Archive for Sunday, May 21, 2006

Spills and thrills in abundance at competition

More than 40 participants strut their stuff at Lawrence skateboard contest

May 21, 2006


In a white-collared shirt and khaki pants, Taylor Brown was about as well-dressed as a 13-year-old could hope to be on a Saturday morning at the park.

Until the blood began leaking through.

"Yeah, I took my shirt off," Brown said, resting his skateboard under his foot. "It got blood all over it."

The elbow scrape didn't bother Brown much - it is skateboarding, after all, and the name of the game at the Lawrence Skateboard Competition at Centennial Park was, of course, winning.

But before the more than 40 competitors hit the concrete course at the park, southeast of Sixth Street and Rockledge Road, coordinators from the Safe Kids Douglas County coalition gave the riders tips on skating safely - or, short of that, how to bandage their buddies when accidents happen.

Coordinator John Drees said it's a different approach from the previous four years of the event. Before, he said, they would try to convince kids to wear helmets, even giving them away.

But the results didn't pan out.

"This age group can be so tough," Drees said.

Plus, Drees said, serious head injuries were extremely rare at the park. But ankle and arm injuries happened all the time.

So this year, Drees and other volunteers showed kids how to use the things they found around them - sticks, tree bark, etc. - as splints for broken bones.

But there was no need for the training Saturday. All the riders here needed were the goods that came with victory, and they rode like it.

"Some of these tricks get pretty impressive," Benson Antholz said from his post at the judges table.

Antholz and the other four judges - most from the Hays-based White Chocolate skateboard shop, which has a store at 1005 Mass. and was one of many sponsors of the event - took note of technicality, originality and sometimes flat-out wackiness when gauging riders.

Most made impressions, especially in the advanced competition later in the afternoon.

But often, winning takes a bit of luck. And the help of your buddies.

In the opening moments of the second of his two runs during the heat, Jake Zacharias, 18, missed his first trick.

He didn't miss much after that. Using the park's concrete boxes and rails, Zacharias hit on trick after trick - until his final attempt at a kickfilp-to-railslide maneuver on the park's concrete stairs.

He had never landed anything close to it before, he said. But, like all riders, he wanted to win. So, he thought, why not?

"Ten seconds left!" Antholz yelled over the public address system.

Standing at the back of the stairs, he took a run at it. It was close, for sure, but when he hit the rail the board launched out from under him.

He raced back up and tried it again. And again. But still, the board just wouldn't come down with him.

The judges gave him one last shot at it before pulling the plug on what had been a solid run.

So one last time, Zacharias leapt, his board flipping underneath him. But where it would wobble and fall before, this time it stuck. He hit the rail, sliding down the last few feet.

Then he landed. The crowd erupted.

Boards clacked against the ground - the equivalent of the riders' applause - as his friends mobbed him on the course.

"Those are all my boys," Zacharias said.

Minutes later, he had a new skateboard, gear, stickers, the works. Zacharias won.

"That's the first time I've ever done that," he said later. "It was lucky."


Nate Poell 12 years ago

Sounds like it was quite a bit of fun. I didn't see any notice of the competition -- hopefully it'll be a bit more publicized next year. Keep at it Safe Kids Douglas County Coalition.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.