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History of Skateboarding – The Answer Will Surprise You!

Fact checked by Michael Derosier

history of skateboarding

What is skateboarding, and why has it gained so much popularity over the years? Here’s a brief skateboarding definition—Skateboarding is both a recreational activity and a sport. It involves riding on a board mounted on wheels, and staying balanced on a deck while doing tricks and maneuvers.

People of all ages find riding on skateboards enjoyable. It is considered a moderately intense aerobic activity as it helps improve our health and burns calories as well.

But who created skateboarding and where was skateboarding invented? Let us answer these questions by discussing the history of skateboarding.

Who Created Skateboards

Larry Stevenson is known as the inventor of the skateboard. In the 1960s, he designed a skateboard that looked like a small surfboard.

However, some people believe Larry Modes created the first skateboard in 1954. This first skateboard look like a broken scooter.

Skateboarding History Timeline

skateboarding-history

Here’s a quick recap of the most significant events in the history of the skateboarding industry for the last six decades.

1950s

It was in the early 1950s that the first-ever skateboards were developed in Hawaii and California. The skateboards were made of shorter surfboards with metal wheels without bearings.

At this point, skateboarding was originally referred to as “sidewalk surfing.” It was a sport invented by surfers who wanted to enjoy surfing even when waves were low. They attached roller-skate wheels to boards made of wood and started surfing down the streets.

  • In 1959, Roller Derby made the first official skateboard with steel wheels. It was in the late 1950s that skateboarding was at its first peak. More developed skateboards allowed riders to perform new tricks.

1960s

Skateboarding became more popular during the 1960s in the United States. As the industry developed, the skateboard, which was initially considered a toy, was soon referred to as sports equipment.

  • In 1962, Val-Surf, a surf shop located in Hollywood was able to sell its first self-produced skateboards. These skateboards were composed of surfboard shape decks and roller skate trucks. At this time, mass-produced boards by Patterson Forbes came with more advanced trucks.
  • In 1963, Larry Stevenson, who was also the publisher of Surf Guide Magazine, published the first skateboard advertisement in his publication. The first skateboarding contest was also held the same year in Hermosa Beach, California.
  • In 1964, The Quarterly Skateboarder was published. It was the first skateboarding magazine.
  • From 1962 to 1965, over 50 million boards with cheap clay wheels were sold in the US alone.
  • In 1965, a crash in the skateboarding industry was recorded. Many small and medium-sized skateboarding companies were forced to shut down.
  • In 1966, a famous brand of skateboarding shoes called Vans was established. Even now, Vans remains a popular shoe company.
  • Another milestone in skateboarding history is Stevenson’s invention of the “kicktail.” It is a more developed shape of boards that makes kickturns possible.

1970s

In 1972, Frank Nasworthy invented the urethane wheels, which made riding on uneven terrains easier. He also founded the Cadillac Wheels company.

  • In 1975, a new sports magazine called Skateboarder Magazine was published, and more events for skateboarding were organized.
  • In 1976, the first skate park was constructed in Florida. In line with this, kickers and vertical ramps soon emerged.
  • During this period, American soldiers introduced skateboarding to Germany. In Munich Neuperlach, a skate park was built, and later on, the first skateboard magazine came into being.
  • In 1978, Munich was chosen as the venue of the first-ever German skateboard championship. In the same year, the “Ollie” was invented by Alan Gelfand, another breakthrough in the skateboarding industry.
  • It was also in the 1970s that skateboarding started to conquer the UK.

1980s

Skateboarding became even more popular during these years. Street skating emerged with the inclusion of the Ollie and other maneuvers.

  • In 1981, Thrasher Magazine was founded. It features reviews, interviews, and other information written by skateboarders.
  • In 1983, another skateboarding magazine was created, the Transworld Skateboarding Magazine.
  • New tricks and maneuvers were shown on VHS, which plays an important role in popularizing skateboarding tricks during this time.
  • Titus Dittmann brought skate-related products and accessories from the US to Germany. He even organized skateboarding events and competitions.
  • As skateboarding’s popularity continued to grow in Germany, the country also hosted some international competitions. The Münster Monster Mastership was one of the notable events in skateboarding in the 1980s.
  • The growth of competition made skateboarding a more lucrative pursuit. Professional skateboarders reached stardom just like baseball and football stars during those times.
  • In the late 1980s, Vision, Powell Peralta, and Santa Cruz to Vans and Converse became the flagship for the skateboarding industry.

1990s

In 1991, skateboarding was able to maintain its public presence in spite of competition from other trend sports. The mid-1990s was a lot better for the industry.

  • In 1995, big events such as X-Games by ESPN were launched and broadcast. The sport was able to experience a new high phase and became well-known worldwide, thanks to various magazines, events, and its online presence.
  • Skateboarding hardware and accessories were developed more and became more widely available.
  • Big and international events like Street League Skateboarding featured the best skateboarders like Nyjah Huston, Eric Koston, Paul Rodriguez, Andrew Reynolds. Skateboarding has now become a professional sport.
  • The 1990s was the height of punk and hip-hop, and this is one of the reasons why skateboarding started to be more popular.

Today

Skateboarding is now considered one of the most popular extreme sports in the world. Skateboarding, along with Snowboarding, is two of the fastest-growing industries in the world of sports during the first year of the new millennium.

  • Skateboarding made its first-ever appearance at the 2020 Summer Olympics held in Tokyo Japan. The first-ever skateboarder who bagged the gold medal in the sport is Yuto Horigome of Japan. The silver medal went to Kelvin Hoefler of Brazil, and the bronze medal was awarded to Jagger Eaton of the United States.

https://youtu.be/Va709SdW6Ec

Conclusion

In the history of skateboarding, the sport experienced numerous highs and lows. But still, it continued to become more popular thanks to new developments that made it better over the years.

Skateboarding is fun, and it’s for everyone. Haven’t tried skateboarding yet? After reading this article, I bet you want to try riding some skateboards now. Good luck and enjoy the ride!

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