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Front Page » July 7, 2005 » Youth focus » Teens ride the halfpipe at local skate park
Published 3,395 days ago

Teens ride the halfpipe at local skate park


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By LES BOWEN
Sun Advocate reporter

Eyes focused on the board, Arturo Sanchez plants his feet back on the board after a frontside flip.

In the 1950s, surfers in California had the idea of trying to surf the streets. They may have invented the skateboard, but the sport of skateboarding as it is known today didn't develop until the late 70s.

When it started, skateboarding was more about downhill riding or "slalom." A few tried what was at that time known as "freestyle," which was more like figure skating than it was like the skateboarding of today.

Over 50 years after the idea for the skateboard spread from California to the rest of the country, it has become one of the most popular individual sports for youth. Skate parks have popped up around the country, including one at Terrace Hills Park, right in Carbon County residents' backyard.

"It's a break from team sports. There are no rules and it's creative," said Kamron Atwood, a 17-year-old who spends his afternoons at the skate park in Price. He and his friends have found a sport they enjoy and they hang out together doing tricks as they weave in and out through the obstacles at the skate park.

"We don't watch television. We come here," said Atwood.

They all have different reasons for getting into the sport. Atwood said his older brother got him into it. Arturo Sanchez, one of Atwood's friends, said some kids have gotten into the sport after they played video games featuring professional skater Tony Hawk.

In addition to their afternoons at Terrace Hills Park, Atwood and his friends enjoy trips to the Wasatch Front, where they stop at various skate parks.

"We all pitch in a few bucks and drive up there," Atwood explained. They said that the variety is a nice change.

Kamron Atwood grabs his deck. This grab is called a melon and starts as an ollie, but converts to a melon as the skater grabs the board from the back and pulls it up, along with his legs.

The trips to other parks give local skaters new obstacles and a new crowd to watch and learn from. That's the hardest part of the sport, Atwood explained.

Learning, improving and progressing isn't something that a skater is pushed to do. There's no coach. There's no team that relies on each player to do their best. Instead, it's just the skater, the board and the concrete. How much a skater improves depends completely on the skater.

Improving means spending time learning new tricks and just getting more accustomed to the ride. For that reason, each of Atwood's friends who join him at the skate park every day is at a different level.

The board has a few basic parts. The main part of the board, usually made of wood or a synthetic is called the deck. The wheels are called trucks. The board usually has griptape, a sand-papery surface applied to the top of the deck.

As skateboarding has evolved, the board has changed. The front and back of the board curve up at either end. The boards of the 50s were often just four or five inches wide. Today's boards are usually between seven and nine inches wide.

As skateboarding became more complicated, so did the courses. The basic parts of a course can include pipes, rails and ramps. A rail is simply a bar. The rail can either be embedded in the concrete or elevated above it.

Ramps are simple. They are just angled surfaces. They usually curve at the top and bottom to make getting into and out of the ramp smoother. However, some ramps have corners on top, sometimes capped with a rail.

Pipes are the curved surfaces that make up the course. The most common pipes are halfpipes and quarterpipes. The "half" or "quarter" of the pipe refers to how much of a full circle the pipe is. A halfpipe is a pair of curved surfaces, where a skater can ride back and forth between them. Half of a halfpipe is a quarterpipe.

Kamron Atwood ollies out of the halfpipe.

There are four basic stances: regular and goofy. Regular stance is with the left foot forward, so the skater faces to the right as they go forward. Goofy stance is the reverse of regular. The skater rides with their right foot forward, and faces left as they move forward. The forward foot is over the front trucks of the board, and the back foot is usually on the tail.

Regular and goofy are based mostly on whether a person is right or left-handed. A skater usually balances with their opposite foot, so a right-hander skates with their left foot forward, as in regular stance.

From those two stances, then come two more: fakie and switch.

Fakie is where the rider places their feet reverse of their normal stance. The foot that is usually on the tail is on the nose. The foot that is usually over the front truck, is over the rear truck. Riding fakie is confusing and often makes doing tricks more diffucult.

Switch stance is where the rider rides reverse of their regular stance. So a skater who rides regular would ride goofy and vice versa.

Once a rider gets their stance, they have to learn to carve. Carving refers to the way a skater leans on the board to control steering. When a skater turns with their front to the outside of the curve, it's called frontside. The reverse, where the skater rides with their back to the outside of the curve, is called a backside.

While there are plenty of tricks that can be done on a skateboard, they are based on a few basic tricks. Most of the tricks' names come from the stance of the rider, which part of the board the trick is done on, and what the skater does in the air.

One of the most basic tricks is an ollie. An ollie is a jump with the skateboard. Using only feet, a skater pops the board into the air. The skater jumps while the board follows and stays on the bottom of the skater's feet. One of the oldest ricks, the ollie dates back to 1977, when Alan, "Ollie" Gelfand invented the rolling ollie.

Another basic trick is a manual. The skater rides on one set of wheels without letting the nose or tail touch the ground. Normally, a manual is on the back wheels. A nose manual is on the front wheels. The tail of the board is in the air and the rider rides on the front wheels.

There are two basic flips: the heelflip and the kickflip. A kickflip starts like an ollie, but while the board is in the air, the rider kicks the board with the ball of his or her front foot and the board flips over at least once.

Arturo Sanchez rides out of a 50-50 grind along the coping at the edge of the halfpipe.

A heelflip is where the skater kicks with the heel of the tailing foot. The heelflip is considered much harder than a kickflip.

If the rider turns the skateboard around, reversing the nose and tail, it's called a 180. If they can get the board to turn around completely, it's a 360.

Another trick is the rock and roll. A skater comes up to the top edge of a ramps or pipe, often referred to as a lip or coping. As the skater approaches the edge, he or she lets one set of rails go over the lip. The deck taps the lip, and the skater rolls back down the ramp or pipe.

A primo is usually the name give to a trick where a skater pups the board up on edge and stands on the top edge of the board. The trick gets its name from Primo Desiderio, who invented the primo slide. The primos slide is where a skater stands on the edge of the board and slides on the ground.

A grab is where a skater reaches down while riding and grabs the board. There are various types of grabs, but the most basic, the indy grab, involves the skater reaching down and grabbing the edge of the board between his or her feet.

Other types of grabs include the melon, nose grab, tail grab, stalefish, airwalk, early grab, rocket air, method, mute and benihana. Each refers to how the rider is positioned on the board, whether the skater reaches forward or backward and where the board is grabbed.

The last basic tricks are grinds and slides. A grind is where a skater rides directly on the metal trucks, not the wheels and slides along a rail. Sides are similar, except they are done on the deck of the board.

The three most common types of grinds are the 50-50, the 5-O, and the nosegrind. A 50-50 is where a skater grinds on both trucks. A 5-O is grinding on just the back truck, while a nosegrind is on the front truck.

The last trick that most skates have to learn is the bail, which is often not considered a trick. Still, it requires some practice. A bail is exactly what it sounds like. If a rider can't complete a trick, they let the board go and try to land on their feet

The worst kind of a bail is where the rider doesn't succeed at landing on their feet. That kind of bail often results in scrapes, bruises, dislocated or pulled joints or broken bones.

"I've had a broken collarbone and a lot of rolled ankles," said Atwood. He added that the dedicated skaters get back up and keep going.

"I keep at it for the same reason that a football player keeps playing after an injury," said Atwood. He said his injuries motivate him to do better and improve.


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