Skateboarding traces its roots to the seventies but it really reached the peak of its popularity in the mid-eighties to the present when major skateboard manufacturers propelled it to new heights. First, they started with half-pipe and vert ramp skateboarding. The manufacturers upgraded the boards to make their decks very wide and to equip them with larger and wider wheels.
As the years went by, the focus shifted to street skateboarding, which brought about a few changes in deck shape and wheel size. With the growing popularity of street skating, new stars rose to prominence, such as Mark Gonzales, one of street skating’s pioneers. Gonzales is recognized as one of the first skateboarders to ollie up a curb and to clear a set of stairs. By this time, manufacturers had shifted their focus to maple plywood over more exotic composite materials. Concave decks were now everywhere.
Today’s current generation of skateboarders usually ride on boards that are about 7¼ to 8 inches wide and 30 to 32 inches long. The wheels now are made with a hard durometer (approximately 99a), which provide a faster ride because it reduces the drag on surfaces that are hard. Wheels are now smaller and the boards are lighter, which makes it easier to make difficult tricks. Today’s wheels are only about 48 to 58 mm in diameter and they are as light as they have ever been thanks to advances in skateboarding technology. Meanwhile, the majority of decks are made out of Canadian Maple and the industry standard is the 7 ply because of its increased strength and durability.
Historically, most keen observers of the sport note that the styles of skateboards changed a lot from the 1970s but have been mostly the same since the dawn of the nineties. The shape of today’s contemporary skateboards assumes the design of freestyle boards from the eighties, with a symmetrical shape and a narrower width than previous skateboards.
These observers also note that the popularity of ramp or vert skatebaording was overtaken by street skateboarding in the nineties. With today’s freestyle techniques, the practice of skateboarding has risen to new heights and new stars are emerging all the time. But throughout it all, the ollie has remained as the base of many of today’s tricks.