Back in the mid-1970s, Denis Shufeldt was a legendary speed demon, being the first to develop high-speed fairing postures for downhill. He was also known for inventing the shufly christie, which is a one-footed squat turn with the front leg extended forward. “Words like positive, direct, intelligent, responsible. well-spoken, soulful and disciplined describe Denis very well, and these traits have allowed him a large degree of influence on the sport,” Warren Bolster commented on Denis in the pages of Skateboarder in 1976. Born in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1950, Denis started riding in San Diego, California at age eight on a homemade wooden deck with steel roller skate wheels. Unbelievably, his parents actually encouraged him to skateboard! Denis’ first attempts at slalom in the ’60s were inspired by guys like Tommy Ryan, Vince Turner, Skip Frye and Willie Phillips. Early on, Denis did well in contests, placing first in freestyle at the 1964 Grosmont Center contest in San Diego, and as a finalist in slalom at the Anaheim National Skateboard Championships in ’65.
By the fall of 1974, Denis was pushing a yoga-inspired finesse into his skate style while collecting a paycheck for shredding before most, and prior to professional skateboarding even being a lucrative thing. His main sponsors included Gordon & Smith from 1964-’65, Bahne from 1974-’76, Grentec in 1976, Magnum in 1977, Turner Summer Ski from 1975-’80, and Logan Earth Ski from 1978-’79. Over his six years as a pro, Denis enjoyed surf skating, freestyle, slalom, giant slalom and downhill, scoring first place in the celebrity slalom race at the 1975 Hang Ten Pro-Am Championships. In Winter 1975, Denis was featured on the cover and center spread of Skateboarder, along with a full-page Bahne ad, and a Who’s Hot! the following issue. In December 1976, he was honored with a six-page interview in Skateboarder. He could also be seen shredding for the lens in the film Spinning Wheels, kids’ TV shows like Wonderama and Bozo the Clown, plus ABC’s Wide World of Sports.
Denis lists his career highlights as, “helping lay the groundwork for the future of professional skaters, getting to skate with the greatest men and women skateboarders of the ’60s and ’70s, sharing skateboarding knowledge with kids across the United States, making lasting friendships, and being part of the skateboarding family that is now worldwide.” In June 2020, Denis retired after working in the automotive industry for 40 years. These days, he still occasionally pulls out his Turner Summer Ski to cruise around. In addition to rolling, he also enjoys hiking, meditation, traveling the California coastline with his wife, and working on a documentary of the early days of skateboarding at La Costa in the 1970s.
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