Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Board Slides and Big Strides

Sk8terdude is picking up new skills faster than I can pick up the new terminology!

Today he came home from the skatepark and announced that he had "homework."  He needs to practice his boardslides (a new addition to his repertoire) and he needs to practice "pushing switch."

For those of you who don't speak skateboard, a boardslide means he is olleying - jumping his board up onto a rail - and sliding along the rail on the bottom of the skateboard deck with the sets of wheels on either side.  "Switch" means that he is skating with his opposite foot forward.  Usually he skates with his left foot forward and uses his right to push on the ground.  When he skates "switch" he is skating "goofy" with his right foot forward.  When he is "pushing switch" he has his right foot forward and he's using his left foot to push on the ground to gain momentum.

He also dropped in switch today on the two-foot quarterpipe.

Watching skateboarding on television recently (I think it was the Streetleague Seattle competition, but I'm not positive), I heard a commentator say that soon we won't be referring to switch tricks.  They predict that in the near future all pro skaters will be able to skate their tricks in both directions.

Or something like that.

As I mentioned, I'm having enough trouble keeping up with the big strides Sk8terdude is making as a skateboarder.  Also keeping up with advancements in the field might be more than I can handle...

Friday, May 27, 2011

Cast Off...Competition On!

Sk8terdude had his cast removed today.  Hooray!  Of course, since he's been skating the entire time, despite the cast, it isn't a big difference in terms of his activity level, but we are happy to have that stinky, dirty thing gone from his body AND our home.

Now he has both hands completely free again, so he is practicing grabs in anticipation of the June 25th contest coming up at the Graham Dickinson S.P.I.R.I.T. Skate Park.  Complete details will be available next week (I promise!), but in the meantime, mark your calendars.

The competition will include beginner, intermediate, and advance levels for both in-line skating and skateboarding with prizes for first, second, and third place winners in each category.

Raindate is June 26th...but let's hope it's not necessary.

Spread the word and head over to SPIRIT for some practice time at the park.  Tell them Sk8terdude sent you!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Future Skatepark Hopes to Go Green

I was in Milford, Pennsylvania on Monday, where I happened to meet twins Joe and Sam Kelley, who are attempting to build a skatepark in an otherwise skate-deprived land.  (Trust me.  Last summer we took Sk8terdude to the skatepark in Port Jervis, NY when we were heading to see OlderBrother on Visiting Day at camp.  Let's just say that a few ramps and a fun box in an empty parking lot do not a skatepark make...)

The Kelleys have begged and borrowed their way to most of what they need for this park, including land (thanks to a family member).  They hope to bring the Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! motto to skateboarding (and hope to keep the project light on the wallet) and to that end they are searching high and low for skateparks who are replacing equipment so that they can refurbish and reuse old ramps, etc. rather than purchase everything new.

According to the young men, the most critical missing piece is Skatelite or alternative products with which they can resurface the donated items.

So...if you or someone you know is retiring anything they could use, and if you are located even remotely in this part of the county (recently they drove to Indiana to haul away ramps), give them a holler.

And be sure to tell them Sk8terdude (or his mom) sent you.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Chipped Tail and Pretty in Pink

For most of today we had good weather in Connecticut, which meant Sk8terdude was back at S.P.I.R.I.T. despite his still-broken finger.  About 90 minutes into his session, he called home to say that he "landed hard and chipped the tail" and needed me to drive back with a replacement deck.



Um...it's only been three weeks since we purchased the last deck...and that one replaced another one that was only a month old.  Can you hear the giant sucking sound in my piggy bank?

So although I'm glad I bought two decks at once from Enclave Skate Shop (since it meant I didn't have to go shopping for a new deck today), I'm beginning to think it would be easier and cheaper to start chopping down all the maple trees in the backyard to make our own.  (LOL - I'm sure Sk8terdude would just LOVE that idea!!)

I am seriously considering buying him blank decks in bulk and using those instead, an idea that one of the skatepark monitors tossed out while (very kindly - thanks, George!) attaching Sk8terdude's trucks and wheels to the replacement deck.

What do you think?  Have any of you tried this?  Any suggestions for reliable sources?  There are a bunch of online resources, but how do I know if the quality will be any good?  (On the other hand, at approximately $10 per blank deck, it might be worth the risk even if they aren't so great...)

By this point in the afternoon, the clouds were rolling in and the skies were threatening a major thunderstorm (oh yeah, The Weather Channel was predicting one, too), so I decided to hang out at the park in case the rain began and Sk8terdude needed to beat a speedy retreat in order to keep his cast dry.

