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Ollie Skateboard

May 2nd, 2011 Comments off

The History of Skateboarding … in a nutshell

Skateboarding has rich history of innovation and is full of exciting stories.

The first type of skateboards were actually more like scooters. These devices, which date back to the early 1900s contained roller skate wheels attached to a two and four. Often the wood had a milk crate nailed to it with the handle sticking out of control. Over the next five decades kids changed the look of the scooter and took off the crate and started cruising on two by four with wheels. Tens of thousands of rollerskates were dismantled and joy hammered on to planks.

In the 1950s, modifications were made to the trucks (the device that hold wheels) and kids started to maneuver more easily. Towards the end of 1950, surfing became increasingly popular, and people began to tie surfing together with cruising on a land board. By 1959, the first Roller Derby Skateboard for sale. Clay wheels entered the picture and sidewalk surfing began to take root.

By the 1960's roll around, skateboarding had gained an impressive following among the surf crowd. But when Larry Stevenson, publisher of Surf Guide begins to promote skateboarding, things started to take off. Larry's company, Makaha designed the first professional boards in 1963 and a team was formed to promote the product.

The first skateboard contest was held on Pier Avenue Junior School in Hermosa, California in 1963. In 1964, surf legend Hobie beating up Vita Alter Charter juice company to create Hobie Skateboards. While most skaters took to the street or sidewalk, some brave souls decide to ride empty swimming pools. In 1965, international contests, movies (run date), a magazine (The Quarterly Skateboarder) and cross country by teams of skateboarders elevated the sport to enormous heights. Over fifty million records sold over a three year period and then all of a sudden skateboarding died in the autumn 1965.

The first crash of skateboarding came because of inferior product, too much inventory and a public upset by reckless driving. Producers were so busy making product that little was done in the way of research and development. Although some companies developed better quality wheels, clay wheels were the cheapest to manufacturer. However, clay wheels did not grip the road well and skaters fell everywhere. Cities started to ban skateboards in response to health and safety, and after a few fatal accidents, skateboarding was drummed out of existence (for now at least!). Manufacturers like Vita Covenant and Makaha lost enormous sums of money due to canceled orders for Christmas.

Over the next eight years, skateboarding remained fairly underground, only in areas like Santa Monica, California. During this period Larry Stevenson invented the kick tail and tried to resurrect skateboarding, but he met with only a small amount of success.

In 1970 visited a surfer named Frank Nasworthy a friend at a plastics factory in Purcellville, Virginia. The factory made urethane wheels for Roller Sports, a chain of roller tracks. The urethane ensured roller skaters would have decent traction and Frank realized that the urethane wheels would fit on his Hobie Skateboard. He decided to develop a skateboard wheel made from urethane. As you would expect, the ride is magnificant compared to clay wheels. Frank promoted product in the San Diego area, and he first met with great resistance. Over time, however, the urethane wheel had a following and word spread throughout California of these tremendous wheels.

In 1973 launched Frank Nasworthy's Cadiallac Wheels skateboardings' second boom. Truck manufacturers like Bennett and Tracker began making trucks specifically designed for skateboarding. Board manufacturers appeared overnight and suddenly the industry was full of new products and new ideas. In 1975 Rider Road came out with the first precision bearing wheel ending decades of loose ball bearings. Slalom was downhill and freestyle skateboarding suddenly practiced by millions of enthusiasts. Skateboarder Magazine is resurrected and is soon joined by other publications, hoping to make money on skateboardings comeback. Bruce Logan, Russ Howell, Stacy Peralta, Tom Sims and Gregg Weaver are featured heavily in magazines. The sport is on a roll again.

The first outdoor skatepark was built for skateboarders in Florida in 1976. It was soon followed by hundreds of other parks throughout North America. Skateboarding moved from horizontal to vertical and slalom and freestyle skateboarding became less popular. The appearance of the skateboard also changed from being six to seven inches in width to over nine inches. This increase in size ensured better stability on vertical surfaces. Top riders included Tony Alva, Jay Adams and Tom "Wally" Inoyoue. Wes Humpston and Jim Muir marketed the first successful line of boards with graphics under the Dogtown label. Shortly after, put almost all graphics board manufacturers under their boards.

In 1978, Alan Gelfand invented the "Ollie" or no hand's aerial and moved skateboarding to the next level. The roots of streetstyle developed when skaters started to take vertical moves to flatland. Skateboard culture began to mesh with punk and new wave music. Images of skulls appeared on skateboards thanks to the creative genius of Vernon Court Country Johnson at Powell Corporation.

