Can’t wait to drop into the pool |

Can’t wait to drop into the pool

Shauna Farnell

Jumping into the pool takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to skateboarding.

Skating isn’t just all about quarter ramps, hand plants and ollies anymore, and Summit County young people whiling away their hours practicing on the driveway this summer are just a small group who could benefit from professional skateboarding instruction and skate camps.

“Being skaters was something we devoted our lives to,” said Greg Davis, who, along with Angus Morrison, started Summit Skate Coaches two summers ago.

“There’s always somewhere to go to skate,” he said. “It’s just fun to roll around on that funny little stick.”

Both Davis and Morrison have a history of skateboarding that goes back almost 20 years. They’ve seen interest in the sport ebb and flow, and skateboard technology go from heavy hammer-head boards with huge ramp wheels, to thin boards with tiny, marble-sized wheels, to today’s models, which fall somewhere in between and accommodate skaters making the most of new park features, as well as those that stick to the street.

“When I started skating in about 1985, street skating was something you did for fun,” Morrison said. “Ramp skating was taken way more seriously. In the 90s, boards got skinny and wheels got small. I was just appalled at what skateboarding had become. Now, there’s a resurgence in both new school and old school skating. The old school style really brought me back into it. It’s totally unlimited now. Everything has merged. You can do a kick flip, a hand plant and a kick flip hand plant. No one had thought about that before.”

Like snowboarders, skateboarders have historically carried with them a bad reputation that has only recently begun to fade. Skateboarders say it was most noticeable in the early 90s when businesses put up “No Skateboarding’ signs in parking lots and strip malls throughout the country, yet community leaders balked at installing skate parks due to insurance issues.

“We were always the rebellious types,” Davis said of himself and fellow old-school skaters. “We were trying to rebel against mainstream sports. A lot of guys my age (early 30s) really got into skate parks, but in order to build a park you have to cover it under some municipality and they became insurance liabilities. A lot of skate parks closed in the late 80s. In the last five years, things have changed and there’s probably 20 new skate parks in Colorado. And what’s so great about them is, they’re not limited to skateboards. You see bikes and inline skating. It’s great for parents and kids because it’s a place for them to go that’s not just out in front of the 7-Eleven.”

Skate parks have undergone an evolution of their own. Gone are the ramps and here are the “pools” – the large concrete bowls that riders can drop into like a halfpipe, and also accelerate on, “pumping and carving” along the walls. The bowl has come to dominate the park, and also serves as an intimidation target for newcomers.

“In 1999, our new (Breckenridge) skate park was finished,” Davis said. “They put a good amount of money into this new pool. It was a beautiful thing. I got back into skating because this new park was built in my town. I’d skate the pool with friends and saw kids around the park delegated to the street area on the other side. They’d never come in, because we were taking it up and they were scared to try it. We wanted to show them how to drop in, pump the wall and carve the corners. We tried to get a program with an instruction format.”

In 2000, Davis and Morrison started Summit Skate Coaches, and offered four-week skate camps for younger skaters as well as group and private lessons for children and adults.

“We cover a lot of basic tricks,” Morrison said. “We start with fundamentals. You have to be able to push, kick-turn and tic-tac back and forth. We do a progression, and (provide) tools.”

No matter the age group, skate coaches say that fear is the biggest barrier in excelling in skateboarding.

“Barriers have nothing to do with anyone’s physical ability at all,” Davis said. “It’s fear…. I mean, we have a 9-foot-deep bowl at Breck that’s 6 feet over some of these kids’ heads. You have to work up to it.

“The fear factor is there. That’s what inhibits a lot of people from continuing to skate.”

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