By Nate Eisenmann | Sports Reporter
A loud, metallic clang echoed through Kresge Courtyard. Cheers, whistles and hollers followed from the small crowd that was forming. Longboarders and skateboarders alike showed up to ride around or test their skills jumping over a long metal rail that someone lugged into the courtyard.
Skateboarders accelerated, repeatedly driving their feet into the ground, approaching the rail. In lightning-fast movements, they jumped off their boards, over the rail, and back on their boards — sometimes gracefully, sometimes not. But even if they tripped and fell, they got back up and tried the jump again.
Longboarders whizzed by, talking to one another and cheering on the skaters. Not everyone who showed up came knowing the others, but by the end of the afternoon, everyone had been introduced to one another.
For sophomore Peter Kraakevik, meeting new people is part of the fun. He emphasized that when he shows up to a skate park, everyone there will either pay no attention to him or, more likely, will be outgoing and friendly. The idea that something as simple as skating is a way to bring people together is one reason Kraakevik loves it. He believes strong bonds between skaters stem from the risk-taking nature of the activity.
“There’s a reason why skateboarding is in the Olympics. You have to have a lot of determination and you have to be willing to take risks,” Kraakevik said. “Anyone who [skateboards] is kind of like that, so it brings everyone together.”
First picking up a board just a few years ago, Kraakevik has embraced skateboarding culture and encouraged other Bethel students to get involved.
When fellow sophomore Ben Anderson met Kraakevik at Bethel, the two started skating together — Kraakevik on his skateboard and Anderson on his longboard. For Anderson, riding his longboard is all about the utility and less about doing tricks.
“I love the idea of just cruising for miles and miles with [friends],” Anderson said.
After getting a concussion last fall while riding, Anderson was cautious to get back on his board this spring. But when invited by Kraakevik, he got back up.
“He asked and I couldn’t say no,” Anderson said.
Although the longboarders and skateboarders sometimes clash over which is better, they can agree on one thing: Skating or longboarding, tricks or no tricks, the main reason to keep four wheels on the pavement is the people.