ESPN’s invitation to showcase Innoskate panels and activities at the X Games connected the Innoskate team with skateboarding’s most accomplished athletes and shared ideas about innovation and creativity with the more than 100,000 people who attended this massive festival. Audiences were highly engaged and appreciated hearing legends and current pro skaters, including Tony Hawk, Bob Burnquist, Alexis Sablone, and Paul Rodriguez, offer their views about invention and innovation in skateboarding. Holding the discussions at the X Games Vert Ramp competition venue and the NextX activity center provided dramatic backdrops for these conversations.
Panel Discussion and Skate Demo: Innovation and Progression of the Board
“Professor” Paul Schmitt, Ryan Clements of TheBoardr, and Betsy Gordon of the National Museum of the American Indian continued their exploration of how skaters spark innovations in skateboard design though their drive and determination to invent new tricks, navigate a variety of terrain and environments, and to continually push the boundaries of skateboarding. At the X Games, pro skater Jaws Hamoki joined Jereme Knibbs and local skaters from Austin in demonstrations featuring decks from the 1960s to the present day, illustrating how technology, design, and materials fundamentally impact what can be achieved on a skateboard. During the panel, Jaws and Paul emphasized that their relationship as athlete and innovator working together was integral to developing advances in deck design and incorporating new materials in the skateboard, all to help Jaws leap and jump to new heights.
Panel Discussion: Diversity and Innovation in Skate Culture
How do gender, geography, and socio-economic factors impact one’s ability to skate? In what ways do international differences and cultural influences shape the skateboarding experience? In what ways does the integration and sharing of ideas, customs, and perceptions from around the world unlock innovations in skateboarding and push it in new directions? Pro skaters Paul Rodriguez, Ishod Wair, and Renton Millar, shared their personal experiences and involvement in the global skate industry to explore these important questions in a panel moderated by Ryan Clements of TheBoardr and Betsy Gordon of the National Museum of the American Indian.
Panel Discussion: Pioneers of New Terrain—Pushing Innovation and Pushing Boundaries in Skateboarding
Changes and innovations—from sidewalks and pools to handrails, parks, and Big Air ramps—constantly challenge and redefine notions of what constitutes “navigable terrain.” Skaters rely on engineers, designers, and builders to create new structures, ramps, and parks that allow skaters to go farther, higher, and faster.
During this conversation, skateboard legends Tony Hawk and Bob Burnquist explained why pushing themselves past conventional boundaries is inherent to who they are as skaters and innovators. Skatepark designer Brian Harper agreed that responding skaters' hopes creates a rewarding collaboration, combining the skills and expertise of several people in the creative process, between those who dream about what’s next and those who help make those dreams a reality. Based on their broad range of experiences. Tony, Bob, and Brian then offered their predictions about where innovation will take skateboarding in the future. The panel discussion was led by Jeffrey Brodie of the Lemelson Center and Josh Friedberg, Executive Director Emeritus of the International Association of Skateboard Companies.
Panel Discussion: The Innovative Mind—Creativity, Risk, and Failure in Skateboarding
During this special conversation, moderated by Jeffrey Brodie of the Lemelson Center and Josh Friedberg, Executive Director Emeritus of the International Association of Skateboard Companies, pro skaters Jaws Hamoki and Alexis Sablone discussed their different approaches to accomplishing amazing things on a skateboard. Together, they revealed that there is no single path to innovation and that it is helpful to explore problems from many directions to find a solution. Skaters are inventors, creative and innovative in the way they look at the built environment around them and constantly challenging conventional uses of objects and space. Skaters invent new tricks and methods to jump, slide, grind, and flip their way through the urban landscape and to soar ever higher out of ramps while performing intricate and complex maneuvers.