Enthusiasts heed call of blogosphere on Go Skateboard Day

Photo by Gretel Daugherty—Six-year-old Beau Decker clings to the fingers of his father, Kevin, as his dad teaches him how to skateboard at the skate park at Eagle Rim Park on Tuesday. Beau’s big brother, Drew, 8, was off riding on his own around the park. Kevin Decker said that he has skateboarded for 25 years, and although the family has skateboarding equipment in their backyard, it was a special treat for the boys to go to the skate park where the big skaters were.
BELOW: Kyle Eggen, 14, of Grand Junction skates around a painted bowl at Eagle Rim Park.

Dozens of guys, from elementary-school-age to 20-somethings, spun around local skate parks Tuesday, dropping into smooth concrete bowls to spring up on the other side, carried along only by their boards on wheels.

The day marked the first of summer but had more meaning for those who live to practice kick flips and pop shove-its. Under marshmallow clouds and sapphire skies in the Grand Valley, June 21 also lit up the blogosphere as the day skateboarders everywhere heeded the call to jump onto their skateboards in celebration of Go Skateboarding Day.

“We skate every day,” said 14-year-old Kyle Eggen, surrounded by friends at the skate park at Eagle Rim Park on Orchard Mesa. “We like to try new stuff. If you stay with what you’ve got, you don’t get any better.”

Some say skateboarding, which began gaining popularity in the 1950s, has edged into the mainstream realm. Fans now fill massive football-sized stadiums to watch events as skaters continue to create new tricks pushing physical boundaries, feats broadcast worldwide on ESPN.

Kevin Decker of Grand Junction has been skateboarding for about 25 years, since he was 14. On Tuesday, he was at the skate park on Orchard Mesa teaching his children, Beau, 6, and Drew, 8, some basic moves. He wonders whether his children will take to the sport as he did.

“I’ve never lost my love for it,” he said. “Kids may get their driver’s licenses and may take a few years off, but you go back to it for physical impact and personal growth.”

Decker started skating before skateboard parks began popping up in most cities as an outlet for skateboarders to the ply their tricks, and in hopes of keeping skaters out of busy downtown streets.

But the building of skate parks is a double-edged sword, he said.

“I’m a pedestrian and a skater, and I don’t want to be run over by a skateboarder,” he said. “But it’s really neat when you find an object that is skate-able. It’s a discovery-type thing.”

Upon meeting this reporter, one of the first pleas from young skateboarders was the need for a new skate park with “rails and steps.”

Westlake Skatepark at First Street and Orchard Avenue, built in 1998,  is so outdated and notorious for being lumpy that skateboarders ride at the park just to say they’ve done it, they say. The terrain there has become more popular with BMX riders than skateboarders.

Creating a more modern park to rival those found in Rifle and Montrose would draw more professionals and even increase tourism, skaters said.

Recently-opened Junktown Sk8 Co, 1121 North Ave., has thrilled skateboarders with former sponsored rider D.J. Klamfoth as the owner.

“There’s a scene here,” he said. “There’s a lot of skate kids here. There always has been since the ‘80s.”

Klamfoth said more extreme sports like skateboarding are trumping traditional sports like football and baseball. More people are getting into riding longboards, a longer, wider version of the skateboard that is easier to ride.

“People are taking more of a risk every time they’re out there,” Klamfoth said. “Skateboarding is pushing limits.”


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