’t really predict what’s going to happen. In the first photo, he has his feet in ollie position—is Van going to late shove-it over the bar? Then you look forward and he does a body varial. It’s such an awesome trick.
The way he does it—it’s elegant. Van body varials after he’s past the bar. It’s insane. I’ve done that trick on little Euro gaps but the way Van did it—the trick shouldn’t happen like that. When I do body varials, I turn my body way too early. Van was coming down when he turned his body.
I haven’t seen the sequence in years yet I can picture it frame by frame right now. I want to say that’s the only photo Oliver Barton shot of Van. What an epic sequence to shoot.
Tyler Cichy: I filmed the frontside flip Van did at Buena High School. He had just moved to a new apartment and I had some trouble finding him that morning. I remember being on the phone with him, trying to meet up until we finally connected.
Van was telling me about this trick: an ollie up then frontside flip off the bench. He said that he'd tried it a few times but couldn’t get it. We ended up deciding to go back over to Buena and try it when Van pulls the trick super fast. It's the one in the Krooked 3D video.
The reason Van broke his board was because he was super stoked and didn’t want to skate anymore. He was just so happy he pulled it that his day was over.
Later on, we watched Fully Flared. That was the last time I saw him.
Mike Anderson: Krooked professional, full-time ripper and all-around nice guy.
Justin Case: Newbury Park skate legend. Rode for City Stars with Mike Taylor and Van.
Tyler Cichy: Agoura ripper. Awesome filmer who skated with Van a lot.
Stuart Faught: Newbury Park skate legend. Was on flow for ATM Click and a couple of other companies in the late ‘90s/early 2000s. Stuart was Van’s favorite skateboarder.
Ryan Leach: Cantankerous old man who grew up skating with Van. Writes regularly for Razorcake and Roctober rock 'zines.
Mike Taylor: Alien Workshop pro and Van supporter.
In Loving Memory
1984 - 2008