I first became a skateboard groupie when I was trying to impress my boyfriend (now husband) with my mad skills. My pal LaRissa and I decided that skater boys were the best boys and the way to win them over was by trying to drop in on a mini ramp.
One thing I am good at, though, is remembering tricks: the names, how to do them, and what they look like. One trick I’ve heard and seen over and over across the ‘board sport’ genre of sports is the mute grab.
Even if you aren’t a skater (or a skater groupie in some cases), chances are you’ve heard the “mute grab” announced on television during the X-Games, on ESPN, or during the snowboarding events in the Winter Olympics. It’s a standard, one that all board-sport athletes and fans know, and it is named after our very own Chris Weddle.
You know you’re a big deal when Tony Hawk names a trick but the world of skateboarding steps in and lets him know you’ve already claimed it – and it sticks.
Chris Weddle, 50, lives in Kamiah with his wife, Candy, but grew up in Southern California skating with Lance Mountain, Christian Hosoi, Allen Losi, Rob Washburn, Eddie “El Gato” Elguera, Neil Blender, Salba, and a handful of other legends of the sport. Many of us have watched the movie “Lords of Dogtown,” but Weddle lived it.
Camping out on skateshop roofs, recovering from gnarly spills, riding Bennett trucks and Sims wheels, that was the life of a skateboarder in the 1970s. He first introduced the mute grab at a pro-am skate competition at Ranch Skatepark in Colton, Calif., in 1981. He pulled it out on his last run, after getting slammed on his first. The rest is history.
So what exactly is a mute grab? YouTube it.
Just kidding. Try to follow along: a mute grab is “performed by riding up the transition and grabbing with the front hand on the toe side of the board between the feet, turning backside, and landing. It is the same grab as a slob air, but turning the opposite direction,” per Mr. Weddle himself. Here’s a fun fact, too: it’s not exclusive to skateboarding. On Instagram, search the hashtag “mute grab.” You’ll see 2,000-plus images in the “most recent posts.” You’ll see a mute grab being done on skis, snowboards, wakeboards, surfboards, and skateboards. Check out the mute grab in action if all that lingo was a bit confusing to you.
And why is it called a mute grab? Weddle didn’t name it himself. in fact, he didn’t even know it was named mute grab for quite some time. A good friend’s father named the trick, alluding to the fact that Weddle is deaf. At first there was some offense taken, but he ultimately accepted the name and it stuck.
Weddle skates primarily for fun and even in his youngers years – you know, the ones in which he was inventing tricks and all – it was still all for fun. Trophies were won, sponsorships were given, but it was all for the pure passion of the sport. It’s a pretty common theme across the board when it comes to skateboarding.
Southern California was the mecca for skating in the ’70s and ’80s, especially in Weddle’s neck of the woods: Marina del Rey, Pipeline and Colton. Today, there are skateparks in every state, almost every large town (and lots of small ones, too). With his setup of a custom 6 Cents (a Moscow skateshop) deck, Ace trucks and Bones wheels, and always with a pair of high-top Vans shoes, Weddle hits his favorite parks in Montana, Washington, and of course the Mtn Dew Skatepark in Lewiston. If you’re lucky, you might see him on a dry day cruising the Clay Taylor pool, and if you’re really lucky maybe you’ll get to watch him cruising the street section or throwing a mute grab in the deep end of the flow bowl.