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A skateboarder in the middle of a trick

Skateboarding is the act of rolling on or interacting with a skateboard. Someone who skateboards is a skater (or skateboarder or most fully skateboard rider), though the shortest term may also refer to someone ice skating or roller skating.

Like roller skating, skateboarding is often done for recreation and as a sport, but, more often than ice skating, it is a method of transportation. Skateboarding has been thought of by many as part of the extreme sports family, which also includes (but not restricted to) snowboarding, BMX, and surfing.


History of the skateboard

The history of skateboarding goes hand in hand with the history of the skateboard. Improvements in skateboarding equipment have spurred advancement in skateboarding techniques and new techniques have required new equipment.

Skateboarding has its origins in surfing, and was originally called "sidewalk surfing". While surfing influenced skateboarding in it's early days, now the reverse is also true. Surfers are adapting skateboarding tricks into surfing, and the result is evolution in both sports.

The first skateboard

The first commercial skateboard was the Roller Derby Skateboard that was introduced in 1959. Before this skateboards were home made pieces of wooden planks with roller skates attached to the bottom. At the time there was a rapidly growing interest in skateboarding (sometimes referred to as sidewalk surfing) and soon many other similar products emerged. The boards were from 6 to 7 inches wide. These boards used wheels made of clay. They had poor traction and would come to a dead stop when rolling over even small pebbles. This made skateboarding inherently a dangerous sport and after a few years many cities banned skateboarding because of liability concerns. This development caused the first skateboarding fad to die completely in the fall of 1965. Many skateboard manufacturers went out of business because of losing money on cancelled orders for the Christmas holiday season.

The second generation

In 1970 Frank Nasworthy started to develop a skateboard wheel made of urethane. The improvement in traction and performance was so immense that popularity of skateboarding started to rise rapidly again. With the growing interest companies started to invest more in product development and many companies started to manufacture trucks especially designed for skateboarding. As the equipment became more maneuverable the decks started to get wider, reaching widths of 10 inches and over in the end, thus giving the skateboarder even more control. Manufacturers started to experiment with more exotic composites, like fiberglass and aluminium but the common skateboards were made of maple plywood. The skateboarders took advantage of the improved handling of their skateboards and started inventing new tricks. Skateboarders, most notably the Z-Boys, started to skate the vertical walls of swimming pools that were left empty in the 1976 California drought. With increased control skateboarders could skate faster and perform more dangerous tricks. This caused liability concerns and increased insurance costs to skatepark owners. Many skateparks went out of business and the parks were torn down or bulldozed. In the end of 1980, skateboarding had died again.

The third generation

The third skateboard generation, from early eighties to early nineties, was started by skateboard companies that actively promoted their sport. The focus was initially on halfpipe and vert ramp skateboarding. The invention of the ollie made it possible for skaters to perform huge airs off vertical ramps. With vert skating being dominant decks were initially very wide with large and wide wheels, though as time progressed and skateparks became fewer in number, street skating was gaining popularity, causing a change in both deck shape and wheel size. Manufacturers preferred maple plywood over more exotic composite materials almost exclusively. The third skateboarding generation was killed by the global economical recession in the early 90's.

The current generation

The size and shape of the fourth and current generation of skateboards is dominated by one trick: the ollie. The boards are all about 7.75" wide and 31.5" long. The wheels have an extremely hard durometer so that they will slide better during grind and slide tricks. The wheel sizes are relatively small so that the boards will rotate more easily during flip tricks. In the early 1990's, the wheels were only marginally larger than the bearings they encased to make complicated flip tricks easier but that fad died in 1994 and wheels currently are around 50 to 58mm in diameter. The decks are still almost always maple plywood but interest in high technology materials has increased slightly after the cost of manufacturing them has dropped.

Trick skating

see: Skateboarding trick for detailed description of trick skating maneuvers

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Even young children can have fun at the skatepark.

With the evolution of skateboard parks (or skateparks) and ramp riding, the skateboard began to change. Skating was originally basically two-dimensional tricks (e.g. riding on only the front wheels (nose manual), spinning like an ice skater on the back wheels (a 360), high jumping over a bar, long jumping from one board to another (often over fearless teenagers lying on their backs), slalom, etc.) Around 1978 or so, street riding became transformed by the invention of the ollie or no hands aerial, the first modern skateboarding trick, by Alan "Ollie" Gelfand. To ollie is to fly off the ground (flat or a wall) with the board, but without holding onto the board and then landing back on the board. It involves using your feet to press against the board in various complicated combinations, depending on the trick to be performed. The trick was reinvented by Rodney Mullen in the 80's, being transferred to the horizontal plane and used as a trick for freestyle skating (a style of skating popular in the 70's and 80's based on stationary maneuvers). No longer is the trick to fly from one place to another. On the way the board can twist and flip, as can the rider, then to be united before hitting ground. The development of these complex tricks went from the street to the vertical tops of the half pipes (and other terrains).

Very skillful skateboarders often become famous through sponsorship and endorsements. Examples include Tony Hawk (who has a series of video games in his name), Bob Burnquist, Rodney Mullen, Mike Vallely, Steve Caballero, Bam Margera and Josh Kalis (who has appeared in numerous television advertisements for DC Shoes). Hawk has recently appeared in the MTV music video awards. In the vert world, some are surpassing the skills of Tony Hawk. Recently his signature trick, the "900," was performed by an Italian skater named Georgio Zattoni and a Brazillian skater by the name of Sandro Dias. Also, Danny Way is considered by some to be the most innovative and daring skater, flying across the "DC Megaramps", and planning on jumping both the Great Wall of China and the Grand Canyon. Many styles today are a mimic of Tom Penny, who is a pioneer and in the early 1990s was the first skater to catch his flip tricks in mid air.

All this from an object that was never designed to lock into grinds, flip in the air or do the tricks performed by today's skateboarders. Throwing themselves down large stairs and handrails only ups the ante in the modern skateboarding world. Today's skateboarders not only differ greatly from those only 10 years ago in terms of tricks and consistency, but also style, which is a very important aspect in the way skateboarders are marketed by skateboarding companies.

Famous Skateboarders

See also

External links

de:Skateboard es:Skateboarding fa:اسکیت‌بورد fr:Planche roulettes it:Skateboarding lt:Riedlenčių sportas nl:Skateboarden pl:Skateboarding pt:Skate sl:Rolkanje fi:Rullalautailu


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