Archive for August, 2010

We’re not the only sport that was/is treated as an “outsider”, and told NO at various places of practice. Our sport Xtreme Ice Skating, has been prohibited by most rinks throughout the world — at least in some form or another. According to “Catching Air”, a literary work, both skateboarding and snowboarding have suffered under similar circumstances, and in some cases, have caused the near death of a sport altogether.

At the early beginnings of skateboarding and snowboarding, participants of said sports were frequently turned away from their popular places of practice such as ski slopes, skateparks, and the streets. Snowboarding was originally ousted by most ski resorts. Boarders were considered a “safety hazard”, since they often crossed paths with skiers due to the nature of their sport, usually ending in collisions or near collisions. By this, snowboarding was thereby off-limits to most ski resorts. As a result, participants of the sport were forced to practice on unclaimed territories. Boarding moved from ski resorts to back country wooded areas, and many times on hills, on or near local residence. “Boarders often hiked through deep snow to their own sections of a mountain, then rode the natural terrain, slowly developing a freestyle form of the sport — riding over and round obstacles, dodging trees, jumping off rocks, and developing tricks — that would endure, even after the resorts opened their slopes to snowboarders.” Today, all major ski resorts accept the sport. This is due to the natural incentive of money in the sport.

In 1965, the sport of skateboarding almost died. Firstly, the skateboard itself was unable to keep up with the skill of the rider (similar to our own sport but the issue of hockey skates and it’s lack of durability). Therefore, the sport significantly declined due to the slump of sales in skateboards. Secondly, the declination of the sport was compounded by the ill will of the public. The public’s perception of skateboarding was that it was a major nuisance, particularly since it was being practiced on the streets and sidewalks. Eventually people became fed up with it. Skateboarders were considered reckless, even though the skaters themselves seemed to like this “bad boy” image. Even today, the general expression of skateboarders has always been along the lines of: “just leave me alone to my own world.” In 1965 and thereafter, skateboarding was banned in most areas of most cities because of safety concerns. “Those who loved the sport, felt they had nowhere left to skate.” If you’re from Wales or the United States, or even any culturally conservative country such as England, you’d know this feeling first-hand in our own Xtreme Ice Skating sport. It is no wonder that every ice rink in England today prohibits our sport from being practiced.

In 1980, “when liability insurance began to become a major concern at skate-parks, insurance premiums rose so high that park owners couldn’t afford to pay them.” By 1982, most parks were destroyed or shutdown. Only the most enthusiastic skaters remained in the sport. Skateboarding once again hit a major decline in popularity. “That’s when the punk image really began to appear. If kids weren’t in their own backyards, they were on the streets, mixing with pedestrians and vehicles. Skateboarders would be given tickets for riding the streets or building ramps. Essentially, there was almost no place they could practice.” Does this sound familiar? It happened in 1965 and again in 1980. By the 1990’s, skateboarding slowed down once again. This was caused by an economic recession. Most of the “old-schoolers” at that time seemed to abandon their skateboards. New and more innovative skaters took their place, and so did the for-go of practices of their old ways of skating: the half-pipe, pool skating, and carving. A new young group of skaters hit the streets, and once again turned to their sport’s roots: street skating. Skateboarding reemerged in the mid-1990’s and has been going relatively strong ever since. This longevity is due to the onslaught of Tony Hawk’s massive marketing push in the sport since the early 2000’s, and the commencement of the X-Games in the early to mid 1990’s.

Join in on the discussion: Xtreme Ice Skating and it’s struggle to be accepted in ice rinks throughout the world.

“Catching Air”, by Bill Gutman and Shawn Frederick.