If there is a skater culture at Miami, sophomore computer science major Erik Johnson doesn’t consider himself a part of it. Sure, he rides his electric skateboard to class everyday, but that doesn’t make him a “skater.”
“I’d say having an electric skateboard makes me a bit of a fake, in terms of skating,” Johnson said. “I don’t know how to skate on a regular board. I’ve wanted to learn but just never really gotten around to it.”
Despite this label, Johnson can tell you about all the best skating spots around campus. His personal favorite is the hill behind Peabody Hall.
“You want to find roads that are relatively crack-free and steep if you’re trying to go fast,” Johnson said. “When you can get really moving down a hill, that’s the most fun.”
Johnson is no stranger to wipeouts, though. One particularly nasty fall even landed him in the emergency room.
“I had to get 13 stitches in my chin once,” Johnson said. “I was going about 25 miles per hour, and a car came at me. I swerved out of the way, but I still went flying into the curb.”
Fellow skating sophomore mechanical engineering major Marshall Sadowski has seen the inside of McCullough-Hyde more than once from a bad fall.
“Once [during] my freshman year, I was going pretty fast through the middle of campus, and the wheels of my board hit something,” Sadowski said. “And I just completely wiped out. I hit my head pretty hard, and just had to wait for someone to help me.”
Unlike Johnson, Sadowski has been riding traditional skateboards his entire life. He would agree that electric skateboarders don’t fit into skater culture.
“It’s just not real skating,” Sadowski said. “I’ve been doing this since I was a kid. It takes a lot of practice and skill. The electric boards just do the work for you.”
He agrees that the wipeouts don’t discourage skating. If anything, they make the ride that much more exhilarating.
“I mean, I’ve broken some bones from bad falls over the years,” Sadowski said. “But it’s never deterred me from skating. I’ve had to go months without skating from injuries, and it only makes me miss it more.”
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While not quite the seasoned veteran as Sadowski, first-year biochemistry major Lee Beardslee bought a penny board right before move-in and is determined to learn how to use it.
“I think anybody who sees me try to skate will agree that I’m not very good,” Beardslee said. “I’ve just always wanted to try skating, and college seemed like a good time to try a new thing.”
Though they haven’t had an extreme wipeout yet, Beardslee still has a fall from time to time. But the exhilaration makes it all worth it.
“When you really get moving, and your balance is just right,” Beardslee said. “That’s like, the coolest feeling.”