By Andres Pachon
A. Pachon, a journalist and skateboard addict, is a full-time writer for SHIT® Magazine.
We know that some of you guys are skeptical about skateboarding now being a part of the Olympics. But when the team at Olympic Channel reached out to us and told us about their new documentary series “Foul Play” featuring an episode on the 11-year long skateboarding ban in Norway, we decided to give you a review of it. So brace yourselves and come along for the ride!
As you may know by now, Its official, Skateboarding has made the Olympics and to celebrate, the Olympic Channel has made a full episode on this particular subject as the 4th part of the award-winning documentary series Foul Play that explores controversial subjects within the context of sports and the Olympic Movement.
The Olympic Channel is a multi-platform media creator aiming to bring sports to the entire world with programming in over 10 languages where fans will discover the excitement of all sports with original programming, news, live sports and highlights from the most important sport events.
The Foul Play Series
Photo: Olympics Channel
Previous episodes of the series include The Margaret Lambert Story, Dutee, and APART, all of them exposing the controversies caused by religion, gender, culture and more! Along with the effect it had had in the world of sporting events.
In this particular episode, Foul Play takes a deep dive into the 1970s and 1980s ban put on skateboarding in Norway from different points of view, the effects it had on enthusiasts of the discipline back then, and how it has evolved and grown ever since.
Norway's Skateboarding Ban
Photo: SHIT® Magazine
The ban first started back in September 1978 as the craze of skateboarding had gone worldwide and American skateboard companies had started to export their products to any place possible. However, shortly after skateboarding came to its peak in the late 70s, statistics started to show that a lot of children were getting hurt in traffic and other skateboarding related incidents, said statistics were blown up to create fear and there was a severe stand in the subjects from Norway’s government that claimed that lives were more important than the profit of skate companies.
"Importing skateboards, selling them, or advertising the American sidewalk sport also are banned under the new law."
Skateboarders and the people responsible to keep skateboarding alive in Norway, Cedric Cornell, Joakim Wang, Anders Wittusen and pro skater Henning Braaten (Norwegian National Skateboarding Team coach) Will take you in this journey where you will be able to get first-hand information on how all the SHIT® went down while the skateboarding ban was up!
The Secret Skateboarding Scene
As you may have noticed by now, skateboards were almost like having a gun back then, but people and skateboarders created a whole new VERY underground scene that kept the discipline alive up until the end of the ban which was not an easy task. People getting off boats SMUGGLING skateboards as if it were drugs! Some even got caught by international customs and arrested for it, and if you got caught with a board, it was taken from you and you would never see it again and could even spend a couple of days in jail.
Kids started to meet up in secret improvised locations where they could skate, but it was rather difficult to get a full set up, you could barely get a deck with wheels by some punk rockers in an undisclosed location in Norway.
Frognerparken in Oslo was the only legal place in Norway where people were allowed to skate freely without being worried to be chased by the cops for some time and you even had to carry a card that proved that you were part of a club to be able to get in or to not be questioned while going there.
The series will help you understand how politics and hardcore Christianity played a big part in banning not only skateboarding but depraving people and especially Noway’s youth, effectively banning all kinds of recreational gatherings and activities such as skateboarding. This did however not stop the kids from skating and created what is now an even stronger scene!
The fact that the Kids were “held back” (not entirely, but you get the picture) from experiencing skateboarding, caused an even bigger redemption for the skateboarding scene once the ban was lifted in 1989, by then HUGE waves of brands and companies started to emerge from the underground to give the kids the possibility to enjoy skateboarding in a safe environment.
The new waves of skateboarders in the country won't believe you when you tell them what happened back then and the same goes for the kid from the ’70s, they feel it is some crazy SHIT® that the ban even existed in the first place!
Norway's DIY Culture
Photo: Mikita Karasiou (Unsplash)
Rebelliousness and DIY philosophy was and will always be a huge part of the skateboarding culture across Norway, kids started to set up their own parks and pipes made of plywood and planks. Some were small and hastily-built, while others were well-crafted.
The Foul play series will take you to some of the spots that were built, painted and camouflaged in the woods, by those who skated them and that took much care into keeping them a secret for many many years. As you may imagine, these structures mostly half pipes and big ramps took a massive amount of work that the kids were willing to put in to be able to skate and defy authority but most of all to have fun! Kids also started designing and building their own boards, and people like Anders Wittusen (creator of the famous Utopia board) and the people that built their ramps were considered heroes by the very closed and almost secret skateboarding community of that decade.
The Oslo Skateboarding Society
Photo:Mike Erskine (Unsplash)
This was the first step to have the ban removed after a decade long ban, the main foundations of the skateboarding scene, all of those involved in the sport during the ban decided to come together and speak as a unity. Getting to an agreement with the government and making skateboarding legal for those who had a private ramp and were part of a club were able to skate and technically your board could not be confiscated and you would not get into trouble, Cedric Cornell, one of the founders of this movement will tell you first hand how this SHIT® took place.
Coach for the Norwegian National Skateboarding Team Henning Braaten also discusses what's in the future for a whole new generation of skateboarders that were pretty much not impacted by the ban but are aware of the history and how lucky they are to even have a chance and represent Norway in the Olympics!
Incredible production, music, interviews, and first-hand information from those who lived it! The series is definitely a MUST watch feature if you love skateboarding, it WILL shine a light in many of the aspects that make skateboarding what it is today and the beauty of it! So what are you waiting for?! Click here to watch it on Olympics Channel now!
Read also: Sky Brown: Ready For The 2020 Olympics
Read also: The Ban on Skateboarding in Norway