Tony skates everything and does it better than anyone, making it look fun as hell with the most insane, out of control-looking style out there. There's nobody more exciting to watch just cruise a park and it's been that way since he first appeared in old 411 VHS tapes in the ‘90s, flying around the Santa Rosa Skatepark. Since then, TNT has been around the world 10 times over, drank your beer, kissed your girlfriend, won Thrasher's coveted lucky 13th Skater of The Year Award, had FIVE different Vans pro models, made a baby boy named Waylon, married his drummer Trixie, made a time capsule-worthy video part for Transworld's In Bloom, been the Beauty & The Beast two-time MVP, had more covers than we can count and generally laid havoc where ever he roams. When it's all said and done, Tony is going to be remembered as a guy that did it his way.
Skateboarding legend Steve Caballero has accomplished so much during his 30-plus years of skating, he's one of those rare guys who is known simply by his nickname, Cab. As an original member of the Bones Brigade, the eighties skate super team that Stacey Peralta envisioned to redefine skateboarding, Cab appeared in perhaps the most famous skate video of all time, The Search for Animal Chin. Cab has invented tricks including the Caballerial and the frontside boardslide and, in 2009, Cab and Vans celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the first-ever signature skate shoe, the Vans Caballero, while 2012 sees the twentieth anniversary of the longest running and "greatest" skate shoe of all time, the Vans Half Cab.
Long Beach, California's resident Vans pro, Johnny Layton (aka J-Lay) is jokingly nicknamed ‘Big Boy,' a moniker that refers as much to how high he pops his tricks as it does his solid build. Johnny turned pro for world-famous artist and legendary skateboarder, Ed Templeton's Toy Machine back in 2006 and has been on Vans since 2004. In high school, Johnny was scouted heavily by colleges to play baseball and possibly even go pro, but his passion for skateboarding and the culture surrounding it far outweighed any desire to ride the pine away on some conventional team sport activity. Recently, Johnny cemented his name in the annals of skateboard history by ollieing the legendary double wall at Freedom Plaza in Washington D.C., just yards away from the White House. For decades the greatest skaters with the biggest snaps have tried to clear this massive wall gap, but none have risen to the challenge; only J-Lay has ever been able to go the distance. Good job, Big Boy!
British Columbia, Canada's Keegan Sauder lends a little northern exposure to Vans' Southern California vibe with his pale white skin and fondness for the pond, stick and puck. Born on April Fools' Day, Keegan brings his own brand of light-hearted comedy to almost any situation, motorcycle wrecks included (of which Keegan's had more than his fair share). Currently residing in San Francisco and on Vans since 2004, Keegan turned pro for Zero Skateboards in 2010 and may very well be the closest thing to a "contest guy" Vans has, even despite his relaxed approach and carefree attitude in regard to skateboarding's version of Circus Maximus. Where many modern contest skaters will train for months and years on end for the 45-second run and go into full gladiator mode when their name is called, Keegan tends to laugh through his runs and totally wing it, without pre-planning a single trick. Somehow, this tactic seems to work for him though, since he consistently places top ten in nearly every contest he enters. Keegan's just that good!
Costa Mesa, California's resident Black Label Skateboards Pro, Omar Hassan, has been on Vans longer than anyone else named Omar. Hell, almost longer than anyone not named Omar too. He's been rocking the side stripe for 25 years now and in those two and half decades he's managed to see every inch of the globe and shred every type of terrain put in front of him. Omar is the blueprint prototype all terrain skater that we are starting to see emerge more these days. He's not a bowl skater or a vert skater or a street skater; he's simply a skateboarder and one of the best ever.
Born in 1957 in Santa Monica, California, Tony is one of the original Z-Boys and considered by many to be one of the most influential skateboarders of all time. The level of aggression that Alva introduced in the seventies was in stark contrast to the traditional freestyle-based feel of the era making him instantly stand out amongst other skaters. The prototype modern professional skateboarder and a charismatic character in the documentary Dogtown: The Legend of the Z-boys based on Tony's legendary Venice skate crew, at age 19, Alva shunned the major skate companies to form his own skateboard company, Alva Skates. Alva's company was the first-ever skateboarder owned and operated as well as being one of the first to use layered maple plywood for the skate decks. It was Tony, back in '77, who suggested to VANS founder Paul Van Doren to modify the classic VANS Authentic deck shoe, a favorite among the emerging skate pioneers for its grippy gum rubber waffle outsole, by adding collar padding and a heel cup for support to create the now-classic VANSEra style, the first shoe designed by skaters for skateboarding. Nearly 35 years later and Alva continues to shred, surfing and skating pools almost everyday. When people look up skateboarder in the dictionary, it's Tony Alva's face they should see.