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Archive for Sunday, March 28, 1999

NEW SKATE PARK ATTRACTS VISITORS AND RAVE REVIEWS

March 28, 1999

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A skateboard contest at Centennial Park's skate park attracted many non-Lawrence skating enthusiasts.

Seventeen-year-old J.P. Redmon took a break from behind the drum kit at Red House Recording in Eudora Saturday afternoon for one of his other favorite pursuits: skateboarding.

As a drummer for Manhattan-based Podstar, he was in the area to record the band's first release. As a skateboard enthusiast, he was at the skate contest at Centennial Skatepark. Redmon placed first in the ninth-and 10th-grade division.

"I heard about this from some local skaters," said Redmon, who travels more than an hour from Manhattan to Lawrence to use the skate park a couple of times a month.

Redmon and other skateboarders in Manhattan hope to change that soon. He's on a committee that's meeting with city leaders there to hash out park plans. Like other skaters, he's tired of business owners running him off their sidewalks.

"We don't have anywhere to go," Redmon said. "It's illegal to skate, like, everywhere. We have to have a place; every town needs a skate park."

If Saturday's crowd is any indication, Lawrence draws a lot of skateboarders from the region. Of the six winners in the two age divisions (ninth- and 10th-grade and seventh- and eighth-grade), all but two live outside Lawrence.

Eighteen students competed in the contest, but many more were on hand to watch their peers grind the rails, pop Ollies and hit the ramps at the park, which the city built on a former tennis court. The park opened in December.

"I like it," said Kenton Smith, a 13-year-old South Junior High student who placed in the younger age division. "It's easy to get around, and there's a lot of space so you can get a lot of speed."

Each of Saturday's contestants had two 60-second runs, which judges rated based on difficulty of tricks, consistency and individual style. Let it Ride, a local skate shop, donated prizes and sponsored the contest, along with the city's Parks and Recreation Department.

"This is the only place there's a skateboard park like this in eastern Kansas," said Ben Tuttle, a Let it Ride employee who lobbied for the skate area in Centennial Park.

Tuttle said Let it Ride will sponsor frequent contests at the park, and cash prizes might be offered.

The winners at Saturdays contest were: Ninth- and 10th-grade division -- first, Redmon, second, Kyle Keller, Topeka, and third, Harold Brandt, Lawrence; seventh- and eighth-grade division -- first, Kenton Smith, Lawrence; second, Brian McKenzie, Topeka; and third, Nathan Deel, Baldwin.

There were no entrants in an 11th- and 12th-grade age division.

-- Chris Koger's phone message number is 832-7126. His e-mail address is ckoger@ljworld.com.

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