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Growing up in Port Hardy ‘shreddin’ the gnar’

I loved skateboarding from the very first moment I stepped foot on a board
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I miss skateboarding.

Now that the weather is getting better, I’ve been debating getting back on my board again and hitting up the KSM Skatepark. I like to think that I can still land all of my old tricks, but time will ultimately tell on that.

First things first, I need to actually commit to going to the park and giving skating a serious attempt again.

I’ve been carpetboarding all winter in my spare room (carpetboarding is where you take the trucks and wheels off your deck so that you can practice tricks inside), and so far I’ve been sticking kickflips and other tricks pretty consistently. Once I put my trucks and wheels back on though, we shall see if I can still perform while actually rolling on cement, which is another matter entirely.

Skateboarding used to bring so much joy to my life. It’s a completely free-spirited activity (I don’t want to call it a sport because I don’t view it as such), a great workout, and there’s a huge sense of accomplishment whenever you land a trick that you’ve been battling with for hours, days, weeks, or even years.

My history of “shreddin’ the gnar” goes all the way back to my childhood in the late 80’s, early 90’s, when my parents bought my brother Derek and I a brand new skateboard for us to share.

Derek ended up quitting after he was injured trying to ride off a homemade ramp in our neighbours driveway (I won’t name names, but a certain kid who grew up on my street caused the accident by moving the ramp at the very last second).

He never really had much of a passion for it, but I personally loved it from the very first moment that I stepped foot on a board.

My friends and I used to sit down on our boards and race from the very top of Tsulquate hill all the way to the bottom by the bridge. We’d punch, shove, and kick as hard as we could, trying our best to knock each other off our boards on the way down the hill, all wanting desperately to earn the bragging rights that came with surviving and crossing the finish line first.

Looking back in hindsight, I’m surprised none of us ever got smoked by a car, but I think people were just more careful drivers back then. They actually stopped at stop signs and looked both ways to see if there was anyone coming down the sidewalk before turning, which is what likely saved us from a trip to the emergency room, or worse.

I remember one time, a hockey player who lived nearby (name redacted) decided he wanted to try and beat us down the hill, except he didn’t have a skateboard and was going to try and win while wearing rollerblades.

It was a hot summer day and he wasn’t wearing a shirt, which didn’t help matters. He ended up getting shoved from behind while blading down the hill at a very high speed and slid a long way down the sidewalk directly on his hip, ripping his skin wide open.

Nothing a big bandage and some polysporin couldn’t fix, but I still vividly remember the “road rash” gash that ran across his stomach when he came back up the hill, tears in his eyes. It looked pretty gross, mainly thanks to the patch of bloody skin that was hanging off.

I really hope the District of Port Hardy will get around to upgrading the KSM Skatepark sooner rather than later so that the youth can go out and create their own childhood skateboarding memories like the ones I’ve just described, just with less cars and less danger.

Tyson Whitney is an award-winning journalist who was born and raised in Port Hardy. His family has lived in Port Hardy for more than 40 years. He graduated with a degree in writing from Vancouver Island University in 2008. Email:

Tyson Whitney

About the Author: Tyson Whitney

I have been working in the community newspaper business for nearly a decade, all of those years with Black Press Media.
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