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Banned in Norway

A Forgotten Skateboarding History

People have spent the last several decades looking for reasons to have a problem with skateboarding. It’s been seen as rebellious, a sign of urban decay, a boogie man representing the troubled youth of the world, and just about everything in-between. Cities and neighborhoods have looked for ways to limit skateboarding, and some towns have even gone so far as to ban skateboarding altogether for short periods of time.

But only once in history has an entire country banned skateboarding altogether—and not just for a few weeks, but for 11 f***ing years.

That’s right. From 1978 to 1989, skateboarding of any kind (and the import, export, or sale of skateboards) was banned for the entire country of Norway. The country and the ban worked to keep people from skateboarding about as well as you would think. (Hint: It didn’t.)

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When in doubt, improvise. Photo credit: Anders Wittusen

The Beginning of the Ban

In the 1970s, skateboarding was exploding all over the world. What started in America was reaching European shores like an invasion, with American board manufacturers starting to do big business in a range of countries.

One of those countries was Norway, where young people were buying American boards and launching their own movements in cities around the country.

But Norway’s Product Control Council had other ideas. Worried that skateboarding would cause an epidemic of death and injuries, they suddenly banned the use, sale, and possession of all skateboards.

Obviously, skaters had no choice but to accept the ban and burn all of their skateboards, never to skate again until the ban was lifted.

Yeah, right.

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Fully illegal skate ramp in the Norway woods during the ban. Photocredit

Rebel Skaters in the Woods

Right away, an underground skate scene started to develop. Because it was too hard to hide DIY skate parks in the cities, skaters took to the many woods of Norway. Deep in the forests and off the beaten path (and away from authorities), skaters built their own half-pipes and parks made from whatever planks and plywood they could find.

Deep in the woods, skating lived on in Norway for over a decade.

The End of the Ban

By the time the late 80s came around, authorities could see the writing on the wall. Skateboarding was a global phenomenon, and they knew they couldn’t actually stop skaters from doing what they loved. Before the ban was officially lifted in 1989, authorities became more chill about enforcing the ban. Skaters could mostly skate as they wished without too much trouble.

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Oslo Skatehall. One of the largest-of-its-kind in Northern Europe. Photocredit

Skating in Norway Today

Many Norwegian skaters still carry a level of bitterness about the ban. They feel like Norway is now ten years behind the rest of the world when it comes to skating, though they’re speeding to catch up. With skate parks around the country and skaters making names for themselves, Norway is set to make a massive comeback from the days when skateboarding was a crime.