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Everywhere around the world, skaters were pushing the limits of how high and fast you could go on a skateboard, while shoe manufacturers struggled to develop just the right kind of shoe for this new demanding way of skating. Pool skating also added an extra element of physical danger to the game. Injury levels were up again and once more, the media jumped on the “dangerous fad” angle, portraying skateboarding as a reckless and dangerous craze. Eventually, the whole skatepark era would go down in flames fanned by feisty insurance lawyers across the USA. Meanwhile, skate park owners were doing all they could to make skating as safe as possible at their facilities. Park hours were divided by sessions according to skill level. Helmets and full pads were the standard protective gear required at parks – but they didn’t protect the ankles of skat- ers who still mostly relied on low-top shoes. Protection was highly needed, though, as skaters would knock their relatively heavy boards into their ankles quite regularly on grinds and airs gone awry. Shield Your Ankles Despite rising demand among hardcore pool skaters, high top shoes took a while to catch on among the skateboard community as a whole. Some riders still preferred the control and flexibility offered by low cuts. At the same time, extra ankle protection couldn’t hurt during the occasional pool session. Offering an optional safety upgrade for low top shoes, Vans introduced a custom-built ankle guard sold at skate shops around the world. The advertisement at the time read: “The VANS Ankle GUARD - A Breakthrough in the Industry! A safety product designed specifically for ankle protection.” 71