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Alan Gelfand
15 years old, rides for Powell/Peralta

SkateBoarder Magazine
Vol. 5, #6
January, 1979

Few skaters ever reach that plateau of innovation where their peer group so recognizes their singular accomplishments and names a maneuver after them. (The Ty slide, the Shufeldt fairing, the Logan arc-wheelie, the Adams hand-plant and the Valdez inverted aerial come immediately to mind as examples.) But after only three years of riding, Hollywood, Florida local, Alan "Ollie" Gelfand has been granted admittance to this select group. His developments, the ollie pop and the subsequent no-handed ollie aerial, rank as two of the hottest moves on the vanguard scene. In fact, while the older ollie pop moves steadily into the public domain, the ollie aerial remains often imitated by the others but seldom duplicated. While Gelfand's present accomplishments are highly noteworthy, his steps towards getting there are perhaps even more remarkable.

After executing a perfect 360 during his first skate session, Alan "figured it was sort of interesting and that (he'd) better get into it. "Gravitating at first towards Florida's abundant backyard fabricated ramps and later to the region's surf-styled skate parks. Gelfand "went through the normal moves for about a year." Then, two years ago, "feeling there was more to life than frontside grinds and just trying to do something 'different'," the young skater began hitting air-pop lip-slides. From there, the ollie pop was the next logical step. About this time, several new parks offering more vertical potential opened in the state, and Alan's unique approaches rapidly progressed in the newly available half-pipes, elliptical pools and on rounded coping. Eventually he began "gathering momentum," inaugurated the ollie air and located himself on Frank Nasworthy's Cadillac Concourse team.

Gelfand also began entering contests and placing high in several, despite a few personal reservations. "I don't like contests themselves. I just go to get together with others and learn." Alan is reputed to have an exceedingly clever competitive stratagem which he refuses to elaborate on beyond the admission that he "trains exclusively on junk foods, preferably Red Hots and doughnuts." Whatever the reason, as a competitor Alan has been known to win events under pressure that he never even practices ordinarily. Gelfand continues to maintain his amateur status, feeling that "too many skaters turn pro and get nothing out of it. A pro who doesn't make any money isn't a pro at all."

The subject of money brings up another aspect of Alan's rise to prominence. Last summer, feeling constrained by the lack of new stimuli, he decided to journey west to "look and learn." Needing funds, Alan pooled all of his amateur winnings and auctioned them off. He then became the smallest distributor for E.T. grip tape, (smallest in the sense that he sold 2 x 2 " squares of it.)

Next he parlayed 38 free-burger-with purchase coupons at Burger King into another financial bonanza. Taking some hungry and generous friends into the fast-food emporium, he politely inquired as to the price of cheese on a cheese burger. After being told it was 9cents extra. Ollie promptly ordered 38 pieces to be put on his 38 free burgers. A few days later Gelfand was in California filling his mind and also blowing a lot of others with his entire act.

In between giving financial advice to the top pros and working out on the new topographies, he also received several offers from prominent manufacturers which he turned down. "Why join a big team? You only get lost in the shuffle."

In comparing Florida to California, Alan states, "While there are only a handful of top pros at home, in the West there's hundreds of them. When you skate in California, you get pushed much more." Consequently, Ollie has made two more trips to that coast. Skaters he "rides with and respects" include Mike Folmer, Ray Rodriguez, Stacy Peralta, Clyde Rogers and Tim Scruggs. He also gives credit for their leadership in Florida to Nasworthy, Bruce Walker and Hunter Joslin.

On equipment: " Use a light, strong board and use the best quality trucks. After breaking all the others, I now stick with Trackers. Also when selecting equipment, don't buy it for the name -- buy it because it works."

Current goals: "I'm just trying to get maneuvers down to a science; I want to be able to do them at will."

General advice: "Skate every day, and humor helps; you can't be too serious."

Sam Fernando