Vying for victory
Locals Dane Leonard, Robby Salas and Dylan Stelck are to skateboarding what a gym rat is to basketball ” with Truckee Skate Park serving as their gym.
And with the mass accumulation of hours spent in the local park, logic says they have the edge over the field at the fifth Fly Freeride skate contest at Truckee River Regional Park Saturday, where skaters from California, Nevada and Oregon will compete for $1,000 in cash and $5,000 in prizes.
Leonard, who said he spends part of nearly every day in the park, expects nothing less than a couple first-place finishes to add to his collection.
“My goal is to win it again, straight up,” said Leonard, a 23-year-old Truckee resident and winner of last year’s open class and best trick. “I’m pretty much going to be disappointed if I get second place.
“And if I lose best trick I’ll be disappointed, as well. I’ve got high hopes for myself, and I better live up to them.”
About that best trick stored up his sleeve: “I can’t say anything yet,” Leonard said. “You’ve got to wait for the contest. You’ve got to show up to see that.”
Robby Salas, an 18-year-old Truckee High graduate who took first place in his age group (13-17) at last year’s Fly Freeride contest, can often be found in the park, honing skate skills with Leonard. Like Leonard, Salas will be vying for victory Saturday; but he’s not quite as gung ho as his skating acquaintance.
“They’re fun,” Salas said of the annual contest, “but I don’t really like competitions that much. They make me kind of nervous. I do them just because they’re local and I’m skating with my friends usually.”
Friends such as Leonard, who used to give Salas rides to the park before his days of licensed driving, helped him become one of the those elder skaters who the young bucks try to emulate. But Leonard is yet to show him everything.
“Dane’s still got me,” Salas said when prodded to tell who the better skater is. “I’ve learned a lot of tricks from Dane.”
And the bunches of aspiring youths who spend much of their summers mastering each nook and cranny of Truckee Skate Park learn from the big kids, with the big tricks.
Asked which of the dozen or so young skaters in the park Monday afternoon possessed standout potential, Salas immediately pointed to 14-year-old Dylan Stelck, a Truckee resident who placed second in each of the “either three or four” Fly Freeride contests he has entered.
Stelck’s skating ability has been the benefactor in rubbing shoulders with Leonard and Salas.
“Robby and Dane, those guys do really good here,” Stelck said, “and so I try to kind of learn off them. They give me tips now and then.”
Tired of placing second, Stelck is shooting for a win in his age group.
“That’s been my goal,” he said. “I have new tricks and new lines, so hopefully (the contest) will turn out good.”
Stelck keeps his strategy simple: “I try to just go as big as I can while keeping my style.”
Saturday he’ll find out if it works.