PALMER — For the first time in history, Palmer crowned a champion of the skateboarding community.
In an event sponsored by 203 Kombucha and David Boortz, who co-owns a skateboarding company, skaters showed up to smash the send button and crowned Nate Foster as their champion.
The Aug. 17 Best Trick Competition of 11 skaters was the first skate competition in the short history of the small skatepark in Palmer, but surely not the last. Boortz was pleased with the turnout that resulted from minimal advertisement and hopes to make the competition an annual event at the Palmer Skatepark.
“It’s pretty easy to put on and there’s no skate shops here but there is a skate community,” said Boortz.
Skaters were given five attempts in the first heat to land their trick and scored on a scale from one to 10 by three judges. The small group of skaters cheered each other on, slamming their boards into the pavement in approval of their competitors after landing tricks. In the loosely organized competition, Boortz decided to add a second heat following the first round of competition.
Mike Schelling was the first skater to go big in the first heat. Schelling approached the bench at the skatepark and vaulted on top of the rail, crooked grinding all the way down the bench before completing a half rotation of his board before landing. Schelling was close on each of his first four attempts, but stuck the landing on the fifth attempt and rode away in slouch with a smile on his face. From that point, the competition heated up. Solomon Harris took his trick vertically, attempting to stand on the wheels of his board atop the vertical quarterpipe. Abandoning the finesse and going with a flair for the dramatic, Harris abandoned his first trick idea and improvised. Harris climbed the quarterpipe and stood atop the railing around the edge, nearly ten feet off the ground. Fearlessly, Harris leapt from the top of the rail, slapped the tail of his board on the coping of the quarterpipe and rode off to a roaring chorus of cheers. Eventual Champion Nate Foster started his time off by foreshadowing what was to come in later rounds, executing his trick with smooth technical accuracy. Foster ollied up onto the bench seat and performed a lip slide, balancing his foot on the front edge of his board and sliding all the way across the table before adding a shuv-it to the end of his trick, completing the half rotation of his board. After landing his trick on the second attempt, he was not yet done. With the small Valley skating community gathered to show each other what they could do, Foster continued on past his fifth attempt, landing an even bigger lipslide on the top of the table. Cody Kubbs was one of the few skaters not intimidated by the verticality of the quarterpipe, attempting and landing a shuv-it on the vertical section of the ramp. Following the first round of skating which lasted just over a half hour, Boortz and his two other judges decided to let the skaters keep skating, seeing who could throw down the biggest trick. Uriah Martinez was first to compete in the second heat, attempting a massive jump and grind that he was unable to complete. Without the pressure of his fellow skaters watching his attempt, Martinez landed a cray flip as he was retreating to his starting position, which the judges saw and counted. Martinez was awarded fifth place. Schelling also came out with his best trick in the second round, throwing a 360 flip on his first attempt. Schelling was awarded third place. Harris was determined to land the trick he attempted in the first round, and his determination paid off. Harris picked up as much speed as possible and stalled his board atop the vertical quarterpipe. Harris then miraculously maneuvered his board onto it’s side and stood on top of the wheels, balancing his toes over the wood with his heels hanging over the backside of his wheels. Taking his time to achieve perfection, Harris wriggled his board back and forth and was able to safely reengage with the coping and ride away, which was good enough for second place. While Harris’ creativity marveled the judges and skaters alike, the competition was not for the most interesting trick, but the best trick. Foster took that to heart, landing his best trick which was not technically a trick at all. Foster stood at the back end of the pavement against the fence, anxiously awaited by his fellow competitors. After laying his wheels down on the pavement and giving the three hardest kicks he could, Foster hit the ramp in front of the picnic table and simply jumped over it. What may sound simple on paper is much less easily done on four wheels and a piece of wood. Foster soared more than six feet in the air, clearing the entire picnic table and landing safely on his skateboard after landing his massive jump.
“That was amazing man! I love that. I’m going to be honest though, I kind of inspired this guy to do that trick,” said Harris of Foster.
Though he had clearly just put the competition out of reach for the other competitors, none of the other skaters were disappointed that Foster would be the one to win. Quite to the contrary, the small crowd of dedicated skateboarders and skateboarding enthusiasts erupted into mayhem, yelling, screaming, and throwing their hands in the air at what they had just seen.
Most of the skaters competing in the Best Trick Competition were part of a dedicated group of local skateboarders with few options for perfecting their skills. Most of the 11 competitors were also Valley residents, many making the trip across the Valley from Wasilla to compete. While Foster had put into action the phrase “go big or go home,” he felt that his trick was just another regular day at the park skating with his friends.
“It’s just skating with the homies. We all push each other, that’s really all,” said Foster. “It was just another day skating with the homies.”