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Skateboarding In California

Updated on January 11, 2015

Skateboarding is a popular part of street culture in California today, but it is quite a recent sport. Starting out as wooden boards or boxes with rollers, the sport today has gained a lot of ground in quite a short time. Today it has become mainstream, going from the underground subculture to X-Games and other extreme sport events and finally to excellent skate parks across California.

A Brief History of Skateboarding

Skateboarding started out spontaneously in the late fifties and early sixties in California, when surfing was booming. During the day when the surf was bad, surfers found an alternative by altering scooters and taking to the streets. Originally there was an underground aura around the sport, and by 1963 it was all the rage. The first commercial skateboard was manufactured by the Roller Derby Company in 1959 and in the following years it was mostly popular with surfers as an after-surfing activity.

Through the seventies, urethane wheels became popular and freestyle contests began to be held at events like the Ocean Festival. Many new board shapes invented through the '80s and '90s allowed skateboarders to achieve impossible maneuvers and overcome obstacles. ESPN's X-Games in 1995 gave the sport a boost and since then it has been a part of the mainstream with more young kids gaining an interest in it.

Big Names In Skateboarding

The earliest pioneers in skateboarding were Woody Woodward, Torger Johnson and Danny Berer who awed crowds at competitions like Freestyle and Downhill Slalom in the early 1960s. Then at the Ocean Festival in the mid-1970s, the Zephyr team owned their skateboards and took the sport beyond a hobby to a serious sport. Some of the big names on the Zephyr team included Jay Adams, Tony Alva and Stacy Peralta.

In 1978, Alan “Ollie” Gelfand invented the fantastic “ollie” trick and revolutionized the sport. At the end of the decade, the sport took a hit when new public skateparks suffered from high insurance rates because of the sport's danger. But in the following decade, stars like Tony Hawk, Steve Caballero, Lance Mountain, Kevin Staab and others began making popular videos that reached kids all over the world.

Top Skate Parks In Californina

California is also home to a number of skateparks where the public can enjoy this sport today. The majority of these are built by California Skateparks, and most are free. The top skateparks in the country include the Santa Ana Skatepark, spread over 12,000 square feet with ledges, fun boxes, pyramids, rails and stairs for street skaters. The 20,000 square foot Benicia X Park and Carson Warner Memorial Skatepark in Healdsburg, have some deep and shallow bowls to enjoy. Other popular parks include the Palm Desert Skatepark, the Tanzanite Skatepark in Sacramento, Grass Valley, Novato, Mariposa, Delano, Santa Monica's The Cove, Costa Mesa's Volcom Skatepark and others.

Today, big companies like Vans, Hurley, Diamond Supply Co., RVCA and others have brought the sport into the mainstream with their skateboards. There are over 11 million active skateboarders in the world today, and California's skateparks are being used not just by skateboarders but also aggressive skaters, Freestyle BMXers and scooters.


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