Posts Tagged ‘vert ramp’

The “Unofficial” History of Skateboarding’s “Vert Ramp”

by Martin Ramos

Is a 1/2 pipe
& a Vert Ramp
the same thing?

I really don’t think so. 

It seems a 1/2 pipe would be exactly that, 1/2 of a pipe, making it a perfect “U” once you remove the top portion.

The 1/2 pipe for skateboarding came from realizing that we could create perpetual motion in full pipes that were found in the California desert in the mid 70’s.  Wooden versions called “1/2” pipes were constructed in an attempt to emulate the 30’ tall concrete full pipes that were featured in Skateboarder Magazine.  One such attempt bankrupted Kona and led to its closing from late 1978 to the Summer of 1979. Ultimately this massive structure was deemed totally unrideable.


When the Ramos family purchased and re-opened the park in 1979, the first project was to construct a “1/2” pipe that was ridable.  Instead of trying to copy the massive concrete desert pipes, this one was much smaller and functioned well. Legendary Florida Professionals like Mike McGill, Alan Gelfand, and Mark Lake all competed on Kona’s “U” pipe in the early 80s during Kona’s “Go For It’ series.



The success of the Blue Ramp led to the discovery of Skateboarding’s first ever “Vert Ramp”. By placing flat bottom in between the two walls more speed was available and more time between walls.  The right combination of transition, flat bottom, vert, and width created a perfect environment for skateboards to discover a whole new realm of what was possible.

Unfortunately, these ramps didn’t last very long due to the uncertain nature of engineering something that had never been built before.  Over the years Kona has constructed four more versions of a “Vert Ramp” using different size radii, flat bottoms, widths, and overall heights.

The most recent ramp was completed in 2001 and is 78’ wide, has 14’ of flat bottom, 11’ radius with 2’ of vert making it 13’’ tall.  It also features a 6’ channel with both 4’ and 6’ tall roll-ins and an 8’ long escalator.  

Knowing how well these dimensions work we feel a full renovation of our current ramp is the best approach to bringing world-class vert skating back to Kona.

vert legends

This is a special photo.

The Variflex team when they discovered the world’s first “Vert Ramp”
The ramp was less than a month old when they arrived on tour.
One year later they came back and were the title sponsor of Skateboarding’s first-ever “Vert Ramp” competition
The Kona/Variflex Summer Nationals
From left to right: Allen Losi, Steve Hersh, Freddie DeSoto, Pattie Hoffman, Ziggy Ziegfried, Eric Grisham
Buck Smith is in the background finishing his run on the “Vert” ramp.

Wooden version of 1/2 pipe before blue fiberglass surfacing and decks

1/2 pipe and Vert Ramp back to back


Steve Caballero 1981

Christian Hosoi 1983

Tony Hawk on the Vert Ramp  1982

Neil Blender 1983

Jimmy Plumer on the 1/2 pipe

Jeff Phillips 1984

Steve Caballero 1982

Monty Nolder 1982

John Lucero 1984 (owner of Black Label Skates)

kona skatepark

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