It’s no secret that skateboarding has been embedded in the Southern California culture for decades, but did you know that the iconic sport has deep roots in the city of Vista?
This diverse North San Diego County city has served as a playground to many professional and legendary skateboarders and home to lots of skate-related businesses and organizations. Businesses in the city and nearby county areas include Bob Burnquist’s Dreamland to the Tony Hawk Foundation, DC Shoes (purchased by Quicksilver for $87 million), Duffs, Birdhouse Skateboards, Plan B, The House Skate Shop, and Epic Trends, a to name a few.
Vista recently welcomed a new addition to the local skateboard scene, the California Training Facility (CA l TF), an elite indoor skateboard center designed by California Skateparks and run by California Productions. It is the first of its kind in the world, designed to meet the criteria of what skateboarders will see in both major pro skateboard contests and qualifying series, as well as the Olympic courses leading up to the 2020 games in Tokyo.
Photo Above:The City of Vista and the Vista Chamber of Commerce officially welcomed the California Training Facility during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Jan. 10, 2019.
The 28,000 square foot private facility, which includes full size competition street and park courses, will serve as a training ground for members of the US Olympic skateboard team in preparation for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. (Members of the US team have not been formally announced.) CA l TF, which will host the State Games of America July 12th - 14th, has also begun to attract Olympic skateboarding teams from across the globe. During a recent weekday, the Chinese Olympic skateboard team was seen practicing at the center. Other international teams that have shown interest in training at the facility include Turkey, Argentina, Australia, Jamaica, Japan, and Norway.
The new California Training Facility in Vista will host Olympic skateboard teams from around the world. Photo: CA l TF
The CA l TF also offers other programs such as skate jams, facility rentals, and group or private coaching programs for all levels of skateboarding from elite athletes to beginners. Pros that regularly skate at the facility include Tony Hawk, Shaun White, Ayumo Hirano, Steve Caballero, Christian Hosoi, Lyn-z Pastrana, Alec Majerus, Zach Saraceno, Kelvin Hoefler, Nora Vasconcellos, Jack Fardell, Evan Doherty, Clay Kreiner, Alex Sorgente, Travis Rivera, Justin Rivera, Jordyn Barrett, Nicole Hause, Tom Schaar, Keegan Palmer, and many more.
According to Tony Hawk, “People are going to explore tricks that we have never seen before” at the CA l TF. “A facility like this will be beneficial to the teams that are going to the Olympics and who are competing year-round, and it will raise the bar and skill level,” he added.
Legendary skateboarder and entrepreneur Tony Hawk, background, is a regular at CA l TF. Photo: CA l TF
For California Skateparks - which has built over 300 skateparks on six continents - Vista is the perfect venue for its first training facility.
“Vista and North County San Diego is the hub of the skateboard industry; and a majority of skateboard professionals call north county San Diego home,” said Brian Harper, Senior Vice President of California Skateparks, Snowpark Technologies and California Productions. “California Skateparks is proud to have become the most reputable design and construction company in skateboarding as a result of being afforded the opportunity to deliver the most influential events and activations in history, such as the XGames, Vans Park Series, and Street League, amongst many others, which has had direct and everlasting impact on skateboarding and culture on a global scale.”
According to Harper, skateboarding is by far the most popular action sport with roughly 12 million Americans who participate each year and 4.7 million frequent participants who skate more than 30 days per year. Over the past decade, skateboarding has also seen increased acceptance by households around the world. Like other action sports, skateboarding is predominantly male but female participation (currently about 23%) in the sport is growing. About 1 out of every 10 children in the San Diego area between ages 6 and 17 skateboards.
The California Training Facility is the first of its kind in the world. Photo: CA l TF
Global exposure of the X Games and Vans Park Series, Street League, The Dew Tour and Nitro Circus, the inclusion of action sports in the Olympic Games and the popularity of action sport video games and movies helped further expose these sports to the masses, Harper said. As a result, action sport athletes have become household names - skateboarders like Tony Hawk, Nyjah Huston, Ryan Sheckler, and Shaun White were identified as being among the 10 most popular athletes with 13-to-34 year olds in North America. Surveys across Asia, Australasia, Europe, and North America have also pointed to the increased popularity of action sports.
As for CA l TF being a hub for Olympic skateboarders, Harper and his crew are thrilled to host the dozens of athletes from around the world as they hone their skills and gear up for the 2020 games.
“Admitted to the Olympic program in 2016 with its debut at Tokyo in 2020, skateboarding engages style-conscious youth around the world. Skateboarding is one of the few Olympic sports which reflects the priorities of the Millennial and Centennial generations,” Harper said. “Its audience has a colossal $18 billion annual industry purchasing power. Tokyo 2020 and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have acknowledged its relevance by scheduling the inaugural skateboarding events as the first medal events of the 2020 Olympic Games. As such, skateboarding has been afforded the same status on the summer program as snowboarding now enjoys on the Olympic Winter program.”
The CA l TF will also be used as a venue to teach disadvantaged youths how to skate, further benefiting the community.
Photo: CA l TF
“Skate parks provide a place for kids who aren’t attracted to traditional team sports a place to go and express themselves in an individual and athletic manner. Getting kids, particularly at-risk kids, involved in a personal and esteem-building activity like skateboarding helps them build the confidence to do well in other aspects of their lives,” Harper said. “Tony knows this because that’s what skateboarding did for him. That’s why he started the Tony Hawk Foundation – to help today’s kids by helping their communities build quality public skateparks. The 13-million skateboarders in America only have about 2,000 skateparks nationwide. That means the vast majority of them are skating in the streets. Skateparks, even the more challenging ones, are far safer than kids rolling through busy streets. And when parks are built right – with local skater input and involvement throughout the process – those youngsters develop a sense of ownership and pride.”
For city leaders, the CA l TF is a welcomed addition to the community. “This facility is already attracting elite talent from all over the world to Vista, elevating our city’s profile on the international stage, and the incoming visitors have the potential to also stay at our hotels, eat at our restaurants, and enjoy the downtown area during their stay,” said Kevin J. Ham, Director of Economic Development for the City of Vista. “We hope to see more interaction between these athletes and the local skating community.”
The CA l TF also increases Vista’s number of skateparks - the city now boasts three skateparks for its 102,000 residents, raising its national profile.
Number of skateboarding parks per 100,000 residents. Graph: Statistica.
“We are excited about this new skateboard training facility not only for our residents but for the community at large, and for skateboarders from all over the world,” Ham said. “It will further put Vista in the spotlight as fostering this incredible culture and sport.”
Media contact from CA l TF:
Economic Development contact for the City of Vista:
Economic Development Director