skateboarding n : the sport of skating on a skateboard
- present participle of skateboard
- the act of riding on a skateboard
Skateboarding is the act of riding on and performing tricks with a skateboard. A person who skateboards is referred to as a skateboarder, skater or "shredder".
Skateboarding is a recreational activity, a job, or a method of transportation. Skateboarding has been shaped and influenced by many skateboarders throughout the years. A 2002 report by American Sports Data found that there were 18.5 million skateboarders in the world. Eighty-five percent of skateboarders polled who had used a board in the last year were under the age of 18, and 74 percent were male.
Skateboarding is relatively modern. A key skateboarding trick, the ollie, was only developed in the late 1970s. This ollie was used only on vertical ramps on flat ground. A decade later, freestyle skateboarder Rodney Mullen invented the kickflip which before was called a Magic Flip.
The first skateboardSkateboarding probably started in the 1950s or 1960s, when surfers in California got the idea of trying to surf the streets. No one really knows who made the first board -- instead, it seems that several people came up with similar ideas at the same time. Several people have claimed to have invented the skateboard first, but nothing can be proved, and skateboarding remains a strange spontaneous creation. These first skateboarders started with wooden boxes or boards with roller skate wheels slapped on the bottom. Like you might imagine, a lot of people got hurt in skateboarding's early years! It was a sport just being born and discovered, so anything went. The boxes turned into planks, and eventually companies were producing decks of pressed layers of wood -- similar to the skateboard decks of today. During this time, skateboarding was seen as something to do for fun after surfing.
The first manufactured skateboards were ordered by a Los Angeles, California surf shop, meant to be used by surfers when the ocean was flat. The shop owner, Bill Richard and Kyler made a deal with the Chicago Roller Skate Company to produce sets of skate wheels, which they attached to square wooden boards. Accordingly, skateboarding was originally denoted "sidewalk surfing" and early skaters emulated surfing style and moves. Crate scooters preceded skateboards, and were borne of a similar concept, with the exception of having a wooden crate attached to the nose (front of the board), which formed rudimentary handlebars.
A number of surfing manufacturers such as Makaha started building skateboards that resembled small surfboards, and assembling teams to promote their products. The popularity of skateboarding at this time spawned a national magazine, Skateboarder Magazine, and the 1965 international championships were broadcast on national television. The growth of the sport during this period can also be seen in sales figures for Makaha, which quoted $10 million worth of board sales between 1963 and 1965 (Weyland, 2002:28). Yet by 1966 the sales had dropped significantly (ibid) and Skateboarder Magazine had stopped publication. The popularity of skateboarding dropped and remained low until the early 1970s.
Second generationIn the early 1970s, Frank Nasworthy started to develop a skateboard wheel made of polyurethane, calling it the 'Cadillac' as he hoped this would convey the fat ride it afforded the rider. and the almost parallel development of the grabbed aerial by George Orton and Tony Alva in California in had made it possible for skaters to perform airs on vertical ramps. While this wave of skateboarding was sparked by commercialized vert ramp skating, a majority of people who skateboarded during this period never rode vert ramps. Because most people couldn't afford to build vert ramps or didn't have access to nearby ramps, street skating gained popularity. Freestyle skating remained healthy throughout this period with pioneers such as Rodney Mullen inventing the basics of modern street skating; the flatground ollie, the kickflip, and the heelflip to name a few. The influence freestyle had on street skating became apparent during the mid-eighties, but street skating was still performed on wide vert boards with short noses, slide rails, and large soft wheels. Skateboarding, however, evolved quickly in the late 1980s to accommodate the street skater. Since few skateparks were available to skaters at this time, street skating pushed skaters to seek out shopping centres and public and private property as their "spot" to skate. Public opposition, and the threat of lawsuits, forced businesses and property owners to ban skateboarding on their property. By 1992, only a small fraction of skateboarders remained as a highly technical version of street skating, combined with the decline of vert skating, produced a sport that lacked the mainstream appeal to attract new skaters.
- See Skateboarding trick for detailed description of trick skating maneuvers
Skateboard ban in NorwayThe only country ever to ban skateboards was Norway, in the period between 1978 and 1989. The use, ownership and sale of skateboards were forbidden. The ban was said to be due to the perceived high amount of injuries caused by boards. The ban led skateboarders to construct ramps in the forest and other secluded areas to avoid the police.
Military experimentation in the United StatesIt has been publicly reported that the United States Marine Corps tested the usefulness of commercial off-the-shelf skateboards during urban combat military exercises in the late 1990s. Their special purpose has been described as "for maneuvering inside buildings in order to detect tripwires and sniper fire".
Novice and amateur skate teamsMany novice and amateur skateboarding teams have emerged in the last ten years consisting of groups of talented skateboarders. Amateur skateboarding competitions such as the Free Flow tour among many others allows such teams to compete with each other even though they may not be pro. It gives kids the way to pro and a way to be sponsored.
Further reading and information
- Borden, Iain. (2001). Skateboarding, Space and the City: Architecture and the Body. Oxford: Berg.
- Hocking, Justin, Jeffrey Knutson and Jared Maher (Eds.). (2004). Life and Limb: Skateboarders Write from the Deep End. New York: Soft Skull Press.
- Weyland, Jocko. (2002). The Answer is Never: a History and Memoir of Skateboarding. New York: Grove Press.
- Hawk, Tony and Mortimer, Sean. (2000). Hawk: Occupation: Skateboarder. New York: HarperCollins.
- Thrasher Magazine. (2001). Thrasher: Insane Terrain. New York: Universe.
- Brooke, Michael (1999) The Concrete Wave - the History of Skateboarding. Warwick Publishing
- Mullen, Rodney and Mortimer, Sean (2003). The Mutt
- Skateboard Kings, a 1978 documentary on skateboarding
- SkateSpotter, a directory of skate spots
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