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January 13, 1979 - Image 5

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1979-01-13

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The Michigan Daily-Saturday, January 13, 1979-Page 5'

Skateboarding: Not Just
Kids' Stuff Anymore
What is one of the fastest growing sports in the country, yet was
considered a dangerous teenage gimmick in the mid sixties? That's
correct, the skateboard, a hobby once reserved for Beaver Cleaver
has now become a vast, multi-million dollar enterprise. Though the
skateboard has stepped out of the limelight for over a decade, its
popularity has resurged in California and is rapidly making inroads
in the eastern states.
The new skateboard cult is no fluke, however. In the same manner
that the frisbee was given careful aerodynamic attention, giving it
scientific credence and acceptability as a true art-form, the
skateboard has also been a focal point of engineers and physicists.
Careful studies have focused upon centripetal forces, torque, and
r
STORY AND PHOTOS BY
BRAD BENJAMIN
maneuverability inherent with the skateboard. The result has been a
total revamping of the skateboard's design and a discovery of new
capabilities of the rolling two-by-four.
The new breed of skateboards are made of a aluminum-reinforced
fiberglass which gives far greater maneuverability to the skater than
the old wooden models. The simple steel axles and wooden wheels
have been replaced by spring loaded mounts and firm urethane
wheels.
The most popular form of skateboarding is the slalom, which is
downhill skating accompanied by sudden, agile turns. Many people,
including yours truly, have taken quite a spill with the old type of
board due to is rigidness and inability to accept a quick change in
direction. In fact, the new boards offer so much biped dexterity that a
novice has difficulty rolling in a straight line! The key objective the
rider must bear in mind is the placement of his weight, which if done
correctly, gives him the proper balance in order to achieve the
maximum angular force and the greatest speed. Stopping the board is
similar to stopping when skiing. To stop, the skater places his weight
on the inside foot and pivots uphill.
But if you think that the skateboard resurgence is exculsively
supported by teenage recreation fanatics, ask the major sporting
goods companies. Spalding, AMF, and Yamaha, to name only a few
companies, are producing an entire line of skateboard products
realizingthat this new cult offers a promising market. Along with the
basic skateboards, a skater's gear consists of knee-guards, padded
gloves, a quasi-hockey helmet, and a good-gripping pair of sneakers.
However, the biggest testimonies to the skateboard.frenzy are the
various skateboard parks which are being built. They are basically a
montage of oddly-shaped swimming pools, varying in depth and
configuration offering the skater a decent course selection. These
photos were taken at the community park in Marina Del Rey, Cali-
fornia. New parks are being built throughout the West and Southwest,
and the success of these parks have prompted some consideration for
a Skateboard Olympics. So the next time you're home and see the
terror of the esplanade riding his board, you better think twice. His
stupid hobby just might get him on the CBS Sports Spectacular. ,

m

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