Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Let's revisit the most perilous rollerblade race in cinematic history

Illustration for article titled Let's revisit the most perilous rollerblade race in cinematic history
Screenshot: Mike Wong

Airborne, a movie following the trials of a California teen who must learn the art of rollerblading to survive high school, is an essential ‘90s artifact. It’s got a protagonist with a righteous butt-cut, Seth Green wearing a beret and circular sunglasses, and, most important of all, a lot of scenes that depict rollerblading as the coolest—and most extreme—new sport around.

60 Second Classics’ Mike Camerlengo, who we’ve featured here before for his expert analysis of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Kickboxer bar dance, has turned his attention to Airborne, running down the film’s deadly climatic rollerblade race.

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This race, as Camerlengo points out pretty quickly, is no joke. The opposing teams fly down a route called the Devil’s Backbone—a roadway that soon turns into a kind of Le Mans for teen rollerblading deaths. One kid falls from a jump to slam his head into a lawn; another wipes out and slides under a car. “One thing’s for sure,” Camerlengo says, “this is more dangerous for kids than touring a chocolate factory in the early ‘70s.”

Airborne’s hero, Mitchell, manages to hang on, persevering as friends and enemies alike meet their doom from what looks like snapped necks, crushed skulls, and a drowning death that “Mitchell watches for a second because, honestly,” Camerlengo narrates, “he wants to see what it feels like to watch a man die wearing rollerblades.”

At one point, Mitchell does a sweet jump over a car. “I haven’t seen anyone this high since my cousin tried to cook a Hot Pocket in the dryer,” Camerlengo says. At another, he flies off an overpass in order to take advantage of a shortcut and win the race.

All of this is serious business. It’s the kind of no holds barred, rollerblade-wearing tournament of death that we left behind with the beginning of a new millennium. Watch the clip regularly and remember how the world used to be, teenagers vying for social influence through a high-stakes, wheels-on-feet form of natural selection.

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.

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