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Among the unnatural ‘cravings’ of city politicians: skate parks.

By STEVE KNOPPER [Wall Street Journal] – As skateboarding grew, from suburban pockets of punk-rock kids scraping up empty pools and parking lots to a multibillion-dollar industry, Mr. Payne evolved into a world-class ramp builder. He saw things nobody else could. In 1987, for a video called “The Search for Animal Chin,” Mr. Payne built a spine ramp, which stitched together two wide “pools” into a curvy “W” shape, with a platform in the middle. The video became a cult film, and every skateboarder immediately wanted to ride his ramp. Today, his 15-year-old Team Pain, based in an office park in Winter Springs, Fla., is the go-to company for cities that crave skate parks built by actual skaters. Mr. Payne, 52, has overseen 250 of them.

Mr. Payne works 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at his office park, where 30 or so employees hunch over their computers and drawings when they’re not in the field. The first step is getting the site map from the city—this becomes the canvas. Any shape will do, although Mr. Payne hates squares, which he associates with boring tennis courts.

Continued at The Wall Street Journal |

How to beat the city commute: ollie the traffic.

By PEARL TESLER and PAUL DOHERTY [Exporatorium] –The ollie is a jumping technique that allows skaters to hop over obstacles and onto curbs, etc. What’s so amazing about the ollie is the way the skateboard seems to stick to the skater’s feet in midair. Seeing pictures of skaters performing soaring 4-foot ollies, many people assume that the board is somehow attached to the skater’s feet. It’s not. What’s even more amazing about the ollie is that to get the skateboard to jump up, the skater pushes down on the board! The secret to this paradoxical maneuver is rotation around multiple axes…

Let’s follow the changing forces that go into making an ollie.

The skater accelerates himself upward by explosively straightening his legs and raising his arms. During the jump, his rear foot exerts a much greater force on the tail of the board than his front foot does on the nose, causing the board to pivot counterclockwise about the rear wheel.

As the tail strikes the ground, the ground exerts a large upward force on the tail. The result of this upward force is that the board bounces up and begins to pivot clockwise, this time around its center of mass.

With the board now completely in the air, the skater slides his front foot forward, using the friction between his foot and the rough surface of the board to drag the board upward even higher.

The skater begins to push his front foot down, raising the rear wheels and leveling out the board. Meanwhile, he lifts his rear leg to get it out of the way of the rising tail of the board. If he times this motion perfectly, his rear foot and the rear of the board rise in perfect unison, seemingly “stuck” together.

The board is now level at its maximum height…



Continued at Exploratorium: Skateboard Science | More Chronicle & Notices.

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