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Truckee skate park opens

BAY KELLEY, Sierra Sun

For years, skaters have faced a distinct plight: Impassioned by sport, they are given a limited space in which to play. Ramp skaters have been hampered by stringent insurance laws that held ramp owners liable for any injuries, so people were afraid to own ramps.

Street skaters have been accused of excessive property damage and signs forbidding skateboarding popped up in parking lots across the nation … especially the good ones.

It seemed as though there was no legal place to skate. No place where a skater could practice tricks without being harangued by shop owners, cops or do-gooders.

Adolescents in high schools across America were jotting “skateboarding is not a crime” in their journals.

Then, a little more than a year ago, congress passed a law that redefined skateboarding as a “hazardous sport,” placing liability on the individual skater, and parks have been popping up everywhere.

Even in Truckee.

After more than a year of red tape and financial hurdles, the Truckee-Donner Recreation and Park District had the grand opening of its skate park Saturday, much to the delight of a bunch of highly anxious skaters.

“The tension and hype has been building since July, when the park was originally supposed to open,” said Mark Mickey, one of the owners of Totally Board and a strong advocate of the park. “And here we are today. It’s like a dream come true before the snow flies.”

More than a hundred people turned out for the grand opening. Skateboarders ranging in age from four to 30 crowded around the edges of the oddly shaped pool waiting for their chances to drop in.

Skaters soared over the bowls’ metal coping and into the pool’s curved edges, rolling with uninhibited speed through the various transitions offered in the park’s main attraction. The effect was like a three-dimensional spyrograph.

Collisions were as common as concrete burns, but everyone appeared unfettered and polite. Old skaters made room for the younger skaters and each person, for the most part, waited for their respective turns.

The park was regarded by many in attendance at the grand opening to be one of the finest in Northern California and, for that matter, on the west coast.

“This is probably the greatest concrete park in California,” said Duane Vallee, a skater attending the park’s opening. “This park and the ones in Petaluma and Santa Rosa are to skateboarding now what Del Mar and Raging Waters were in the 80’s (both parks considered to be instrumental in the popularity of the sport.)”

Pete Thrasher, an appropriately named skater who attended the event, said that the park is “good clean fun” and that it “keeps kids off the street.”

“I hitchhiked up here to skate and I’m real impressed,” said Chris Kaye, a resident of South Lake Tahoe. “I’ll definitely be back.”

Zack Wormhoudt, a landscape designer from Santa Cruz who is credited with 17 skatepark designs, designed the Truckee facility.

Wormhoudt suggested 12 contractors that had experience building skateparks. Due to the recent rash of skateparks being built, the suggested contractors were unavailable and will be for a few years. This accounted for much of the delay with the park’s completion. The TDRPD was forced to find a qualified concrete contractor able to do the job. Eventually, TDRPD hired Lucky Concrete of Reno to build the park.

The park costed about $170,000, according to Chuck Halladay, TDRPD teen coordinator.

“We’ve spent about half a million dollars for the kids in the Truckee community to give them something to do,” Halladay said, referring to the $300,000 teen center that was also recently built.

Halladay said that the park has rules that were added to local ordinance requiring that helmets, knee pads and elbow pads be worn while riding the bowls. The rules will be enforced and, if not obeyed, could result in up to a $500 fine.

“All we need is a major head injury to ruin it,” Mickey said, condoning the use of pads.

Halladay cited a situation at a San Mateo skate park. The park was free and had liberal hours, but the privileges were abused. Vandalism, littering, trespassing and flouting safety rules resulted in the park being padlocked.

The San Mateo park was recently reopened with a strict set of rules, including a fee to skate and the grounds are constantly supervised. The hours are shorter and there is a proposal to issue identification cards that can be revoked if rules are broken. Only water is allowed at the park.

Halladay is confident that Truckee locals will police themselves.

On Saturday, Nov. 6, weather permitting, Totally Board will sponsor the park’s first skate contest starting at 11 a.m. All ages of all levels of experience are encouraged to come and try to win a variety of products from various companies.


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