Slalom Skateboarding: An Introduction to Michigan’s Fastest Growing Discipline

November 17th, 2009 by PeterTheMeter Leave a reply »

Go Green Longboarding skating a long hybrid course at our favorite Lansing slalom spot.

As you can see, slalom skateboarding has come a long way since the orange pylon tic-tac’ing days of the 70’s. Today’s slalom skateboards have some of the most high tech gear on the market, complete with carbon fiber foamcore decks and precision CNC’d trucks. I, as most with a limited income, ride and love a good old wood deck with cast trucks.

I would have never thought about trying slalom if it wasn’t for my friend getting me to try it. I always thought it looked sort of silly (I still think it does), and it seemed like one of those untouchable disciplines, like skating vert or the mega ramp. When I first tried slalom a buddy and I grabbed the smallest boards in our quiver (a 24” mini with Bennetts for me), went to a small slope with some Solo cups and setup what we thought was a reasonable course. I was hooked from the first night. It wasn’t for a little longer (read: a paycheck later) that I pulled the trigger on my first board.

I’m still rocking the first setup that I got over a year ago. The standard is typically a wood deck with a kicktail (the Sk8Kings Axe decks are killer and inexpensive), Tracker RTS/X 106mm, and split durometer Retro Zig Zags 70mm (80A rear for grip and 83A or 86A front for speed.) Then you can go ahead and get a Khiro Wedge Kit and some bushings to fine tune the degrees of your trucks. Side note: Bushings are the single greatest investment you can make in skateboarding. They average at $3 a pop and can completely change the ride. I suggest a Khiro Bushing Kit which comes with extra pivot cups and washers. This always sounds confusing at first but there are plenty of people to help you get setup, including myself.

Slalom is all about pumping around the cones more than just carving around them. To achieve maximum grip and power, slalom boards generally have a dewedged rear truck, which increased traction and lowers the pivot angle (makes it turn less.) Slalom boards always have a wedged front truck (the opposite of dewedging) which makes it turn more. With trucks set up this way it makes your board like a car, where most of the steering comes from the front. Most slalom boards have what is called “split duro” wheels, with softer in the back for grip and harder in the front for speed. A good place to start is 80A (lime) in the back with 83A (lemon) or 86a (orange) front depending on your weight and the quality of road you’re on. Go ahead and get some bearings and bearing spacers while you’re at it. Once you have all your stuff you will probably notice, like I did when I first setup my board, that your hardware is too short. Ace Hardware will typically have what you want (10/32, 10 is the bolt size 32 is the threads per inch truss head hardware.) The longest you’ll need is probably 3” and the smallest will probably be 1.5”. If you need help setting up I’m more than happy to help get you going or there’s all sorts of info here: .

So now that you have a board, it’s time to get onto technique. Before you even set up a course you just want to get use to turning hard on your board. Plant your rear foot over the rear truck and your front foot over the front truck. Most skaters will put a toe stop (a hard bushing or hardware) to prevent their foot from sliding forward. Put the toe stop on the top left bolt if you’re regular or top right if you’re goofy. Now it’s time to pump! to prevent their foot from sliding forward. Put the toe stop on the top left bolt if you’re regular or top right if you’re goofy. Now it’s time to pump! I can promise you that you will feel and look stupid at first. Once you have grasped that you will be an infinitely better skater. There are lots of tutorials on the internet, but the best advice I can give is to use your upper body to get more power. Throw your arms to the left and push with your back foot to the left then throw your arms to the right and turn to the right. Repeat until you’re picking up speed. It helps if you try to do this on a small incline so you can get some speed first. Once you get pumping down you can pump up hill without taking your foot off the board!

Now it’s time to set up a course. We’ve been slaloming for over a year and we still use party cups. If you stack them in twos or threes you have a heavy enough cone that won’t blow away when you go past it or when the wind blows. There are a few types of slalom, being tight, hybrid, giant, and super giant. Tight is the slowest with the closest cones, hybrid spreads it out and speeds it up a little more with some offsets, and giant is at least 25 mph with large offsets. We typically skate hybrid. Start off by putting your cones about 7 feet away with an occasional offset. Setting a course is an art that I haven’t really mastered, so trial and error is all part of the fun.

Although this seems like a lot of info it doesn’t take much to get started. You could even try tic-tac’ing around the cones on your street board if you want. Don’t let gear hold you back, but little changes can shave a lot of time off your riding and add stoke! If you’re looking to get rollin’ Modern can order Sk8Kings, Tracker, Retro Zig Zags or Seismic Speed Vents, and Khiro risers and bushings. If you’re interested yet terrified come on in to the Lansing shop and check out my board. I’d be glad to let you pump around on it. If you’re looking for people to meet up with check out Go Green Longboarding’s forum ( We’d love to spread the stoke.

Get some!



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