Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Frederick. Frederick Wonders, “Who invented the skateboard?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Frederick!

How do you get around? Do you go for walks? Ride a bike? Many people ride on scooters or hoverboards. Others roll along doing kickflips and grinds on a skateboard.

Have you ever ridden a skateboard? It takes a lot of practice! In Wonderopolis, we see people rolling by and doing cool tricks on their skateboards all the time. It made us WONDER where skateboarding came from.

It all started in the 1950s with Californian surfers. Surfing was a way of life -- surfers spent lots of time in the ocean and basically lived on the beach. Soon, surfers wanted a way to surf on land. That’s when they started putting wheels on the bottoms of wooden boards. Many people across California came up with this idea around the same time, so we don’t know who made the first skateboard.

Surfers called their new way of getting around “sidewalk surfing.” This early form of skateboarding was dangerous. Many people rode barefoot and hurt themselves by falling. A few years later, skate shops made skateboards thinner. This made the boards safer and easier to control. Soon, more people took interest in the new sport.

Clothing makers and musicians soon took notice. They started making clothes and music for skateboarders. The first skateboarding shoe brand, Vans, started in 1966. Converse and DC Shoes soon followed. Bands like The Offspring and MxPx became popular among skateboarders. Hollywood even made skate-themed movies, including Thrashin’ and Lords of Dogtown. Like surfing, skateboarding was becoming a culture as well as a sport.

Skateboarding also went through a few rough years. Many people saw the sport as dangerous. Some parks and cities banned skateboarding. Norway banned the sport altogether between 1978 and 1989. Still, dedicated skateboarders kept the sport alive. Alan Gelfand created the first skateboarding trick in 1973. He called it the “Ollie,” and people everywhere were soon trying to copy it. Years later, Tony Hawk entered the first X Games and wowed the world. He was the first to do a “900” trick and won 70 competitions before retiring.

Today, skateboarding continues to grow. It’s also relatively safe. Fewer skateboarding injuries end with a trip to the hospital than those in baseball, basketball, American football, or soccer. The International Olympics Committee is even making skateboarding an Olympic sport in 2020! The sport has come a long way from its early days of “sidewalk surfing.”

Are you ready to jump on a skateboard and learn the Ollie? It’s important to wear proper safety gear while skateboarding. A helmet and knee pads go a long way to protecting skateboarders! Be sure to get a family member to help you make sure you’re riding safely. You’ll be doing flips and tricks before you know it!

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