Time for something different. I needed to brush up on my skateboarding knowledge and decided to research some skateboarding statistics and facts. In general, the skateboarding industry has a positive outlook and is starting to grow again after years of decline. Popsicles are the most popular skateboards and longboarding is the fastest grower.
I’m sure that you know of a few facts yourself, so let’s test your knowledge.
1. The First Skateboard Ever
Though officially skateboards first appeared in the 1940s, people report seeing skateboards even earlier. It’s hard to say when the first skateboard appeared exactly and it’s likely that a number of people came up with the idea around the same time.
There are skateboard-like devices going back as far as the early 1920s. One of the first was a 3 wheeled metal device to practice skiing. They came in pairs with a set of poles and an adjustable heel cup.
Later in the 1930s, the ‘Scooter Skate’ was introduced. This metal rocket ship-shaped board could be used with or without a handle, had 3 metal wheels but no ability to steer.
In the 30s, 40s, and 50s ‘sidewalk surfers’ started bombing the hills with inferior equipment. In the ’30s and ’40s, kids used handmade crate scooters using a milk crate or wooden fruit box with metal roller skate wheels attached. After a while kids removed the crates and the first skateboard was born.
Roller Derby Skate Company was the first to mass-produce skateboards in 1959, which could be considered the first official mass-produced skateboard.
2. The First Skateboard Wheels
Skateboard wheels have gone a lot of changes since the early 1900s. Kids used to take roller skate wheels and attached them to a wooden plank. Early skateboard wheels were made of steel which didn’t exactly offer a comfortable ride without any traction. It wasn’t until the 70’s when Frank Nasworthy in 1972 introduced the first polyurethane skateboard wheels.
3. The First Skateboard Trick
The first skateboard trick is attributed to Alan Gelfand and he called this trick an ollie. I’m sure people did other stuff and didn’t name their tricks but officially, Gelfand invented the first skateboard trick ever.
4. Surfers Didn’t Invent Skateboarding
Despite popular belief, surfers didn’t invent skateboarding. In fact, surfers only started exploring skateboarding in the ’60s but did help to improve boards rapidly and made it popular. You can say they took it to the next level and contributed to the skateparks we see today.
As mentioned in the first fact, skateboarding evolved (according to the Museum of Play) from kids riding milk crates with wheels attached in the ’30s and ’40s.
5. The most Expensive Skateboard
The most expensive skateboard, the Supreme Mundi, was sold on eBay for a staggering amount of 20 thousand U.S. dollars. It’s not made of gold and diamonds and doesn’t even look like a skateboard, it’s a bunch of wheels and trucks slapped on an artist’s palette.
The Supreme Mundi was created by the British artist Adrian Wilson as a response to the hype culture in the art world. Inspired by the 450 million sale of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvador Mundi and the entire Supreme collection which went for 800K.
6. Skateboarding is Not Dangerous
Skateboarding, isn’t that dangerous? NO, IT IS NOT! In fact, you’re way more likely to injure yourself riding a bike or playing basketball. According to Injury fact, over 98,000 skateboarders in the US ended up in the ER in 2017. The number of basketball injuries was over 435,000.
To put this in perspective, there are 26 million basketball players and 6 million skateboarders in the US as of this writing. If we do the math this would mean about 1.6% of skaters end up in the ER and 2.07% of people participating in basketball.
7. The Most Popular Type of Skateboard
Rejoice! In 2018 50,7% of all skateboard revenue came from popsicle skateboards, making it the most popular type of skateboard. That’s good news because I plan on writing much more about skateboarding.
Longboarding is the fastest-growing discipline. Longboarding is expected to annually grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 3.8% from 2019 to 2025, according to Grand View Research.
8. First Skateboard Video
This is under review because it might be inaccurate.
The first official skateboard video ever made is called ‘The Bones Brigade Video show‘ (1984). As an ’80s kid, this video reminds me of my childhood. Though skateboarding was very different back then, there is lots of technical skating many skaters have a hard time to pull off today. Check out the video and see what these guys pulled off.
