Skateboarding traces its roots back to 1950s in California when surfers attached roller skate wheels to boards in order to surf the streets on wave-free days. But a lot has happened with the sport since that time. Here’s a list of some of the most interesting facts you probably didn’t know about the history of skateboarding.
1. Clay and Metal Wheels
In the 1950s and 1960s, before urethane was invented, skateboard wheels were primarily made out of clay or metal. Prone to cracks and corrosion these wheels were very unsafe and led to many injuries. And the dangers were exacerbated further by the fact that skateboarding was primarily a barefoot sport in these first decades. The skaters in the 50s and 60s were tough all right.
2. The First Female Pro
The first female professional skateboarder was Patti McGee, who turned pro in 1964. She is perhaps most well known for setting the world record for the fastest girl on a skateboard when she was only 19. Understandably, Patti was also the first female ever to be included in the Skateboarding Hall of Fame.
3. The Ollie
The invention of the ollie, a skateboarding maneuver where the rider slams his foot on the tail of the skateboard and simultaneously jumps into the air, revolutionized the sport completely. The trick is credited to and named after Alan “Ollie” Gelfand, and was invented in 1978.
4. A banned sport for 11 years
The use, ownership, sale, and advertising of skateboards were forbidden in Norway between 1978 and 1989 because of the perceived dangers of the sport. During the 11-year long ban, skateboarders had to smuggle boards from Germany and built ramps in the woods in order to avoid confrontation with the police.
5. Have you seen him? The Search for Animal Chin
The 1987 skateboard film “Search for Animal Chin” is perhaps the most celebrated film in skateboarding culture. It was also one of the first skateboarding films to have a solid plot, rather than solely a collection of tricks, stunts, and music. Produced by the Bones Brigade, the film features legendary skaters such as Tony Hawk, Steve Caballero and Lance and Mountain on their quest to find a wise old man called Won Ton “Animal” Chin. Other widely celebrated skateboarding films include Thrasin’ (1986) and Lords of Dogtown (2005).
6. The 1980s’ dip
The popularity of skateboarding plummeted in the late 1980s to early 1990s, and with the decline most skateparks closed down. Most historians agree that it was precisely this lack of parks that eventually lead to development of modern street skateboarding, where curbs, stairs, handrails and the likes assumed a central focus in the sport.
7. Skateboarding in the military?
In the late 1990s, the United States Marine Corps tested the usefulness of skateboards for urban warfare as part of the Urban Warrior ’99 programme. According to the program, the skateboard’s special purpose was “for maneuvering inside buildings in order to detect tripwires and sniper fire”.
So there you have it, our picks for the top 7 of the most interesting facts from skateboarding’s long history. Feel like I missed something? Let us know in the comment section below!