Skateboard trick to be renamed in honour of deaf inventor

Alex Hern
·2-min read
<span>Photograph: Enric Fontcuberta/EPA</span>
Photograph: Enric Fontcuberta/EPA

For almost 40 years, the “mute grab” has been part of a skateboarder’s bag of tricks: grabbing the toe side of the board between their feet, while rotating “backside”, to land facing the opposite direction.

Now, the trick is being renamed to better honour its inventor, Chris Weddle, a deaf skater who was never actually mute in the first place.

The push to rechristen the trick the “Weddle grab” comes from pro skater Tony Hawk. A remake of Hawk’s eponymous videogames, release in early September, will be the first place where the new name is used, amid hopes it will catch on among the wider community.

Hawk outlined his thinking in a post on instagram: “Around 1981, a deaf skater and Colton skatepark local named Chris Weddle was a prominent amateur on the competition circuit.”

Weddle, he wrote, had been the first to do the new trick, and so some proposed that “it should be named after him. They referred to him as the ‘quiet, mute guy’. So it became known as the mute air, and we all went along with it in our naive youth.

“He has been very gracious in his response but it is obvious that a different name would have honored his legacy, as he is hearing impaired but not lacking speech. I asked him last year as I was diving into trick origins and he said he would have rather named it the ‘deaf’ or ‘Weddle’ grab if given the choice. His exact quote to me was ‘I am deaf, not mute.’”

Weddle, now 54, said he was “stoked” about the change, according to Hawk. “It’s going to be challenging to break the habit of saying the old name but I think Chris deserves the recognition.”