Boarders and skaters compete at the pipeline

Posted: Sunday, October 19, 2003

Amid a cloud of reverberating music, skateboarders slammed their boards against the floor of the Pipeline skate park to show their appreciation of good tricks during a competition Saturday.

This isn't your dad's golf game with whispering commentators.

Twenty-four skateboarders and seven in-line skaters from age 12 to adults paid $10 to compete in the event at the city-owned, volunteer-built skate park off Glacier Avenue, near Egan Drive and Mendenhall Loop Road.

Competitors were judged, not on specific criteria, but more loosely for their style, creativity and "landing big tricks," said Gretchen Boone of the Juneau-based Web site, which was one of the event's sponsors.

The competitors skated several at a time but were judged individually. The top three in each category then performed alone for shorter periods.

"You're just out there skating like you would usually with five or six of your friends," said James Johnson of "It's more relaxed."

Skaters organize three competitions each summer. Saturday's event was a couple of months later than usual. Kristi West, the city's manager of the Zach Gordon Youth Center downtown, also oversees the Pipeline. She was on hand to see that every competitor wore a helmet.

"Once the event starts, we pop all their helmets on their heads," she said before firing up the barbecue grill.

Otherwise, the event was run by skaters.

The Pipeline features steep curved ramps at either end, interrupted by narrow ledges in places, and in the middle less steep ramps and metal rails. A large, deep wooden bowl at the upraised end of the Pipeline wasn't used in the contest.

"I guess I did pretty good," said Mike Jerue, a 16-year-old in-liner skater. Results are announced only at the day's end.

"The night before I just plan everything out. The next morning I just go for it," he said. In the hardest trick he tried, he held onto the front of a skate and did a front flip.

For Jerue, the pleasure is in the "adrenaline rush afterwards. As much air as I can get - it feels like I'm flying."

Skateboarder Joe Schmidt, 10, said he doesn't plan his tricks.

"I just come here early and I practice for a while," he said.

He learns his tricks by watching others and from skateboarding computer games.

Norman Flood III, a 15-year-old in-line skater, was one of the more athletic contestants.

Head down, he ran in big strides up to a steep ramp and flung himself down it, took flight over a lesser ramp and planted his skates on the side wall for a moment before continuing to the other side of the Pipeline.

In another run, he flew over kids sitting on a ledge above a ramp and crouched above them on the wall before flying down the ramp. It's called the wall stall.

"It's very hard. I was, like, seven feet high," he said.

"It's just me," Flood said of his physical style.

For competitions he looks for "hard and big tricks, beyond my skill level," he said. "I skate every day as long as I can. It's just a lot of fun. You also get to meet a ton of people."

Other sponsors of the event were the city, the Poseidon and Boaderline Alaska shops,, and MANIKskateboards.

• Eric Fry can be reached at

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