Carlos Gonez has eaten asphalt on several occasions. It's one of the hazards of strapping on inline skates and jetting up the mini-ramps and through the street course at Lawrence's skate park.
During one such excursion, when he was practicing daredevilish tricks that sent him airborne, he "accidentally did a back flip and landed on the edge of the ramp" Â gut-first.
The 15-year-old from Eudora threw up for a few minutes and developed a purple 2-by-6-inch bruise. But after a few days, did he head right back out to the park?
"Oh yeah," he said with an adventurous edge to his voice.
Gonez' bold attitude was par for the course Wednesday at the Second Annual Extreme Sports Competition, organized by the Mustard Seed Christian Fellowship youth group. About 40 roller bladers, skateboarders and BMX bikers from Lawrence and surrounding towns flocked to the skate park at 600 Rockledge Road to strut their stunts for judges and spectators.
Contestants had two chances to impress judges with their high-flying antics and were rated on style, accuracy and the difficulty of their run.
Many of the boys said that although the contest was a good chance to show off and compete for prizes, they could take it or leave it. What they really want is long days at the skate park, perfecting their moves through trial and error and getting new ideas by watching friends and other skaters on the rails and ramps.
It doesn't seem to matter to the athletes what the stunts are called Â one boy rattled off a short list that included mute, back side, front side Â just whether they can pull them off. And the rush that comes with nailing a trick apparently counteracts the painful bruises, cuts and even concussions these young acrobats-on-wheels endure.
Mike Castle, a 13-year-old with spiky blond hair from Lansing, explained how his spinning skateboard often connected with his shin.
"I think skateboarding's brutal," he said, lifting the leg of his baggy jeans to reveal a collection of fresh wounds and old scars. "I've already had a concussion."
But once you start getting a sense of balance on the board, Castle said, the tricks get easier.
Andy Simpson, 14, Perry, started skating two years ago and tries to get to Lawrence's skate park as often as he can Â usually every other day.
"It's fun," he said. "You get to come here and show people up."