- Steve Caballero
- Tony Hawk
- Mike McGill
- Lance Mountain
- Rodney Mullen
- Stacy Peralta
- Per Welinder
9. The Price of a Skateboard Deck Hasn’t Increased in 30 Years
If you think skateboarding is expensive, think again. I remember when skateboard decks cost a small fortune, especially living in Europe. When skateboarding became more mainstream, deck prices dropped and became more affordable. Prices haven’t increased in over 3 decades, there is lots of competition and skate shops are struggling.
10. Size of the U.S. Skateboard Market
Skateboard market value in the United States from 2015 to 2025, by product type (in million U.S. dollars) props to Grand View Research and Statista.
11. Richest Skateboarders in the World
The richest skateboarder in the world is Tony Hawk with a net worth estimated between 100 and 120 million dollars.
12. The Town with the Most Skateboard Parks Per Resident
Laredo (Texas) has the most skate parks in the world per resident. Data from 2019 shows that there are 268,976 residents in Laredo and 11 skateparks. This means there are 4.1 skate parks per 100.000 residents! Sacramento, CA is second with 3.2 skateparks per 100,000 residents.
New York has 26 skateparks and Los Angeles 28. Both are huge cities where LA has over 4 million residents and NY over 8.6 million.
13. The Strongest Skateboard in the World
There’s one deck you just can’t wreck. The Lithe Slate 2 is the strongest deck and even the Powell Flight decks are no match. Expensive decks though, but pretty cool. Make sure to check out Lithe Skateboards!
14. The Largest Skatepark in the World
China’s skateboarding scene is not as big yet but since 2015 they have two of the biggest skateparks in the world. The GMP Skatepark in Guangzhou is 16,900 square meters (182,000 square feet) of skateboard fun. It’s part of a larger sports complex located next to 10 universities.
15. The Biggest Spin
We all know who officially landed the first 900 but it gets even crazier. In 2019, Mitchie Brusco became the first to land a 1260 at a big air contest by X games. Pretty sick if you asked me but he doesn’t look that impressed himself.
16. Highest Air on a Skateboard Ever
I remember Danny Way dropping in from a helicopter a long time ago and everybody was talking about it. It’s no surprise he owns the record of the highest air which he pulled off in 2015. Way managed to air 7.772m or 25.49ft!
17. Highest Ollie
Aldrin Garcia holds the official record for the highest ollie ever. Garcia ollied 114.3 cm or 3,9ft on 15 February 2011 at the Maloof High Ollie Challenge (Las Vegas, Nevada). The challenge was to ollie over a bar on flat ground without making contact.
Even though Jake Hayes & Xavier Alford beat the highest ollie record on February 22, 2018 by ollieng 45,5 inches (115,57 centimeters) but it’s not an official record when looking at Guinness World Records.
18. Common Skateboard Injuries
Even though skateboarding isn’t as dangerous as people think, injuries happen. Most of the time injuries involve the wrist, ankle, or face. Fortunately, severe injuries aren’t that common but head traumas (3.1%) are usually the most severe.
Most of the injuries are preventable by wearing proper protective gear but not everyone is a fan. Injuries to the legs, neck, arms, and trunk vary from cuts and bruises to sprains, strains, and broken bones. Wrist fractures are quite common, especially when you get older.
Other common injuries on the list are a broken nose or jawbone. Please don’t land on your face.
19. Skateboarding Is Getting More Popular
Skateboarding died many times but it just won’t stay dead. Skate shops are closing, sales dropped, and many brands went belly up over the last decade. There are fewer participants in contests over the years and the Google trends data looks pretty depressing when looking at the search popularity. You see a huge drop from 2004 and it keeps going. Fortunately, there is an upward trend and market predictions show a growth of 2.1% for the next 5 years.
Skateboarding never really died, even though it isn’t as popular as in the early 2000s it’s actually making a bit of a comeback. The downward trend is more present in the US than in the rest of the world but I have good news. According to market research skateboarding is going to grow in the next five years. A small increase of 2.1% in global revenue for the next five years and the Olympics might give skateboarding another boost.
20. 23.9% of all Skaters are Female
When you ride around your local skate park doing your thing you don’t see many females, at least not where I’m from. According to research from Grandviewresearch, 23.9% of all skateboarders are female however this also includes longboards and cruisers. I for one welcome our female skateboarder overlords and there are some great female skateboarders out there currently!
