The Chinese Puzzle

Danny was trying a kickflip with his skateboard. He jumped, then flicked the board so that it turned in the air. It didn't turn far enough. Thump! Clatter! Danny and the board both hit the ground - separately. The ground was very hard.

"Well, that's not how I would have done it," said Craig. "You're supposed to land on the board."

Danny picked his skateboard up, but felt like kicking it. What was wrong? It had good trucks and good bearings and good balance. Why couldn't he perform any good jumps?

"You weren't high enough," commented Ashley. "Try staying in the air longer."

"What? I was two metres high!"

"Two feet, more like."

Craig showed him how the 'professionals' did it. He took his own board to the end of the runway. His right leg started pumping. He increased speed. Approaching the ramp, he bent down low, preparing to leap. Take off! His left leg lifted, his right foot flicked the edge down. The board swivelled in mid-air, almost in slow-motion. He made a perfect landing, then screeched to a halt, grinning at the others.

"See? It's easy."

'I hate him,' thought Danny. 'If it's that easy, then why can't I do it?' He liked the others in his gang - they spent a lot of time together, but everything fell apart when they got out their skateboards. Craig must have been born riding that board; Ashley seemed to learn a new trick just by seeing it done once. Sandip was the joker; he kept making mistakes, and didn't seem to mind. But Danny was frustrated. He wanted to fit in by showing them he was good at something.

"Maybe your board's too heavy," suggested Sandip. He picked up Danny's board and his own, weighing them in his hands. "Uh oh . . . I think I've spotted something . . ."

"What?"

"It's your board. It's not American! Look!"

They all inspected the writing on Danny's board, which proclaimed it was 'Made in China'.

"So what? Everything's made in China nowadays!"

"Not the really good skateboards," replied Sandip. "The best ones are American. That's where skateboarding started." He paused. "Stands to reason, doesn't it?"

Danny wasn't sure, but the others were sadly nodding. Maybe they were right. Maybe he needed an American board to be really good, and part of the gang. Where could he get one?