By Coralee Hochstedler
If you’ve been on campus at all this semester, you have probably seen at least one person on some sort of four-wheeled board. Many were driven to this hobby out of boredom during the nation-wide stay at home order last March. However, that is far from where it first started at Malone.
“I started [skating] my freshman year,” Luke Kondak, senior music major, said. “One of my friends had a Penny board, so I got one too. After that I just kinda kept using it because it was so nice to get around campus.” Kondak, along with his brother Graham Kondak, have been widely credited as the first skaters on campus.
“It’s fun, being one of the original people who started skating, because there’s people who I saw last year who didn’t have skateboards at all and now all of a sudden they’ve got their longboard or whatever this year. It’s fun!” Graham Kondak said, welcoming newcomers to the hobby with open arms.
The increase of skaters has, naturally, brought with it an expansion of the skating community; it seems that where there is one skater another will soon follow. The community aspect of skating is potentially one of the most appealing incentives to buying your own board.
“It’s just skating with other people and having fun, really,” Graham Kondak said. “Like, it’s nice to get around on and makes it easy to get to class really fast, but ultimately when you’re skating and laughing with other people it just makes it so much more fun!”
However, getting into the world of skating can be intimidating. There are questions such as what type of board will be easiest to learn on, what types of hardware should the board be equipped with based on your environment as well as the fear of injury.
Some boards, like the Penny board, are small and inconspicuous; a great choice for taking into class. Also due to their small size, they can reach substantially high speeds. However, because they have a smaller deck, your feet cannot be as spread out and your ability to balance will be hindered. Learning on a Penny Board could be difficult.
If you decide to go with a longboard, however, you’ll have to deal with lugging around a piece of equipment that can be up to 11 pounds—not so good for taking into class. On the other hand, for leisure riding, long distances and generally having an easier time of staying on, longboards are a good choice. That being said, some skaters have taken issue with the supposed practicality of using boards as a way to efficiently make it around campus.
“It’s more challenging to skate on this campus, I would say, because all the buildings are relatively close together,” Danielle DeYoung, freshman zoo and wildlife biology major, said. “Plus it’s very hilly… [campus is] just small enough that, yeah it’s convenient if you’re going to the Johnson Center, or from Devol Hall to Regula Hall or something, but it could be considered impractical otherwise. But it’s very fun if you’re just vibing!”
“It took a long while to get comfortable, especially on hills like the Johnson Center hill—that was pretty scary,” Luke Kondak said. “My words of advice would be to take it slow, don’t go crazy and be careful. You will fall. I mean, I’ve fallen, and everyone that I know has fallen. It’s a thing that happens, you just have to be ready for it.”
Even so, the enjoyment of skating itself has drawn enough of a crowd to make it a frequented pastime on campus. Though it’s not ideal, some amount of falling and injury is to be expected. Wearing safety gear such as helmets, knee pads and elbow pads can help mitigate this concern.
With the arrival of winter and the unknown future amid COVID-19, it’s hard to tell if skating on campus will be an option in the coming months. However, during these tumultuous times, picking up a new hobby can create a generous layer of normalcy. If you ever have questions about the world of skating and how to get into it, ask your nearest skater for advice!