“World’s first skateboarder statue” returns to Prague’s Folimanka

The renovated statue of a skateboarder, made in the early 1980s, has returned to its former location in Prague’s Folimanka Park in the district of Vinohrady. Said to be the world’s oldest skateboarding statue, it had been hidden in a depository for more than 15 years after being destroyed by vandals.

Skejťák, as the bronze statue of a skateboarded is called in Czech, was made in 1981 by the sculptor Jaroslav Hladký. A year later it was installed in Folimanka, a park at the foot of the Vyšehrad fortifications. In 2006, the statue was destroyed by a vandal, who cut off its arms, most likely selling them to a scrap yard.

Around four years ago, Pavel Friš, a man behind a website dedicated to the history of Vyšehrad, started to search for the long-lost statue and discovered that it was hidden in a depository of the Prague 2 district.

He suggested to have the statue renovated and subsequently raised more than CZK 250,000 in a crowdfunding campaign.

Photo: Pavel Friš,  vysehradskej.cz

“The sculptor, Mr Hladký, suggested we come to his garden and dig up a plaster model of the statue that he had buried there but, unfortunately, we haven’t found it.

“But thanks to another sculptor, Jiří Kašpar, we managed to reconstruct the arms based on the old photographs.

“Mr. Hladký approved it, and then it was sent to the foundry, where the hands were cast and fused back to the torso.”

Although the skateboarding community in the 1980s Czechoslovakia was very tiny compared to Western countries, Pavel Friš says that according to his research, skejťák really is the very first skateboarding statue in the world.

Photo: René Volfík,  iROZHLAS.cz

“Mr Hladký noticed the skateboarders in the early ‘80s or even late ‘70s and he immediately got the idea to make a statue based on them.

“Eventually he modelled his statue on photographs from foreign magazines to get the pose right. And, what is even more important, he managed to push his idea through an approval committee, which criticised him for being under the Western influence.”

Pavel Friš says that despite his initiative, the statue would not have returned to Folimanka without the support of the Czech Skateboarding Association. Jaroslav Kučera is a member of its executive committee:

Photo: René Volfík,  iROZHLAS.cz

“I belong to the older generation and I actually remember the statue from the times before the Velvet Revolution.  It was really symbolic for us at the time and it makes me really nostalgic to see it back.”

The unveiling of the statue coincided with the opening of a brand new skate park, located right below the Nusle Bridge, next to the Brutalist sports hall from the 1970s.

Skejťák is not the only statue gracing Folimanka. Scattered across the area are several bronze and stone figures made mostly by Communist-era artists, but there is also a streetlight turned upwards by contemporary artist Krištof Kintera, dedicated to those who committed suicide by jumping off the bridge.

Skejťák and Pavel Friš | Photo: René Volfík,  iROZHLAS.cz