Contrary to the stereotype, longboarding isn’t just for Brooklyn hipsters and displaced California kids. Several students here at Binghamton University have brought their boards to campus not just as a means of getting to class on time, but to spread their love of skating and reduce some of the heavy stress of college.
Once considered a cult sport, longboarding has become increasingly popular in the past decade, with independent board-making shops and new riding disciplines popping up all over the world.
Cruising is the most basic and most popular longboarding discipline. Cruiser boards make for fast, smooth transportation and are generally medium-length with soft bushings for easy carving. These boards are best for getting from C4 to Science 2 in record time, the carve-factor being especially useful for steering around disgruntled students who are stuck speed walking to a lecture that starts in two minutes.
Free-riding is a discipline that blends cruising with the kinds of flip-tricks you typical see done on skateboards. Free-ride boards are shortboard hybrids designed with special kicktails for easy ollies and shove-its. Free-riding also incorporates the tactical power slide, perfect for cutting close corners down Mountainview College path.
Dancing is perhaps the most unique discipline, tracing its origins to Hawaiian surfers. Dancer boards are generally 45+ inches long and 12+ inches wide, making them the longest of all longboards. Dancers combine elements of free-riding, board walking, cross-stepping and twirling to form a distinctly creative, showy riding style. Many of Binghamton’s longboard dancers congregate in the courtyard between Glenn G. Bartle Library and the Engineering Building, the flat ground making it easier to get a smooth ride in for cross-stepping.
Binghamton’s hilly campus is ideal for those who crave speed, but sometimes it’s not always the best or most friendly place for skaters.
“It’s difficult to find some good spots on campus to skate,” said Andrea Wolf, a junior majoring in biology. “I used to skate the path from Hillside down to Science 4, but the University police would always stop me and scold me that I can’t skate there anymore. Now I just stick to riding around inside the Brain, and the pathway in Newing that leads from Broome to Endicott, because I’m away from the road and less likely to be stopped.”
The frequent rain isn’t a plus, either. Not only does rain make it hazardous to ride; water will also rust out a board’s bearings, making it unusable until the rider invests in a new $20 set. Still, Binghamton’s longboarders can always be seen taking advantage of a sunny day.
Longboarding at Binghamton isn’t constrained by gender or skill level, and students turn to longboarding to reduce stress.
“Whenever I’m skating, I feel free,” said Mike Fortuna, a sophomore majoring in biology. “It really clears your head and energizes you.”