Re-Print: First Encounters

Recognise these guys? Our earliest photos with some of the best in the game…

2 Oct 2014

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Words and photos by Rob Dolecki and Ricky Adam Originally published in DIG 96 - Wee DIcks / The Kids Issue - September 2013

ALEX KENNEDY at The last ever Backyard Jam - Sheffield UK, 2006

Alex had just been hooked up by the all new Nike 6.0 brand and I'd been asked to photograph their new, mostly unknown, young team riders. At the time, and at Backyard Jams in particular, the focus was on the established Pro riders and even the Am class was heavily populated by riders who would be considered 'older' by today's standards. If you entered Am you were most likely either about tight pants and tailwhips or full face helmets and flailing. Alex fitted neither category and brought a new quiet, yet determined and stylish vibe to the era. He's since become a hugely influential and seasoned Pro and is now easily one of my favourite people to shoot with. It's almost impossible to take a bad photo of him, on or off his bike. Looking back, with the demise of the Backyard series and the emergence of young riders like Alex, this was very much the end of one great era and the beginning of possibly an even better one. - Ricky Adam

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MIKE HODER At The Brooklyn Banks - Summer 2005

My first introduction to the Mike Hoder show was rolling down to the Brooklyn Banks one summer day in 2005, after someone gave me the heads up about a kid from Seattle who was visiting New York and who wanted to do something crazy at the Banks. The “kid” turned out to be a large eighteen-year-old in a white T who wanted to 360 the Burns gap (out of the big banks and over a rail). This was pre-NorthWest neck tattoo, or any tat’s on Mike’s body, for that matter. Probably the craziest thing about the whole situation was that Hoder didn’t even try to jump it straight first; he pedaled his ass off and spun it first go. His feet blew off and he got a blowout; one fixed flat and one more try later, and it was all done. It’s still one of the craziest 3's ever done in NYC, and the first of many insane lower Manhattan 360's Hoder would lay down over the years. - Rob Dolecki

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GEOFF SLATTERY, Dawn Ride At FDR - 2001

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Years before I moved to Philadelphia and FDR became a local spot for me, whenever I did make it to FDR, getting there by 8 a.m. was basically a given, due to its reputation of overly-packed decks of riders and not-so-friendly skaters. I believe I was on a 256 road trip in 2001 when we made a stop at FDR, arriving an hour or so before dawn. Once the sun rose and I woke from my nap on one of the decks, I noticed this small, thirteen-year-old kid with an unmistakable flow ripping around. I thought to myself, “If this kid keeps riding, I’ll bet he’s going to be pretty good.” Geoff didn’t let me down. I haven’t been to FDR at dawn since that morning, and I’ll bet Geoff hasn’t been there that early in almost as many years, either. - Rob Dolecki

CHASE HAWK At home, Austin TX - 2002

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Chase Hawk had a Low Profile in Dig a few years prior to when these photos were taken, but at this point (in 2002), Chase had gone from a young clipped-in novelty who killed it at 9th Street Trails at that time, to a rising upstart who legitimately shredded everything. Fit was already hooking a then sixteen-year-old Chase up, as well as the defunct Manmade Clothing, and his style and skills were improving seemingly by the day. The day I shot these pics was my introduction to seeing him ride in person at his backyard ramp in Austin, and it was impressive, to say the least. And we all know how well the style god has progressed since then. - Rob Dolecki

​DAN LACEY at The Seventies Warehouse - Hastings UK, 2006

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This photo of Dan was taken at the Seventies Distribution warehouse/Federal bikes HQ back in 2006. I'd only just been introduced to Dan and he was the newest, raddest kid on the block. I'd met a few 'flash in the pan' types before and honestly, I wasn't sure how Dan would end up. But now over seven years later he's still at it and is stronger and than ever. His aggressive style and firey attitude have been a constant throughout his riding career - unlike the fluffy ear warmers - which, by his own admission, along with the rest of his gear, were most definitely "OFF!" Fast forward to today and Dan Lacey is at the top of his game - one of a very select group of street riders who continue to push riding to the next level. He's long since binned the bandana but he hasn't lost his gratitude towards BMX and where it has taken him and his friends. - Ricky Adam