Skateboarding dates back to the early 20th century, although it was quite different from today at that time. For example, the first skateboards had some kind of crank fixed to a rod so the skater could hold it. However, this “crank” was a wooden box with a handle attached to it. Besides, roller-skate wheels were awkwardly nailed to the board –and consequently they wouldn’t keep steady.
During the next five decades, skateboarding evolved at a snail’s pace. The replacement of the old roller-skate wheels with more suitable metal wheels and the improvement of the axles did make the skateboard more maneuverable and steady. Nevertheless, the very reasons why skateboarding became such a famous sport were the surf’s increasing popularity and the launching of, strictly speaking, the first good-quality skateboard: the Roller Derby Skateboard, whose clayey wheels were its most outstanding feature. Surfers became more and more interested in this new land alternative, in part, owing to the inclusion of articles on skateboarding on surf magazines.
It was only in 1963 "a key year" that Makaha Co. developed the first professional skateboard, whose promotion meant forming a special team of skaters. It was also in 1963 that the first skateboarding competition took place, at the Pier Avenue Junior School, in Hermosa California. From that moment on, there was a steep rise in the sport’s popularity. By 1965, specialized magazines and movies about it already existed, international competitions were regularly held, and promotional teams of skaters were crossing the US in search of new followers.
In spite of all this, progress wasn’t always constant. Soon after, difficulty in managing the board and the sliding quality of the clayey wheels, together with bans declared in several cities for security reasons, led to a considerable lack of enthusiasm. Apparently, skateboarding was bound to disappear.
But in 1970, skateboarding set off on a trip toward success. Surf lover Frank Nasworthy designed urethane wheels to replace the clayey ones. These new wheels, whose adherence to the ground was excellent, reduced the number of falls to a large extent, and made it easier for skaters to manage the board. Skateboard companies started producing these kind of wheels and people’s enthusiasm reappeared, which gave rise to new, innovative ideas that contributed to the development of the sport.
In 1976 the first outdoor skatepark was inaugurated in Florida. Given the shapes of the racetracks, skate boards changed from six to eight inches wide so they were more steady than before. Meanwhile, Humpston & Muir designed the first boards with drawings, which were so successful that all the companies began to manufacture their boards that way. This is how the skate fashion and aesthetics –including the skate shoes– emerged, strongly influenced by bands like The Ramones, Pink Floyd or Black Sabbath. However, having become so popular, this new social activity fell into the clutches of the law. The many prohibitions and the exorbitant prices charged for a skatepark permit were simply too much: most skateparks had to close down, which resulted in a gradual extinction of the skaters.
However, that was not the end for good. In 1986 skaters took over the urban landscape, and skateboarding resuscitated in the shape of a new style: the “street style”. Then, in 1995, ESPN started broadcasting the X-Games, which contributed to the making known of the sport to such an extent that it has spread nonstop ever since, even in commercial terms.
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