When Wasilla resident Ben Boss back flips on his scooter he looks like a top spinning through the air, whipping around in a flurry of colors.
He said it’s easy.
The 3rd Annual Soldotna Bike, Skate and Scoot competition on Saturday at the Soldotna Skate Park is the 16-year-old’s third competition since the he started scootering two years ago.
He stood under a blue sky with his two friends next to a row of golden trophies.
“Ben,” he said, poking the first place trophy on the table. “Ryley,” poking the second. “Jeremiah,” poking the third.
“I’m going for first but I’ll probably get second,” his friend Ryley McAtee said. “Ben’s a lot better than me because he flips.”
McAtee has been scootering for six or seven months, the 15-year-old Kenai resident said, and he was surprised when his friend first threw a back flip.
But McAtee thinks there is a chance to snatch first from Boss — and so does his friend.
“Ben may be able to flip, but (Ryley’s) got some tricks on him,” said 14-year-old Tristan Warner, of Kenai.
Either way, McAtee was nervous, though he said his pre-competition-jitters always help him perform.
“It forces me to throw more stuff,” he said, “scary stuff.”
From in the park, Boss spun a back flip off the tabletop jump.
The competitions started several years ago when residents started to complain about the number of skaters at the mall, City of Soldotna Mayor Peter Micciche said.
So Micciche met with them to negotiate a compromise. He said if they stick to the skate park, the city would host the competitions.
“It went from 60 police calls (the first year at the mall) to 25 the next year,” Micciche said. “And this summer we’ve had zero calls.”
And the community supports the competition; Micciche said 13 local business and organizations have donated several thousand dollars for this year’s competition.
“By showing that we believe in these kids ... they’re going to excel,” he said.
Over 70 people sifted about the small skate park, some rolling on scooters, some on skateboards, others on bikes and many spectating on foot.
After Micciche selected a panel of judges, the skaters started.
Silver Flowers, 11, of Soldotna, rolled out second on his skateboard.
He manualed over the tabletop in the center of the park, then rolled back and popped a hand-grab 180 off the corner of the tabletop.
After his first run he stood on the sidelines, watching the competition.
“I come here and practice all day,” he said. “I was thinking about (starting) BMX, but BMX is too hard. So I’m just going to stick with skating.”
He said he has been working on grinding the rail, but he hasn’t been able to land it yet.
“I have fallen but not injured myself,” he said.
After the skaters, the scooterers went, then the bikers.
At the end of the competition Flowers had won first in the 12-and-under category, and in the intermediate-advanced scooter category — McAtee scored first over Boss, who placed second, and Jeremiah Wild, of Wasilla, third.
Kenai residents Logan Grant, Henry Young and Rhoads Warner won first, second and thrid, respectivly, in 13-16 year-old skate categories. In the 17 and older skate category Erin Hogan, of Wasilla; Dylan Pery, of Nikiski; Bryan Ducharme, of Palmer, won first, second and thrid, respectivly.
Brodie Perking, of Soldotna, won first in the beginner-intermediate scooter category, and Jacob Schooley, of Soldotna, and Tim Zoda, of Kenai, won second and third, respectivly.
In the beginner BMX 12-and-under category Brock Sarks, of Soldotna, won first. Jacob Bradley, of Soldotna, won second, and Luke Sarks, of Soldotna, won third.
In the 13-16 year-old intermediate category Garret Fitt, of Kenai, won first. Soldotna’s Duke Hardcastle won second, and Hunter Bourgeois, also of Soldotna, won third.
In the 17 year-old an up category Soldotna residents Jake Graham won first, throwing several backflips; Mike McNabb won second, and Travis Bittick won third.
“We will be here next year to ensure that it continues to be an annual event,” Micciche said.
Dan Schwartz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.