We used to use the Pro-Cel Waterproof Cast Liner material made by Gore Industries (of Gore-Tex fame), which made having a cast significantly easier for all of us.  Sk8terdude went to Florida twice with waterproof casts:  once to Disneyworld, where it made water rides and the hotel pool possible, and once to visit his Florida grandparents, where he was even able to go snorkeling in the ocean.  Unfortunately, Gore has discontinued the product line (maybe we were their best customers?  we were certainly their biggest fans!!), so this cast means rain is a problem.

While I was hanging out in my "personal parent lounge" (yeah, the car), another mom arrived with her two kids.  Although they live in NYC they have a weekend/summer home up here, so we know them from the town beach as well as the skatepark.  The daughter, V, was sporting this skateboard:


I was really delighted to see the hot pink grip tape!  I'm not personally into pink, but clearly she is, and she couldn't have been more excited to have something different on her skateboard.  Unlike the barriers to entry I talked about with the women at Kona Skate Park, this was clearly an effort on the part of some savvy marketing executive to encourage more girls to skate.

Or so I thought.

Turns out that as soon as the boys in the store saw V getting pink tape on her board, they all started clamoring for the same color!  And a quick google search showed me that more than one company makes pink grip tape, so clearly it's in demand by more than just the handful of girls who skate.

I wonder if Sk8terdude will jump on the bandwagon and demand a hot pink cast next time he needs one?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sidelined

It's raining in Connecticut, and according to the gurus at weather.com, the rain is going to continue for the next five or six days.  Add to that the nasty cold/cough/fever that Sk8terdude is suddenly sporting, and it looks like he is sidelined this week.  Maybe this is a sign that he shouldn't have been skating with the broken finger?

Fortunately, we have plenty of skateboard-related activities to keep us busy:
  • Streetleague Seattle is still on the TiVo so we can watch it over and over and over and...but for those of you who didn't see it/tape it/save it, it's also available online
  • Tony Hawk Ride (the one with the "skateboard") for the Wii
  • Tony Hawk's Underground 1 and 2 (the ones without the "skateboard")
  • Tony Hawk's Proving Ground for the XBox
  • Picture F**ing Perfect - a DVD featuring local skateboarders, including Sk8terdude's current teacher, Paul Hintz (Sorry, guys, I can't link to your info because this blog is coded for G-rated content only.  If you had named your video something else it would have been okay, but...)
But mostly Sk8terdude is spending time thinking about an upcoming skate competition that has just been announced at S.P.I.R.I.T. in Ridgefield, Connecticut.  I'll be posting complete information as soon as it is available.  In the meantime, save the date - Saturday, June 25th - and plan on joining us for a terrific afternoon!

Monday, May 9, 2011

It's Official - a Salter 2 fracture

We pulled into the orthopedist's office five minutes before they opened this morning. Since we are "frequent flyers" here, they double-booked us into an appointment and got Sk8terdude an x-ray. Not surprisingly, he has a salter 2 fracture, meaning he broke the bone and the break turned and went into the growth plate.

This is what the bruising and swelling looked like this morning.  He's getting a bright green cast and then I'll drop him off at school.  Good news:  the cast will come off four days before the first skateboard competition of the season.

He took this photo on his way to school:

How bad is it that we've already started repeating cast colors???

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Best Mom in the Whole World

I must admit that I wasn't thinking about Mother's Day when I scheduled our Jacksonville trip, but it turns out that returning home the day before the holiday was a really great choice.  This week I was officially named "Best Mom in the Whole World" by Sk8terdude.  (Fortunately for me, he was the only child voting).  I've had more hugs, kisses, and thank yous from him over the last few days than I've had in the last few months (maybe even years).  So I can't say I was surprised when my morning started with Sk8terdude willingly getting in the car with Sk8terdad to run some Mother's Day errands, including picking out a card, buying a basket of pastries/muffins from my favorite local bakery, and getting my daily dose of Starbucks.

I am, however, more than a little surprised by how my day is ending:  Sk8terdude and I are sitting together watching Street League Seattle.  After watching the first half hour, we set the DVR so we could go out to dinner, then returned to watch the end.  By itself, that's not so surprising.  What is surprising is that apparently I've learned a few things along the way that I never thought I would know OR care about.

In addition to knowing who Rob Dyrdek is (and, fyi, being incredibly impressed by him), I can recognize and correctly identify many of the skaters in the competition (Nyjah Huston, Chaz Ortiz, Shane O'Neill, Ryan Sheckler, Chris Cole, and, now, Billy Marks).  And I can finally identify the difference between an ollie and a nollie (which might have happened sooner if someone had told me before now that nollie = nose + ollie).

