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MADE FOR SKATE

24 1964 the quarterly SKATEBOARDER cover Vol.1 No.1 The two went hand-in-hand and surfers switched back and forth between beach and sidewalk on a daily basis. Skate- board hardware continued to progress while major surf companies like Hobie and Gordon & Smith added skate- boards to their line-ups. More and more skilled shapers stepped in, experimenting with redwood, walnut or oak laminated together for a fine, smooth finish reminiscent of surfboards. This also meant a smoothed top with no grip- tape. But hey, no one gave a second thought about wearing shoes anyhow, as sidewalk surfers collectively swore by the feel and control achieved through barefooted skating. In 1963, Stevenson’s surf company Makaha took it to the next level by producing the first-ever pro skateboard. Not for a pro skateboarder, mind you, but for a pro surfer – world famous surf icon Phil Edwards. At 6” by 22” in size, the rounded edges and “mini surfboard shape with beveled rails” left no doubt about where the inspiration for the sha- pe had come from. As technical novelties, the Phil Edwards pro model introduced double-action trucks with adjustable truck tension for the first time, while clay wheels back then presented the state-of-the-art in wheel design. Surfing the Sidewalks Out in the field, skaters were riding skateboards – but thinking surfing. In terms of ridable terrain, they sought out either smooth flat ground or embankments on schoolyards reminiscent of ocean waves. Downhill riding also soared in popularity, and a few “concrete waves” such as driveways and curb cuts thrown in along the way were always welcome treats. One notorious downhill area of San Francisco was even known among locals as “Waimea Bay,” named after a famous Hawaiian surfing spot. The only problem with downhill skating remained getting the board to stop! Hopping off at last second offered the main escape route, because power sliding – today the most popular way for controlling your speed on the street – at the time proved impossible with clay or metal wheels. Drag- ging your bare toes across the pavement for stopping was definitely not an option, either. There remained major room for improvements. But despite the technical shortcomings in board construction, skate- boarding touched a nerve and drew large crowds with its promise of speed, thrills and a highly marketable aura of carefree beach living. The first major skate competition was held in 1965 in Anaheim, California. Sold out at 5$ a ticket (equivalent of $30 today), the International Skateboarding Championships saw competitors facing off in freestyle and slalom racing. These were also the prime days of high jump (pictured top left on the cover of a 1964 issue of The Quarterly Skate- boarder), as well as barrel jump and slalom – all elements taken from “real” sports. But among hardcore skaters, freestyle remained the creative outlet, the flow-and feel part of skateboarding that was closest to the spirit of surfing. The repertoire of tricks remained quite limited at first, because after all, trucks wouldn’t turn that well and the whole no-shoes part was inherently risky. A 360° gone bad could mean serious damage to your toes! 1964 the SKATEBOARDER cover Vol.1 No.3 24

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