With snow flakes showing amongst heavy rain on the Kenai Peninsula the day before the scheduled 3rd Annual Bike, Skate, & Scoot Challenge at Soldotna Skate Park many believed this year’s event might have to be postponed. But as darkness fell a harvest moon shown through the clouds and by morning the sun rose into clear blue skies giving over 70 young athletes the day they had been practicing and waiting for all year. A day for them to show their abilities, skills and tricks on wheels of all sizes to an appreciative audience young and old, purple and grey hair alike. “Stuntsters” from as far away as Wasilla and Palmer turned out at Soldotna Skate Park to show their skills and get a chance at a trophy. “I’ve been practicing for the last seven months. Last year I took second and I was upset but there were really some good kids out there riding and I wanted to do better so I figured I’d step up my game and brought it back and the scooters have too, they’re doing back flips, flares and stuff I wouldn’t even have imagined seeing on a scooter,” said 17 and older bike champion Jake Graham of Soldotna.
In an interview with the Dispatch Graham said, “I love riding, it’s my life and I’ve done it for going on about 12 years now and it’s really great to get a bunch of kids together with positive motivation and everyone helping each other to do their best. Even though this is an individual sport, we’re like a team.” Graham was excited with his first place finish, but he had to fight off a wrist injury and a couple of crashes to claim his title. “I’ll be back next year, I don’t know if I’ll be back when I’m as old as the Mayor, but he looked pretty good out there today and gave it his all,” added Graham referring to Soldotna Mayor Peter Micciche’s exhibition ride. “I ended up on the ground a couple of times and the only reason I considered it was that during a promotion of this event we some folks challenge me to ride and backed it up with hundreds of dollars to sponsor the event so I did it for the kids and it was painful, but it worked out,” said Micciche.
The event sponsored by the City of Soldotna and other contributors was the idea of Mayor Micciche, “We started meeting with the kids who were upsetting vendors at the Mall and elsewhere because of liability issues with them skating on private property and we made a deal with the kids to invest in the park here and sponsor events for them to work toward and the first year we went from 80 some police calls down to 30 something the second and this year we haven’t had a single from the mall. So the kids have kept their end of the bargain and not only that they are taking care of the park and proving that they are just as athletic as any other of the teams that we support and it’s great that the community has gotten behind them and come to support what they do so well,” said Micciche.
Judges were selected from among peers of the skaters, scooters and bikers and they took each event as seriously as any Olympian. When the scores were tabulated in the 12 and under Skateboard competition it was Silver Flower of Soldotna taking 1st place, in the 13-16 age group Logan Grant was 1st, Henry Young 2nd, and Rhoads Warner
3rd all three skaters from Kenai. For the skateboarders 17 and over it was Erin Hogan of Wasilla coming in 1st, Dylan Perry of Nikiski 2nd and Bryan Ducharme of Palmer 3rd.
In the Beginner/Intermediate Scooter event Brodie Perking of Soldotna took 1st Place honors, Jacob Schooley 2nd and Tim Zoda of Kenai was 3rd. The Intermediate/Advanced championship went to Ryley McAtee of Kenai, 2nd was Ben Boss of Wasilla and 3rd Jeremiah Wild also from Wasilla.
In the Beginner BMX, 12 and under, Bike competition Brock Sarks was 1st, Jacob Bradley 2nd and Luke Sarks 3rd, all from Soldotna. In the Intermediate 13-16 year olds, Garret Fitt of Kenai took 1st, Duke Hardcastle 2nd and Hunter Bourgeois of Soldotna 3rd. In the Advanced over 17 year old championships it was Jake Graham in 1st, Mike McNabb 2nd and Travis Bittick in 3rd all from Soldotna. Sponsors for this year’s event included the City of Soldotna, The Micciche Family, Everybody Rides, Tesoro Alaska, ConocoPhillips, Davis Block, Duane Bannock, The Schooley Family, Dan Gensel, Brenda Hartman, Wade Hutchings, Regal Foods, The Tribe, Beemun’s, Larry Semmens and Jane Stein.