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Credited with introducing skateboarding to punk rock at the end of the 1970s, along with being the original tester of the Independent Stage 1 truck (which was released in ’78), and whose iconic Santa Cruz Checkerboard model became the first use of full-board graphics on seven-ply laminated maple, Steve Olson and the scope of his influence over five decades of skateboarding is nearly impossible to overstate and almost equally impossible to summarize. A legendary character of near biblical proportions, Olson first stepped on a skateboard in 1966 and would turn pro alongside Duane Peters and Steve Alba as Santa Cruz’s response to the Bones Brigade in ’79. That same year, Olson would win Skateboarder magazine’s coveted Skateboarder of the Year award (which he famously accepted dressed in bondage pants, a white blazer, and a polka dot tie) and go on to release his game-changing checkerboard model in 1980.
As Stacy Peralta describes it, “He was the first vertical skateboard champion. He would show up to contests with the least amount of practice. But then he’d get this intense focus and would go out there and be flawless. And he never did the same thing twice.” After weathering the early ’80s industry collapse selling commodities, Olson went on to launch his own board / clothing division at Santa Cruz, SOS (Steve Olson Skates) during the early ’80s, rode for Skull Skates, and appeared in the movie Thrashin’ as one of the Daggers. Since being cast in a host of national advertising campaigns, launching his own fledgling art career, and creating tabloid fodder with repeated dating of Hollywood A-listers and models, Steve also raised and mentored his son, Alex, who now rides for Nike SB and runs his own board brand called Bianca Chandon.