The history of Downhill Skateboarding starts with the history of the skateboard itself. In 1959, the first skateboard available was the Roller Derby Skateboard. Essentially roller skates on a plank of wood, the first skateboard had steel or clay wheels. Needless to say, skateboarding back then was far more dangerous and very difficult to run at high speed.
Sidewalk Surfing, as skateboarding was often called, took technological leap in 1970 with Frank Nasworthy’s invention of the urethane wheel. Faster with more grip, urethane wheels sent skateboarding to the next level. Skateboarding became very popular with races not uncommon, especially in California. As skating grew in popularity, the skateboard began to change. Before long, the newer wide skateboards were being used in pools and a new phenomenon was born. Further changes and the arrival of the ollie created a skateboard that was unridable at high speeds.
The Longboard was a byproduct of the skateboard revolution and became the transportation of choice, especially among the surfers. There had always been a core group of skaters with a love for speed and soon there were regular competitions featuring slalom and speed boarding. Again, the famous Signal Hill just outside of Long Beach, California, would host some incredible high speed action.
Today there are skateboards specially designed for speed. With extra soft wheels and modified deck designs, insane speeds can be achieved with more control. The new revolution of dropped decks and specialized skateboard trucks, skateboarders are more competitive than ever with speeds over 50 mph not uncommon.