Why you should care
Because you need to know all about this key airborne move while catching the skateboarding action at the Summer X Games.
Part of SportsSpeak Explained, an occasional series on unusual sports terms we need to know for the games we play — and watch.
First, you’ll want to start in fakie ollie stance on your skateboard. Then, leading with your shoulders, you’re going to spin 360 degrees backside, land it and ride off in switch stance. Feel free to give a nice little stomp at the end for style points.
Nailed it? Congratulations — you’ve just done a Caballerial.
If the above reads like a foreign language, here’s the breakdown:
Caballerial: an aerial skateboarding trick named after skating legend Steve Caballero, who pioneered it in 1980.
The Caballerial — a portmanteau of “Caballero” and “aerial” — is an aerial spin trick, as the name suggests. Caballero initially performed it on “vert” — in bowls and on halfpipes — but modern skaters do it on street courses.
So what’s fakie ollie stance, anyway? Fakie denotes a skater riding backward, with the tail of the board facing in the direction of travel. Ollie stance is when a skater places his back foot at the tail of the board and his front foot between the middle and front trucks of the board. Then comes the full airborne rotation part of the move. As for the switch on the landing — that means the rider switches his stance from regular (right foot in back) to goofy (left foot in back).
Sound hard? It is — so much so that today’s up-and-comers don’t even have it in their repertoires.
“I’ve never actually done a real one before on vert,” says Heimana Reynolds, a 19-year-old skater out of Hawaii who is competing in the skateboard park event at this month’s Summer X Games, ESPN’s annual extreme sports showcase, held in Minneapolis this year. “I’ve only done the Caballerial with the grab — the gay twist.” (The trick’s nickname was coined during the less open-minded ’80s era of skateboarding culture.) Caballero himself does the trick without the grab, a modification which makes it easier to perform.
“I should ask him to help me out with it sometime,” Reynolds says, laughing. He explains that a lot of people — himself included — consider it difficult to do, especially without the grab, because the rider is doing a lot of technical footwork while spinning in the air.
Steve Cab is one of my favorite people ever; he’s a big mentor to me.
Jordyn Barratt, pro skateboarder
Like most skaters today, Reynolds can do a half Cab, which is exactly what the name suggests — a 180 spin starting from fakie stance. But if you want to be taken seriously at the skate park, here’s a tip — don’t use the redundant term full Cab. The Cab, by definition, is a full 360-degree spin. While a true Cab is always done backside, these days skaters do it frontside as well, as long as the notation is included: frontside Cab. You may also see the trick referred to as a fakie frontside 360 — it’s the same thing.
Still with us? Good.
The Cab terminology has cross-pollinated the action sports landscape, getting picked up by snowboarders. In snowboarding, the term means a switch-frontside spin trick, applicable to any number of degrees of rotation. It can be done on jumps, as in the big air discipline; on rails and boxes, in the slopestyle discipline; and on the halfpipe. It’s much more efficient, then, to describe a trick as a Cab 720 than a switch frontside 720. They’re the same thing.
A San Jose, California, native, Caballero, who couldn’t be reached for comment, turned pro in 1980 and will turn 54 this year. Yet even skateboarding’s youngest stars talk about him as if he’s a close friend — and affirm that it’s every skater’s ambition to have a trick named after them.
“Totally a dream,” says Jordyn Barratt, a 19-year-old pro skater who grew up with Reynolds in Hawaii and will also be competing in the X Games women’s skateboard park contest. “Steve Cab is one of my favorite people ever; he’s a big mentor to me. He’s tried to teach me the Caballerial a couple times. I haven’t been able to get it yet — maybe one day.”
Today’s young stars better get out to the skate park and keep practicing. After all, Caballero was just 15 years old when he stomped his first Caballerial. Nearly 40 years later, there’s still no one who does it better.