An empty pool can be surprisingly useful for skateboarders. This is especially relevant on the west coast, where there are many pools and a thriving skateboarder community. They are always looking for fun and new ways to challenge themselves, and that is how Vertical skateboarding (aka vert staking) came to be in the 1960s.
Skateboarding Growing In Popularity
Skateboarding was starting to become widely popular and had started when surfers were looking for something to do when there were no waves to be caught. The discovery of how useful an empty pool could be randomly came to be when a skateboarder’s parents left him home alone.
What happened next would make skateboard history. The son and his friends decided to drain the pool, which lent itself extremely well to skateboarding, with its high smooth walls and the transition from the shallow end of the pool to the deep end. The history of pool skating was documented in the feature film Dogtown and Z-Boys, which critics believe to be one of the greatest skateboarding movies of all time.
This became known as pool skating and would become a popular pastime for many Southern California skateboarders. An empty pool has even been called the skater’s “nirvana.” This also lends itself to the DIY dynamic that is part of skateboard culture. You can’t wait for ‘the man’ to build you a skatepark, you have to create your own.
Anyone with a pool can turn it into a skate ramp. The water simply needs to be drained and then skateboarders can start practicing their moves. One famous move is known as the “carver.” The skateboarder starts from the shallow end of the pool and does a wide turn where all four wheels remain on the side of the pool.
Empty Pool Paradise
Throughout the seventies, empty pools were the favorite place to practice vert staking. Since the pools were not built to be a skater’s paradise, much of the terrain was difficult to skate properly on. This only emboldened the skateboarders to look at difficult terrain as a challenge.
If a skater was able to conquer a particularly tough pool, then it was a symbol of pride and garnered respect from other skateboarders. Vert staking has bred many skateboarding superstars, such as Tony Hawk, Steven Caballero, and Christian Hosoi. Tony Hawk has turned into one of the most wealthy athletes of all time thanks in part to his hugely popular video game series.
Vert staking is extremely challenging, and takes a combination of athletic ability, determination, and fearlessness to pull off. This is why skateboarders who have mastered the art, like Tony Hawk, have become superstars in their sport.
The story behind Vert Staking is amazing, particularly that it all stemmed from a kid being left home alone. This shows great and innovative ideas can come from the most surprising and unlikely of places. It also shows that what might just be an empty pool to one person, is a paradise to another.
Kellie Swaim is a skateboarding expert from her time spent as a marketing associate for Bravo Sports makers of Kryptonics Skateboards.
Photo Credit: thefixer (CC BY 2.0)