Life and career
Gelfand moved from New York City to Hollywood, Florida with his family in 1972. He 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 by Stacy Peralta. 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 Alan Ollie Gelfand maneuver 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. After Alan's ex-wife Sharon Gelfand, Sharon Israel at the time, submitted enough citations that proved Alan Gelfand was the first person to ollie, the Oxford English Dictionary in February 2004 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 many 6 hr and 12 hr the hardest race of all 24-hour races driving VW's. Ollie custom-built in a shop called "Ollieprep". In 2001 Gelfand raced in the IMSA Grand Am Cup behind the wheel of a 2000 model Porsche 986 . Gelfand continued racing for another year with visits to winners circle in several national competitions.
In 2001 Gelfand returned to skateboarding. In 2002, he built the most perfect bowl could in Hollywood, Florida called Olliewood which features a 48-foot bowl built by the Team Pain crew. He also owns the largest dealer alternative for service of German Vehicles and SUVs called German Car Depot (Name changed from VW DEPOT then to V DEPOT in 2009) In 2015, he purchased Foreign Car of Hollywood and now offers service for all German cars in Hollywood Florida.
- Brooke, M (1999). Concrete Wave: The History of Skateboarding. ISBN 1-894020-54-5.
- Grand Am Cup 2000 Yearbook
- Jocko Weyland (2002) The Answer Is Never: A Skateboarder's History of the World
- Jamie Brisick (HarperCollins, 2004), Have Board, Will Travel: The Definitive History of Surf, Skate, and Snow ISBN 9780060563592
- Craig B. Snyder (Author) 2015 A Secret History of the Ollie
- (Oxford Dictionaries) Oxford English Dictionary 2004
- Merriam-Webster, Incorporated 2006 MERRIAM-WEBSTER'S COLLEGIATE DICTIONARY