Following the lead initiated by skateboarding legend Tony Hawk, from the 2020/21 season forward FIS Snowboard will be referring to the grab formerly known as the "mute" as the "Weddle" grab, in honour of skateboarder Chris Weddle, who was the first person to perform the trick back in the early 80's.
In mid-August, Hawk took to Instagram to explain his motivation in inacting the name change, stating:
For nearly 40 years, we’ve shamelessly referred to this trick as the “mute” air/grab. Here is the backstory: around 1981, a deaf skater and Colton skatepark local named Chris Weddle was a prominent amateur on the competition circuit. The “Indy” air had just been created & named so somebody proposed that grabbing with the front hand should be known as the “Tracker” air. Others countered that Chris was the first to do, so it should be named after him. They referred to him as the “quiet, mute guy.” So it became known as the mute air, and we all went along with it in our naive youth. In recent years a few people have reached out to Chris (who still skates) about this trick and the name it was given. He has been very gracious in his response but it is obvious that a different name would have honored his legacy, as he is deaf but not lacking speech. I asked him last year as I was diving into trick origins and he said he would have rather named it the “deaf” or “Weddle” grab if given the choice. His exact quote to me was “I am deaf, not mute.” So as we embark on the upcoming @tonyhawkthegame demo release, some of you might notice a trick name change: The Weddle Grab. It’s going to be challenging to break the habit of saying the old name but I think Chris deserves the recognition. Thanks to @darrick_delao for being a great advocate to the deaf community in action sports, and for being the catalyst in this renaming process. I told Chris tecently and his reply was “I’m so stoked!”
FIS officials, including Park & Pipe Contest Director Roberto Moresi and Snowboard Judges Coordinator Ola Sundekvist, support the motion put forward by Hawk both for the greater inclusivity of the language that will now be used in the communication and judging of snowboarding, as well as for the recognition granted to the originator of a foundational skate and snowboard grab.
“So many tricks in snowboarding are based on tricks adopted from skateboarding," said Sundekvist, "So we need to keep our respect for that skateboarding heritage and adjust with the skate world. If something like this change has occurred there, we in snowboarding should adjust accordingly."
World Cup judge Marcello Centurione of Canada agrees. "Once we learned the story behind the trick name, the decision to change the name was simple. An opportunity to recognize Chris Weddle and allow him to name the trick is just the right thing to do. When people care, that is when change really happens.”
As for Weddle himself? When reached for comment on snowboarding's shift to recognize the trick he invented by renaming it the originator was succinct, but appreciative of the move.
"Thanks for changing and supporting," said Weddle, "I'm deaf, not mute, and I love snowboarding, too."
So as we move forward into the 2020/21 season and beyond, keep your eye out for the old trick with the new name, as the Weddle grab takes its place in the snowboard lexicon.