Old dogs, new tricks

A growing number of aging skateboarders are still rolling along



I can hear his voice before I see the fall, and watch as the board flies into the air, slamming into a nearby bench.

“Dude!” a voice calls out. “You OK?”

“I’m good.”

He rises slowly, shaking his head. I immediately spot a bright red, angry-looking cut on his left knee. He plays it cool, though, barely glancing down at the injury, jogging over to the bench to retrieve his battered skateboard. I resist the urge to get out my first aid kit, knowing the wrath I will incur if I whip out so much as a Band-Aid.

The woman in the car beside mine gives me a sympathetic smile. We’re about the same age, drive the same car and are both drinking Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. The only discernible difference between us is that she is waiting for her teenage son at the skate park, and I’m waiting for my 42-year-old husband, Jason.

You may have seen Jason, or someone else like him, cruising down the street, sideswiping cars. Or perhaps you’ve spotted him at the local skate park, skating and joking around with kids who are less than half his age. He is graying at the temples, and may have a bit of a paunch. He likely has a desk job, wears a suit and tie during the week and has a couple of kids and a mortgage. On the weekends, however, he whips out his stained, ripped, 30-year-old skater shorts, heads over to his local skate park and returns to a younger version of himself — the dude who first learned how to bomb a hill at age 14.

“I will always have love for this sport,” says John Bartolo, 40, of Centerport. Bartolo, a fine art printmaker when he’s not ripping it up, has been skating since he was 13, and credits skateboarding with sparking his interest in surfing and snowboarding — hobbies he still actively pursues. His only concession to his age has been the switch to a long board, which he says seems to cause fewer accidents. “I have a family to think about now,” Bartolo says. “But I still get a thrill every time I skate. It keeps me young at heart.”

Peter Rosseland, also 40 and from Port Washington, echoes Bartolo’s endorsement. “The small hairs on the back of my neck still stand up before dropping in,” he says. “I will love this sport forever, and plan to skateboard until I can no longer walk.”

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