Memorable Moments in Skateboarding History
For a sport that’s been around for less than a century, skateboarding has made a significant mark on global culture. What started out as an underground hobby for neighborhood outlaws has become a renowned pastime recognized by even the elite circle of Olympic athletes. From its start in the 1950s to its new standing as a professional sport, skate culture has undergone some serious changes. Take a look at these major moments in skateboarding history that shaped the activity we know today.
March 1975 — The Zephyr team ushers in a new style of skateboarding
After a significant drop in skateboard sales during the late 1960s, skating made a serious comeback in 1975. The Zephyr team — later canonized as the Z-boys — debuted a new style of skateboarding at the first major skate competition in years, the Del Mar National Championships. The 12 members of the team brought the aggressive style of surfing to the asphalt, instantly becoming the faces of skate culture and creating a surge in skateboarding that would change the sport forever.
March 1976 — Carlsbad skatepark opens
The California drought of 1976-1977 made way for new territory in the world of skateboarding. Water conservation efforts led to many well-to-do homeowners to leave their backyard swimming pools empty. Skaters throughout the state began hopping fences and skating the empty bowls, heightening the ragtag reputation that skaters already had. To combat this problem, the state funded the first major skatepark in Carlsbad, California. Unfortunately, the iconic site was later destroyed and rebuilt elsewhere.
1978 — The Ollie is invented
Skating up until this point was still largely mimicking the style of surfers. Skaters performed low, with aggressive carving that was smoother and more stylish than what was popular in previous decades. Upon the invention of bowl skating the previous year, skater Alan “Ollie” Gelfand debuted no-handed aerials. This legendary trick became the base for most of skateboarding tricks today.
1980s — Rodney Mullen pioneers the way for street skating
Entering the realm of professional skateboarding at just 14 years old, Rodney Mullen quickly became a household name. His application of the Ollie to flat ground was monumental, paving the way street skating as a style. Throughout the 80s, he invented some of the most important and foundational street tricks, including the kickflip, heelflip, impossible and 360-flip.
1999 — Tony Hawk lands the first documented 900 at the X Games in San Francisco
Although other skaters had been documented attempting the 900 previously, none had landed. As one of the most successful vert skaters of the decade, Hawk attempted the trick — a 900-degree flip — ten times during the allotted regulation time without landing. At the protest of the other skaters, the announcers allowed him one more try anyway, at which point Hawk landed the trick, earning him first place for “Best Trick.”
Skateboarding is a relatively young sport, with plenty of room for growth. There is no doubt that it’s expected to grow in popularity and change in style. Its upcoming introduction into the 2020 Olympics is sure to bring new regulations, expectations and talent. Nonetheless, the sport continues to be an iconic representation of American youth culture.
Credit: Photo by Jamie Davies on Unsplash
- Outdoors Staff