annually on June 21 “to define skateboarding as the rebellious, creative celebration of independence it continues to be.” According to market research firm American Sports Data the number of skateboarders worldwide increased by more than 60 percent between 1999 and 2002—from 7.8 million to 12.5 million.
Many cities also began implementing recreation plans and statutes, during this time period, as part of their vision for local parks and communities to make public lands more available in particular, for skateboarding, inviting skateboarders to come in off of the city streets and into organized skateboarding activity areas. By 2006 there were over 2,400 Skateparks worldwide and the design of skateparks themselves had made a transition, as skaters turned designers, began to emerge in the field adding features for all levels of skaters. Many new places to skateboard designed specifically for street skaters, such as the “Safe Spot Skate Spot” program, first initiated by professional skateboarder Rob Dyrdek throughout many cites, allowed for the creation of smaller alternative safe skate plazas to be built at a lower cost. One of the largest locations ever built to skateboard in the world, SMP Skatepark in China, at 12,000 square meters in size, was built complete with a 5,000-seat stadium.
Recently, barefoot skating has been experiencing a revival. Many skaters ride barefoot, particularly in summer and in warmer countries, such as South Africa,Australia, Spain and South America. The plastic penny board is intended to be ridden barefoot, as is the surfboard-inspired hamboard
With the evolution of skateparks and ramp skating, the skateboard began to change. Early skate tricks had consisted mainly of two-dimensional freestyle manoeuvres like riding on only two wheels (“wheelie” or “manual”), spinning only on the back wheels (a “pivot”), high jumping over a bar and landing on the board again, also known as a “hippie jump”, long jumping from one board to another, (often over small barrels or fearless teenagers), or slalom. Another popular trick was the Bertlemann slide, named after Larry Bertelemann’s surfing manoeuvres.
In 1976, skateboarding was transformed by the invention of the ollie by Alan “Ollie” Gelfand. It remained largely a unique Florida trick until the summer of 1978, when Gelfand made his first visit to California. Gelfand and his revolutionary maneuvers caught the attention of the West Coast skaters and the media where it began to spread worldwide. The ollie was adapted to flat ground by Rodney Mullen in 1982. Mullen also invented the “Magic Flip,” which was later renamed thekickflip, as well as many other tricks including, the 360 kickflip, which is a 360 pop shove-it and a kickflip in the same motion. The flat ground ollie allowed skateboarders to perform tricks in mid-air without any more equipment than the skateboard itself, it has formed the basis of many street skating tricks. A recent development in the world of trick skating is the 1080, which was first ever landed by Tom Schaar in 2012.
Skateboarding was popularized by the 1986 skateboarding cult classic Thrashin’. Directed by David Winters and starringJosh Brolin, it features appearances from many famous skaters such as Tony Alva, Tony Hawk, Christian Hosoi and Steve Caballero. Thrashin’ also had a direct impact on Lords of Dogtown, as Catherine Hardwicke, who directed Lords of Dogtown, was hired by Winters to work onThrashin’ as a production designer where she met, worked with and befriended many famous skaters including the real Tony Alva, Tony Hawk, Christian Hosoi andSteve Caballero.
Skateboarding was, at first, tied to the culture of surfing. As skateboarding spread across the United States to places unfamiliar with surfing or surfing culture, it developed an image of its own. For example, the classic film short Video Days (1991) portrayed skateboarders as reckless rebels.
The image of the skateboarder as a rebellious, non-conforming youth has faded in recent years. Certain cities still oppose the building of skateparks in their neighborhoods, for fear of increased crime and drugs in the area. The rift between the old image of skateboarding and a newer one is quite visible: magazines such as Thrasher portray skateboarding as dirty, rebellious, and still firmly tied to punk, while other publications, Transworld Skateboarding as an example, paint a more diverse and controlled picture of skateboarding. Furthermore, as more professional skaters use hip hop, reggae, or hard rock music accompaniment in their videos, many urban youths, hip-hop fans, reggae fans, and hard rock fans are also drawn to skateboarding, further diluting the sport’s punk image.