21. Fastest Skateboarder Speed Record
The fastest person on a ‘skateboard’ is Kyle Wester. On August 29th, 2016, Kyle Wester smashed the world record at Rist Canyon, outside of Fort Collins. His top speed was measured at 89.41 mph (that’s 143.89 kmph in science units). That’s enough to get fined for going over the speed limit of most freeways in the US.
Of course, he didn’t ride a popsicle skateboard, just imagine the speed wobble. You probably melt your wheels and bearings first and you wouldn’t even be close.
22. Skateboarding > Longboarding
According to Google trends, skateboarding is more popular than longboarding, though longboarding is more popular among females. However, longboard sales are growing faster than regular skateboards. One of the reasons for this is college students who buy longboards and cruisers for commuting.
Many skateboarders (about 40%) also ride longboards, it’s a completely different way of riding. Remember the hate for extreme skating (or inline skating) back in the early 2000s? Probably not. If you need to hate something, hate scooter kids instead ;).
23. Pro Skaters and Earnings
This is a tough one to find out. Salaries vary a lot and it really depends on the type of sponsors and how well you are known. Take it with a grain of salt because I have not been able to confirm the numbers.
Most pro skaters don’t make much and the average rate is $1,000 to $10,000 per month, that’s quite a gap. 10k is when you compete in the top and there are only a few that actually earn that much. However, if you can get sponsorship from a big shoe brand you’re settled. Shoe brands are the highest payers.
Board sponsors pay between $1,500 and $2,500 a month. wheel companies around $2000 and up and truck companies no more than $250. A full set of sponsors will earn you about 5,000 a month and up, but some get 5k alone from a single sponsor depending on your status and networking skills. There’s also a big difference between pro skaters and amateur pros (ams).
Sure $3000 to $5000 sounds great for just doing some stuff on a skateboard, but the toll it takes on your body forces many to retire early. Some get jobs in the industry but most just fade away from the spotlights. If you manage to get multiple sponsors it can be lucrative but only a select few actually get rich.
If you plan to become a pro skater, make sure you at least got some plans or ideas what to do once your prime days are over (yeah, whatever dad).
24. Skateboarding is a $1,94 Billion Market
In 2018 the global skateboard market size was valued at USD 1,94, this includes regular skateboards, longboards, and cruisers. It’s good to see that demand for skateboards is rising where I live kids even get skateboard lessons in some schools.
Another factor that weighs in is the inclination in fitness and the increase in outdoor activities. That’s great news and hopefully, this trend keeps going for a while.
25. First Skateboard Magazine
Once skateboarding became more popular the first magazine appeared. “The Quarterly Skateboarder” was the first magazine dedicated to skateboarding and the first issue appeared in 1964. The magazine died in 1965 and only ran four issues as skateboarding got banned due to poor quality materials (like clay and steel wheels).
Once Frank Nasworthy started Cadillac Wheels which produced the new polyurethane wheels, skateboards became faster, smoother and more comfortable. With the introduction of this new wheel material, skateboarding became viable again. Surfer Magazine resurrected the magazine as “Skateboarder” in the early ’70s.
26. Graphics Sell
I love that feeling of getting a new board with an awesome graphic, it just makes you want to skate. Turns out, graphics play a huge part in sales. Attractive graphics help to increase the interest in riding a skateboard. Skateboard companies follow marketing tactics and use various slogans and keywords that are popular in the market. Rick and Morty decks, for example, are a huge hit.
It’s not only marketing, but graphics also help to pay pro skaters and organize contests. Buying a blank won’t really contribute to helping the industry evolve.
27. Skateboards Were Used by the U.S. Army
In the early ’90s, the U.S. military tested skateboards in urban settings. Skateboards were used to maneuver inside buildings in a program called “Urban Warrior ‘99”. The combat skateboard wasn’t a success and standard knee pads and other protective gear proved to be unsuitable for the marines.
28. Number of Skateboarders in the U.S.
In 2017, there were about 6.44 million participants in Skateboarding in the US, 1.4 million are aged between 18 and 24.
