The Carlsbad Gap achieves fame beyond the grave
They say that right before you die your life flashes before your eyes — but the life of the Carlsbad Gap may be far too expansive to capture in a simple flash. The iconic skate spot which has called Carlsbad home is gone and has left in it’s wake a legacy of fame, and in some skating circles, near infamy, in a cloud of dust and broken concrete.
Throughout its existence, thousands of skaters, from amateurs to professionals, have attempted to jump the wicked gap, many failing in the process. Its fame, though, has gone beyond the act of landing tricks down a wide grass gap and has become a cultural phenomenon.
Through footage posted on the web and word of mouth of amateur and professional skaters, its prestige spread to other forms and mediums.
Transworld Skateboarding magazine put the Gap on the map in its Jan. 1994 issue when it published a cover photograph of skateboarder Kris Markovich landing the first kick flip.
In 2000, professional skateboarder Tony Hawk added the Gap to his game, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, and featured several pro skaters jumping across it in a high school skate spots section.
“It became sort of a legendary spot for milestone tricks in skating,” Hawk said. “Certain places become iconic. So many pro skaters live in [Carlsbad] and that was one of the big jumps they could take a trick to. ”
Though he feels that the jump was already well established in the professional skating community, Hawk believes the game certainly helped bring widespread attention to the spot.
Dr. Matthew Steitz had no idea of the legend that he would soon become a part of when he became CHS principal.
Shortly after being hired, he received a package in the mail from a college classmate. It was a Tech Deck toy skate set depicting a familiar campus staircase. He hit the internet to find out more about the notorious Carlsbad Gap.
“When I took the position at CHS I knew nothing about the Gap,” Steitz said. “I started watching a lot of footage, and I started to get schooled on what the Carlsbad Gap was all about.”
In addition to the Tech Deck set, the Gap appeared in Skatebook 3. The book ran a depiction of an animated skating legend, Bart Simpson, jumping over the legendary spot.
With such widespread influence and intrusion into all forms of media, the Gap has affected the school’s history and culture.
“It’s because of things like the Gap that we have such a strong skate P.E. class, and it’s really become a part of the culture of Carlsbad,” Steitz said.
Although the legendary skate spot is gone, its fame and pervasive influence have given it a place in skate and school history. The administration and the students alike appeared on Thursday to send the Gap off properly and to lay to rest years of skateboarding history.
“There’s a mutual respect for what was taking place at the Gap,” Steitz said. “We were really on board with sending it off the right way. It becomes immortalized, and we’re apart of history.”