Believe it or not, it’s been a long time since skateboarding came about. That is, if you’re referring to skateboarding overall. If you will allow me to humor you with an analogy – Skateboarding grew up in the 80′s, put on some weight, settled down, and fathered some children. One of those children being modern day longboarding. And now longboarding is growing up and growing up FAST. When I first started downhill skating, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone to willing to spend an afternoon in the hot sun looking to push themselves down a hill. People called you crazy, or suicidal. And now you can just about find someone at any hour of the day in SoCal who would be more than willing to shred with you. This sport has an extremely addictive appeal to it. Maybe it’s the adrenaline, maybe it’s the history? Either way, it’s not uncommon at all anymore to spot a pack of longboarders shredding your local hill. Rest assured, if it has a grade steep enough to support slides, we’ll find it and skate it sooner or later.
Let people say what they will about downhill being a “niche” sport. Those days are quickly becoming a thing of the past. And to see it, all you need to do is visit one of the many DIY skate comps beginning to pop up here and there. On any given weekend and with a little gas money, you can hitch a ride with the locals, or drive out yourself to some obscure water tower maintenance road to find some 50 or so people gathering with their skateboards. Completely content to risk life and limb all in search of that perfect moment where everything clicks, and the world melts away beneath your board
This past weekend I played silent witness to longboarding’s progression as I sweat it out in the scorching SoCal sun with a slew of collegiate skaters for the first annual Intercollegiate Longboarding League Slide Jam. More of a gathering of the forces then a slide jam, skaters ventured out from colleges far and wide to shred it up, and soak up vitamin D. With a wonderfully paved hill and a cloudless sky, the forecast read for nothing but rad skating and fun in the sun. There was a wonderful element about this jam that made it a little different from all the others I’ve been too in the past. That being, that you were rewarded for progression, versus biggest trick. If you learned something new, you got a raffle ticket, if you went bigger then you’ve normally gone before, you got a raffle ticket. You get the idea. This format lent itself to inspiring the jam’s participants (many of whom were new to the sport), into trying something just outside of their comfort zone. Leading to some incredible on the spot progression, and some serious bails. So as the saying goes, we all must learn to crawl, before we can learn to walk.
The troops gather in the hot SoCal sun for a rad day of rippin.
Brian Ta and Ricky Nguyen, organizers of the ILL, give the crowd the lowdown on the hill before getting the shreddin’ under way.
AJ Ricciardo looks on, as Matt Peckson buzzes the dirt with a stale fish slide in the distance.
Progression was the name of the game as skaters were awarded raffle tickets for stepping out of their comfort zone.
Michael Ferran lookin’ clean and mean as he fires out this backside check.
Cross-steppin Chris, as he came to be known, was stylin extra hard with some fancy footwork.
Liam figures out what he wants to do with his skate tool, while the homies hike it for another run.
Austin Eldridge, crushing this hill like a boss.
The groms were out in full force, diggin deep, and laying it down.
Michael Ferran putting on a show and snapping out another feisty backside check deep in the corner.
Bombing runs were in full effect throughout the day.
Hugo Limon does his Bruins proud by demonstrating how to properly shred the gnar.
CSUN longboarders club president Joe Gutkowski melting faces with this held out switch heelside check
Claudia Arce steezes a floaty backside slide.
The hill was festooned with a myriad of custom tailored shred weapons.
And just as everyone began to melt under the mid day sun, the clouds rolled in, making for a nice reprieve from the heat.
Even skate veterans of the likes of Cracka Zak Mayall were in attendance. Out to show the young bloods how it’s done.
Downhill Daisy Johannas, demonstrating how she earned that title.
Alex “FlatTop” Limbach throwin out his signature one footed G-turn, and making me jealous that I can’t nose manual like he can.
Abel has a style to his backside checks that’s all his own, and for the record, I think it’s badass.
This is what real progression looks like – I call it a merit badge.
Boxes and boxes of gear donated from all the lovely sponsors meant that no one walked away empty handed.
More progression meant more raffle tickets, and this guy was dual wielding. Look out James Kelly, he’s comin for ya.
The groms are hungry.
It started raining swag.
Hugo Limon steps forward to claim his prize.
The sticker pretty much says it all – Marcelo needed that new board.
At the end of the day, you didn’t need a verbal explanation to get an idea of how the event went down. All you needed to do was to look at the faces of all the participants to know that a good time was had by all who attended. Longboarding may be growing up, but if these people end up being the future of the sport, then we can all rest easy knowing the future is in good hands.
For anyone interested in finding out more information about the Intercollegiate Longboarding League, please contact Brian at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Additional photos / larger resolution shots of the event are hosted on The Gel Lab‘s Flickr page at: