Freewheeling students roll across campus

Videography by S K Vemmer

 

By Alexander Fletcher 

If you look around campus, you might notice more people cruising to class.

You can often see students riding a longboard — a mode of transportation that’s closely related to a skateboard. Longboarders are becoming a common sight around east campus, smoothly rolling from one class to the next.

“It’s a fun way of getting from point A to point B, plus you can’t beat riding on a board,” said Michael Novak, a junior in Germanic studies who has been longboarding for two years.

Longboards are used in a variety of ways, from professional speedracing to freestyle tricking, but around campus they are beginning to rival bicycles as a new means of green transportation.

“I get to class quicker and I look cool doing it, what’s not to like?” Novak said.

Longboards, which come in a variety of styles and colors, cost between $150 to $500, depending on brand, quality and design.

Despite its recent popularity, longboarding isn’t new. The hobby was born in the ‘50s by surfers looking for a way to practice when the tide was too low or the waves were too rough.

Boards started being produced commercially in the 1970s but the sport — as well as skateboarding — began to rise in popularity in the ’90s when skateboarders like Tony Hawk became celebrities for their skills.

“I can remember seeing Tony do all these amazing tricks on TV and wanting to be just like him — everyone did,” said UIC student Antonio Lubanski.

With its design making it easier to ride than a skateboard, longboards allow students to experience a safe, fun and green way of getting to class.

“Skateboarding is harder than longboarding,” Lubanski said.

“It focuses on performing tricks where as longboarding is all about getting around easily.”

With winter approaching, the numbers of longboarders on across campus will dwindle as they put away their boards for the season.

“It’s the one bad thing about longboarding in a city like Chicago,” Novak said. “There’s no way you can survive boarding on the snow and ice — not only will you ruin your board, but you could ruin your body.”

• Alexander Fletcher is a senior in English