Films such as the 1986 Thrashin’, Grind and Lords of Dogtown, have helped improve the reputation of skateboarding youth, depicting individuals of this subculture as having a positive outlook on life, prone to poking harmless fun at each other, and engaging in healthy sportsman’s competition. According to the film, lack of respect, egotism and hostility towards fellow skateboarders is generally frowned upon, albeit each of the characters (and as such, proxies of the “stereotypical” skateboarder) have a firm disrespect for authority and for rules in general. Group spirit is supposed to heavily influence the members of this community. In presentations of this sort, showcasing of criminal tendencies is absent, and no attempt is made to tie extreme sports to any kind of illegal activity.
Gleaming the Cube, a 1989 movie starring Christian Slater as a skateboarding teen investigating the death of his adopted Vietnamese brother, was somewhat of an iconic landmark to the skateboarding genre of the era. Many well-known skaters had cameos in the film, including Tony Hawk and Rodney Mullen, where Mullen served as Slater’s stunt double.
The increasing availability of technology is apparent within the skateboarding community. Many skateboarders record and edit videos of themselves and friends skateboarding. However, part of this culture is to not merely replicate but to innovate; emphasis is placed on finding new places and landing new tricks.
Skateboarding video games have also become very popular in skateboarding culture. Some of the most popular are the Tony Hawk series and Skate series for various consoles (including hand-held) and personal computer.
Whilst early skateboarders generally rode barefoot, preferring direct foot-to-board contact, and some skaters continue to do so, one of the early leading trends associated with the sub-culture of skateboarding itself, was the sticky sole “Slip-On” Skate shoe, most popularized by Sean Penn’s skateboarding character from the film Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Because early skateboarders were actually surfers trying to emulate the sport of surfing, at the time when skateboards first came out on the market, many skateboarded barefoot. But skaters often lacked traction, which led to foot injuries. This necessitated the need for a shoe that was specifically designed and marketed for skateboarding, such as the Randy “720”, manufactured by the Randolph Rubber Company, and Vans sneakers, which eventually became cultural iconic signifiers for skateboarders during the 70s & 80’s as skateboarding became more widespread.
While the skate shoes design afforded better connection & traction with the deck, skaterboarders themselves could often be identified when wearing the shoes, with Tony Hawk once saying, “If you were wearing Vans shoes in 86, you were a skateboarder” Because of its connection with skateboarding, Vans financed the legendary skateboarding documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys and was the first sneaker company to endorse a professional skateboarder Stacy Peralta. Vans has a long history of being a major sponsor of many of skateboarding’s competitions and events throughout skateboarding’s history as well, including the Vans Warped Tour and the Vans Triple Crown Series.
As it eventually became more apparent that skateboarding had a particular identity with a style of shoe, other brands of shoe companies began to specifically design skate shoes for functionality and style to further enhance the experience and culture of skateboarding including such brands as; Converse, Nike, DC Shoes, Globe,Adidas, Zoo York and World Industries. Many professional skateboarders are designed a pro-model skate shoe, with their name on it, once they have received askateboarding sponsorship after becoming notable skateboarders. Some shoe companies involved with skateboarding, like Sole Technology, an American footwear company that makes the Etnies skate shoe brand, further distinguish themselves in the market by collaborating with local cities to open public Skateparks, such as the etnies skatepark in Lake Forest, California.
Individuality and a self-expressed casual style, have always been, among two of the cultural values for skateboarders, as uniforms and jerseys are not typically worn. This type of personal style for skateboarders is often reflected in the graphical designs illustrated on the bottom of the deck of skateboards, since its initial conception in the mid seventies, when Wes Humpston and Jim Muri first began doing design work for Dogtown Skateboards out of their garage by hand, creating the very first iconic skateboard-deck art with the design of the “Dogtown Cross”.
Prior to the mid-seventies many early skateboards were originally based upon the concept of “Sidewalk Surfing” and were tied to the surf culture, skateboards were surfboard like in appearance with little to no graphics located under the bottom of the skateboard-deck. Some of the early manufactured skateboards such as “Roller Derby”, the “Duraflex Surfer” and the “Banana board” are characteristic. Some skateboards during that time were manufactured with company logo’s or stickers across the top of the deck of the skateboard, as griptape was not initially used for construction. But as skateboarding progressed & evolved, and as artist began to design and add influence to the artwork of skateboards, designs and themes began to change.
