Longboards offer relaxing alternative to traditional skateboards
By Lisa Liu
“Sidewalk surfing” is what it’s sometimes called, and for good reason. When longboarding started in states like Hawaii and California, it appealed mostly to surfers who turned to longboards on days when surfing wasn’t possible.
But longboarding has since expanded to be more than just a surfing substitute, and it’s spread everywhere—including to College Station.
“My friends started taking an interest in it, so that kind of rubbed off on me,” junior Garrett Wilson said. “I tried it, and it was really fun. Eventually, I invested in my own longboard.”
A longboard is essentially a larger version of a skateboard, both in terms of width and, as the name suggests, length. This accounts for the main distinction between skateboards and longboards.
“Since it’s a longer board, you have more stability,” junior Nick Holderman said. “You can go a lot faster on a longboard without getting unbalanced. I picked a longer one—it’s 42 inches—because I like to go pretty fast.”
Longboarders often choose to go down hills because of the relative safety at high speeds. However, they can still go too fast when they do this, even with a more stable board. The remedy to this is a technique called carving.
“[Carving is] when you’re going down a hill and turn left and right rapidly,” said senior Noah Rodriguez, who has been longboarding since seventh grade. “I’ve never surfed, but I’d say it’s about as close to land-surfing as you can get. It’s pretty awesome.”
Holderman likes longboarding partly for just that reason, the similarity to surfing.
“I’ve never been a fan of skateboarding, but I like longboarding because I like to snowboard and wakeboard,” he said. “It’s the same movement, so it comes naturally.”
The carving motion that imitates surfing is one of the first basic skills for longboarders to master. But, there’s more to longboarding than just this.
“I used to just ride around, but then I got bored with that, so I started learning new things,” senior Ethan Desai said. “It’s a common misconception that you can’t do tricks on a longboard, but you can.”
Desai’s favorite trick is sliding, which is unique to longboarding. There are various other tricks that longboarders can learn as well. Still, a large number choose not to and instead focus more on the cruising capability of longboards.
It’s this distinction that sometimes causes skateboarders to scorn longboarders, seeing them as posers who want to achieve a certain image without putting the work into learning tricks. This, however, does not bother Wilson.
“It’s definitely not an image thing for me,” Wilson said. “I wouldn’t even label myself as a skater. I really just longboard for fun.”
And that seems to be the takeaway of most of the longboarders. Whether they like it for cruising or tricks, they’re mainly in it for one reason: to have fun.
“There’s a certain sense of gratification that comes from taking care of and improving your longboard, but it’s not just that,” Rodriguez said. “There’s definitely a sense of joy. You’d have to be carving down a hill to understand where you get that joy from.”