Longboarding excites thrill-seeking students

Longboarding+excites+thrill-seeking+students

Jason Fieber

Gliding down a hill at 40 miles per hour has become commonplace for some Redwood thrill-seekers.

Junior Jordan Stern became interested in longboarding during his freshman year, and has since become increasingly passionate about the sport.

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“I was never really into skateboarding,” Stern said. “I was watching videos online, and a longboarding video came up and I thought it was the coolest thing ever.”

Some students say they have come to love the adrenaline rush provided by the speed and focus that are essential to the sport.

“I’m just really in the moment,” Stern said. “It feels like I’m flying in a way.”

Sophomore Jackson Westbrook has always had an interest in skateboarding, but said that he found that longboarding required certain skills that may not be required in traditional skateboarding.

“I had tried skateboarding in the past, but I had never tried longboarding. I got on it, and it was the smoothest thing I have ever ridden,” Westbrook said. “The threat of, ‘If I fall I might die or severely injure myself,’ gives me that adrenaline.”

Westbrook also added the importance of the adrenaline rush provided by the sport.

“It was all kind of for a rush,” Westbrook said. “The adrenaline rush I got from doing it was crazy.”

Longboarding differs from traditional skateboarding in the goal of riding each type of board. Longboarders are focused more around transportation or downhill riding while skateboards are more trick-oriented. The physical boards are also different as a means of accomplishing these goals, a longboard would have a longer board with bigger wheels and trucks. The board is also usually stiffer than a traditional skateboard to help the skater balance.

Stern said he has participated in other sports in the past, but feels particularly at home in the longboarding community because of its laid-back nature. Westbrook said he appreciates the flexibility of practicing the sport.

“You don’t need to have a particular schedule, you can just go out and do it whenever you want,” Westbrook said.

Longboarding has existed for about 60 years. It was first developed in Hawaii and was based on the mechanics of surfing. Competitions have become popular in the last 10 years, and have since made their way to local areas.

According to Stern, longboarding is not as popular in Marin as it is in neighboring areas like San Francisco, Sonoma, and the East Bay, which offer greater opportunities for races and other competitions.

Longboarding competitions test various skills like speed and sliding ability, but some are also organized for the sole purpose of providing a meeting place for skaters. Races usually take place on residential streets.

Westbrook has been intrigued by another, less official form of longboard racing.

“There are ‘outlaw competitions’ where you don’t necessarily notify the local authorities that you’re going to be racing down a road at 40 miles per hour,” Westbrook said.

Stern said he has never participated in races or sliding competitions, but has met with other longboarders to skate at slide jams.

“It’s so much more fun when I can skate the hill and then walk up and watch everyone else going down,” Stern said.

He added how much of an influence events and competitions have had on keeping him interested in longboarding.

“The days where I do events have been some of the best days of my life,” he said.

Westbrook has never participated in any longboarding events, but is working toward it as he continues to refine his skills. He said that races seem like a natural next step now that he has learned the basics of longboarding and has a year of practice under his belt.

Given the speed and the location of longboarding, the sport is dangerous, according to Stern and Westbrook. Most longboarders practice on public, residential roads, where it can be difficult to avoid cars.

“Some people go up to 60 miles per hour on a public road,” Stern said. “I think that’s pretty awesome, but at the same time, insane, and I don’t want to be doing that.”

Westbrook emphasized the consequences of falling when moving at high speeds.

“As you progress, you’re going to start going down bigger and bigger hills, so it definitely gets scarier,” he said. “If you fall, you’re going to get destroyed.”

Westbrook said that the injuries he has accumulated carry special meaning.

“I have scars all over my body from the various times I have fallen,” he said. “They’re kind of like battle scars that are representative of my passion.”