When We Was Rad:
Skateboard History from UK Vintage Magazine

Steve Douglas: Vans Skatepark and Australians moving in on USA

Steve Douglas USA Skateboard News from September 1988
Two things in this month’s instalment of news from America catch my eye. First is Steve writing about Vans planning to build a big skatepark. I think at this point it was to be at their factory, not the shopping mall extravaganza which came later. But I think that the move towards providing big and exciting facilities was an important one which turned out to be the shape of things to come.

There’s also a mention of various Australian (and Kiwi) skaters making the move to the USA. I also find that very interesting in the light of the huge impact the Australian skate scene was to have on the whole industry.

I’m fascinated by the dynamics of this, the way people from places with relatively small scenes, places where you had to be fanatically motivated to be able to skate at all, were able to prosper to an astonishing degee once they got into California. Steve Douglas, of course, being another obvious example of the phenomenon. As is Bod, who gets a mention on this page as just having moved to Venture.

The photo of Bod was by Dan Schaaf.

I thought I had written about the photo of Steve before, but a quick search suggests that I haven’t. We once got a complaint about this picture from someone who resented the idea that we were employing “some kid” to write our American news page.

The picture had been taken many, many years before at one of the notorious ESA Awards ceremonies at Bowes Lyon House in Stevenage. It shows Steve winning the junior vert skating award, or something like that — the culmination of his first big season in skateboarding, I think. As such it was one of the key moments in a career which went on to help shape skateboarding worldwide. I am always astonished when I think of what the person in that photograph went on to do in a world which we would not have dared imagine at the time the picture was taken. A world which he helped create.

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