The skateboard boom

The 2020s is expected to be a big decade for skateboarding

The Journal spoke to two students who skateboard.
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In the late 90s and early 2000s, skateboards were everywhere. Tens of millions of households tuned in to the X Games, and Tony Hawk’s video game series was generating hundreds of millions in sales.

But skateboarding’s popularity dwindled. Until recently, skateboards had become a relic of the past. With the exception of dedicated skaters, the general public seemed to have lost interest in the sport.

However, things took a turn in early 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted everyone’s plans post-pandemic. In a summer with seemingly nothing to do, everyone was hungry for ways to pass the time. As an activity that can be done outdoors—alone or with friends—skateboarding was the perfect quarantine hobby.

Like bicycles and roller skates, there was an ensuing skateboard shortage. Not only did manufacturing and distribution suffer from pandemic regulations, but demand skyrocketed. As a result, market sales for skateboards and skateboard accessories increased by over 100 per cent in the summer of 2020. The market is expected to continue to expand worldwide.

When the 2020 Tokyo Olympics brought in skateboarding, it became one of the most talked-about Olympic events of the year.

Last fall, students returned to Queen’s campus for the first time in over a year—many with their skateboards. The Journal spoke with two of these students.

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Brock Jekill, ArtSci ’23, picked up skateboarding this past summer.

“My sister had one, so I figured I’d use that to start learning. It was a good way to get to and from work, basically,” Jekill said in an interview with The Journal.

With no prior skateboarding experience, Jekill had to overcome a learning curve.

“It was a thing where, once you get it, it gets way easier. There was probably a good week, or maybe two weeks, where I was just trying to figure out how to stand up on the board without falling off,” Jekill said.

“Being confident is the biggest thing.”

After the summer was over, Jekill brought his board to Kingston, seeing it as an efficient way to navigate campus. The convenience of using his skateboard has made a big difference in getting around. Jekill said the travel time to his girlfriend’s house has been cut in half by skateboarding instead of walking.

“It's nice because it gives a bit of a sense of freedom […] Going downtown, even, you can get everywhere so much faster. You just feel like there's more you can do in your day,” he said.

“It makes campus feel a lot smaller.”

The pandemic shrunk a lot of our worlds down to the essentials, which is part of the reason Jekill thinks skateboards jumped in popularity.

“There's a lot less long-distance travel,” he said.

While skateboards are great for getting around your neighborhood, Jekill also said that you don’t have to think about your board getting stolen as long as you're not going into bars.

“You don't always want to have to carry your skateboard into the bar. But when everything's shut down, and you're just hanging out in some basement with five people anyway, it’s an easy enough thing to leave at the door.”

Though Jekill doesn’t skateboard with others, his hobby has led to connections with passersby.

“I definitely have had my fair share of random people watching me fall on the street,” he said. “Not exactly the kind of relationships you necessarily want, but hopefully [it] provided some entertainment.”

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Carter Cummins, ArtSci ’23, skateboarded as a kid.

“I went to summer camp when I was six or seven, got my first board. Since then, I’ve been on and off,” Cummins said in an interview with The Journal.

When COVID-19 shut down indoor activities, Cummins felt inclined to start skateboarding again. 

“I hadn't been skating for a year or two before the pandemic. And then as soon as the pandemic hit, a lot of people were just left with nothing to do.”

Cummins noticed many others like him at Queen’s—both veteran skaters and beginners. He suspects the increase has to do with the lack of organized activities since the pandemic began.

“Ever since COVID I’ve really been skating a lot, especially on campus, because no one was there.”

When classes were online for the 2020-21 academic year, Cummins lived in Kingston. An empty Queen’s campus made for the perfect skate park.

“No one was here. All the security guards were chill with us skating,” he said.

For Cummins, skateboarding has been a path to finding community. Even though you’re the only person on the board, it can easily turn into a social activity.

“Skateboarding is a very individualized sport. It can also be social, but it can be individualized, you can just do it on your own, or you can hang out with your friends,” he explained.

“I do go to the skate park sometimes. But then I also use [my skateboard] to get to buddies’ houses or class sometimes. It’s super accessible, so it's nice.”

Cummins singled out Victoria Park, just north of Queen’s campus, as a great place to skateboard. According to him, Vic Park is a common spot for skateboarders to congregate.

“It's a great way to make friends, Vic Park. It’s close by to the student area and a lot of skaters, student skaters, go there,” he said.

“It’s a great place to make friends, play games, skate, and just get involved in the community.”

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