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I found that my problem was unclear instruction about the timing between jumping and popping. One day when I was watching a slowmo ollie video though, I noticed that the skateboarder already was beginning to jump (at least his body was already going in an upward motion) before snapping the board off the ground. That was a critical change I needed to make in order to get it working. I had been trying to pop the board while all my weight was still pushing down on it (kind of an obvious mistake, but I somehow overlooked this). Hope this helps somebody.
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This board is an excellent option for beginners because of its simplicity and durability. The lightly concave design allows for simple turns but doesn’t require the rider to be an excellent navigator. You can start off riding this deck down the street and use it as you learn ollies, kickflips and how to drop in to a half pipe. It will withstand it all and look good doing it.