Twenty competitors took to the ramps, rails and half-pipes at the Martha's Vineyard Skatepark, Sunday afternoon to compete in the second annual Island skateboarding competition.
The event was postponed from Saturday, which was raw and rainy. Sunday dawned without a cloud in the sky, and temperatures comfortably in the 60s - perfect skateboarding weather.
At noon, when the competition was scheduled to begin, the park was bustling with activity as skateboarders perfected their tricks and spectators picked out optimal viewing spots.
Unlike most other competitive sporting events, there didn't appear to be any rivalry among the participants. While they pushed each other to perform well, it was as if all the skateboarders were on the same team.
For example, as Ben Luckey of Vineyard Haven sped toward one of the ramps, his fellow skateboarders stopped and watched. He hurtled up the ramp and spun the board beneath his feet as he soared off the lip of the jump and through the air. The skateboard came just short of making its final rotation and it landed on its side. Ben landed, somehow unscathed and unshaken, with his feet splayed on either side of the board.
"Yeah!" yelled one of the other skateboarders who acknowledged the difficulty of the attempted trick.
"You almost had that one," said another skateboarder.
The riders formed a queue at the other side of the park and one after another raced up and over the ramp and through the air. They attempted spins, board flips, and any combination of the two. Some tricks were landed, some were not. It was like any other day at the skatepark. The competition was between the rider, the park, and the trick he was attempting.
After about an hour more of warm-up, a deejay who showed up as a surprise began blasting music out across the concrete playground.
Brad Tucker of West Tisbury, who had been attempting seemingly impossibly tricks moments earlier, picked up a microphone and called for the competition to begin. First up were all the skateboarders 10 years old and younger. There were five competitors in the age group.
They were given two minutes with free reign over the entire park to do as many tricks as they could. Judges stood along the perimeter to note the difficulty and variety of the maneuvers.
Up and over the ramps, back and forth on the half-pipe, the competitors displayed their skills over each of obstacles. There were a few minor wipeouts, but no carnage. While many of the riders had been practicing without protective gear, helmets were required during competition.
When the two minutes ended, the judges gathered to confer, and the other competitors took to the park for a last-minute warm-up. The judges waited to announce the winners until the end of the competition.
Next up were the 11- to 14-year-olds. The six competitors were given three minutes to show off their best moves. With a few more years of experience under their belts, the older group zipped across the park a little bit faster and spent more time in the air than the younger competitors. Cheers went up whenever difficult tricks were landed, or even just attempted. Brad called out encouragement over the sound system.
After giving the competitors a little bit of extra time for one last trick, the judges once again compared notes before the final heat of competition - the 14 and up skateboarders.
The nine veterans got five minutes to work their magic. Once again, the speed and difficulty of the maneuvers increased, and the competitors spent even less time with their wheels actually touching the ground.
When the five minutes were up, the judges once again deliberated and prepared the results for the final awards ceremony.
When all the points were tallied, Felix Tucker, took top honors for the 10 and under category. Jacob Laurence took second, and Bo Hurwitz won third place.
In the 11 to 13 competition, Ben Luckey, who successfully landed the trick he had been practicing before the event, won first place. Julian Willett and Eric Fletcher tied for second, and Wesley Groover took third.
In the 14 and up category, Lucas Emin wowed the judges and took first place. There was another tie for second with Vaughn Rusillo and Spike Grimm both taking the honors. Sam Eddy was third.
After the brief awards ceremony, the competitors collected their prizes, which included skateboard decks, shoes and clothes donated by The Green Room in Vineyard Haven, and the fun continued as the skaters once again took to the park. The skaters attempted tricks that had been missed during the competition, and successful efforts were met with the same enthusiasm as they were when the judges were watching.
Elaine Barse, Martha's Vineyard Skatepark Association president and owner of the Green Room, called the event a huge success. "It was a lot of fun," she said. "I think it went really well, and it was really more of a skatepark celebration than a competition."
To keep giving skateboarders something to celebrate, a goal of the competition was to help raise money for future skatepark improvements.
Erik Albert, skatepark association vice president, stressed that the park is still not complete. "We still need as much support as we can get, so that we can finish the park," he said. "We still have a lot of work to do. The park is by no means done."
Two corners of the park are still empty. Mr. Albert said that concrete ramps like those in the rest of the park will be added when the skatepark association raises enough money for the work.
"We really need people to continue to support this so that we can finish it," he said.