Sidewalk surfing of the next generation
By Joe Katulak
A new generation of sidewalk surfers is hitting the streets and college campuses all over the country.
The art and majesty of skateboarding is slowly starting to fade away with the resurgence of the skateboard’s awkward cousin, the longboard. Longboards are beginning to take the place of skateboards as an alternative mode of transportation, a new way to get from point A to point B.
Skateboarding is looked at as an art form by many people. Manipulating a piece of wood to do different tricks is something that has a lot of meaning to skateboarders, especially those who see it as a life-long passion.
However, many people in today’s culture have decided to toss away their skateboards in exchange for a longboard. The differing factor is that longboards are completely flat, whereas skateboards are curved at both the nose and the tail of the board, giving the skater the ability to manipulate the board to do tricks.
Longboarding is a growing epidemic. “People come into the shop looking to learn how to skate because they see other people doing it and they think it looks cool,” said Brad Wyatt, skateboarder and employee of the NJ Skateshop in New Brunswick. “A lot of kids just come in to say they want to start skateboarding and most of them just buy a hundred fifty dollar board and it just sits in their garage or dorm room.”
Longboarders ride with a completely different mindset than skateboarders do. With longboarding, it’s all about cruising from place to place and getting to your destination as quickly as possible. There is no real progression with longboarding, and once pushing is mastered, there is nothing really to get better at.
Since there is such a lack of skill and progression with longboarding, many longboarders find themselves only riding throughout college or high school as a way to get to class until they finally decide to hang up their boards after graduation.
On the contrary, skateboarding is all about progression. Skateboarders feel sour toward longboarders because they are, in a sense, taking the easy way of riding a board. “I just don’t get it,” said Wyatt.
When it comes down to it, the skateboarding industry is still a business, so if longboards are what people want, that is what the shops will sell.
Shops, such as Pure Board Shop in Maryland, have noticed significant sustained growth in longboard sales, especially over the past two years, according to Transworld Business. Even though Pure Board Shop was primarily a skateboard shop, the rise in longboard sales has forced the shop to expand its longboard section and begin to carry more gear.
At the current time, it is still too hard to tell if longboarding will be able to stick around like skateboarding has done for the past 50 years. Many longboard riders are just happy to be able to walk into a shop and buy the things they need, whereas two or three years ago, most accessories for longboards needed to be purchased online.
Some skateboarders are still baffled at how popular longboarding has gotten. A lot of skateboarders frown upon longboarders because, in many cases, people were too scared to try riding a traditional skateboard or didn’t want to put in the effort to actually learn how to ride one.
Of course, there are many longboarders that disagree with all the various opinions of skateboarders. “There is a certain thrill you get bombing a big hill on a long board,” said Oleg Berenzon, a college student, and avid longboarder. “When you hit that perfect curve or cruise down a smooth hill, it’s a feeling that can’t be matched.”
Longboarding still needs to stand the test of time. At the moment, it is just another activity for college students and the awkward cousin of skateboards. “It’s just a fashion accessory,” said Lawrence Larstanna, college student and skateboarder of ten years.