Photo above: Uncleweed / Feature photo: roland

Skateboarding has done a complete 540 since the days I rolled down the street on my Powell-Peralta Caballero deck, Tracker trucks and OJ’s.

Growing up in Vancouver we didn’t have a big range of options for terrain. The cul-de-sac out front of my house was littered with blast ramps and quarter-pipes that I built (with stolen wood, but that’s another story). My friends and I used to wheel a ramp a couple kilometers down the road to a big brick building to do some wall riding.

There were only two skate parks in those days: the Broadway bowls and the North Van bowls. My preferred stomping grounds was the one in the North Shore. It had a big snake run that led to a deep bowl. We’d ride up and down the banks, picking up momentum, then dip down and up the bowl and launch an air out the other side.

The author gets air, circa 1988

There was also the Richmond Skate Ranch, but that was far and you had to pay to get into the warehouse full of halfpipes, so more likely for us was the concrete playground of downtown Vancouver — the steps and rails of the art gallery and anything we could find before being chased away by security guards.

But enough reminiscing. Although the board has been put away for a long time, I still love to stop and watch the skaters anytime I’m out. The sport is different, evolving way beyond my ability levels. The sticker “Skateboarding Is Not A Crime” doesn’t make sense anymore, because it no longer is a crime. As Chris Young of the Vancouver Skateboarders Coalition says:

“10 years ago kids were getting tickets, getting their boards confiscated, and there was nowhere to skate except for China Creek.”

In Vancouver the scene is thriving. One of Vancouver’s premier bloggers, Miss 604, brought to my attention that this week, June 15-22, has been offically named Skateboard Week in Vancouver.

It’s sanctioned by the city, and has been announced by Commissioner Sarah Blyth on behalf of Mayor Gregor Robertson. The week culminates in Go Skateboarding Day with the Emerica team on Sunday, June 21.

These days, skate parks are popping up regularly, including six new ones in the past 10 years, and the VSBC are a major part of the sport’s success. To hear these words from the Vancouver mayor was something I would never have dreamed about in my youth:

“NOW THEREFORE, I, Mayor Gregor Robertson, on behalf of the City of Vancouver, do hereby proclaim June 15 – 22, 2009 as “Skateboarding Week” to recognize the importance of this sport in our city.”

Congratulations, Vancouver.

COMMUNITY CONNECTION

For a glimpse of what Vancouver looked like 20 years ago in the skate scene, check out Baxter Jackson’s article, Egypt’s Emerging Skate Scene.