Longboarding gaining traction

Matias Puchulutegui skates downhill.

Matias Puchulutegui skates downhill.

“It’s an exhilarating feeling to ride a longboard at such fast speeds,” said sophomore James Gill about his longboarding hobby. Gill is one of many Clark students who have picked up on the longboarding trend.

Longboarding is similar to skateboarding, but with key differences in motion and equipment. Longboards, as the name implies, are typically longer than their smaller skating counterparts. This, along with built in axles, allows for more control during riding than typical riding boards.

Longboarding has seen a recent surge in popularity with mainstream media. Longboarding has attracted both experienced skaters and adrenaline newbies alike. According to USA Today, of the 16 million skateboarders between the ages of 6 to 17 in the U.S., only half of these riders were skaters.

Popular media has also acknowledged the rising popularity of longboarding as a trend, such as the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty which depicts the main character Walter Mitty riding a longboard down a long road as one of the many adventurous activities that Mitty engages in. Also, the recent surge of longboarding popularity can be seen with the rise of large longboarding forums with thousands of commenters and posters. Websites such as silverfishlongboarding.com hold many boards for discussing many topics related to longboarding, and many of these boards hold hundreds to thousands of commenters who actively participate in discussions on longboarding.

When you go with a big group of friends, it’s very unifying and gives me confidence.

— James Gill

Gill began longboarding in middle school as a side hobby. “I was partially interested in middle school, but I really got into longboarding when at Clark,” Gill said. Gill, accompanied by groups of other riders from Clark, rides his longboard in wide areas. “When you go with a big group of friends, it’s very unifying and gives me confidence,” Gill said.

Generally, there are two ways to ride a longboard: downhill and freestyle. Junior Matias Puchulutegui says that he prefers the downhill style of longboarding. “Downhill is fast-paced, which is what makes it so fun,” Puchulutegui said. He also notes that downhill riding is much more dependant on good timing and quick decisions. Puchulutegui said that he and his friends often look for areas with wide roads and hills. “I personally prefer skating in the Chevy Chase and Glenoaks canyons,” Puchulutegui said.

Puchulutegui also said that any roads and hills that they use are generally tested out slowly in order to see how safe the area is for longboarding. “We can’t just start riding at full speed in an area for the first time,” Puchulutegui said. “We need to test it out first.”


The other method of longboarding is freestyle, where the rider uses gloves with plastic on flat surfaces to perform tilts and other tricks. “In freestyle, you try to go as fast as you’re able and just show off some moves,” Gill said. Gill also said that he enjoys the freedom felt when riding freestyle.

Downhill is fast-paced, which is what makes it so fun.

— Matias Puchulutegui

Aside from the method of riding, the longboard itself is a very crucial aspect of longboarding, as one would expect. Longboards can be bought pre-made or crafted customly by the rider in a relatively simple process. “When I went back into longboarding, I made boards for both myself and my friends, which we still use,” Gill said.

Gill begins crafting a board by finding the thinnest possible size of plys and placing them in layers with glue between each layer. He uses clamps or weights on the boards to “get the best possible form of the desired shape.” After the glue dries, Gill said that the layers will hold their shape and that he places the template of the board shape he desires.

Afterward, Gill uses a variety of shapes to cut out and shape the board and applies both a clear coat and paint. Finally, said Gill, “at 11 at night, I’ll remember that the holes aren’t drilled yet, so I grab a cordless drill and aim through the truck holes for spacing.”

Safety precautions are also an important factor of longboarding. Junior Eric Supangan said that he always plans ahead and packs extra supplies if needed. “My friends call me the ‘medic’ because I always bring first aid kits and disinfectants, even if it looks like we might not need them,” Supangan said.

Helmets and knee/shoulder pads are also important for riding safety. “You usually wear knee and shoulder pads when you first start out, and you may not need them when you get better at riding, but helmets are always a priority,” Puchulutegui said.