At the Breckenridge skate park, young skaters thrown down for a photo shoot | SummitDaily.com

At the Breckenridge skate park, young skaters thrown down for a photo shoot

The sun was almost too bright that morning.

"It keeps shining in my eyes," Blaze Ebbinghaus said as he put a hand to the brim of his skate helmet. He must have been wearing a flat-brim hat underneath — this wasn't a cheesy plastic brim — but even that wasn't enough to block the high and already warm June sun early on a lush Friday, one of the first this summer. The 12-year-old Summit County local looked up again, squinted with his hand on the brim, and then picked up his deck for another try.

Earlier that week I had talked with Jimmy Leaphart, one of three coaches at the Breck summer skateboard camps, to arrange a photo shoot at the park. Well, not really a shoot — I was writing an article and needed a few cool photos of the youngest skaters in town — but, as soon as I arrived, that's what it became. I'd brought a GoPro and DSLR camera to the park that morning, and you'd better believe the kids were ready to put on a show when the lenses came out.

Ebbinghaus walked up a concrete ramp and past a staircase with a low, black handrail, two additions at the one-year-old Breckenridge skate park. The park, found just steps from the front door of the rec center on Airport Road, is filled with plenty of photo-friendly concrete — bowls, ledges, ramps, a snake-like flow line — and steel — handrails, tubes, a bona fide mining cart — for skaters of any age to throw down. At about 10 a.m., a few early birds joined Ebbinghaus and the rest of the summer youth skateboard camp for laps through the small bowl. One even brought an old speaker to blast equally old thrash metal. Friday at the Breck park.

Rock and roll shoot

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I waited for Ebbinghaus to try the ledge again and started fiddling with the GoPro, finding the right angle so it wasn't in the frame of the photograph.

"Hey, hey!" I heard and looked away from the DSLR viewfinder to see a blonde mass of helmet hair. It was 7-year-old Luca, a camp skater even younger than Ebbinghaus but just as bold — and just as ready for the camera.

"Want to get me dropping in?" Luca asked, then beamed. "No, want to get my rock and roll? I can rock and roll."

Luca was hard to miss: bright yellow-green shirt, gray helmet with Independent Trucks sticker, that surfer-blonde hair. And so of course I wanted to see him drop in — bright colors make for great photos. So does enthusiasm, and these kids have bowls-full after just three days of camp. For some, the Monday before was their first time on a skateboard, and, by Friday, everyone was rolling with ease through the mellow ramps and already starting to drop into the bowls. It's like the progression from falling leaf to carving on a snowboard: one comes before the other, and then everything follows from there.

While Ebbinghaus continued to practice, I followed Luca to one of the park's three concrete bowls. This one was a modified pool, with one true bowl and one squared-off ledge. Luca went to the ledge and set up on the coping while I went to the opposite end. The plan: Luca would skate to me, push his front wheel over the coping (hopefully in front of my camera), and then ride back down the ramp backwards, or fakie. Watch any pro skater sometime and you'll see them do the same on a halfpipe, only with a bit more flair. But, for a 7-year-old, simply getting the trick is enough.

"They pick this up really quickly," said Ginger Ebbinghaus, Blaze's mom and the most veteran camp coach with 14 years of coaching know-how. "With the little ones it can be amazing because they are so low to the ground. If they get their feet in the right place, they can skate ju8st about anything."

"Are you watching?" Luca yelled to me from across the bowl. I nod and go eye to viewfinder. Luca drops, I click the GoPro, and, suddenly, his eyes veer away from the cameras. They fix on the coping — his goal — and he clicks the front wheels over…and gets stuck.

"I'll get it," he said after sliding down the ramp to the flat, board in hand. He ran back to the opposite ledge and I followed. If nothing else, this time I'll get him dropping in from up close. These kids are ready for their close-up, but their tricks aren't quite perfected.

I line up behind Luca and he drops, rolling down the ramp, across the flat and onto the opposite coping — pause — before turning his eyes back to me (but not the cameras). He wobbles and then rides it out. Rock and roll, accomplished.

"Woo!" Luca yells with closed eyes. "Did you get it?"

Ledge shoot, continued

I leave Luca and the bowl to see how young Ebbinghaus is doing at the ledge. We got a few good photos of his ollie on to ollie drop earlier, and now he was working with his ollie on to kickflip out. The drop is about 3.5 feet — a foot taller than Ebbinghaus — and he hadn't landed it quite yet. He's older than the rest and tends to practice on his own, but only because he's been skating for years thanks to mom. She didn't pick it up until she started snowboarding in her 20s — and fell in love. You'd better believe her son had a jump start.

"It's a fun way to watch them progress," mom Ebbinghaus said. "And I really do love hanging out with the kids, being outside, being at the skate park in the summer. It's a way to help them enjoy the sport of skateboarding as much as I do."

Like his mom, Ebbinghaus enjoys skating. He might not be as go-go-go as Luca — for one he's older — but he's just as committed to sticking a new trick. He tried once, tried twice, tried a third time, tried a fourth time and took a break. (It didn't happen that day.)

"I'll get it," he said and looked up at the sun again, one hand to the brim. "It's still really bright."

Breckenridge skateboarding programs

Ready to test your mettle on the concrete bowls and mining cart ledges of the Breckenridge skate park? Get the basics first. Here’s a look at the youth skate programs held this summer through the Breckenridge Recreation Center. To register for any, call the rec at (970) 547-4324 or online at http://www.townofbreckenridge.com.

All-day skate camp

Good for: Anyone and everyone who wants to skate with a veteran coach. Be sure to bring a lunch — the day at the skate park lasts all day. Pads, helmet and board available for rental $5 per day.

When: Mondays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Lil’ Shredders

Good for: Ages 4-5 years old for basic, basic skills like pushing, rolling in and dropping in. Skateboard, helmet and board rental $20 per session.

When: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Summer skateboard camp

Good for: Ages 4-5 years old for basic, basic skills like pushing, rolling in and dropping in. Skateboard, helmet and board rental $20 per session.

When: Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Private skate lessons

Good for: Anyone who wants to rip the concrete bowls at Breck like coach Jimmy Leaphart, or advanced skaters stumped on the next trick.

When: Call to schedule

Cost: $35 per hour for first person, $5 per additional