In Styles Brings Smiles Part 2 we explore Carving, Dancing, and Free Ride Styles of longboarding.
“They rip, they slide, they fly, they glide.”
This is a style that is defined by the act of sliding your set up across the pavement. Some times that slide is spinning, like what you would see during a slide jam. Some times those slides are thrown into a downhill run. This differentiates itself from pure downhill by making the slides more of the focus, than just safely making a corner, or wanting to carry the most speed down the route.
Most of the decks considered Free Ride Decks are stiff, to very little flex. The faster the rider goes, the less flex that is typically present. The biggest reason being that when you do get a flexible board sideways and the wheels break loose the riders weight, the motion going into the slide, and friction of the wheels cause a bouncing that moves throughout the set up. This can result in the rider getting thrown, or a jerking slide, either of which or less than ideal.
You can free ride a flexible deck, but very typically this is done at slower speeds, with really carve able trucks. The riders are using the set up’s ability to carve and flex to focus the energy into a slide, instead of relying on speed. This looks similar to a snow boarder carving their way down a slope with big kick outs at the apex’s of the carve.
The best free ride decks hold your feet comfortably and gives them some nice features to sink into. If the deck you are looking at is flat, get some extra grippy grip tape, or pick a deck better suited to keeping you over the top of it.
Dance & Freestyle
“Do it big, do it right, and do it with style.”
Dance & Freestyle are almost inseparable. I am not sure of any practitioner of dance, that does not work freestyle tricks into their lines. Dance itself has been defined as the footwork involved in moving up and down a board, while freestyle is when the rider causes the board to leave the ground. Usually in a pretty spectacular fashion. Sure, sure some people do really simple shove-its. The board isn’t spinning, but these decks are typically the longest of the long boards, so watching even the simplest of maneuvers is still pretty spectacular.
These characteristics of style makes picking the board out a bit easier. The board must be big enough to facilitate some type of walking or stepping up and down it. While at the same time have some type of nose and tail that allows that board to leave the ground. Think a really huge popsicle, but often times with some more style thrown in.
The cool thing about decks made with dancing in mind is the wheelbase makes them have extra long turns compared to shorter boards. So for newer riders, even if you aren’t necessarily looking to be walking up and down the board and launching it into the air these make pretty solid starters and cruisers. These boards just feel comfy to glide and ride. These decks are also typically made in a fashion that can withstand some beating as well, so you don’t have to worry about durability.
“We are like sculptors, constantly carving out of others the image we long for, need, love or desire, often against reality, against their benefit, and always in the end, a disappointment, because it does not fit them.”
Carve describes the style, the skill, the motion, and the ideal all in one simple word. Everyone carves. Free riders carve before a slide. Downhillers carve to shave just enough speed or set themselves up for a line through a corner. Street riders may carve their way through a bowl to preserve or generate speed.
Carving is that “S” shaped line down a slope or incline. It is the second thing we introduce in our Stoke Clinics. Carving is natural skateboard representation of surfing a wave. Just like a wave, hills, slopes, and inclines come in different sizes and shapes.
Where a board made specifically to carve sets itself a part is in it’s ability to harness a riders application of force to the carve. A master of carving can make a hill last forever, moving down it’s face in a cascade of swoops. Using the hill to both accelerate, and slow down by moving back up its face. Never dropping a foot, using carves to slow, and pumps to accelerate back up. Little features and humps, dips and crevices filled with asphalt, angles of concrete, and inclines of drive ways unlock.
Speed checks and quick 180s are naturally derived as these ideas are explored. With enough practice a dedicated carver will eventually feel really comfortable with going faster. If you go fast enough, and carve hard enough, wheels will start to break loose, and slowing down with speed checks and little slides unlock. Taken far enough a rider could even throw in some 180s, but the next level of skating, switch or in your unnatural stance becomes the goal.
Carving boards are typically flexible, and set up with 50° reverse kingpin trucks front and back. There are lower end stiffer “carving” boards out there which may be suitable for heavier riders, or slightly faster spectrum of sliding. The drawback on most of these boards is that the concave present is typically on the flatter side, maybe even cambered. So at higher speeds and faster slides a free ride style deck becomes recommended. For the best action in carving, a flexible deck typically made of bamboo and fiberglass will allow you to explore this style fully. The limitation of it’s design for faster speeds, is balanced by its ability to move easily and turn sharply.
Newer riders may want to practice this style in big open parking lots, so your carves can be explored without the constraints of curbs, edges of sidewalks, or traffic.