While the Soldotna Stars football team was battling to win a state football championship in Anchorage, athletes with a set of different skills were amazing spectators at Soldotna Skateboard and Bike Park during the Soldotna Bike and Skate Challenge. The well-attended event was organized to showcase the abilities and commitment of a group of young people dedicated to the sports of skateboarding and BMX biking. Many community members, parents, grandparents and friends braved a cold, windy morning to cheer on their talented friends and relatives in the event's premier debut.
Spectators began to realize they were in for more than they had expected when they saw Jacob Graham doing 360 degree back flips off the ramp during warm ups. "I've been riding for about 8 years, I love it and this year I decided I'd take it to the top and start busting out the back flips," Graham told the Dispatch. Being the first competition for most of the participants, the pressure factor played a role for most of the rides. This included Graham who still back flipped a perfect 360. "Absolutely, when I went for my first run I found myself freezing up because of the nerves of everyone watching. It's something new to learn in going with the flow," he said. John Wilson who placed first in the 13-16 age category, agreed with Graham's assessment. "I kind of froze up a bit but after awhile I shook it off and got use to riding with the helmet. This experience will really help for the next time," said Wilson.
Coming in 2nd in the 17 and over category was Mike McNab, and Jeremiah Voight was 3rd. Second in the BMX 13-16 age group was KC Hordemann and Jacob Schooley was 3rd. The 12 and under participants seemed fearless, as Piercen Sproul took 1st with Garrett Fit coming in 2nd followed by Henry Young who place 3rd. For the Skateboarders in the general category, Rhoads Warner was the overall winner, with John Daily 2nd and Henry Young 3rd.
Soldotna Mayor Peter Micciche said he got the idea for the event one day while visiting with some of the kids at the Peninsula Center Mall accompanied by his 4-year-old daughter Sophie. "I believe the way to prevent problems that a few kids cause at properties in town is to celebrate what these guys do well and let the 90% guide the few into constructive activities. These kids have talents and can ride and skate with great skill, so we decided to set up the 1st Bike & Skate Challenge and I was very impressed with the turn out. I would like to thank everyone from the community that either helped sponsor the event or lent their in-kind talents to encourage the participants of the competition. Cash and in-kind sponsors included The City of Soldotna, Soldotna Parks and Recreation, Homer Electric Association, Beemun's, ConocoPhillips, Chris Genness, The Redoubt Reporter, Mike Gustkey, Ryan Smith, Councilman Dr. Nels Anderson, Councilman Dale Bagley, Andrew Carmichael, Councilwoman Brenda Hartman, McDonalds, Hey Good Lookin', Shawn and Krista Schooley, Jerry Schooley, Davis Block, Merrill Sikorski, Gamma's Design, John Tabor and Erin and Madi Micciche," said the Mayor.
Micciche added, "I've seen many of the kids that were at the event since last Saturday and they are still 'stoked' by the event and excited that they enjoyed such wide spreadsupport and coverage from the community. If they had any doubt before, these kids now know that our community is engaged in their success through the support of the BMX and skateboarding sports that they love.They know that we care about them!"
You can view more photos of the event on the Peninsula Clarion online SPOTTED Gallery (and post your photos too!) plus read more coverage of the competition through the archived article titled "Putting on Airs" that published October 18th on HYPERLINK "http://www.peninsulaclarion.com" www.peninsulaclarion.com.
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