Generally speaking, downhill skateboarding sucks – opinion piece
March 5, 2020
Getting into downhill skateboarding has easily been one of the best things that has happened to my life. Admittedly though, a lot of things about it suck. The looks from strangers, the disapproving looks from my mother, the road rash … But what keeps me going? What keeps me coming back?
I’ll be talking about both faces of the Downhill skateboarding coin today. About whats great and about whats not so great. Check it out.
Why downhill skating kinda sucks …
It’s not easy
Honestly, this sport has one of the steepest learning curves I’ve ever encountered.
From the basic slides to getting good enough to go down a hill fast – it takes a long time to build these skills and if you try to rush anything you could end up getting seriously injured. You need to commit a lot of time to building the skills needed to skate safely down downhill roads.
I know people who’ve been skating for years and still haven’t gotten the basic slides down. It’s fucking hard to get started.
From stretching to maintain form, to the small injuries from normal skate sessions, and even to the serious shit like broken bones and dislocated shoulders. I don’t remember when I wasn’t in pain doing this sport.
Though I don’t fall as much these days or get injured, it still kinda hurts to stretch and shit.
It’s not ‘respectable’.
From parents, to employers, to strangers, to random people. When you tell them that you downhill skateboard, they just give you this look of – “what the fuck is that”.
I can count the number of people who have been like “That’s incredible” – over my last 4 or so years of skating … and that kinda sucks.
Unless you have an IDF ranking and you can be like “I was 6th in the world last year”, people won’t give you the time of day. Even if you tell them, “We can go 100kph down some hills”. People will kinda be impressed but still won’t appreciate the hours of hard work you’ve put into building your skills so you can go that fast safely.
And if people do think anything, it’s probably “You’re crazy” or “You’re on drugs”. It’s frustrating.
Yeah, street skateboarding has been legitimized in the mainstream – some people recognize it for what it is, the potential for success you can have as a skater and more.
Still, we have a long way to go with DH. I even doubt it will ever be a mainstream thing, but who knows what the future holds.
It has no street cred
Unless you’re Aaron Hampshire and have a resume of gnarly af mountain bombs – downhill skateboarding actually lowers your street cred.
Do you know how uncool this shit seems to so many people? It’s heartbreaking. I mean, y’all ever tried telling a cute girl that you downhill skateboard? Only a small fraction finds it impressive. Bro, you spend all these hours skateboarding and the cute girls don’t even find you cool …
It’s a financial black hole
From something that you pour tons of money into – you get almost nothing back financially. Even if you’re one of the best at the sport, it’s almost impossible to make a living off it.
Paying sponsorships, paid opportunities are almost non-existent. You might get free gear yes, but that stuff doesn’t put food on the table.
And you know what, I could be out there spending my money doing what other people are doing. Going out, traveling, etc. But here I am buying wheels, trucks and gear I don’t need.
I’ve spent so much time on this blog. On videos that I’ve made. With often no reward.
It’s dangerous – I could die
Sometimes, I get anxious before going out to skate. “Will this be my last day on this earth?”, “Am I going to die today?”
There’s always a heavyweight on my mind when I’m skating with the with homies – “If something bad happens, will I be able to step up and do the necessary?”, “If my homie catches the ultimate brick, what am I going to tell their loved ones?”.
We take a lot of precautions to skate safely, but we can’t control everything. Who knows what could happen out there? Some driver has a bad day and decides to ruin ours? We’re probably about 99% safe, but who knows, one day could be our unlucky day.
Why downhill skateboarding is kinda awesome
Downhill skating makes me feel alive
There’s nothing in this world that has challenged me the way skating has – from improving my flexibility to learning about gear and developing my own style of skating. There are few things which have captured my interest as much and challenged me to improve as a person and as an athlete.
And there’s nothing in this world that feels as incredible as going fast on your skateboard. There’s nothing that feels as satisfying as going balls to the wall down a hill, taking the perfect line through a corner and maxing out on speed on the fastest section of the hill.
In those moments, I am completely, and utterly absorbed in the present. My entire body is relaxed, my mind focused and everything else fades away … It feels incredible … but is kind of scary to be honest.
And there’s nothing that fills my heart as much as skating a fast with my friends. The trust, the vulnerability, pushing our limits together … there’s a connection that develops from skating together.
I have a newfound appreciation for life
The quiet moments are hard to beat. Just chilling at the end of the run catching your breath, (kinda high off adrenaline lol) only to look around and feel grateful to be alive. Feeling unbelievably lucky that you get to experience this.
If just skating makes me feel this way, what else in this life could also do this for me? What else am I missing out on? Where else could I feel this satisfied?
And yeah DH is dangerous, but not so. We go to extravagant lengths to keep ourselves safe. Skating within our lane, walkie talkies, spotters, sliding early, foot braking, going slow, skating during off-peak periods – the list can go on! We can’t control what other drivers do on the road, but we can control what we do. We want to get down the hill safe, so we can walk up and do it again, and again, and again.
I’ve met some incredible people
Honestly, between the memes, drama, fueds, and other dumb shit, downhill skating has some of the best souls I’ve encountered.
