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Home | Episode #4
High School Dropout
September 12, 2018 | Student Producer:

Danielle Lampitt
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High School Dropout
Dr. Nick Riggle drops out of high school to pursue a career as a professional roller blader. (6 minutes)
Dr. Nick Riggle

Nick Riggle: 00:05 I can just experiment and play around and, you know, try to do something unique on roller blades, see if I get anywhere. That's when I started really playing, like experimenting with stuff and you know, coming up with what people now call kind of mushroom blading techniques. My name is Nick Riggle. I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of San Diego. There's more to me than that, but that's my current job. 

Nick Riggle: 00:46 I came from a family that didn't have much money or you know, didn't have very high expectations for me, which was good and a bad thing, you know; it had its pros and cons. Um, you know, they let me drop out of high school to be a pro skater because they didn't have like, you know, I had these opportunities. They had no money. Like, of course they're gonna let me go to Paris, you know, 10 times in a year or like, because I worked. I worked for a French company so I was in France a lot. And so, uh, so there's a kind of, um, there was kind of a, a double lesson to, to achieving, achieving, uh, my dreams really when I was so young, which was, um, yeah, you, you, you learn that it's not really all it's cracked up to be. 

Nick Riggle: 01:43 And that is a kind of disappointment. But it's also liberating because, um, once I became pro, uh, it wasn't, it wasn't so long after that I started to think, well, I made it to this level. I don't really care about maintaining it. I can just experiment and play around and, you know, try to do something unique on rollerblades and see if, see if I get anywhere. That's when I started really playing, like experimenting with stuff and, and, uh, you know, coming up with what people now call kind of mushroom blading techniques. You know, you can kind of define like a standard way of skating, you know, handrails and ledges and uh, you know, certain styles of spinning and flipping on, on off of ramps and downstairs, and mushroom techniques are a little like, you know, they're, they're just a way of looking askance kind of at a lot of that and, and trying out, um, you know, alternative, uh, trying, trying, trying alternative tricks on alternative obstacles, embracing certain features of the aesthetics of skating that other skaters tend to dismiss or reject. Roller blading can look, can look a lot like dance, and, and you know, the macho skater like thinks that that's not cool. Mushroom bladers are just like, no, make it dancey, like make the dance work. Um, and so they'll, they'll spin more, they'll kind of slide and spin and there's just more of a kind of experimental, you know, grace that can be also kind of awkward. And um, it really embraces the human movements on roller blades that like, uh, are available to you when you're on. You're not trying to make it anything it's not. Um, so a lot of, you know, in the early days, a lot of rollerbladers wanted legitimacy, understandably, and so their styles and choice of tricks and stuff kind of was skewed towards another legitimate sport, skateboarding. 

Nick Riggle: 04:03 So they would, they wanted what they were doing to look enough like that to piggyback on skateboarding's legitimacy and history and that's all understandable. But, you know, once I became pro and once my skills reached a certain level and I kind of wasn't interested in doing another, you know, you know, flippy 720 thing, like super high off a ramp. Like as fun as that is, like um, I just got more interested in kind of playing and experimenting and seeing where, where you can take things. And one of the first things I noticed was this kind of weird skewing towards skateboarding that wasn't really doing rollerblading any favors, I didn't think, in terms of, you know, we're an early sport, like what can we do with these things? Like what can we really achieve, like, in human athletics with these things? And, uh, you know, questions about whether there was a kind of artistic side to what we were doing and how, how much can we push the creative side, you know? Is it really just an extreme sport or is it something, you know, is there a kind of figure skating element or like a, um, a dance element or what? You know, I was just kind of really open minded about what, what could happen. And so those are kind of my, that's the kind of mushy perspective.