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- Published on Saturday, 28 July 2012 12:17
Elk City skatepark provides a place for 'sidewalk surfers' in Western Oklahoma
Daily Elk Citian
In the 40s, surfers in Southern California had a problem, as the thrill-seeking tide riders wanted to get their kicks when the waves were flat.
The solution: Shorten their boards, strip off the wax and add wheels, thus creating what is now known as the modern skateboard. The sport has grown exponentially since then, spanning from coast-to-coast, including Elk City since 2005, when the Elk City Skate Park was built.
When the sun gets low and the summer heat begins to de-intensify, Elk City skaters like Aaron Posey, and visitors from surrounding areas like Kaseem Jacobs can be seen ripping the terrain park to shreds in a good way.
Such parks present a solution to a problem many communities face with skateboarders who, with no controlled place to skate, were forced to grind up and down ledges, rails, and makeshifts ramps around town. That activity, Posey admits, can ravage city property.
"I don't really skate around town," Posey, a 14-year-old who has skated about five years, said. "I don't want to damage it. They built this park for us to use. I like the layout here, it's perfect."
As Posey popped huge air off transfer ramps, landing one "Roast Beef" grab after another, he did so while Jacobs, who hails from Atoka, cruised the area. Jacobs has skated for about seven or eight months, and back home, he was used just to riding up and down his street.
But when the the 14-year-old visiting his father, John, who works in Elk City, got a look at the park, there was no question what the next step would be.
"We almost wrecked the car when we first saw this place," John said. "We had to turn around and go get his skateboard, back in Atoka."
A skatepark has that type of effect on someone trying to master the craft, especially in a small town. Skaters are often chased away from business owners and police, who fear the damage the wooden boards and metal trucks (think axels on a car) can cause. Few would know that fact better than Jeff Hutto, a Tulsa native who grew up skateboarding in a suburban area with no terrain park to utilize.
"It's tough," Hutto said of not having a specified area in which to skate. "Having a park, number one you don't get kicked out of skate spots, number two, you get a lot better."
Since his days as a 14-year-old with few places hone his skills, Tulsa and surrounding small communities have more than doubled their number of terrain parks. Those environments helped the now 27-year-old become a skater who has gained sponsorships from various board shops, Endurance Skateboards, Adio skate shoes, and Navigator skateboard trucks.
Hutto has trekked to California, Colorado, Missouri, Florida, Texas, Georgia, and New Jersey to compete in competitions or skate demonstrations. At age 15, he qualified for the renown Tampa-Am skate contest in Florida, and found that kids with had access to parks were skating at a much higher level.
"There were kids from California and Florida, who grew up with parks, and they were just zooming around the course… My board shop's team manager said, 'Man I think something is wrong with your wheels or bearings because you're going a lot slower than those guys.' I said, 'No, I've actually just never skated a skate park before.'"
With a solid terrain park, young riders in Elk City have the same opportunities as kids from California to increase their chances of making a name for themselves in the sport of skateboarding. As far as experience goes, Jacobs and Posey stand at opposite ends of the spectrum. But that doesn't keep them from using the same place to practice in order to get better.
While Jacobs is just nailing down the fundamentals, Posey, who learned form his learned from his brother while growing up in Guthrie, can be found at the Elk City Skate Park pushing his limitations.
"I just love getting out there and doing it," Posey said of his favorite aspect of the sport. "I just like seeing what I can get out there and do."
Posey moved to Elk City about four years ago, and favors the mini-ramp and kicker ramps over flat-ground tricks. Asked if he liked to grind down ledges or rails, he backed down a little before answering the question in classic skater fashion.
"[Rails and ledges] get kind of scary, but no pain, no gain."
A skateboard park in Elk City? No question about it.
It's a gain, bro.