Senior King Barua skates down hill on his longboard. Photo Courtesy of King Barua

People have always been drawn to the thrills of speed. Whether it is zipping along the interstate in a new sports car or careening on a steel roller coaster, speed is king. The sport of longboarding provides those who crave this speed with a thrill like no other.

George Mason University, like many college campuses, is a hot bed for longboarders. It gives students a way of transportation other than walking and biking. Aside from being a means of getting around campus, a couple longboarders take their craft a little more seriously than most. Seniors Kyle Lange and King Barua are those passionate skaters.

Lange and Barua’s need for speed began in their freshman years as a means of transportation from class to class. But over time they have taken their hobby to new heights.

“I started longboarding my freshman year as a way to get away from my roommate because he wasn’t fun to hang out with,” said Lange. “He was from the beach and had a skateboard, and he would let me use it. It was a great way for me to get away and it was really relaxing.”

Barua, a self-proclaimed ambassador of longboarding, became interested in longboarding when he was introduced to Lange through a mutual friend.

“I was a commuter student coming in and needed a faster way to get to my classes,” Barua said. “Then I met Kyle through [a mutual friend] in high school and we started talking and I asked him to teach me how to skate and that’s how it all started.”

Longboarding was created in the 1950s on the west coast. Over the past decades the sport has branched out across the country and the world. It was designed by surfers to mimic surfing motions on land.

There are many different styles of longboarding like free riding, slalom, butt-boarding and dancing to name a few. Though the west coast is the king of longboarding due to its rich history, longboarding on the east coast has become more popular over the past decades, especially in coastal areas and on college campuses.

“The west coast is bigger, faster and better in my opinion compared to the east coast, Barua said. “The east coast is a smaller community of riders but it’s making progress.”

Both Barua and Lange ride with a group of East Coast riders who travel up and down the east coast, competing in races and skating in different styled competitions. Throughout parts of Florida, Georgia, the Carolina mountains, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Canada, the two have taken their love of longboarding to the next level.

“Longboarding is very tempting, very fun [and] spontaneous but being a student, you have to regulate yourself and not go too far.” said Barua. “I would love to pursue a downhill career but it takes a lot of money and especially a sponsorship which I don’t have, so it’s going to have to be a hobby.”

“Longboarding is always going to be there and some of the guys we ride with are in their forties and are still kicking it,” said Lange.

Since the two started longboarding, they have seen a dramatic change in the way that longboarders perceive other longboarders on campus.

“Longboarding used to be a community thing here about two years ago. We used to go out skating at like 11 p.m. and skate to around two in the morning and hang out at East Coast Board Shop and everyone got along,” Barua said. “Now it’s like these three people and these three people skate and if you’re not in our crew, then screw you. The mentality has changed and the sense of community is just not there anymore.”

The two even tried to organize a longboarding club on campus. After it was all said and done, they decided to not go through with the process and instead continue to skate freely.

“The thing with a club is that people who like to skate just want to skate,” Lange said. “They don’t want to deal with the organization of the club itself. A lot of kids come from the beaches like Virginia Beach and bring their longboards to campus and the culture as well, so there’s not a need for a formal thing.”

“Now, more people are wearing flip flops and Ray-Bans while longboarding and I just don’t want to be involved with that crowd of longboarder,” Barua said.