Skateboarding is an internationally recognized sport and lifestyle that millions of people worldwide have the pleasure of enjoying. We have top-notch skateparks all over the globe, high-profile professional stars, jaw-dropping Olympic events, and some of the coolest apparel brands in all of sports.
Considering the origin of skateboarding compared to the level it’s at today, It’s truly amazing to see all the progress we’ve made. Skateboarding has become so popular that a complete novice could explain what parts make up a skateboard, how to do an ollie, and that Tony Hawk landed a 900.
Clearly, these are very standard topics but only a very basic perception of all that skateboarding is about. I’d like to discuss 20 fascinating facts about skateboarding that you may not be familiar with.
1. Chris Cole was traded to Fallen
We’re all familiar with trades in mainstream sports like MLB, NBA, and NFL. They happen every year and are extremely common. This process is almost unheard of in skateboarding, but it legitimately happened to two-time Skater of the Year, Chris Cole.
At the time, Cole was under contract with Circa Shoes, and fellow professional skater, Jon Allie, was under contract with Fallen Footwear. Both skaters had issues with their current sponsorship contracts, and Cole expressed interest in Fallen, while Allie did the same for Circa.
Ownership discussed this with one another, and the trade was complete. Jon Allie and Chris Cole were swapped.
2. Santa Cruz is the oldest operational skateboard company
Santa Cruz is such an epic skate company, and it’s the oldest company still in business. 2023 marks its 50th anniversary! I remember watching a Jayme Fortune Santa Cruz ad in the first issue of 411vm I ever got twenty years ago, and they’ve been around for 30 years BEFORE that.
From iconic logos like the famous red dot and the screaming hand to legendary professionals like Duane Peters and Steve Alba, Santa Cruz is a permanent staple in the world of skateboarding.
3. The kickflip was initially called a “magic flip”
Perhaps the most famous trick in all of skateboarding is the kickflip. Chances are, if you’re riding your skateboard past a couple of strangers, one of them usually can’t help but yell out, “Do a kickflip!” As annoying as this is, it’s a testament to how universally known the famous trick has become.
But it was legitimately called a “magic flip” at one point. Rodney Mullen, a true skateboarding pioneer responsible for inventing most fliptricks in the 1980s, invented this trick, and the name was created because other skateboarders couldn’t understand how he did it. Hence the term “Magic Flip.”
4. Original griptape was sand sprinkled onto resin
Griptape is a sandpaper-like material glued to the top of our decks that’s responsible for keeping us connected to our boards when casually riding and for catching tricks properly when flipping or spinning the board. It’s a necessity in skateboarding.
In the 1960s, skaters would ride barefoot and needed to figure out a way to stay attached to their boards. An initial prototype used during that time was resin poured onto the deck and then sand sprinkled on top of the resin. This approach didn’t last particularly long, but they were definitely onto something.
5. Skateboarding was banned in Norway for 11 years
Skateboarding is NOT a crime. Well, In Norway, from 1978-1989 it actually was. Due to reports of injury and death among American skateboarders in the 1970s and a reputation for being a public disruption, the Norwegian Government officially banned skateboarding on November 15, 1978.
The ban wasn’t lifted until eleven years later. Some skaters manufactured boards secretly and built ramps in the forest, so some shredding still went down regardless of the ban. This, I fully respect.
6. Two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash is an avid skateboarder
Steve Nash is one of the greatest point guards in the history of the NBA. He played for 18 seasons, won two MVP awards, and was named an all-star eight times. Nash is also an avid skateboarder as well as a huge fan of the sport in general. He’s been quoted saying his skateboard is his main mode of transportation to get around the city of New York.
Now, I’m sure Steve Nash isn’t back-smithing any handrails on his way to work, but the fact that a superstar in a mainstream sport like the NBA rips around the city on a skateboard and shows our sport love is really dope.
7. Danny Way jumped the Great Wall of China
Danny Way is an animal. After watching this man tear up the mega ramp in “The DC Video” I could sense that his thirst for death-defying stunts was not fully quenched. In 2005, Way actually traveled to China, and backside 360 grabbed over The Great Wall Of China.
Quiksilver and DC sponsored the event. The ramp he rolled in on was over 120 feet tall and the gap itself was 80 feet. The entire country had a required work stoppage so they could witness this piece of history. Like I said, Danny Way is an animal.
