It's Monday 10th April and at Thompson Gallery we’ve just enjoyed a fabulous weekend of sunshine and all kinds of outdoor activity. We love how this weather motivates like nothing else on earth. Wendy has been busy finding the inspiration and the key to finishing a new piece of artwork that has taken a year to complete, and this gorgeous weather seems a perfect time for us to launch “Skateboarder”, a new, high-energy picture that reflects a sport and an industry that sees drinks giant RED BULL sponsoring skateboarding events all around the world. So...where did it all start, this wonderful sport that has exploded into our consciousness in recent years? Well, it turns out that it's been around MUCH longer than you might think…...
59 YEARS … AND THEN SOME
The “sport” of skateboarding has seen many changes over the years. Starting out as a way for surfers to keep in shape when there were no waves, it wasn’t long before skateboarding developed it’s own identity. From steel wheels to urethane wheels, loose ball bearings to modern sealed bearings, flat pieces of oak to laminated concave kicked tail and kicked noses, wheelies to heel flips, from the streets to skateparks, local contest to World Cup events, skateboarding has stood the test of almost sixty years of change and is here to stay.
World Cup Skateboarding is a result of the changes. WCS grew out the existence of the once thriving National Skateboard Association. Learning from the mistakes that the Skateboard Industry made during the NSA years, former NSA President and Directors, Don & Danielle Bostick have made a commitment to the skaters in developing and directing skateboard competitions around the globe. Focusing on the professional skateboarder, WCS has grown the pro tour since 1994 from 3 events to over 20 events in the present day that encompass the United States, Canada, England, Germany, Czech Republic, France, Spain, Switzerland, Australia, Malaysia and Brazil.
Here’s a potted history of the evolution of Skateboarding, now enjoying a huge following around the globe….
1958: The skateboard is made from roller skates attached to a board. This is really where it all starts. As surfing becomes more popular, skating becomes a way to surf when there are no waves—"sidewalk surfing."
1959: "Roller Derby" mass produces a skateboard with metal wheels.
1963-66: Surfboard companies like Makaha and Hobie start making better-quality skateboards with clay wheels and trucks that are made for skating. The first skate contest is put on in Hermosa Beach, California, in 1963.
In 1964, the musical group Jan and Dean appear on Dick Clark's American Bandstand and sing "Sidewalk Surfing." Dean does a few simple tricks and rides the board across the stage.
Around this time, Surfer Magazine puts out a quarterly magazine called Skateboarder. Only four issues are printed. This same year, ABC Wide World of Sports broadcasts the Skateboarding Championships.
1973: With the invention of urethane wheels, new possibilities emerge. What once was a noisy, bumpy ride is now smooth and silent. Banks and ditches become skateable, as these new wheels can grip the concrete. Surfers like Larry Bertlemann inspire a new and radical form of skating, as surfing begins to turn toward a shorter board with more fluid moves. From this point on, skating will never be the same.
1973-75: Fiberglass boards made by surf shops out of fin material become popular with the surf crowd. Companies experiment making skateboard decks, using everything from wood to aluminum. The first full-length skate movie, Spinnin' Wheels, is released.
1976-78: The California drought forces homeowners to drain their pools. Though skaters have been riding swimming pools since the introduction of urethane wheels the previous year, they now view the empty pools as territory to be conquered. New tricks are invented daily—aerials, inverts, and the ollie. Many concrete parks are also being built, and the first professional skaters begin to receive notice. However, many skate parks are forced to close because of low attendance and high insurance rates.
1980s: Street skating turns handrails and walls into free skate parks. Skater-owned companies become more and more common.
1990s: Skateboarding takes a giant step into the mainstream with the 1995 ESPN's Extreme Games, becoming more of a spectator sport. By the late 90s, skating appears in commercials for everything from soft drinks to phone companies. Fashion trends begin to reflect the influence of the skating crowd.
2000: Skating can now be enjoyed by children as young as two, but the majority of skaters range from early teens to twenties. Many cities have built high quality skate parks, and a number of camps and lessons are available to young people. Some families even enjoy skating as a family activity.
Now that you know about the history of skateboarding, maybe it's time to grab yourself a piece of art for your wall at home and simply enjoy the energy that goes with this amazing sport!