Skateboarding rising in popularity

Dan Savickas
Colin FisherKevin McGuire came all the way from Reno to throw down this invert at the Truckee skate park last week.

Imagine buying a football at a local sports shop and heading down to the nearest field to play catch with some friends. Twenty minutes into the game the police show up and issue you a ticket for not playing football on a designated football playing field.

Sounds absurd doesn’t it? Welcome to the life of a skateboarder.

But thanks to the city of Truckee, skateboarders in this area have had a designated skate park since 1999.

The Truckee Skate Park was designed by Zach Worhoudt and constructed by Lucky Concrete out of Reno. In all, the city of Truckee spent $170,000 on the project.

According to the Web site, “Truckee is a perfect example of how to build a really good skate park with a limited amount of space and money. The trannys are flawless, the coping is great and the layout is the best I’ve seen in California. Right now this is easily the best park in Nor Cal if not the whole state.”

The site awarded Truckee’s park four out of five stars.

Just to translate; trannys are the transitions from one bowl to the next, and coping is the edge of the bowl that allows the skaters to grind the edges.

While talking to a group of local skaters, they said they completely agreed with’s statement.

Although all of the skaters agreed the street section of the course is somewhat limited.

“There’s really no place to skate street, it’s illegal everywhere,” said local skater Dane Leonard.

At Truckee’s park it became apparent that each one of the bowls and obstacles in the park has its own name.

The bowls are called: the walk (because it looks like a cooking walk), square bowl, mini bowl and tighty bowl.

Other features are labeled: the Berkley bank, the twinkie and the taco.

No one is completely sure if the names of these obstacles are universally known throughout the area.

“Well the twinkie is universal,” Leonard said. “It’s hard to say whether the taco is (universal), everyone I know calls it the taco.”

The Truckee Park never seems to be without a rider.

“It’s very rare to be the only one at the park,” said Trevor Kekke. “It’s happened once maybe twice in my whole life.”

When the group exchanges stories of the few times they have ridden the park solo, you get the feeling that it is someone equivalent to getting fresh tracks on a powder day.

“I don’t even do tricks, I just pump the bowls,” said local Robby Salas.

Skateboarding has come a long way since its invention in the early 1950’s. Steel wheels turned clay, then eventually changed into rubber, and then finally settled on urethane.

Board shapes have changed a great deal as well.

The original boards were used as a way for people to mimic surfing on the sidewalk. Shapes have changed to wider boards, back to thin boards and so on.

Major advancements in recent years include making the shape of the board more concave. The squaretail of board in the 80’s is gone for the most part.

Boards have evolved into a band-aid shape, which offers both a nose and a tail.

The overall style of skating has also evolved greatly. The first contest in Hermosa Beach California in 1963 consisted of slalom, downhill, freestyle, long and high jump. Now styles are more along the lines of freestyle, vert, longboarding, pool and park.

The cost of skating has also changed a great deal. For a pro model skate deck you can expect to pay around $50. Wheels are another $30. Ball bearings range from $10 to $45. Trucks, which hold the wheels on, run around $40. Then another $5 for a sheet of grip tape and around $3 for hardware. Last but not least, skate shoes run anywhere from $40 to $100.

So just to get started with a complete board set up, you’re looking to spend around $150.

For someone that skates everyday, a board only lasts around a month, and the pairs of shoes skaters go through in a year range from three pairs to 10.

This is a lot of money to spend on a sport that has no chance of winning a college scholarship and little hope of turning pro.

A professional skateboarder can look to make $1,000 to $10,000 per year, depending on how well they do in competitions. They also receive a monthly check from sponsors and receive free gear, but its nothing compared to the amount of money the sport demands in medical care.

At times Kekke and Salas sounded more like doctors than skateboarders.

“I’ve had seven fractured wrists, three torn ligaments in my ankles and a broken thumb,” Kekke said.

“I’ve broken my metacarpal,” Salas said.

But that doesn’t seem to ever discourage them from the sport.

The popularity of skateboarding has grown in leaps and bounds in the past 10 years. Since its first appearance in the 1995 ESPN X Games, skateboarding has seemed to catch on as a major sport around the world.

The Skate Park Association of the USA claims to receive 1,000 emails and 500 phone calls each month from cities all around the US interested in starting a skate park in its city.

There are 26 skate parks in Northern California alone with another 14 in the southern part of the state.

It was facts like this that encouraged Tahoe local Chuck Buckley to start Tahoe Board Company.

Buckley has owned and operated Tahoe Long Boards since 1996.

“I started making long boards in my garage out of plywood. Then people in the area started asking me to make them one. I eventually went from building them in a garage to building them in a factory,” said Buckley.

“Tahoe Board Company just fell into place from there; all of my friends that ride short boards kept asking me to make them decks. There’s just so much local talent around here, and everyone’s all about skating. It’s a dream come true to be able to represent Tahoe with a local skate company.”

Buckley sponsors four Truckee skateboarders. For more information check out the Web site at

Although skating has experienced major ups and downs in the past thirty years, it seems that this time it’s a sport that’s here to stay.

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