Territorial battles heat up at skateparks locally and nationally
The word “jihad” is not to be taken as lightly these days as it once was. It used to be a nice sports cliche, this Muslim call to holy war. People would talk about games between two hated rivals as a “jihad,” and it added color and passion to the description.
Now that “jihad” is being explicitly avowed at the Western world in which we live – by actual Muslims – it’s hard to accept as a sports descriptor. But that didn’t stop Thrasher magazine from publishing an article called “BM Jihad: Keep it in the Dirt.”
Thrasher is a hard-edged skateboarding mag that is the voice of the sport’s most passionate element. The article reflects a skatepark controversy that’s being played out nationally and locally. I know skaters are religious about their sport. But jihad? Maybe before the word was bin Ladenized.
But this isn’t about semantics – it’s a real issue: whether to allow BM bike riders in the concrete bowls normally thought of as the exclusive domain of skateboarders.
In Summit County, the Breckenridge and Frisco parks allow bikers; the Silverthorne one does not.
As of now, BMers wishing to ride Silverthorne have to poach it, which they continue to do, risking a $50 ticket. Silverthorne is, after all, the largest of the three facilities and is most conducive to bikers.
The Thrasher article suggests a sort of frontier justice, territory battles on a park-by-park basis. That scenario occasionally plays out here in the High Country, according to Mauricio Natario of Frisco, who both skates and bikes.
“As soon as there’s a sign saying bikes aren’t allowed, then you have all the skaters on a power trip saying, “get out of here,’ and that’s where the friction starts,” Natario said.
Instead of dealing with the issue on a fight-by-fight basis, Natario and local BMers are taking the high road. They are trying to organize a presentation for the next Silverthorne Town Council meeting, June 12. They will have to convince council to amend Ordinance No. 1999-6, which lays down the ground rules for the Silverthorne skate park, including the no-bikes clause.
It’s a long shot.
This could be seen as a similar situation to the snowboarder-skier debate at ski areas in the 1980s. The difference is that allowing snowboarders was a million-dollar boon for the ski industry, whereas adding bikes to skateparks will do little for a town financially. Also, despite what some people think or say, snowboarding is really very similar to skiing, and the two sports belong on the same terrain.
Not so with skateboarding and BM.
The reason skaters fear this change so much is that bikes are bigger and faster than skateboards. In a collision, guess who wins? What’s more, bikes tend to rough up the cement and metal coping a lot more than skateboards. Then there’s that territorial instinct that’s really more Darwinian than anything, even when it’s not life or death.
Skateparks around the country haven’t figured it out yet. That’s why the policy toward bikers varies so wildly. In Boulder, bikes are allowed from 7-10 a.m. In Denver, there’s a park that allows bikes, but only those without pegs (metal rods attached to wheels used for grinding). Some parks allow bikes unrestricted access, like Breck and Frisco, and some not at all, like Silverthorne.
It’s a battlefield, and the bikers are organizing while the skaters cling to the status quo with
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