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Longboarding club is a skater’s paradise

Longboarding enthusiasts formed a club for like-minded skaters. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

Whether you do it for exercise, transportation or the thrill of flying downhill at top speed, if you’re a student with a longboard, Charlie Irish wants to talk to you.

“You see longboarders all over campus. They really are everywhere,” says Irish, founder of the student longboard club. “I’d see all these people and I don’t know any of them. I really love longboarding, so I want to know other longboarders and have other people to skate with. I figured it would be nice to give us a means of bringing people together and getting more people into it and getting people better at it, showing people the ropes, that kind of thing.”

The club is 127 members strong on Facebook. An additional 10–15 people show up for weekly meetings, which usually consist of gathering on campus then going somewhere nearby to skate.

The junior international studies major grew up in Delray Beach, Fla., where skateboarding was a natural outgrowth of the area’s surf culture. He got his first skateboard at age 10, his first longboard at 13. Often described as “surfboards on wheels,” longboards are longer and wider than a typical skateboard, usually with larger, softer wheels that make for a smoother ride. They’re used more for transportation and less for tricks; in competition longboarders either slalom or downhill, going for the best time in each.

“Downhill racing is really good here in Colorado with these mountain roads and mountain passes,” says Irish, who skates to campus every day. “That’s a really good time. It’s a bit dangerous — [control] is an acquired thing. You can’t just jump on a skateboard and go 40 miles an hour, but you build your way up to it. I’d never done anything close to it before I came out here. But when I came out here and started skating more, I tried a moderate hill and worked my way up from there.”

In early May, Irish was one of the contestants in the Buffalo Bill Downhill, a longboarding race that was cut short when a helicopter filming the event crashed into the side of Lookout Mountain.

“I didn’t get dead last in my heat, which was nice, but I was still taken out in the first round of elimination,” he reports. “Even so, I had a ton of fun, which is really what it’s all about.”           

The longboarding club won’t meet over the summer but Irish has high hopes for next year, including organizing a campus longboarding event or two. But really, the club is about turning people on to the sport and the peace of mind it can help create.

“With me it’s always been almost meditative, especially once you get cruising real fast and kind of lock into a zone,” Irish told student Amy Newman in a video on the journalism department’s Daily College Life website. “All of a sudden 40, 50 miles per hour doesn’t feel fast. You’re just one with the board, one with the road. It’s almost a Zen feeling.

“It always clears my head, always makes me feel good, always leaves a smile on my face.”

Ed. Note: The longboarding club is not an officially registered club of the University of Denver

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