The biggest surprise of all is how much I'm enjoying watching!  I love the format of the Street League competitions.  Unlike a jam session, this format allows me to watch each skater and really understand what tricks each skater is attempting.  And having it on DVR means I can rewind and watch a trick a second time if I need to.  There are still nuances that escape me.  For example, if two skaters do the same trick, and they both land it, I can't necessarily tell if one did it better than another.  Are there subtle differences in balance and style that I can't see?  Maybe...but I have a little more than three months until we attend the August finals in New Jersey, and I'm determined to know a little more by the time we get to the Prudential Center.  After all, I won't be able to hear the color commentary when we're sitting in the stands!

Watching (and enjoying) a skateboarding competition is a Mother's Day activity I could never have predicted once upon a time - before kids, and before Sk8terdude became a skateboarder - but now I can't imagine not sharing this with him.  And if supporting his interest in skateboarding is what it takes to be the "Best Mom in the Whole World," then I'm okay with that.  In fact, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Kona Post Script: Footprints and Memories

There's a saying about protecting the environment that says "Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but memories."

We didn't leave many footprints at Kona, although Sk8terdude probably left a little blood here and there, thanks to some minor scrapes.

We did take home many terrific memories...and what seems to be a broken finger:

He jammed the pinky around 2 pm on Friday while riding down the high side of the pink bowl.  Good parent that I am, I told him to suck it up and keep skating.  After all, it wasn't going to hurt LESS if he was sitting in the hotel with nothing to do... We flew to Jacksonville so he could skate at Kona, and he was going to skate at Kona no matter what!  Besides, it's not like he skates ON his pinky...

All in all, a fabulous few days in Florida - and on the flight home we started planning next year's skate trip.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Sk8terdude at Kona, continued

Although we had torrential downpours at our hotel this morning, the pavement at Kona stayed dry!  Thank you to everyone who put in a good word for us with Mother Nature (or whomever).

We were in the parking lot by 12:45 p.m., with our fingers crossed.  The doors opened at 1 p.m. and Sk8terdude hit the park running (skating)...  Since we were the first and only ones there, I ventured out into the park to shoot some video and some photos (before skateboards started flying every which way).

Here he is on the famous Kona snake run.  (Look for his start way up high near the red fence in the background!)

video

And here he is standing at the bottom of the 14 foot half-pipe.  As big as it looks in the photo, it's even more impressive in person.  He's outside contemplating dropping in right now, but I can't watch, so I'm inside waiting to hear whether or not he conquers it.


Kona Skate Park overview part 1

Technology glitch solved!!!  Here's the other part of Kona Skate Park:

video

Now you see why I said this place is HUGE!

Kona Skate Park overview part 2

Where's Kona Skate Park overview part 1?  Still stuck in technical-glitch-land!

In the meantime, here's part of the park:


video

It's raining on and off this morning.  I have my fingers crossed that Sk8terdude will be able to skate at Kona again this afternoon.  If you have any pull with Mother Nature, now would be the time to use it on our behalf...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Kona - The Parent Lounge

We're back at Kona today. The sun is out and, for Jacksonville in May, it's delightfully cool - about 75 degrees Fahrenheit - and there's a light breeze. Perfect for me!


Sk8terdude was here as soon as the doors opened at 1 p.m. He took a one hour private lesson with Grady, a local teen who's been skating here for about seven years.

While he was skating, I was at my favorite parent lounge: one of the many Starbucks which populate the Jacksonville landscape. (Is it just me, or does everyone think Jacksonville is just one giant strip mall?) Many thanks to L. (my friend B's sister) who took an hour out of her busy parenting life to meet me for some conversation and some passion tea lemonade.


When L. headed out to pick up her kids at school, I returned to Kona, where I'm currently blogging from the parent lounge (pictured here).




When they said the parent lounge consisted of a few booths in the skate shop, they weren't kidding! Fortunately, Erin and Amber, the two young women behind the counter, have been both friendly AND informative.



Erin tells me that the skate park covers approximately 1.5 acres, although the property totals about 6 acres. Open since 1977, it is the oldest continuously operating commercial park in the United States (maybe the world?). Over the years they've hosted everything from the Tony Hawk Pro-Tour to the first-ever vert ramp contest in skateboard history.



I asked Erin and Amber if they are also skateboarders. Both admitted that although they used to skate, they've mostly given up the sport. We had an interesting conversation about the barriers to entry for women in skateboarding, including the fact that the male-dominated park can be intimidating to women (especially young women) trying to learn. Kona does host "Ladies Night" on Monday evenings, when women can skate free, and there's a discount every day for women who want to skate at the park.



According to Amber, Kona also broke ground by hiring women to work in the skate shop. And although she acknowledges the sexist undertones of the decision (after all, cute girls behind the counter might lead to additional business from hormonal teen boys!), she also says she loves putting the boards together. With a lot of friends who skate here regularly, Amber says the job is fun, even when she works six-day weeks (in the summer) and long hours (during contests).



