Life and career
Gelfand moved from New York to Hollywood, Florida with his family in 1972. Alan "Ollie" Gelfand started skateboarding in 1974 after his father bought him his first skateboard. In 1976 he won the South Florida Skateboard Championships. That same year the first concrete skateboard parks began to appear in the United States with the first being Skateboard City just up the coast in Port Orange, Florida. In 1977 Hollywood would get its own park called Skateboard USA and it would be here that Gelfand would get his first notice in the skate press. His first published photograph was taken by Craig Snyder, a fellow Hollywood skater and photographer. It would be another Hollywood skater by the name of Scott Goodman who would give Gelfand his nickname of "Ollie" and who would name Gelfand's accidental aerial lipslide an Ollie Pop.
Skateboard USA with its imperfect walls was atypical of the first-generation skate parks and it was the over-vertical sections of the park which played a significant role in Gelfand's development of the Ollie Pop. In late 1977 California pro Stacy Peralta visited the Solid Surf Skate Park in Fort Lauderdale where he met Gelfand and observed with some disbelief his no-handed maneuver. By 1978 the Ollie Air was born, known today simply as the ollie.
After Peralta formed Powell Peralta with George Powell, Gelfand was recruited as the first member of the new team joining Peralta and Ray "Bones" Rodriquez. This team later became known as the Bones Brigade and came to include other Florida skaters of the 70s such as Mike McGill, inventor of the 540 aerial or "McTwist" in 1984, and Rodney Mullen who during the 1980s helped foster the ollie for use on flat ground. Tony Hawk would be another Bones Brigade member to benefit from the ollie. On vert he used the maneuver as a way to achieve higher air when doing tricks. By the mid-1980s the ollie had transformed trick skating in its three disciplines of vert, freestyle and street. Most skateboard tricks today in street skating are now based on this maneuver.
In the late 1990s ollie became an official entry in the Oxford English Dictionary but the origin was listed as unknown. In February 2004 the Oxford English Dictionary rectified the listing giving Alan "Ollie" Gelfand credit as the name and originator behind the 1976 maneuver. In July 2006 the Merriam-Webster followed suit adding Gelfand and his ollie to its dictionary.
Gelfand stopped skateboarding in 1981 because of knee injuries, general burn-out and the shutdown of most U.S. skate parks during the previous year.
During the 1980s Gelfand turned to racing cars, driving Volkswagens, and winning many of the Sports Car Club of America SCCA races. In 1987 Gelfand won the World Karting Association, or WKA Grand National Championship. From there he went on to win four 24-hour races driving VW's he custom-built in a shop called "Ollieprep". In 2001 Gelfand raced in the Grand Am Cup behind the wheel of a 2000 model Porsche 986 Boxster. Gelfand continued racing for another year with visits to winners circle in several national competitions.
In 2001 Gelfand returned to skateboarding. In 2002 he opened a venue in Hollywood, Florida called Olliewood which features a 48 foot bowl built by the Team Pain crew. Alan Ollie Gelfand married Sharon Lisa Israel in 2006. He also owns the largest dealer alternative for service of VW & Audi and SUVs called German Car Depot (Name changed from V DEPOT in 2009) in Hollywood Florida.
Gelfand appears in the "The Bones Brigade documentary" (2012).
May 2013 Alan “Ollie” Gelfand was inducted in to the Skateboarding Hall of Fame.
- Brooke, M (1999). Concrete Wave: The History Of Skateboarding. ISBN 1-894020-54-5.
- Grand Am Cup 2000 Yearbook