What is Downhill Longboarding?
Downhill Longboarding has evolved from skateboarding and is using the skateboard, or longboard for that matter, in its own unique way.
As with a skateboard, you can do pretty much anything you want with you longboard. You can use it as a fresh means of transportation on the streets of a busy city, you can use the longboard for freestyle stunts or down at the skating park. You can skate on your longboard wereever and however your imagination can inspire you.
There are different longboards for every style, purpose or terrain and the designs are continuing to evolve and adapt to the skater’s needs and new ideas.
Here we will speak about one way to use the longboard in particular- Downhill Longboarding.
Why? You might ask. Well, downhill longboarding is the fastest, most exciting and probably most dangerous out of all longboard genres.
In downhill longboarding speed is the name of the game. There are some sub-variation of downhill longboarding, but the basic concept is the same- stand on your longboard and skate down on an open road. In most of the downhill longboarding styles the skater stands up on the board, but there are downhill longboarding variations where the skater is lying on his back, feet forward which allows him to go faster (because of the better aerodynamic profile) but on the other hand makes the control of the board a lot more easy and the whole experience, some would say, limited and boring.
The stand up downhill longboarding is spreading widely in the last years and becoming more and more popular.
It all began with Hawaiian wave surfers who created the first skateboards in the 60′s out of frustration, during the days of bad wave conditions. In the 70′s longboard started to appear, but both skateboarding and longboarding were still unrecognized and associated by many with youth rebellion and not as a serious sport throughout the 80′s.
It was only in the 90′s that professional skaters started to appear around the world (mostly in the US and Europe).
From then on, skateboarding took off and became very popular with it’s many genres and competitions around the globe.
Longboarding, though less popular than it’s elder bother (skateboarding) has been gaining popularity over the past few years as people started to discover the potential in this extreme sport.
There is a growing number of competitions around the world. All the skaters start together at the top of the hill and race down to the bottom. First one to cross the finish line wins. Really straightforward and simple- the way we like it!
What’s extreme about it?
If you begin longboarding from zero, without ever skating on any type of boards before, you will first get excited just from the fact that you didn’t fall. Than, after learing some skills you will start getting speed on very gentle slopes. This continuous and uncontrolled acceleration will scare you, since you don’t have the slightest idea what to do or how to stop it.
it’ll dawn on you that you have to learn first how to brake and stop. The most fun and demanding way to do it is by sliding. There is a variety of sliding styles. They go from “nice” to “sick” depending on the speed you perform it. The next step is going faster and faster because downhill longboarding is all about the speed.
The maximum speed is not really that fast, it comes up to about 65mph (104km/h), slightly crossing 80mph (128km/h) if you are looking to break the world speed record on a longboard.
So you will probably ask, why the speed in this extreme sport is so exciting?
Such speed may look slow when you are riding a motorbike or driving your car down the highway, but the same speed when you are standing on a wooden board out in the open, with nothing to grip on feels fast, very fast.
If you compare the average speed of downhill longboarding to other extreme board sports like wave surfing, snowboarding, skateboarding etc, you will see that downhill longboarding is by far faster than any of them. And let’s not forget that beneath the longboard runs hard, rough, painful asphalt as opposed to water or snow. Add to that the tight high speed turns, the changing slope and you got yourself an extreme sport packed with adrenaline even before you uncovered the last hidden treasure – racing. Yes, racing…There is nothing more satisfying and adrenaline injecting than crossing the finish line first after a tight fight with another human being. When you are good enough, the competition will squeeze the best out of you, the best performance, the best control, the best focus and the best adrenaline rush. In the heat of a battle you will do things you thought impossible in order to make a pass on someone, and if you survive without falling, your mind will register it under “definitely can be done” and reward you with a huge wave of adrenaline…next time your limits will be wider.
How dangerous is it?
Its all depends if you are well protected (a high quality helmet, a leather suit and so on) or not. If you are, you will have to crash badly to hurt yourself seriously. But if you do downhill longboarding in your short pants and a T shirt you can harm yourself, especially if you are trying to go fast. So, to lower your chances of injury you need to adapt your safety gear to what are you going to do or how extreme it’s going to be. If you do it well enough, longboarding will prove to be a pretty safe extreme sport.
The most dangerous hazard will be oncoming cars leaving their lanes (obviously in pro racing the road is closed for traffic).
How to start?
Longboarding is very available and easy to start- just get on the board and go…
You don’t have to wait for some rare weather conditions or any special season, just go and skate.
After learing the basics it is highly recommended to get a good grip on the breaking technique before you start downhill longboarding. Many beginners are tempted to go straight to downhill without gaining sufficient control skills And pay for that with pain.
Eventually, when you are in full control of your speed, you will probably want go in to racing to challenge other adrenalin junkies like yourself.