Pool skating was hugely popular, and as a result of better technology, skaters were able to perform jumps and goes far beyond coping. Skate Park insurance was a problem because of the problem of debt. In fact, skatepark insurance was so expensive for most owners that they closed the doors and the bulldozers were brought in. At the end of 1980, skateboarding died another death and once again, many manufacturers were faced with tremendous losses. As BMX became popular and skateboarder Magazine turned into Action Now, most skaters deserted the sport. Skateboarding moved underground lines again. A hardcore Conti Gene stayed with skateboarding and built backyard half pipes and ramps as more skateparks closed.

In 1981 began Thrasher Magazine publishing in an attempt to provide hardcore skaters with information on the skateboard scene. Although skating competitions were held, the turnout was small and the prize money was even smaller. In 1982, Tony Hawk won his first competition at the Del Mar Skate Ranch. By 1983, skate manufacturers like Santa Cruz, Powell Peralta and Tracker begin to see the sport on upturn. In the same year, the Transworld Skateboarding on skate scene.

By 1984, host riding took off, followed closely by streetstyle skating. Launch ramps became popular. Powell Peralta created the first "Bones Brigade" skate video thanks to the highly creative talents of CR Stecyk and Stacy Peralta. The video contained all team skaters and helped to engage in skateboarding to new levels of popularity. Dozens of new manufacturers sprung up and skateboarding entered its third wave of popularity. Numerous vertical winners emerged including Tony Hawk, Christian Høst, Lance Mountain and Neil Blender. In the street, Mark Gonzales, Natas Kaup and Tommy Guerrero took the ollie to new heights. Freestyle skateboarding was also part of the scene and Rodney Mullen dominated all competition.

In the mid to late-1980s, three manufacturers handled most of the skate market-Powell Peralta, Vision / Sims and Santa Cruz. Board royalites and competition winnings escalated and some pro skaters pulled down earnings of ten thousand dollars per month. The National Skateboard Association, headed by Frank Hawk, held numerous contests across North America and eventually worldwide. Skateboard shoes from Airwalk, Vans and Vision became enormously popular along with skate clothes.

Towards end of the decade, skateboarding shifted focus to street skating and is riding became less popular. A number of pro skaters decided to leave the larger manufacturers and start their own skate companies. One of the first skaters to do this was Steve Rocco who started up World Industries. Over time, changed the personality of the skateboard world and a new school skateboarding was born. The focus was on ollies and technical tricks and it took on a completely different attitude.

By 1991, a worldwide recession hit the world and skate industry was deeply affected. As before, were a number of manufacturers are facing major financial losses. The industry turned extremely negative and began the process of reinventing themselves. Big Brother began publication in 1992. As in the past, a hardcore contingent remained with the sport, but this time, the departure was not as great as it was in the past. In the middle of the 1990s, skateboarding once again reemerged and the fourth wave started. In 1995, skateboarding was a great exposure in the ESPN 2 Extreme Games. Skateboard shoe manufacturers like Etnies and Vans began to sell large quantities of product and were joined by other soft good manufacturers eager once again to cash in on skateboarding's popularity.

Towards the end of the 1990s, skateboarding is still the focus streetstyle and the industry is filled with many manufacturers and marketers. In many cases, pro skaters develop their own product and manage their own companies. Longboarding, a once forgotten art (with large boards), began to make a comeback and downhill skateboarding enters a whole new dimension thanks to street luge. In California, skateboard parks have started to be built again thanks to a change in legislation. The hard work of Jim Fitzpatrick and the International Association of Skateboard Companies has ensured that other states follow California and more parks are planned for construction over the next few years.

Over the past 40 years, skateboarding has had its highs and lows in popularity. Poor product, safety concerns, insurance issues and recessions have all contributed to the lows. However, skateboarding technology vastly improved since clay wheels. When it comes to injuries, the sport is much safer than football, rollerblading or hockey (when you look at the percentage of participants injured). Despite concerns about security or economic recessions, the sport endures simply because it's so fun to do. "

Excerpt from "The Concrete Wave Posted by Michael Brooke of Warwick Books

Picture 1 'Roller Derby' Skateboard produced in 1959, image courtesy of
Picture 2 Image reprinted with permission from
Picture 3 Frank Nasworthy, image courtesy of
Picture 4 Photo reprinted with permission from

About the Author

Liv Williams is a 28 year old extreme sports fanatic, who enjoys researching urban sports and dangerous activities for her extreme sports blog which she writes with wit and an easy reading style. She won the Junior Welsh Triathlon Championships in 2000 and 2001, surfs, snowboards, is learning to fly a helicopter and makes her own extreme sports films. She has lived in New Zealand where she surfed everyday and now resides in Cornwall. She worked for the BBC in London for 3 years making programmes for BBC2 and BBC3. She supports organisations such as Surfers Against Sewage and presents extreme sports programmes for the web as well as writing treatments for TV.