8. Tony Hawk has suffered over 20 concussions in his lifetime
Tony Hawk, The wealthiest and most famous skateboarder of all time, still skates at age. With that kind of experience in a super-physically demanding sport like skateboarding, there are bound to be some injuries along the way.
Tony Hawk has experienced over 20 concussions over his lifetime of skating. This is a testament to how truly badass he is. Some professional football players have retired after suffering 2 or 3 concussions, and this man has had over twenty!
Concussions are severe, and I’m not taking this statistic lightly, but the fact that this monumental number hasn’t deterred Hawk from accomplishing all that he has in his career is astounding
9. Schools lay claim to the best skate spots
I am so thankful to the public school system for giving us years and years of the sickest spots ever dominated in skate videos. A majority of the most famous street skating spots are located at schools throughout the country.
El Toro 20, Hollywood High 16 and 12, Wallenburg 4, and the list goes on and on and on. Schools are fully stocked with stair sets, handrails, gaps, and ledges because they are huge establishments that house hundreds of kids, so there are naturally many different structures and obstacles for skaters to take full advantage of.
Even on a lesser-known scale, in my hometown in Pennsylvania, the best skate spots in the city were all at schools.
10. Jamie Thomas quit his shoe sponsor because it was owned by rollerbladers
It’s safe to say there’s always been tension between skateboarders and rollerbladers, and this fact reinforces that to the fullest. Jamie Thomas is one of the wealthiest, most respected, and most accomplished professional skateboarders of all time, and he’s had his fair share of different sponsors over the years.
At one time, he rode for the shoe company Adio, but he quit over differences with ownership to join the company, Circa. The differences were that K2, a rollerblade & ski company, owned Adio. Thomas couldn’t get over that fact and said it made him feel “corny.”
11. Owen Wilson was featured in a skate video
In 2003, Girl Skateboards released their iconic skate video, “Yeah Right!”. In the video, a part features the famous actor, Owen Wilson, bluntsliding a handrail.
The scene was obviously incorporated into the video for comic relief, which worked perfectly because it was hilarious. Professional skateboarder Eric Koston actually stunt-doubled for the trick by wearing a blonde wig.
12. The 900 almost didn’t make it into the first Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater video game
Tony Hawk is famously known for being the first skater to land “the 900”. Shortly after, his extremely popular video game, “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater,” was released and was a massive hit, with one of his signature moves being “The 900”. Hawk was recently interviewed and explained that the game was dangerously close to coming out without featuring the iconic trick.
The game was in its final production stages on its way to being submitted to Sony when Hawk landed the legendary trick for the first time. Hawk emailed Neversoft, the video game development company, and asked for the trick to be added to the game. Thankfully, Neversoft obliged, and we could all successfully 900 on a video game halfpipe, and life was better.
13. Daewon Song used his car as a board press
Street skateboarding pioneer and technical master Daewon Song is very particular about his preferred skateboard shape. One of his former teammates, Luis Cruz, shared some insight on the lengths he’d go to achieve this specific shape.
He needed to have a certain degree of concave and a flat tail. After Cruz would sift through skateboards to find as close to this shape as he could, he would then deliver those decks to Song. If the tail weren’t flat enough for Song’s liking, he would literally park his car on the board’s tail overnight to press it into shape. Now that’s true dedication.
14. Many skateboard companies are produced in the same warehouses
Most skaters have their particulars and are loyal to certain brands. If you have a good experience with a specific type of skateboard, chances are you would be willing to purchase another skateboard belonging to that particular brand.
The good news is that you don’t have to limit yourself to one company because many of these skateboards are produced with the same wood, the same shapes, and in the same warehouses. You can find these warehouses and the companies affiliated with them online.
15. Chad Muska was homeless at one time
Chad Muska is among the most influential, wealthy, and creative professional skateboarders ever. He also lays claim to one of the most popular professional
skateboard decks ever made, “The Muska Silhouette.” But at one time, he was without a home, and his belongings consisted solely of a backpack and a big beach towel to sleep on.
Muska pushed on and worked to earn multiple sponsors, create his own successful shoe company, Supra, and amass an impressive net worth of 16 million dollars over his career—a true rags-to-riches story.