Part Two

Terry Pryor

In the 1990s, the United States Marine Corps tested the usefulness of commercial off-the-shelf skateboards during urban combat military exercises in a program called Urban Warrior ‘99. Their special purpose was “for maneuvering inside buildings in order to detect tripwires and sniper fire.”

Yes, size matters. Most boards are about 7¼ to 8 inches wide and 30 to 32 inches long. The wheels are made of an extremely hard polyurethane, with hardness durometer approximately 99A. The wheel sizes are relatively small so that the boards are lighter and the wheels’ inertia is overcome quicker, thus making tricks more manageable. Board styles have changed dramatically since the 1970s, but have remained mostly alike since the mid-1990s. The contemporary shape of the skateboard is derived from the freestyle boards of the 1980s, with a largely symmetrical shape and relatively narrow width. This form had become standard by the mid-1990s.

By 2001, skateboarding had gained so much popularity that more American people under the age of 18 rode skateboards (10.6 million) than played baseball (8.2 million), although traditional organized team sports still dominated youth programs overall. Skateboarding and skateparks began to be viewed and used in a variety of new ways to complement academic lessons in schools, including new non-traditional physical education skateboarding programs, like Skatepass, to encourage kids to have better attendance, self-discipline, and confidence. This was also based on the healthy physical opportunities skateboarding was understood to bring participants for muscle and bone strengthening and balance, as well as the positive impacts it can have on youth in teaching them mutual respect, social networking, artistic expression, and an appreciation of the environment.

In 2003, Go Skateboarding Day was founded in southern California by the International Association of Skateboard Companies (IASC) to promote skateboarding throughout the world. It is celebrated annually on June 21 “to define skateboarding as the rebellious, creative celebration of independence it continues to be.” According to the market research firm, American Sports Data, the number of skateboarders worldwide increased by more than a whopping 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 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. Many new places to skateboard designed specifically for street skaters 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 13,700 square meters in size, was built, complete with a 5,000-seat stadium.

In the most recent year, efforts have been taken to improve recognition of the cultural heritage, as well as the positive effects of encouraging skateboarding within designated spaces. In 2015, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., hosted an event at which skateboarders, accompanied by music, did tricks on a ramp constructed for a festival of American Culture. The event was the climax of a 10-day project that transformed a federal institution formerly off-limits to the skateboarding community into a platform for that community to show its relevance through shared cultural action in a cultural common space.

Sidewalk surfing is now an Olympic sport. It made its Olympics debut at the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, with both men’s and women’s events.

One of the earliest sponsored skateboarders, Patti McGee, was paid by Hobie and Vita Pak to travel around the country to do skateboarding exhibitions and to demonstrate skateboarding safety tips. McGee made the cover of Life magazine in 1965 and was featured on several popular television programs

SMP Skatepark in China

The SMP Skatepark, which allows skateboards and bikes, is located in the Fudan Wangxi Botanical Garden in Shanghai and is known as the world’s largest skatepark. It has 13,700 square meters that will overwhelm any rider. It’s full of ramps, rails, stairs, ledges, and bowls, many of which have amazing oververts.

Note: An array of videos are available via YouTube, including some incredible skateboard tricks at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

some of the most common skateboarding terms, expressions, and meanings

Axle: the metal rod running through the skateboard truck’s hanger, on which the wheels are mounted

Bank: an elevated, sloped, under 90-degree surface or area, used to ride skateboards up and down, performing tricks

Boned: a mid-air move in which the skater pushes the board out in front and points it downward

Coping: the metal pipe or edging fitted to the lip of a ramp or halfpipe

Drop-In: a way of entering a bowl or halfpipe from the top

Grind: a trick which involves scraping the skateboard’s trucks along an object

Kick Turn: to turn your board by shifting the weight to the tail of the board and twisting

Lip: the top edge of a bowl or ramp

Nosegrab: to grab the nose (front) of the skateboard with the leading hand

Pumping: moving your bodyweight on skateboard to build speed without your feet touching the ground

Poser: a skater that tries to pretend to be what he or she isn’t

Regular Footer: a skater that rides with the left foot forward

Sidewalk Surfing: another term for skateboarding

Sk8: one of the most popular abbreviations for a skate

Sketchy: a not perfect or poorly executed trick

Technical (Tech): a skateboarding style that involves highly complex freestyle tricks and maneuvers performed on flat surfaces

Tic Tac: a series of short kickturns performed in a row. It can give a boarder the momentum needed to travel across a flat area

Truck: the metal attachment bolted to the deck which connects the axle and wheels to the deck

Wipe Out: to fall off the skateboard

Everything You Never Knew About Skateboarding

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