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Top-ranked local skater gives beginner skateboarding advice

By Admin User on December 13, 2021

Violet Whyte, team skater for Local 124, gives beginner skateboarding advice.

Skateboarding has seen a boost in popularity since the beginning of the pandemic as people looked for outdoor hobbies to take on and after it was recognized on the international stage at the 2020 Olympics, newbies are flocking to the sport more than ever. There’s a lot of information out there on what the best skate equipment is, and set-ups can be infinitely customized to support the skater’s individual style. But what if you’re just a beginner looking to try the sport out? 

Violet Whyte is a team skater for Local 124 Skate Shop. The 20 year old from Sherwood Park has been skateboarding since she was nine. Whyte is passionate about skateboarding and, during the warmer months, tries to go skate almost every day. Her dedication paid off this summer when she placed fourth overall in the Canada Skateboard Open, a nationwide skateboarding contest. She also helps local skaters find the right equipment at Local 124, and I interviewed her to find out her tips for getting into skateboarding.  

NNW: What should beginners look for in a first skateboard?

VW: I always have a lot of different answers for that question. It comes down to price, comfortability and what kind of things you’re wanting to do, so to keep it simple I’ll focus on those three areas. A good cheap board is gonna be one of the completes you can get. Don’t bother with name brands or anything. There’s a couple good boards that are 100 to 200 bucks and you get the whole thing – great quality.

And then there’s other directions you can go like cruiser boards. If someones not necessarily looking to trick, there’s a bunch of boards with a cruiser wheel that’s better for … people just to kinda get around town. And if you’re really trying to focus on tricks and you don’t really care about the price there are some higher-end completes that are just a little bit better than some of the other boards. And the other option is just totally custom-built – that’s the most expensive way to go.

Custom built boards allow you to choose every aspect of the board, from the deck to the hardware to the wheels.

NNW: Other than the board, what are some other good things to have?

VW: It kinda depends on the person and who is skateboarding. A lot of beginners will like pads and things like that because it makes them feel more comfortable. Some people really don’t like pads and the idea of pads makes them more uncomfortable on a skateboard. So really knowing what type of person you are in that way matters. And obviously, things like skate tools will always come in handy but in your first couple years, that’s always at the skate shop. We’ll always do service for you or anything like that.

Local 124, as well as most skate shops, will provide basic service like changing wheels, loosening trucks and changing grip.

NNW: How should someone start learning tricks?

VW: My first answer is gonna be: don’t learn tricks. Not in a bad way, like, “you probably can’t do tricks”, in a “create your own tricks” way. I know that’s how a lot of my friends and I started when we were younger because we didn’t really know. There’s obviously like the ollie and kickflip that you can practice for years and honestly [those] just frustrated me for years. So in the meantime, don’t get hung up on those. Figure out ways that you can make your own tricks with what you’re comfortable with. Hands and feet on the ground are okay, like, you don’t have to roll away fast or clean, it’s not the 90’s.

NNW: Skateparks can be really intimidating to beginners. What tips do you have for visiting the skatepark for the first time?

VW: Biggest advice is: keep your head up. The first couple times at the skatepark, it’s valuable to even just look and watch what happens at a skatepark. It can be really confusing for beginners [to see] what is happening and which directions people are going. I think even as an outsider coming to skateboarding you can look at a skatepark and watch for ten minutes and see the ways, the basic ways people go around the park. Watching for that and being careful to get out of people’s way and out of the general path, that’s a great way.

NNW: If you aren’t comfortable going to the skate park yet, how can you gain confidence?

VW: I mean, beginning, unless you’re working on ramps and things like that that are only at skateparks, work on flat grounds anywhere else: parking lots, your garage, out front of your house, anything is gonna be a better environment for learning. My biggest tip [to gain confidence] is to go with a group of people and go early in the morning. You’ll get the most time at the skatepark, you’ll get the most real session. As you get older in the community, pay attention to the people that are there. Maybe if you like the look of some of them or they look nice, say hi. Because chances are they’re gonna be there again when you’re there and it’s good to have a buddy.

Tigers Skate Club is Edmonton’s skate club for women and girls.

NNW: More women and girls are getting into skating these days. Do you have any advice for them, entering a male-dominated sport?

VW: There are clubs in most cities in Canada now. Tigers [Skate Club] is one of the big ones in Edmonton. If you’re a woman or a girl and you don’t have one of those groups in your area, it’s not necessarily up to you, but if you feel like it, go ahead and grab a group of girls and just bring them out [to the skatepark]. For that group of people, everything is okay: they don’t have to all be skateboarders … cause it’s the presence at the skatepark for women and girls that make it okay, that makes them feel more comfortable. Having more people that aren’t old dudes that are gonna get mad at them feels good.

NNW: One more question: tell me about your experience with the Canada Skateboard Open!

VW: I took part in the Slurpee Canada Skateboard Open, which was a Canada-wide online contest during COVID. I submitted my first run and placed third in women’s park and made it to the finals. Then I submitted my final run and placed fourth overall. For my finals run I won a “To The Moon” award for the highest air in a bowl run. And for that, I won a NASA watch! The contest made the summer an absolute blast.

If these tips have inspired you to pick up a skateboard, you can head to Local 124 at 10711 124 St NW to get your gear. Also, follow Violet on Instagram to keep up with her next skateboarding adventure.



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