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Origins of the Skateboard
While no one is exactly sure when skateboards were first invented, one thing is for sure – skateboarding has come a long way since its less than glamorous beginnings! Originally built like a self-propelled scooter with four roller skate wheels attached to a two-by-four, the first ‘real’ skateboards of the 1950s were created when the scooter’s pushbar was removed, leaving nothing remaining but a board and four wheels. Purportedly invented by bored West coast surfers looking for a way to pass the time as they waited for the waves to start picking up, the first skateboarders were known as “sidewalk surfers”.

Skateboarding PostersAs skateboarding gained in popularity throughout the fifties, the first Roller Derby Skateboard was put up for sale to the public in 1959 only to be followed by a slew of other companies in the sixties including Larry Stevenson’s Makaha and Hobie Alter’s Hobie.

From 1960 to 1963 over fifty million skateboards were sold with the skateboarding industry establishing a firm hold on America’s youth culture that has yet to be loosened. Still, like any fad, skateboarding had its critics and many safety experts pronounced the sport to be dangerous, urging parents not to encourage their children in such an unsafe endeavour; as quickly as it had began, skateboarding was relegated to the sidelines. But skateboarding was not to be left out in the cold for long.

Early Skateboard Tricks
With the invention of the urethane wheel in 1973, skateboarding was revolutionized as the new wheels provided better traction and speed to allow for more complicated and stylish skateboard tricks including Larry Stevenson’s famous kicktail maneuver.

The seventies saw continued growth for skateboarding with the construction of concrete skateparks, increasing numbers of professional skateboarders, cylindrical pipes, and specialty magazines.

One of the more important developments was the invention of the “ollie” by Alan “Ollie” Gelfand in the late seventies, a now basic maneuver that is the foundation for 60% to 80% of other skateboarding tricks. Other major advances of the time included tricks like the aerial, the invert and the kickturn.

Tony HawkTony Hawk, Superstar
By the eighties, skateboarding was once again in an upswing, as street skating became all the rage and stars like Tony Hawk entered the scene and changed the face of the sport forever.

Born in 1968 in San Diego, California, Tony Hawk is still probably the most recognized name in the industry even though he no longer competes professionally. And with a line of clothing, books and video games all under his belt, it’s no wonder a whole generation of skaters have plastered their walls with skateboarding posters of their idol, Mr. Hawk. Thanks to Tony Hawk and other stars of his era, skateboarding was popularized in a way never before imagined and the sport has continued to grow in leaps and bounds.

With the establishment of ESPN’s first Extreme Games in Rhode Island in 1995, skateboarding solidified its position as a major financial draw and national sport that continues to exert a heavy influence on today’s youth culture regarding everything from fashion to music.


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