29. Average Spending per Child
A family spends about 693 U.S. dollars annually per child in one sport. Skateboarding is a lot cheaper, families spent an estimated 390 U.S. dollars each year and 109 consists of buying equipment. Of course, the more often you skate the more expensive it becomes, quality decks and shoes aren’t exactly cheap.
30. Zumiez is the Biggest Skate Store
Zumiez is certainly the most hated skate shop among skateboarders but also the biggest. Zumiez operated 707 stores worldwide in 2018 and in 2019 operated 91 stores in California alone. Some older data shows that the average net sales in 2012 were about 1.4 million U.S. dollars. According to the latest SEC filings, Zumiez made $994.7 million in annual revenue in 2018.
31. First Skateboard Brand
The first official skateboard brand was Santa Cruz. Founded by NHS in 1973. Based on California, it still one of the most popular skateboard brands at this time.
32. Skaters Used to Ride Barefoot
Skaters used to ride barefoot and it kind of makes sense. In the 60s surfers took over skateboarding to practice when there were no waves. Most surfers surf barefooted so it’s logical to assume they rode their skateboards the same way.
Many longboarders still ride barefoot, mainly in summer and in warmer countries. The plastic penny board ‘for example’ is meant to be ridden barefoot.
33. Over 3500 Skateparks Worldwide
It’s hard to get the real data here but there is an estimate of over 3500 skateparks worldwide and over 500 in the US alone.
34. 85 million Skateboarders Worldwide
Skateboarding is actually one of the more popular ‘sports’ in the US. In 2016 there were about 6.4 million skateboarders in the US and 85 million worldwide. The vast majority is under the age of 18 according to Statista.com This number is probably going to get bigger over the next five years as the industry will continue to grow.
35. The Tony Hawk Foundation Has Built over 623 Skate Parks
Hate him or love him, you can’t deny the impact Tony Hawk had (and has) on skateboarding. His foundation has built over 600 skateparks and the number is growing. Thanks Tony!
36. Elissa Steamer Was the First Female Pro Skater
Speaking about badass. Elissa Steamer can be added to that list. She was the first official female pro skater. Girls are doing great these days and I can’t wait to see how they perform on the upcoming Olympics.
Let’s not forget to pay some respect to the old pro skaters like Peggy Oki, Patti McGhee, and Carabeth Burnside. I’m sure I forgot a whole bunch.
37. Local Skateboard Shops Are Going out of Business
It’s depressing, despite the ‘support your local skate shop’ mantra, local shops are in bad shape. At this moment sporting good stores only make up for 3.1% of skateboard sales. I wonder how many of these ‘sporting good stores’ are actual skate shops.
One rather shocking fact I found was that a store that sells $475,000 in goods, only earns $30,000 in profit. A webshop can make $100,000 per year or more in profit with comparable sales. Let that sink in.
38. Most Popular Skateboard Video Game
I didn’t look up any stats about this and going to be completely biased here. The best skateboard video game by far was Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, period. Fight me! I wasted a lot of hours on that game (and other substances) and I haven’t been able to get that song out of my head since 2000/2001. ♫ So here I am, doing everything I can ♫…
39. First Skatepark Ever
The first skateparks for skateboarding appeared in the early ’70s. They consisted of cement obstacles like empty pools, half pipes, and full pipes. Surf City was the first park that opened in 1965 (Tucson, Arizona). Patti McGee attended the opening on September 3, 1965.
40. First Halfpipe
The first halfpipe was built by Tom Stewart in Encinitas, North San Diego County. Tom named it The Rampage but he can’t take all the credit for it. His brother Mike was an architect and designed the blueprints.
The idea was based on a 7.3-meter-diameter (24 ft) water pipes Tom used to skate and he was looking for a similar experience in a more convenient place. After being contacted by the media, Tom founded Rampage Inc. and sold the blueprints to various people.
If you’re in for nostalgia, check out this slide show at Calstreets.com. These photos were taken by Warren Bolster who was mentioned earlier.
41. First Ollie
It was Alan Gelfand who did the first ollie by accident. In 1978 Gelfand invented probably the most important trick and named it an ollie (after his nickname).
