Skateboarding is one of those sports that just oozes coolness and it has been doing so for quite a while. This article takes a brief look at where it started and why it became such a worldwide phenomenon
In The Beginning
Legend has it that skateboarding was invented in California in the 1950’s, some surfers decided to swap their waves for solid ground. The early designs were said to be fairly cumbersome and not too attractive either. They were wooden boxes with roller skate wheels attached to the bottom, as you can imagine there were quite a few nasty accidents during these times. Eventually these boxes were ditched and small planks of wood were used as an improvement. At some point the planks were modified into pieces of pressed wood and skateboarding as we know it had begun.
Skateboarding was at its peak in 1963, and there were several large competitions being held regularly. The big skateboard companies of this era were Makaha, Jack’s and Hobie, they would sponsor the events. The competitions were usually based on downhill slalom and freestyle events. The freestyle was akin to a dancing contest on the board whilst hitting some high speeds. The boards of this era were huge in comparison to the models favoured nowadays.
Skateboarding experienced a serious slump in 1965, and it seemed to disappear overnight like many other fads in the 1960’s. Many of the large board companies had to close down as nobody seemed to be bothered about boarding anymore. Youngsters who had the urge to go skateboarding were forced to make their own boards once more. People still dug this sport but it seemed to be destined to remain a minority sport for evermore.
In 1972 Frank Nasworthy invented urethane wheels, and this was a very important development and was a massive boost in the resurrection of this fabulous sport. These wheels allowed the skater far more control and speed in comparison to the old style roller skate medium.
In the spring of this year, skateboarding suddenly exploded into the mainstream of teenage entertainment. There was a ground breaking show held in Del Mar that got the publics’ imagination and never let go of it. The Zephyr team proved to be the winners of the peoples’ hearts but the real winner that day was a piece of wood with four wheels!
Up until 1978, most skating activities were centered around the downhill slalom and freestyle events. A skater by the name of Alan Gelfand devised a move that allowed him to pop the board into the air. He did this by slamming his foot down onto the tail of the board whilst jumping into the air. This maneuver was known as the ‘Ollie’, his nickname, and started the ‘tricks’ repertoire that would soon sweep the world of skateboarding.
Skateboarding hit another world slump in the late seventies, and this was to last until the mid-eighties. The birth of VCR revived skateboarding and superstars like Tony Hawk were thrust into the publics’ eye once more.
When not obsessing over other sports, Jamie Strauss likes to keep up with the latest happenings in the world of skateboarding. He works at Fast Times Skateboarding, a company that sells one of the best skateboards in Melbourne. In his free time, he likes to blog about different sports.
Tony Hawk – Wikipedia