BRANDON — Flanked by cheers and jeers from fellow skateboarders on the sidelines, local athletes took to the ramps and rails Friday to showcase their talents in the second annual Trick Contest at the Brandon Skate Park. Another contest took place later in the day at the Apollo Beach Skate Park.
As Hillsborough County prepares to open its third such park in early spring — the Northwest Skate Park at Jackson Springs, in Town ’N Country — the contests help promote the parks that are bringing enthusiasts here from across the country and around the globe, said Brandon Skate Park director Jeff Miller.
“We’ve got 2,100 people registered to skate at this park. It’s been a hit since it opened” in June 2012. “We even get kids under 5 and adults over 60. We’ve had people come from Europe and a large group from Canada that travels somewhere in the world every year to skateboard.”
Hillsborough County is gaining a reputation as a destination for skateboarders, said Raleigh Barnes, who will run the Northwest Skate Park. Barnes, who has been a skateboarder for 13 years, said the Tampa area is rich in skateboard history, with its Bro Bowl that has been around since the 1970s. The newer parks are adding to the legacy.
It has become so well known, he said, that Nike has come out with a Tampa edition skateboard shoe. “These parks give those with a passion an outlet to keep it alive.”
For the locals, though, the parks give them easy access to places where they can hone their talents.
“I’m here about every day,” said Hunter Barton, of Riverview, who competed in the 15-and-younger category, trying a 50-50 front 180 out on the granite slab and a 50-50 front shove out on the sea ledge. That’s skateboard lingo for really cool tricks.
The 14-year-old said he has been skating for about a year and a half and quickly has grown to love the sport.
Jordan Bostick, a 14-year-old skateboarder from Brandon, said he learned to skate at the Skatepark of Tampa and now spends most afternoons at Brandon Skate Park. “It’s fun, the feeling of landing a new trick.” He loves the park, he said, but would like to see the county add more rails.
Once the competitions got underway, bodies and helmets occasionally flew past onlookers as the hecklers and cheerleaders chimed in.
In the end, Jacob Beebe, of Bloomingdale, took the top spot for the 15-and-younger group. Other finalists were Bostick, Paris Kilby and Jordan Legg. Ross Caruso, also of Bloomingdale, took top honors in the 16-and-older category. The other finalist in that category was Jaycob Glover. Both first-place winners received gift cards for Zumiez, a skateboard shop at Westfield Brandon mall.