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A new chapter in skateboarding history

Jason Starr

BRECKENRIDGE – It’s a skateboarding revival this weekend in Breckenridge.

Not that the sport ever went away. It’s been a consistent force in alternative sportstyles since the early Southern California days. But the racing side of it fell from the compass about 25 years ago, giving way to ollies, vert ramps and skate parks – the more popular, progressive aspects of the skateboarding.

But Saturday and today, the slalom boards return, part of a new tour with an old idea. And all the original speed demons are here.

“Back then it was a new vibe,” said Paul Dunn, who was successful as a racer in the 1970’s and now, at 41, rules the road again. “Now it’s a revisit to that. That’s why people dig it. There’s a nostalgia thing.”

Colorado was at the center of skateboard racing in the late 70’s. There was a tour called Another Roadside Attraction (ARA) that held races in Breckenridge, Frisco and Vail during the summer months. A skier named Peter Camaan was the promoter, and the tour held a race on the very hill – at the corner of Four O’Clock and King’s Crown road – on which Saturday’s giant slalom was held.

“It’s a skater-friendly town,” Dunn said of Breckenridge. “It has the right hills and environment.”

The ARA became obsolete in 1978 when riders starting taking their boards into pools and halfpipes. Racing quickly became retro, and the skating media gave up on it.

“The magazines ignored it as soon as pool riding and ramp skating came along,” said Jack Smith, who raced in Breckenridge as a teen-ager.

Smith was at the center of the revival of a national slalom tour this year. It started last spring, when he organized a large competition in Morro Bay, Calif., one of the original racing hotbeds. After getting interest from racers all over the world through the internet, Smith decided to call his contest the World Championship.

This year, it has grown into a multi-stop tour with events in California, Colorado, Oregon and Wyoming.

The tour, called Fat City Racing, has allowed the original racers to relive their youths, renew old rivalries and rekindle old friendships. It’s also provided a push for the sport to have a better fate in its second incarnation.

“The Morro Bay (competition) was a reunion,” Smith said. “We hadn’t seen some of those people in 20 years.”

For Dunn, it’s allowed him to have a second shot at beating some of the guys he never could as a kid. All the sport’s legends are still involved, from former world champ John Hutson to world speed record holder (78 miles per hour) Roger Hickey.

“It’s such a sweet revenge,” Dunn said. “I can kick (Hutson’s) ass in slalom. He was the man.”

But the organizers are being more savvy about the sport now. They realize it needs new blood to survive.

“People are taking a little more mature approach to it,” Dunn said. “You can’t just have a bunch of old guys doing it. To have a future, you have to get new skaters. We have matured to become kind of the care takers. We know how it works and what elements are involved in putting on a good event.”

Part of that is exposure, and today’s event will take place downtown on Adams Avenue, so passers-by can see what it’s all about.


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