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A Brief Look into Florida and the History of Skateboarding

Updated: Feb 28

The history of skateboarding, particularly focusing on Florida and the invention of the Ollie, is a fascinating journey that revolutionized the sport. In the 1970s, skateboarding saw significant developments in Florida, notably in Hollywood, where Alan Gelfand, also known as "Ollie," invented the Ollie maneuver. Gelfand's innovative trick, the Ollie, changed skateboarding forever by allowing skaters to take flight without using their hands[1][2][3].

Alan Gelfand, born in 1963 in New York City, moved to Hollywood, Florida in 1972 and began skateboarding in 1974. His groundbreaking Ollie maneuver was born out of his attempts to do a lipslide at Skateboard USA in Hollywood in 1977. This maneuver, which involved catching air above the lip instead of sliding across it, led to the creation of the Ollie Pop and eventually the Ollie itself in 1978[2][3].

The impact of Florida on skateboarding extended beyond Gelfand's invention. South Florida became a hub for skateboarding with various skate parks like Skateboard Safari and Skateboard USA fostering innovation and a quest for air among skaters like Jeff Duerr, Pat Love, Mark Lake and others. The Ollie, considered one of the most significant inventions in skateboarding history alongside other game-changers like the urethane wheel, transformed the sport and laid the foundation for modern street skating tricks[4].

Alan Gelfand's invention of the Ollie in Florida marked a pivotal moment in skateboarding history, shaping the sport's evolution and influencing generations of skaters worldwide.

Rodney Mullen, born in Gainesville, Florida in 1966, is a legendary figure in skateboarding known for his innovative tricks and contributions to the sport. Mullen's influence spans from freestyle to street skateboarding, where he adapted his skills and invented groundbreaking tricks like the flat ground Ollie, kickflip, heelflip, impossible, and 360-flip[1][2][3].

Rodney Mullen's journey began in 1978 when he placed fifth in the boy's Freestyle category at the US Open Championships in Jacksonville, Florida. His talent caught the eye of skateboard manufacturer Bruce Walker, who sponsored him and nurtured his potential. Mullen's transition from freestyle to street skateboarding marked a significant shift in the sport's landscape, leading to the creation of new tricks like primo slides, dark slides, and Casper slides[2].

The flat ground Ollie, a game-changing trick that revolutionized street skateboarding, was a product of Rodney Mullen's creativity. This maneuver allowed skaters to pop their boards off the ground without using their hands, unlocking a new realm of possibilities for tricks and paving the way for modern street skating.

Mullen's dedication to innovation and originality solidified his status as the "godfather of modern street skating," influencing generations of skaters worldwide[2][3][5].

Paul Schmitt, known as "The Professor" in the skateboarding world, has made significant contributions as well. Starting his skateboarding journey in 1973, Schmitt's passion and dedication led him to become a pivotal figure in the industry. In 1975, his family moved to Tampa, Florida, where he immersed himself in the local skate scene and witnessed the emergence of skateparks in the area[1].

Schmitt's impact on skateboarding extended beyond his personal achievements. In 1990, he founded New Deal Skateboards after leaving Vision, marking a new chapter in his career. New Deal quickly gained success due to its positive image and focus on street skating, contrasting with traditional companies of that era. Schmitt's vision and dedication to the sport propelled New Deal to the forefront of the industry during a time of transition and change[2].

In 2007, Paul launched CreateASkate, a nonprofit organization aimed at engaging children by involving them in making their own skateboards at school. This initiative not only promoted creativity but also fostered a deeper connection between youth and skateboarding culture[1].

In recognition of his immense contributions, Paul Schmitt was inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame in 2020. His innovative spirit, commitment to the sport, and continuous efforts to inspire future generations solidify his legacy as a key figure in shaping the world of skateboarding.


[4] About Rodney Mullen


[1] About | A Secret History of the Ollie

[2] Alan Gelfand - Wikipedia

[3] Ollie ‣ BackSide Skate Magazine

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