Skate Anatomy: Steve Caballero
In 1981, I built a vert ramp in my backyard. It was held together with nails, not screws—big mistake. I didn’t keep up with the maintenance, and a few of the nails started to pop out. While practicing a gay twist mute grab, I bailed and knee slid down the ramp. A loose nail caught my pad and ripped it off, then another nail tore into my knee ripping it from side-to-side and leaving a large gash that needed 36 stitches. I was lucky it wasn’t deep enough to hit any tendons.
It was around 1988, and I was skating miniramp all the time. I was sessioning with Rob Roskopp, Keith Meek and the O’Brien brothers in San Jose. I was doing a lipslide revert, and when I came in my back wheels stuck and I caught my back toe on the lip, twisting it super hard and breaking it. I never went to the doctor to check it out, so I ended up with a large bunion on the side of my foot that hurts from time to time, especially with new shoes that are too tight.
In 1990, I got into racing remote-controlled cars. While I was building my first one, there was a part that had to be cut off the front bumper to fit. I put a brand-new blade in the X-Acto knife and as I started to cut, it slipped, cutting right through my thumb nail and into my thumb. The mistake I made was waiting till the next day to check it out at the hospital. They wouldn’t stitch it in case it had become infected overnight, so they just put a Band-Aid on it. It took way longer to heal, and I missed out on a very important skate trip to Japan with Hosoi, Sergie Ventura, Eddie Reategui and Dave Duncan.
Midway through the 2003 Vans Warped Tour, Mike Frazier convinced me to try an old-school invert called a layback air. I hadn’t done one in years and thought I could just bust it out first try. I was just a bit off and slammed on my hip, getting a small abrasion. At that time, three people on our tour bus had staph infections on various parts of their bodies. Somehow I contracted it when I got home, because I noticed an ingrown hair that wouldn’t go away and got worse after I tried to pop it. I went to the doctor and he had to slice it open and drain it. That sucked. They put me on antibiotics for two weeks, and I had to keep some gel in my nose twice a day for a week because of the type of respiratory staph infection it was.
I was born with this condition. It’s a curvature of the spine in the shape of an “S.” It caused one of the glands in my neck to not grow correctly, hence the slight tilt of my head that makes me look like I have a stiff neck all the time. When I was 5 years old, my dad took me to the hospital to see if they could correct it. They said there was a 50 percent chance the surgery could leave me paralyzed, so we just left it alone. It really hasn’t affected me too much.
In 1998, I was on a tour with the Powell team in Japan. Two nights into the trip, we were skating a ledge at night. I was coming to hit the ledge for a noseslide, and a girl on a bicycle hit the back of my foot as I was pushing. It tripped me up and sent me right to my face on the cold marble ground. I landed right on my eyebrow and blood was pouring out. I was rushed to a doctor and got six stitches above a black eye. I had a patch over my eye for the rest of the trip and had to deal with all these Japanese skaters taking tons of pictures of me. I didn’t look my best, that’s for sure.
In 1989, I was skating the vert ramp at the San Jose skate warehouse that’s featured in Public Domain. While attempting an Andrecht, I tried to grab for the outside rail on the way up the wall and ended up jamming my ring finger into the top of the deck super hard, almost breaking it. A sprained finger and swollen knuckle were the result.
Loss of Thumbnail
In 2000, while filming for Tilt Mode, I attempted to boardslide a crazy kinked rail (see footage at the end of the video.) The rail starts out down eight stairs, kinks into a flat curve for about 20 feet, then goes into another kink and heads down 13 more stairs. I made it the whole way up to the 13 part and stuck around stair number three. I was leaning too far forward and got pitched down the last 10 stairs onto my thumb, wrist, hip, knee and head. Result: sprained wrists, bruised hip and knee abrasion, bump on my head and a smashed thumbnail that eventually fell off.
Only Broken Bone
In 1991, I broke my ankle and foot. I was trying a varial tailgrab air on an 11-foot vert ramp. I went for the trick about two feet out but pulled away from the ramp a bit too much and just threw the board under my feet as I was coming around. My front foot slipped off the nose of the board causing me to roll my ankle as I landed, breaking it in two spots. I knew as soon as I slammed that something wasn’t right and that I needed to go to the hospital right away. I was very fortunate there were just slight fractures on the top of my foot and ankle. I didn’t need any surgery, screws or plates to hold it together. I’m so blessed and thank God today for it not being worse than it was. It took two months of rest and physical therapy to heal. That’s the longest I’ve ever been off my skateboard and not rolling around during my entire 25-year career.