Skateboarding Down the Austrian Alps

A bit about skateboarding

Skateboarding is an action sport originating in the United States that involves riding and performing tricks using a skateboard, as well as a recreational activity, an art form, an entertainment industry job, and a method of transportation.  Skateboarding has been shaped and influenced by many skateboarders throughout the years. A 2009 report found that the skateboarding market is worth an estimated $4.8 billion in annual revenue, with 11.08 million active skateboarders in the world.  In 2016, it was announced that skateboarding will be represented at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, for both male and female teams.

Since the 1970s, skateparks have been constructed specifically for use by skateboarders, Freestyle BMXers, aggressive skaters, and very recently, scooters.  However, skateboarding has become controversial in areas in which the activity, although illegal, has damaged curbs, stoneworks, steps, benches, plazas, and parks.

History

1940s–1960s

The first skateboards started with wooden boxes, or boards, with roller skate wheels attached to the bottom. Crate scooters preceded skateboards, having a wooden crate attached to the nose (front of the board), which formed rudimentary handlebars.  The boxes turned into planks, similar to the skateboard decks of today.

Skateboarding, as we know it, was probably born sometime in the late 1940s, or early 1950s,[citation needed] when surfers in California wanted something to do when the waves were flat. This was called “sidewalk surfing” – a new wave of surfing on the sidewalk as the sport of surfing became highly popular. No one knows who made the first board; it seems that several people came up with similar ideas at around the same time. The first manufactured skateboards were ordered by a Los Angeles, California surf shop, meant to be used by surfers in their downtime. The shop owner, Bill Richard, made a deal with the Chicago Roller Skate Company to produce sets of skate wheels, which they attached to square wooden boards. Accordingly, skateboarding was originally denoted “sidewalk surfing” and early skaters emulated surfing style and manoeuvres, and performed barefoot.

By the 1960s a small number of surfing manufacturers in Southern California such as Jack’s, Kips’, Hobie, Bing’s and Makaha started building skateboards that resembled small surfboards and assembled teams to promote their products. One of the earliest Skateboard exhibitions was sponsored by Makaha’s founder, Larry Stevenson, in 1963 and held at the Pier Avenue Junior High School in Hermosa Beach, California.  Some of these same teams of skateboarders were also featured on a television show called Surf’s Up in 1964, hosted by Stan Richards, which helped promote skateboarding as something new and fun to do.

As the popularity of skateboarding began expanding, the first skateboarding magazine, The Quarterly Skateboarder was published in 1964.  John Severson, who published the magazine, wrote in his first editorial:

    Today’s skateboarders are founders in this sport—they’re pioneers—they are the first. There is no history in Skateboarding—its being made now—by you. The sport is being moulded and we believe that doing the right thing now will lead to a bright future for the sport. Already, there are storm clouds on the horizon with opponents of the sport talking about bans and restrictions.

The magazine only lasted four issues but resumed publication as Skateboarder in 1975.  The first broadcast of an actual skateboarding competition was the 1965 National Skateboarding Championships, which were held in Anaheim, California and aired on ABC’s Wide World of Sports.  Because skateboarding was a new sport during this time, there were only two original disciplines during competitions: flatland freestyle and slalom downhill racing.

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[1][20] in 1965 and was featured on several popular television programs—The Mike Douglas Show, What’s My Line? and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson—which helped make skateboarding even more popular at the time.  Some other well known surfer-style skateboarders of the time were Danny Bearer, Torger Johnson, Bruce Logan, Bill and Mark Richards, Woody Woodward, and Jim Fitzpatrick. The growth of the sport during this period can also be seen in sales figures for Makaha, which quoted $4 million worth of board sales between 1963 and 1965.[24] By 1966 a variety of sources began to claim that skateboarding was dangerous, resulting in shops being reluctant to sell them, and parents being reluctant to buy them. In 1966 sales had dropped significantly and Skateboarder Magazine had stopped publication. The popularity of skateboarding dropped and remained low until the early 1970s.

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