Apparently there are some young girls who skate here (although I've only seen two so far) and I'm told there are some skating moms, too...but not THIS mom!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Kona Skate Park - First Impressions

Well let's start with big...as in enormous...as in GINORMOUS (a word I might have heard from Sk8terdude today if Kona weren't so large that I couldn't see him half the time, much less hear him)... The skatepark covers so much area, in fact, that I needed to pan the camera from two separate angles in order to video the entire thing.


Now for some annoying technological reason that is beyond my sleep-deprived brain to comprehend, I haven't been able to get those videos onto this post, so hang in there and I promise to post them...somehow...eventually, so you can see for yourselves. In the meantime, you'll just have to take my word for it. (Or go online and search YouTube for some Kona videos. I'm sure there are a gazillion of them.)


We pulled into the parking lot a little after 5 p.m. Since it's Jacksonville in May, the sun was still shining, the sky was bright blue, and the temperature was just under 80 degrees fahrenheit. I don't think we made it to the check in desk before I was bitten by the first mosquito. (note to self: buy bug spray along with sunscreen tomorrow a.m.!)


I filled out the waiver while Sk8terdude watched the REQUIRED Kona orientation video, which explained park rules (helmets...call your moves...yell "loose board" if your board gets away from you, etc.), and showed him which areas of the park were for beginners and which were for advanced skaters. I have to say I was really glad to see the video (I mean, I was glad that it existed and that Sk8terdude had to watch it). The park is really intimidating to newcomers and the video helped explain a lot. I love that Kona takes skateboarding safety seriously.



While he was watching, I was paying - or not paying - for him to skate. During a quick look at their website during our planning stages, I noticed that kids can skate free for five consecutive days if they have all As and Bs on their report cards. Luckily for me, Sk8terdude's most recent progress report qualified him for free skating, as well as a discount ($5 instead of $7) on the one-time registration fee. I brought a copy of the report card with me and took advantage of the opportunity to save the cost of entry for our three days here.


The park was busier than I would have expected on midweek after 5 p.m., but the bigger surprise to me was the number of parents (fathers) skating with their kids. Kona has a "parents skate free with paid admission for children" policy - but I promise that's not enough to get ME on a skateboard! It was great to see, however, and one dad gets a big shout-out and thank you. He called in his two kids and their two friends and introduced them all to Sk8terdude and, within minutes, Sk8terdude was skating with a pack of "new best friends." Later, as we were leaving, the dad said he would be out of town tomorrow, but he would make sure his daughter drove the boys over after school to skate with Sk8terdude again. Talk about a warm welcome!


My advanced planning paid off in a few other ways, but failed miserably in one really important one. When I called Kona last week to finalize details (and book a private skate lesson for tomorrow), I was careful to ask key questions.


Does Kona have a parent lounge?



They told me the parent lounge was an area in the skate shop with booths and tables.



Does Kona have free wi-fi in the parent lounge?



They told me the parent lounge does indeed have free wi-fi.


They neglected to tell me (but I was delighted to see) that there are also many areas outside where parents can watch the action. In addition to bleachers near the "street course," there are picnic tables on a deck overlooking the lower half of the park and, my personal favorite, picnic tables in a covered area up above the bowls. This is a view from down below:




And here's the best part: there is an electrical outlet up there and...MAYBE...the wi-fi signal will be strong enough for me to sit outside tomorrow and work (or blog, or waste time surfing the internet) while enjoying this beautiful weather.


As for my big research failure - it was a question I never thought to ask:


What about the bathrooms???

If you've been reading this blog from the beginning, I can already hear you snickering. (If not, you can read my very first post, which includes the bathroom saga, here.)

Well it turns out that the Kona bathrooms are currently being renovated. That's probably great news for local folks and future visitors. But for us, this week, the only options are the port-o-potties outside in the hot Florida sun or a trip down the road to anyplace with running water. I'm sure Sk8terdude won't care...but I will!

Is it Kona Skate Park or is it Heaven?

Sk8terdude negotiated his way straight here from the airport. No dinner. No hotel check-in. (No complaints.)

I'm not sure he's ever going to leave!

Can"t Wait to Skate!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Black and Blue but Better than Usual...Sk8terdude also pays the price of skateboarding!


Just for the record, we do NOT beat him with a baseball bat! These are the lumps, bumps, and scrapes that go hand in hand (shin in shin?) with skateboarding. Sk8terdude has been practicing some tricks that involve the board spinning around and, until he masters the tricks, most of the spinning ends with the board hitting his legs. In fact, his legs looked worse a few days ago, but I kept forgetting to take the picture.


Note to grandparents: stop freaking out. He's fine. And happy. And he sees these bruises as impressive testament to his perseverence.