A Skateboarders Guide to Proper Downhill Etiquette
Etiquette, a commonly overlooked facet in our modern day society that counts for quite a lot in the grand scheme of things. Be it a date, or a downhill run, knowing and understanding what etiquette is, and how it specifically applies to the situation at hand can sometimes mean the difference between getting laid, or getting dead. It sounds a bit extreme, I know, but take a little time to actually think about it, and it begins to make sense. Now, I’m not going to go about explaining to you how to get laid, that’s a conversation I’ll save for an entire album of Barry White and a glass of Courvoisier. However, what I will go into detail about is how to properly maintain yourself while on the slope, so you don’t end up looking like a total barney, ya dig?
The first thing you have to realize is that downhill skateboarding is serious business. Your board may be playfully named after a portly mythical horned horse, and your wheels may leave mass amounts of urethane smeared across the road, but when it comes down to it, none of that really matters if you end up as a crimson skid mark.
Safety Etiquette – The first and most important of all of the following forms of downhill etiquette is safety. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been street skating, this is a completely different ball game. Want to know the quickest and easiest way to look like a jackass? Bombing down the mountain without a helmet on. On the streets and in the city it may be a different story, but out there, it’s the real deal. Downhill skateboarding falls somewhere between sky diving and motorcycle racing with roughly around the same amount of risk of getting seriously injured. Protecting that dome piece is the least you can do to keep yourself from having a really bad time. Just remember to keep safety in mind, if you’re looking to keep your mind.
Draft / Passing Etiquette – If you’re going to draft someone, be gentle about it. If you’re going to pass someone, be quick about it. It’s always really really lame when someone slams into the back of you, even if they don’t take you out. No one likes getting pushed around so don’t be a meat-head. The key to proper draft etiquette is to be gentle. If you happen upon someone while on a run, try and contact them in a calm, considerate manner. Claps are helpful, but also can be annoying. Know that as long as you’re behind someone it is your job to keep your speed in check, so letting them know you are there is cool. Keep your wits about you and when the right moment presents itself, go for the gingerly pass. Keep in mind that while in the heat of the moment you may be hungry to go for that pole position, but also try to remember that chances are you’re not going to beat Patrick Switzer anytime soon. There is no reason to unnecessarily attempt a pass in a bad corner like it’s the finals at Maryhill. Ease up, take it chill. It’s better to be high fiving the homie at the bottom because it was a close run, versus a trip to the hospital because you got greedy.
Location / Spot Etiquette – I’ve written about this before, and I’ll write about it again, please please please don’t blow up the spot. If someone has the good graces to take you out to their hills, don’t go telling your entire friends list exactly where you are. Sure you can write about it and tell the tale, but be smart about it, be creative about it, call it something else, or just give it a weird name. Just make sure that you honor the locals and their roads by keeping the locations on the down low. By the same token, another important aspect about spot etiquette depends on you and your own abilities. If you’re a month or two into the downhill game, don’t go skate the double black diamond roads. You’ll see the videos, you’ll think you’re ready, but chances are your definitely not. It’s not a good look for the locals when the authorities have to airlift your ass out of the canyon cause you couldn’t hold it down. If you’re not ready to respect the spot, keep the heat off of the hill or session something smaller until the time is right. When will that be you ask? When you don’t have to ask.
Shuttle Etiquette – You may have heard your grandfather say, “There is no such thing in this world as a free ride”, and that’s because he’s older, and right. Paying to play is the name of the game and unless your providing some kind of other service, be it photographic or otherwise, it should go without saying that you need to contribute something to the driver if you’re going to reap the rewards of using their car as a shuttle. Pay for his or her lunch, buy him or her a beer, perform a sexual favor, whatever’s clever, just make sure you’re not taking runs using their car at their expense cause that just sucks. In addition to making a contribution to the go-juice fund, also be mindful of when it’s your turn to drive if you are indeed old enough to possess a license.
Well class, I feel like we’ve covered the core values of downhill etiquette with these four topics, however, while these four are pretty comprehensive, there can and sometimes will be more depending on where you’re at in the world. The chief thing to remember with all of this is to just be mindful. Let there be no doubt that this sport is inherently dangerous, so minimizing your chances of injury and maximizing your chances for fun should always be at the root of everything you do before and after you push off. Just keep it cool, keep it safe, and you should be right as rain.
Thanks for reading, know proper downhill etiquette, get safe, and go skate.