Putting on airs: Soldotna skate park hosts competition

Posted: Monday, October 18, 2010

Three point star. Switch heel flip. One hander, no footer. These types of moves are for a different type of athlete.

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Photo By Brielle Schaeffer
Photo By Brielle Schaeffer
Jake Graham gets some air while riding in the Soldotna Bike and Skate challenge, sponsored by Mayor Peter Micciche and the City of Soldotna.

As Kenai Central and Soldotna high schools duked it out at Anchorage Football Stadium Saturday for the small-schools championship, local skateboarders and BMX riders had their own face-off in the Soldotna Bike and Skate Challenge at the skate park.

"I felt like I had a fever at the end of that. It's not as easy as it looks," said Rhoades Warner, 14, who skated Saturday. "I messed up a few easy tricks."

But Warner's nerves didn't ruin his chances. He took first place in the skateboard competition, which got him a T-shirt and some prize money.

He said he's hoping to be a pro skater someday. Maybe by the time he's 23.

"'Cause I love skateboarding," Warner said.

His buddy, Henry Young, 14, said there could have been more competition for the skateboarders. He got third place but only four boys entered to skate.

Young said he quit playing football when he started skating. He hopes to be a pro skater someday too and move to California when he gets out of high school.

"We haven't really competed in any competitions because there haven't been any," Young said.

And that's why the Bike and Skate Challenge was sponsored by Soldotna Mayor Peter Micciche and the city of Soldotna. Micciche said he wanted to give these guys something more organized to do.

"The community spends all kinds of money on other organized sports but these kids are athletes just like football, basketball and baseball players," he said.

He said he would ultimately like to get an indoor bike and skate park in Soldotna so there's something to do year-round.

Micciche said he also had another reason to put it on: to try and de-stigmatize the activity.

"I wanted to showcase their sport," he said. "These kids are polite and just as nice as any other kid in the community."

And he should know. Micciche said he's been known to skate.

"I skateboarded as a kid and people looked at you as if there's something negative about the sport," he said.

It's a generational thing, according to Micciche. If there's a sport that did not exist in the previous generation it's looked at with disdain by the older folks.

But the BMX riders and skaters do not seem to mind that at all. They just want to do their tricks.

"I come here to have fun. It's the best place to hang," said Riley Edwards, 15, who rode his bike.

He said people used to smoke or fight at the skate park in Soldotna but not anymore.

Edwards said he wanted to compete in the challenge because he goes to the skate park everyday.

"I'm learning new tricks and hanging out with my friends here," he said.

Eighteen-year-old Jake Graham won first place in the BMX 17 and older category for his back flips and air out cancan, a trick where one foot is kicked over the frame of the bicycle while in the air.

"I love riding. It's my life," he said.

Brielle Schaeffer can be reached at brielle.schaeffer@peninsulaclarion.com.

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