All Downhill From Here

The hill is steep. Alone on a board that’s almost breaking 30 mph, the skater pushes forward. It feels like carving ice, surfing a wave, or flying.  It’s easy to forget—at least for a second—that the longboard is gliding over flat, concrete pavement.

Founded just over a year ago, UT student club Texas Downhill takes skateboarding to the next level on longboards—more durable boards built for higher speed, longer distances, and some seriously dangerous stunts. Longboards can be used to “bomb” a hill by skating at top speeds or to slide by leaning back on the board and letting your hand drag on the ground.

After a year of off-campus meetings and recruiting, Texas Downhill began its second year with more officers than founding members and more than 40 consistent skaters. With such a large group, the members can now “draft train,” or link arms to gain momentum and speed.

In August, UT lifted a rule banning skateboarding on campus, allowing Texas Downhill members to do what they love right on the Forty Acres. According to organization president Nikolas Lazaris, Texas Downhill worked with UT’s Dean of Students office to pass the new rule.  “Now we can ride anywhere that bikes can ride,” member Alan Bouzek says. “It’s a great thing for us because this is what we love to do.”

Though Texas Downhill continues to hold its meetings on a larger hill off-campus, many members ride their longboards to class. “It’s a mode of transportation that you don’t have to worry about getting stolen or locking up,” says club campus relations officer Anfernee Arazoza.

One thing Texas Downhill’s officers do worry about is safety. Everyone who rides with Texas Downhill is required to wear a helmet at all times, and a longboard safety lesson is given at the start of each weekly meeting.

From advertising to computer science majors, Texas Downhill welcomes anyone on campus with the willingness to learn. “People have asked us what common ground we have between us, but there’s no real common ground,” Bouzek says. “We just like to longboard together.”

Photos by Pu Ying Huang, Daily Texan.


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