Life on Wheels: Spotlight on Christopher Magoon ‘13
By Anuraag Girdhar, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, April 6, 2012
Sometime in between our Pokemon and Runescape phases, many of us were obsessed with skateboarding. From the suburban teenagers who would land 720s and inverts at the local skate parks to the city kids who would grind off the railing at the public library, skateboarding defined an entire youth culture at its prime. Some of us idolized the long-haired stoners that our parents decried. In spite of its popularity, just like Smash Mouth and Cartoon Network, this nostalgic image died a silent, inglorious death. Nonetheless, a few dedicated Dartmouth students are now spearheading a much-needed revival of glorious memories from the ’90s at Dartmouth. Our campus, primarily the domain of luxury touring bicycles and exorbitant parking fees, is now home to another mode of transportation you have probably seen occupying the big cubbies at FoCo: the longboard.
I sat down with one of Dartmouth’s most avid users of this retro vehicle, Christopher Magoon ’13. Unless it’s pouring outside, you will most likely see Magoon speeding toward Collis, skillfully dismounting and running in while wielding his longboard in the palm of his hand like a scimitar, perpetually ready for battle. He’s outfitted many of his boards with enormous wheels to vanquish the bane of the longboarder’s existence: sidewalk cracks.
“The tracks are bigger [and] the board is longer,” Magoon said of his longboard. He insists that while they look similar to skateboards, they’re expressly made for transportation rather than for tricks, and they are able to reach outlandish speeds of “40 to 50 miles per hour.”
Although Magoon is nearing the end of only his third year at Dartmouth, he’s witnessed longboarding “go from nothing” to “absolutely huge.” He said longboarding is only just beginning to catch on among the mainstream Dartmouth populace, but he conceded that it’s difficult for Dartmouth students to take it up because of Hanover’s climate.
Magoon began longboarding shortly before coming to Dartmouth.
“It all happened senior of high school in the garage,” he said. “I learned how to longboard on a skateboard, which is not ideal at all.”
However, he remarked that he really got into the sport when he took the skateboard building class at the Hopkins Center during his freshman year. It was not difficult for him to repurpose the final product of the class into something he actually needed. In the same enterprising spirit, Magoon has recently espoused a new means of alternative transport, though this one is perhaps a little less likely to become mainstream — unicycling.
“That’s my rain transportation,” Magoon said.
He said he enjoys the increased maneuverability the solitary wheel affords him, a luxury he doesn’t enjoy with his fleet of longboards. However, for all of you who are even slightly apprehensive about a vehicle that allows 360 degrees of falling room, you need not fear. Magoon said he was launched off a curb freshman year and “sprawled in the middle of the road.” With time though, Magoon has become one of the most adroit unicyclists on campus. In all fairness, though, he doesn’t have much competition.
There is something sophomoric to riding a unicycle that Magoon exploits heavily. He said that riding through large crowds and receiving baffled stares from his friends makes the activity worth it. Yet in spite of the skill he has developed, it’s still not all fun and games.
“I once rode from campus all the way to Balch Hill and back,” Magoon said. “You know how you spin your legs mindlessly when you get tired on a bike? My legs were like jelly for the next two days.”
From rollerblades to motorcycles, everyone on campus is using their wheels to make a statement. Be it style, convenience or both, Magoon exemplifies this need to be unique, to stand out amidst the mundane reality of cold weather and long strides.
And while we certainly aren’t bringing back the “sk8r bois,” Dartmouth has proven itself to be a vector for social change in the past. Perhaps we need only give longboarding a chance.