Written by: Damian Krause
Photos by: Damian Krause
I have been selling skate gear out of hand since I was 15. I am now 31 and took a break from skating for 8 years for reasons I won’t go into now but getting back into skateboarding was like falling in love all over again! At the beginning of my “come back” I naturally assumed the lifestyle I knew best which was street skating, while again being the guy who always cruises around with stock in his boot.
I suppose I should mention that I am also a student at this point in my life and spend all day on campus with dudes mostly 10 years my junior. I thought this would prove to be the best place on earth to build the scene again, make some sales and have killer sessions with truly amped young dudes.
Ok, so if you know how to read (you’ve come this far, keep it up!) and have been following my tone then it’s no big twist of tale to say I was wrong. There turned out to be like 5 amped skaters in the whole town and the rest that had any interest in the ‘sport’ (there’s a can of worms) were too put off by the image that follows “street skaters”.
But wait, we’re not quite at rock bottom yet! I had a bad fall and ripped all the ligaments in my right ankle making moving around a huge campus a nightmare. After some healing I could at least stand on a deck again to commute but found the vibrations of the hard street wheels were killing my ankle. So I went online to get softer “gummy” wheels…
Can you believe that small action is the tipping point of all this rambling!?
What I found was a world of wheels. Made for what? Speed, traction, sliding, release, hook up…. All these words had me confused. Had I been under a rock? Since when did a skateboard wheel need all these technical qualities?
I then came across the small corner of youtube that comes up with the word “longboarding” in the search. That set the stoke off so explosively that I felt the same way I did the first time I saw someone pop an ollie!
Needless to say that from then on I was now officially into downhill skateboarding. Much to the disgust of my purist friends who feel longboarding is a dumbed down version of “real” skating… you haven’t read your history guys. What happened next was the most shocking to me. I had been on campus peddling my skate gear for two years and suddenly people who have never looked twice at a skateboard suddenly started approaching me asking me why I now had a longboard. They’d say things like: “I’ve never been into tricks and stuff but I like the idea of the longboard”; you move so fast and smoothly on that thing” and my favorite one: “do you know where I could get one?”.
This has led to a mini boom in the small nothing town of Potchefstroom and from literally being the only fool padded up and falling in the road we are now a group of about 9 dedicated downhillers. This in a matter of just 5 months! Even guys who have boards but lost interest in skating alone have been coming out of the wood works to join us. And the level of stoke is tangible. These dudes just want to session. Every millimeter a wheel can slide is an absolute joy and these guys are hungry for it. We even have two landlocked surfers who have taken it up and love how the movements converge with those of surfing.
Potch is as flat as they come with no hills to speak of. Yet these cats drive anywhere and everywhere around here just to crank up the speed and play with that mental “do not cross” line. And the natural result is that skills are growing at an exciting rate with all kinds of slides and techniques showing up as each rider feels challenged in different areas.
This, to me, is a thing of beauty.
I’ve heard surfers say that the best surfer in the water is the one having the most fun. If that is true for Longboarding then we have one hell of a talented bunch of longboarders here in Potchefstroom/Klerksdorp!
From a personal point I’d like to thank Lloyd from LSA for painstakingly and long-sufferingly answering emails and texts with the randomest questions. When I was sessioning totally alone for months, he was the only dude to share my stoke with (because some of you ‘regular skateboarders’ have image issues….yes you!) and he has been so humble and genuine in helping the scene to grow. Respect!
So to all badass SA longboarders, it won’t be long before you’re riding alongside one of the above mentioned badasses from Potch or Klerksdorp. We are coming…