Gui Khury, the youngest skateboarder to master the 900-degree turn, just completed a 1080.

The closure of schools in Brazil due to the coronavirus pandemic gave 11-year-old prodigy Gui Khury plenty of time to perfect his skateboarding skills as he became the first person to land a 1080-degree turn on a vertical ramp.

More than two decades after Tony Hawk completed the first 900-degree turn, Khury shattered a long-standing record by flying off the top of a ramp and completing three full spins in the air before landing cleanly and skating off. The manoeuvre has long been one of the holy grails of skateboarding.

“The isolation for the coronavirus helped because he had a life that was about school and he didn’t have a lot of time to train, when he got home from school he was tired,” the skater’s father Ricardo Khury Filho told Reuters. “So now he is at home more, he eats better and he has more time to train and can focus more on the training so that has helped. He has an opportunity to train here, if he didn’t have [the skate facilities] … he would be stuck at home like everyone else and unable to do sport. So the isolation helped him focus.”

Triple Whammy

During lockdown, Khury’s family make the 20-minute journey to his grandmother’s house on most days to deliver food and drop him off so that he can train on the vertical ramp, bowl and street course they had built in her back garden. It was on that ramp that he completed the historic feat.

Khury was already the youngest skateboarder to complete the 900-degree turn, a feat he pulled off aged eight. “I was like, oh my God, what did I just do?” Gui Khury told Reuters after achieving his historic 1080. “I was just like OK, I landed it. Now I am going to celebrate.” The boy’s celebration was “mac and cheese at home” with his family.

Skateboarding great Hawk landed the first 900 in 1999, nine years before Khury was born. Hawk was 31 when he successfully completed the trick calling it the biggest moment of his competitive career. Fewer than a dozen skaters have achieved the feat in the years since. American Tom Schaar completed a 1080-degree turn in 2012 but on a mega ramp that gives skateboarders a higher speed and elevation in which to complete all three turns.

The boy’s celebration was “mac and cheese at home” with his family.

Khury’s triple spin was recorded by his parents on their phone and posted on Instagram. “I sent it to all my favourite skaters, like Tony Hawk, Bob Burnquist and Neal Mims,” Gui Khury said. “Some posted it on their stories and some actually posted it on their Instagram. I was like that’s so crazy, because it’s like a once in a lifetime experience. It’s so amazing. It’s the best feeling ever.”

The skater’s next task is to keep practising the 1080-degree turn so he can complete the trick in competitions. Then, with the confidence that perhaps only an 11-year old can pass off, he imagines attempting skateboarding’s next big milestone. “1260. One person has done it only but it was on a mega ramp so it will be way [more] difficult for me,” Khury said. “It could be [possible]. You never know.”

Skateboarding is set to make its Olympic debut at the Tokyo Olympics, which have been pushed back to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

An orphaned baby giraffe embraces a wildlife keeper at Sarara Camp, in Kenya.
It’s not every day that a purebred bison calf roams the Canadian wilderness.

The Great Plains were once blanketed by herds of bison but more than a century ago, thanks in part to overhunting by European settlers, the creatures all but died out. Now an alliance of scientists, government officials and indigenous tribes is collaborating to bring the sweeping herds back to the Canadian prairies. Last month, on Earth Day, the ambitious project recorded a key milestone: the birth of a fluffy orange calf at the Wanuskewin Heritage Park in Saskatchewan.

A wild bison baby has not arrived at Wanuskewin, a traditional indigenous meeting ground, since 1876. “It was just sensational news,” Darlene Brander, who runs the park, said. “These bison are the closest that people can get to the 1800s bison that once roamed the northern plains.”

On Earth Day, a fluffy orange calf at the Wanuskewin Heritage Park in Saskatchewan was born.

Purebred bison, descended from pre-colonisation herds, are extremely rare. In the late 19th century overhunting, habitat destruction and disease caused their numbers to plummet from 60 million to about 600. Today Canada has only 1,500, all descended from 50 creatures that avoided a misguided cross-breeding drive a century ago. Back then ranchers across the continent thought that a bison-cow hybrid could better endure cold winters. It is those hybrids that are served in North American steakhouses today. Native American tribes claim a fraternal relationship with bison and have relied on their meat and skins for centuries. Many of them dream of the thundering herds returning to the plains of western Canada.

The animals now inhabit Banff National Park, in the Rocky Mountains, which Parks Canada describes as “a historic, ecological and cultural triumph”, and scientists at the University of Saskatchewan have developed the world’s first bison IVF. “It is possible to produce 300 live bison calves over a five-year period,” the team’s mission statement notes. “Pure bison may be re-introduced to their former vast range in sustainable numbers.”

Sperm and embryos can be ferried across the US-Canada border more easily than living animals. The US has a single pure bison herd, at Yellowstone National Park.