There were several artistic skateboarding pioneer’s that had an influence on the culture of skateboarding during the 1980s, that transformed skateboard-deck art like Jim Phillips, who’s edgy comic-book style “Screaming Hand”, not only became the main logo for Santa Cruz Skateboards, but eventually transcended into tattoos of the same image for thousands of people & vinyl collectable figurines over the years. Artist Vernon Courtlandt Johnson is said to have used his artwork of skeletons and skulls, for Powell Peralta, during the same time that the music genres of punk rock and new wave music were beginning to mesh with the culture of skateboarding. Some other notable skateboard artists that made contribrutions to the culture of skateboarding also include Andy Jenkins, Todd Bratrud, Neil Blender, Marc McKee, Tod Swank, Mark Gonzales, Lance Mountain, Natas Kaupas and Jim Evans.
Over the years skateboard-deck art has continued to influence and expand the culture of skateboarding, as many people began collecting skateboards based on their artistic value and nostalgia. Productions of limited editions with particular designs and types of collectible prints that can be hung on the wall, have been created by such famous artist as Andy Warhol and Keith Haring. Most professional skateboarders today have their own signature skateboard decks, with their favorite artistic designs printed on them using Computer graphics.
Skateboards, along with other small-wheeled transportation such as in-line skates and scooters, suffer a safety problem: riders may easily be thrown from small cracks and outcroppings in pavement, especially where the cracks run across the direction of travel. Hitting such an irregularity is the major cause of falls and injuries. The risk may be reduced at higher travel speeds.
Severe injuries are relatively rare. Commonly, a skateboarder who falls suffers from scrapes, cuts, bruises, and sprains. Among injuries reported to a hospital, about half involve broken bones, usually the long bones in the leg or arm. One-third of skateboarders with reported injuries are very new to the sport, having started skating within one week of the injury. Although less common, involving 3.5–9 percent of reported injuries, traumatic head injuries and death are possible severe outcomes.
Skating as a form of transportation exposes the skateboarder to the dangers of other traffic. Skateboarders on the street may be hit by other vehicles or may fall into vehicular traffic.
Skateboarders also pose a risk to other pedestrians and traffic. If the skateboarder falls, the skateboard may roll or fly into another person. A skateboarder who collides with a person who is walking or biking may injure or, rarely, kill that person.
Many jurisdictions require skateboarders to wear bicycle helmets to reduce the risk of head injuries and death. Other protective gear, such as wrist guards, also reduce injury. Some medical researchers have proposed restricting skateboarding to designated, specially designed areas, to reduce the number and severity of injuries, and to eliminate injuries caused by motor vehicles or to other pedestrians.
The use, ownership and sale of skateboards were forbidden in Norway from 1978 to 1989 because of the high number of injuries caused by boards. The ban led skateboarders to construct ramps in the forest and other secluded areas to avoid the police. There was, however, one legal skatepark in the country in Frognerparken in Oslo.
Other uses and styles
The use of skateboards solely as a form of transportation is often associated with the longboard. Depending on local laws, using skateboards as a form of transportation outside residential areas may or may not be legal. Backers cite portability, exercise, and environmental friendliness as some of the benefits of skateboarding as an alternative to automobiles.
The United States Marine Corps tested the usefulness of commercial off-the-shelf skateboards during urban combat military exercises in the late 1990s in a program called Urban Warrior ’99. Their special purpose was “for maneuvering inside buildings in order to detect tripwires and sniper fire”.
Trampboarding is a variant of skateboarding that uses a board without the trucks and the wheels on a trampoline. Using the bounce of the trampoline gives height to perform a tricks, whereas in skateboarding you need to make the height by performing an ollie. Trampboarding is seen on YouTube in numerous videos.
Swing boarding is the activity where a skateboard deck is suspended from a pivot point above the rider which allows the rider to swing about that pivot point. The board swings in an arc which is a similar movement to riding a half pipe. The incorporation of a harness and frame allows the rider to perform turns spins all while flying though the air.
Skateboarding is sometimes associated with property damage to urban terrain features such as curbs, benches, and ledges when skateboarders perform tricks known as grinds on these surfaces. Private industry has responded to this perceived damage with skate deterrent devices, such as the Skatestopper, in an effort to mitigate damage and discourage skateboarding on these surfaces.
The passing of ordinances and the use of posted signs stating “Skateboarding is not allowed” have also become common methods to mitigate skateboarding in public areas in many cities, to protect pedestrians and property. In the area of street skating, tickets and arrest from police for trespassing are not uncommon.
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