View this post on Instagram
You WISH your squad could get like mine. So stoked from the session today, so much progress and fun was had. Congrats to @flowersblossuminwintertoo_ for getting her toeside slides down! Congrats to @blacinedope for getting more confident on his skateboard. Just so stoked everyone is getting better somehow. AND WE ALL HAVE OUR OWN LONGBOARDS TOO, EVERYONE IS ENJOYING SKATING IN THEIR OWN WAY! This is big lol 😁😁 Honestly just super thankful for al l this. Really couldn't have been possible without @oldhead.iggy @loadedboards @paristruckco and @orangatangwheels . Yall really did the ting for us African kids. Super grateful from the bottom of my heart for this. Let's see what happens next 😊😊
From my friends back in the UK, to people I’ve only spoken with online. It’s incredible how friendly and welcoming this community has been to me. I feel at home. Feel respected, acknowledged, and appreciated. I feel accepted … and it’s never been about who I am. I’m just another homie with a skateboard and that’s all that’s ever mattered. For one of the few times in my life, I feel accepted not for what I can do for others, but simply because I simply exist alongside others in a community.
The pain pales in comparison to the reward
The learning curve from skating sucked, but honestly, it’s all been worth it in the end. If anything, the steep learning curve made it all the more satisfying.
Those frustrating sessions trying to dial a line. Those sessions getting bricked. Being injured. All worth it.
As well, nothing in life is easy. Most things suck. If it’s easy, it’s probably not worthwhile. Shortcuts usually come back and bite you in the ass.
Is what people think important anyway?
Who cares what your parents think? Your employer, that cute girl, those cool kids at that party? Fuck em. Skateboarding has never been about impressing others or getting cred of any sort. At its core, it’s about how it makes you feel and the escape. If anything it’s a rebellion. You are who you are, regardless of whether the world chooses to accept you or not. Live your truth.
If it does give you street cred good for you. If some random stranger thinks you’re cool, good for you. But it’s never been about that – and don’t forget it. Don’t lose sight of whats important here.
Skateboarding has made me a better person
This might be a stretch but skateboarding has made me a better person. It’s made me question some of my values, life expectations, career paths, friendships, etc.
Because honestly, if skating is going to continue to be a part of my life, I’m going to miss out on a lot of things. I’m going to sacrifice jobs, relationships. And honestly, if something as dumb and as unimportant as skating is getting in the way of those things, then maybe it’s a good thing I’m missing out on them.
If someone looks down on me because I skateboard as an adult, fuck em. Why would I want such a vapid person in my life?
I’m more in tune with a life that I find meaningful than ever before.
I still have a long way to go in my life and I’m not even sure what role skateboarding will continue to play, but I’m thankful for the lessons so far.
It’s taken me to places I never thought I would go to
I won’t say I have the most impressive travel resume, but I’ve been to places I never thought I’d set foot in – or even given a second glance to before. Some people have even traveled the world over – purely because of skating.
I also look at the world differently now – I have a yearning to explore and visit different places in the world. I want to see how skateboarding has affected different people and what it means to their lives – I also want to visit all these people I’ve connected with online.
Finally, I also have a different appreciation for the world and other countries. I’ve learned more about their communities, geography, language, etc. than I ever thought I would.
It’s also extremely surprising where DH skaters are posted. There’s DH skating in Thailand, China, Peru, Argentina, Mexico, SA, France, Aus. All these different people with the one drive – to skate downhills. And I think that’s pretty cool.
It’s made me do things I never thought I could do
This blog, That youtube channel. If it wasn’t for skating, I wouldn’t have done all this shit. I learned how to edit videos, write blogs, write captivating content – I become a gaddamn freelance writer! I even changed my career and went back to school to accommodate more skateboarding in my life.
One video I made has like 17k views on youtube – I did that. I made that video. I learned the formula, I figured shit out, and I had a breakthrough and I become successful. There’s few moments I’ve felt that in my life.
Dude, this skateboarding thing got featured on CNN lmao. Honestly, so crazy if you think about it.
Who knows what I might do next. Start a business, run for govt? Who the fuck knows.
And then I see the moves other skaters are making. People fabricating helmets, make luges, designing wheels. Becoming machinists. Becoming composite experts. Teaching refugees how to skate. Picking up different skills to improve their skate experience. All because of the influence of DH skating.
It’s simple and keeps me sane
When everything else feels crazy, skateboarding reminds me that life goes on. When everything feels like it’s crumbling, skateboarding allows me to take a step away, clear my mind, meditate and kinda feel better about things.
It helps me regain my balance and approach the world as a healthy, adjusted adult.
Skateboarding has probably done a lot more for my mental health than I will ever appreciate. It’s probably saved me more times than I can count and for that I give thanks.
What’s your experience with DH skating?
Honestly, most of the things that do suck about skating are superficial. And it can’t be peaches and roses all the time. This is real life and things just suck sometimes.
And we skate for fun. We didn’t step into this because we wanted to be millionaires like Tony Hawk. Nah. We didn’t step into this because we wanted validation from our peers. No. We just wanted to have fun and enjoy skating. And if maybe you’re not having fun onboard, you need to take a close look at what you’re doing and ask yourself what’s wrong …