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Simply one of the biggest and enduring legends of skateboarding, John Cardiel was born on December 14, 1973 in San Jose, California. He grew up in Half Moon Bay and later Grass Valley. Transcending multiple generations and beloved worldwide, his “All hail Cardiel!” folklore was built not on any technical innovation or resume of contest placings, rather it was built solely on the white hot intensity, ridiculous speed and unrelenting passion with which he attacked everything in his path. First noticed at the Boreal Mountain contest in 1990, John caught the eye of Dogtown’s Jim Muir (aka Red Dog), who released his debut video part the following year in DTS, The Video. After Dogtown fell apart and Red Dog moved away from SF, John rode for Black Label.
John would go on from there to win Thrasher’s coveted Skate of the Year award in 1992, and in 1995, he joined Julien Stranger as a founding member of their company, Anti-Hero. Cementing his legend in 2001 with his hugely influential part in TransWorld Skateboarding’s video Sight Unseen, John tragically suffered a severe spinal cord injury in 2004 while on tour in Australia. Told that he would never walk again, let alone ride a skateboard, Cardiel defied all medical expectations and battled his way back to not only walk, but to also skate and ride bikes. Currently residing in Sacramento, John is still pro for Anti-Hero, Vans, Spit Fire, and Independent, and he owns and operates Break Free Customs, selling custom bikes and skateboards built by Cardiel himself.