By Mary Bolling Blackiston, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Skateboarding has been a popular sport in the U.S. and Europe for more than fifty years, generating a strong sub-culture and significant influence around the world from its beginnings in California. Like most urban centers around the globe, Rio has also seen the sport becoming an increasingly popular past-time with the always active residents.
In fact, skateboarders can be found everywhere in Rio, from cruising the beach promenade along Leme through Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon, to the many skate parks throughout the city. Skate parks remain an ideal place for skateboarders to practice, as there are ramps designed for tricks and less danger of running into civilians or cars.
For those who want to train with the pros, Parque de Madureira which is situated in the neighborhood of Madureira in the Zona Norte (North Zone) of Rio, is a top option. The park, considered to be the best place to train in the country, opened in January 2012 and hosted the CupNoodles Bowl Jam, the first round of the Skateboard World Tour, this past January.
Another option for advanced-level skaters is the park in Botafogo, by the Rio Sul shopping mall on Rua Lauro Muller. This park is known for having one of the best bowls of Rio. Another plus is that the park is open twenty-four hours a day and has ample lighting to make night boarding possible.
Carioca and skateboard-lover, Nitai Kazan, says, “I met nearly all of my friends through skateboarding. I like to do it because I meet new people, new peaks and other places to skateboard. Every weekend reunites several friends to skateboard in a different spot.”
Another Rio skateboarder, Rodrigo Cortes, told The Rio Times that, “What first attracted me to skateboarding was the beauty of the maneuvers, seeing someone doing a maneuver, I became hypnotized while watching. I like to skate because it taught me that I can do anything, it taught me to fall down and stand back up, it taught me persistence… it provides me fun, relaxation and good friendships.”
When asked about favorite places to skate, Cortes says he likes to skate in Caju (in Centro) in a playground where it is possible to do tricks. On the weekends, his favorite spot is Praça XV, also in Centro.
Aterro do Flamengo is another popular spot in the Zona Sul (South Zone); Parque do Flamengo, close to Hotel Glória, is a diverse space with ramps, street, handrails, vert and mini. Since the park lies right on the water, skateboarders also benefit from a nice breeze.
To enjoy an amazing view while skateboarding, Ipanema’s Arpoador Bowl offers two secluded bowls high above Parque Garota de Ipanema, close gallery of surf and skate shops on Rua Francisco Otaviano.
There are also several places to skateboard along the Lagoa, like Parque do Taboas, close to Clube de Regatas do Flamengo, which underwent some renovations in March of 2012, adding resin to the surface of the floor, increasing protection of the area and adding guardrails. Also in Lagoa, Parque dos Patins affords a great view.