Globally, the sport of downhill skateboarding is quickly gaining attention, becoming an international sensation in Norway while simultaneously causing legal battles in California. A newly released, unedited video showing downhill skateboarding champ Zak Maytum hitting speeds of up to 70 mph will likely only add to that popularity:
“It’s funny: I’ve been skateboarding my whole life, but when I started doing downhill skateboarding in 2008, there was maybe only six or seven of us really bombing hills out here in Colorado,” 24-year-old Maytum told GrindTV. “It’s crazy to see just how big the sport has become in such a small amount of time.”
The popularity of Maytum’s video speaks to the sport’s increasing audience.
Uploaded to YouTube only three days ago, the video, which was a collaborative effort between Maytum and the Venom Bushings skate brand, has already gained more than 1 million views and is one of the most-viewed downhill skateboarding videos ever posted on the website.
“We were expecting maybe 50,000 or 60,000 views on our Facebook page from the video,” Boulder, Colorado-based Maytum said of the clip. “We have this World Cup race on Pikes Peak I’ll be racing in within the next few days, and we just wanted to get some juices flowing and people interested in the event. We had no idea it would go nuts like this.”
Maytum says that the massive growth in the sport’s following over the past few years has had a positive overall effect on the community.
“Prior to our sport’s explosion, it was almost impossible for someone to make a living off of it,” Maytum said. “Now that race participation and freeride participation are way up internationally, it’s possible for someone who is passionate about downhill to make a living doing what they love. That’s an amazing feeling.”
Still, Maytum says that as the sport has gotten bigger, there have been added headaches for its longtime practitioners. He points to the increased legal crackdowns by towns across the United States as one of those headaches.
“Some really good places to do it across the United States have been restricted because of this newfound notoriety our sport has,” Maytum said, referencing the recent spate of towns outlawing the sport. “So now we have to make it legitimate. It’s like the ban on snowboarders at ski resorts in the ’80s and ’90s. Everything has to be shut down before we can start a dialogue with the public about opening it back up.”
Maytum admits that, too often, people on the Internet see videos like his and want to try downhill skateboarding, but get onto a hill way above their skill level and end up injuring or killing themselves in the process. Because of this, like any surfer protecting his favorite break, Maytum won’t reveal the location of his jaw-dropping ride.
“I would prefer not to divulge where that is in Colorado and give up the spot,” Maytum said. “Anybody who actually has any business riding there knows where it is, and if you don’t know, then you shouldn’t be riding it. That’s how people end up on the news.”
He’s also quick to admit that, even if you’re a pro, it’s still an extremely dangerous sport.
“I’ve been lucky to avoid any major injuries to date, but I’ve had friends die doing it,” Maytum said. “Five years ago me and a buddy slid on the same patch of sand going around a bend on a hill in Colorado. I went under the guardrail on the side of the hill, but he slammed into it, shattered eight vertebrae and died. It’s a risk that’s always there, but, just like big-wave surfing, you have to accept that and do everything you can to avoid it.”
Still, despite all of that, Maytum is happy his video has gone viral.
“I think the best thing it can do is bring more eyes to a sport people don’t know about,” Maytum said. “Hopefully, it will get more people to give downhill a try.”
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