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Great day to skate





Forty restless skateboarders waited around the edge of Aubel-Bickle Skate Park as they eyed their opponents Saturday afternoon.

Kick flips, heel flips, ollies and 360 spins were among the aerial acrobatics the skateboarders performed at the Sk8oberfest Sk8board Competition. If they fell off the ramps or handrails, the participants brushed it off and returned to their spot in line.

White Chocolate, a Hays skate shop, has hosted the fall competition every year since opening in 1998, said Derek Hadley, the store manager. A spring competition was added in 1999, he said.

The free biannual event attracts attendees from Liberal, Salina, Hugoton, Dodge City, Garden City, Quinter and Wichita, Hadley said. Their ages ranged from 6 to 30.

Rod Smith, the store's owner, said the Kansas skateboarding community has remained loyal to the talent showcase through the years.

"Keeping it alive, that's what it's all about," Smith said. "There are people here that have been skating at this contest since they were about 11 years old, and now they're like 22 or 24."

Hadley said three veteran skateboarders who are sponsored by White Chocolate judge the event. The competitors were placed in four categories: under 12 years old, beginner, intermediate and advanced, he said.

Every contestant had two opportunities to skate for 45 seconds and score points based on the difficulty of their trick combinations.

The winners won vouchers for Vans, DC and Thrasher brand shoes, he said.

Avery Beverly, a freshman at Fort Hays State University, said he would compete as a beginner after skateboarding for a year and a half. The two contests a year give skaters a chance to improve and demonstrate their progress six months later, Beverly said.

"People would be really bad when they come, and the next time they come they'll be throwing out heel flips or something like that," Beverly said. "They'll be throwing things down you can't do yet."

Brandon Schwartz won the under-12 category, and David Perez, Garden City, won the beginner group. Mathew Kirk, Salina, placed first in the intermediate group, and Malachi Russo, Salina, won the advanced category.