42. Longest Official Grind
For now, Jagger Eaton holds the record for the longest 50-50 grind. Eaton did a 50-50 on a handrail and got to 62.1792 meters/204 feet in October 2016 in Los Angeles. Luis De Los Reyes (aka Moose) broke the record (unofficially) and made it to 292-foot on a curb.
43. Most Stairs Ollied
The record for the most stairs ever ollied is held by Aaron “Jaws” Homoki. Homoki landed a 25 stairs jump in Lyon, France. It wasn’t his first attempt and he got badly injured before. At his first attempt, his MCL was completely torn which takes about 6 to 8 months to heal (yikes).
44. First Skateboard Shoe
Even though Vans is huge nowadays, they weren’t the first to make a skateboard shoe. They did however invented the threaded grippy sole pattern.
The first skate shoe was called “Randy 72o” invented by the Randolph Rubber Company in 1965. The company didn’t last long and in 1966 a former employee called Paul Van Doren and his brother Jim started a company called Vans dedicated to skateboarding.
45. The Guy Who Started it All
This legend was born on 2 September 1957 in the Dogtown area of California. Tony Alva is one of the pioneers of skateboarding and is basically known for the guy who started it all. He started skateboarding to practice surfing and was part of the Z-boys skate crew. Once recognized as the best skateboarder in the world and he still shreds bowls to this day.
46. First Fish-eye Lens
Warren Bolster was one of the first to use fish-eye lenses for skateboard photography. Bolster dedicated his life to skateboarding and surfing photography and revived “Skateboarding Magazine” when urethane wheels were introduced by Frank Nasworthy.
Bolster was always close to the action and suffered many injuries because of this. He had to go through many surgeries and suffered from chronic pain. He ended his life in 2006 at the age of 59. If you can, check out his book “The Legacy of Warren Bolster: Master of Skateboard Photography”.
Sadly I have to keep this short but Warren deserves more than being a statistic. Look up his Wikipedia page if you want to learn more about his life.
47. Tas Pappas > Tony hawk
I recently watched this documentary on Netflix called “All That Mayhem”. It’s an interesting documentary about the Pappas brothers who came over from Australia and crushed the competition. Tas Pappas defeated Tony Hawk multiple times and was at one point considered the best in the world. His brother Ben had a lot of addictions and the way he went out was pretty shocking. Go check out that documentary.
48. Largest Monetary Prize
Street League Skateboarding is where the most money is made. The largest (total) prize in the history of skateboarding was 1.6 million U.S. dollars back in 2011 according to Wikipedia.
49. North America is the Largest Skateboard Supplier
North America has a market share of 28% and is still the largest supplier of skateboards, second is China. Europe (28%) is the second-largest consumption place. The leaders of the industry are Element Skateboards, Plan B, Boiling Point, SK8 Factory, Skate One, Krown Skateboards, Absolute Board, and Alien Workshop.
The worldwide skateboard market at a CAGR of roughly 2.1% over the next five years and will reach 170 million US Dollars in 2024, other research is more optimistic and predicts annual growth of 3% for the next five years.
50. Skateparks Boost Local Economies
There are no official numbers or specific studies but skateparks seem to have a positive economic impact on local businesses and the surrounding area. Families from outlying communities bring over their kids and may go shopping or grab something to eat. Skateparks attracts many people to local businesses who wouldn’t be there otherwise. They also tend to have a positive impact on communities and utilize unused space.
51. Skaters are Getting Older
Skateboarders used to be younger. Back in 2006, about 71% were between the age of 12 and 17. These days they only represent 45% of the total participants. Remember you’re never too old to skate!
52. Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 High Score
According to myself I once scored 243,000 points in a game of H.O.R.S.E. back in 2001 (take that Rodney!). I had two witnesses (1 is no more) and looking back, I think I peaked early in life. Shortly after, our game got kidnapped and the ransom note stated we should go out more and stop playing THPS2 all day.
We did not negotiate with the kidnapper.
Man, that was a lot of work. Hope you learned something! I did my best to check all the sources and contacted several researchers and reliable websites to get the most accurate data possible.
If you’re not in a hurry, check out my post about the 40 best skateboard videos of all time or save it for a rainy day.
Here are the most important sources I used: