Although no one person can lay claim to inventing the sport, skateboarding was invented in the 1950s’ in California. Dreamed up by skaters who wanted to “surf the streets”, the early versions of skateboards were primative at best. Metal wheels were crudely attached to boxes and planks of wood. These early boards were all homemade, as no one was manufacturing boards professionally until the early 1960s’. 1963 saw companies like Jack’s, Hobie, and Mahaka begin to offer standardized products for downhill slalom and freestyle skaters, the only type of skating popular at this time. Early skateboarding was often down downhill or “vert”, and accompanied by music and incorporated with dance steps. This early skateboarding was shortlived, however, and by the early 1970s’ skateboarding had “died out”.
A major revival in 1972 was credited to Frank Nasworthy, a California skater who introduced urethane wheels to the sport. Now, boards were no longer loud, obnoxious machines, but rather glided silently along. This new material allowed for boards to be ridden on all types of surfaces, including concrete, asphalt, or even dirt.
1975 saw a revolution in skating style, when team Zephyr rode a low,slow style at a competition in Del Mar, California. A few years later, skating legend Alan Gelfano invented the “ollie”, a maneuver still popular today and the backbone of many a skating routine. Now skateboarding had a new movement, one that accented individuality and innovation. There was no “right or wrong way” to skate!
A legend of modern skateboarding, Tony Hawk became extremely popular during the 1980s’. Suddenly, skateboarding was becoming a nationwide trend, moving out of its’ birthplace of California and into modern pop culture. Music videos featured skateboarders, public skateparks were opening, and clothing geared towards skateboarding was all the rage. Skateboarding had arrived.
Skateboarding earned much credibility in the 1990s’, as ESPN hosted the first ever “X” games in 1995. Structured, sanctioned events were televised across the world for all to see. Following up with this, ESPN held the first winter “X” games in 1997. Skateboarding has been in the forefront of modern sports for a new generation ever since.