A RipStiking Good Time
Story and Photos by Tara DeRock Mahoney
Unknowing adults can be forgiven for thinking there’s a resurgence of skateboarding going on in the neighborhoods of Madison and Morgan County. But the discerning observer might notice that these new “skateboards” have only two wheels instead of four, have a board that’s shaped like a figure eight, and corner like they’re on rails.
“They were the ‘Toy of the Year’ in 2007,” says 12-year-old Zac Anderson. “It’s called a RipStik.”
RipStik is the brand name for the newest offering from Razor USA, and that’s the name you hear on the street. Other companies are jumping into the fray and offering similar “wave boards” as well. Just don’t call it a skateboard.
“RipStiks are different from skateboards,” says 14-year-old Charlie Mac Drury. “A RipStik has two wheels and two separate parts to the board…instead of pushing with one foot on the ground and one foot on the board like you do a skateboard, you keep both feet on the RipStik. It’s a motion based on surfing and snowboarding.”
The distinctive “carving” motion is a trademark of the RipStik, and it takes a little getting used to.
“It took me about a week to learn,” said Anderson.
Drury agreed. “It took me about a week to learn, about two weeks to really be comfortable,” he said.
RipStiks come with an instructional video, but most of the guys we talked to just took to the streets and learned the hard way. The girls who try RipStiks are a little more methodical.
“I watched the video, then went out in my cousin’s driveway and tried it out,” said Caroline Jones. “You fall off a lot, but it’s pretty cool.”
Like skateboarding, RipStiking offers a lot of opportunities to learn tricks that can be done on the boards. Anderson likes to practice bunny hops and the “Vortex,” a two-person spinning grip; Drury has perfected a wheelie. And everybody agrees that turning is much easier on a RipStik than on a skateboard.
“It’s easier to turn because it pivots in the middle,” said Anderson. “On a skateboard, you can’t turn at all.”
“RipStiks are cool, because if you’re riding and you’re going to hit a car, you don’t have to—you can turn,” said nine-year-old Harrison Yost.
Around Madison, it’s easy to find guys—and girls—trying out this latest piece of sporting equipment. Just check out the sidewalks and parking lots in town.
“It’s like RipStik Nirvana out there,” says Zac’s father, Bob Anderson.
Now that adults in town know the crucial difference between RipStiks and skateboards, they can converse coherently over the dinner table about the virtues of each. They might even hop on and try to ride themselves. Just remember these words of wisdom from Anderson, who compares RipStiking to yet another sport.
“Just don’t ride when it’s raining,” said Anderson. “It’s too slick—it’s like ice skating.”