Flying high at the Skate Jam
SARANAC LAKE — Dozens of skaters, their friends and families came out to the Saranac Lake SkatePark on Sunday for a skate jam celebrating the park’s sixth year open. There was a lot of skateboarding talent on display.
The event was organized by Carter Beitz, founder of the Malone-based Jebus Skateboard brand. He said he’s trying to build up the North Country skate scene and wanted “a reason to get everyone together.”
Skaters came from Malone, Watertown and Vermont to show off their skills, compete for a $500 check and enjoy the well-loved skate park.
Broyce Guerette, from Tupper Lake, said even when he was attending St. Lawrence University in Canton, he’d make the hour-and-a-half drive over to skate here.
“It’s so nice it’s worth the drive,” Guerette said.
Ben Karkoski, from Bloomingdale, has been skiing at Big SNOW American Dream in New Jersey for most of the summer, but said he wouldn’t miss out on this skate contest.
Nick Shepard came from Vermont to spend his 28th birthday at the park. He was often the loudest shout when someone landed a good trick, and after spending all day working on a jump off the tall wall, he finally landed it late in the free skate session.
The competitions were judged by Bob Shaw of Fingahbob’s Fingerboards in Malone, Mary Levasseur and Jeremiah Dumont, who owns Inkuisitions and Empire Skate Shop in Malone.
Intermediate best run
The six competitors in the intermediate competition whizzed around the park, landing tricks they knew well at first to ensure a good run, and then pushing for some harder jumps to secure a top-place finish.
Gage Snyder leapt off the tall wall around half-a-dozen times, slamming down into the ground over and over.
Jake “Shark Boy” Roberts was trying to land a flip down the stairs, hammering the concrete each time.
The competition came down to the wire.
With around 15 seconds left on the clock, Snyder stuck the landing off the wall right in front of the judges, to the awe of the crowd.
Then, as the countdown wound down — “Three! Two! One!” — Roberts “stomped it” at the buzzer, successfully landing the stair flip.
The crowd went ballistic. A group of his friends ran out to scoop him up and celebrate.
Later, Roberts said he knew that trick could win the competition, so he kept at it.
“I felt so hyped,” he said after the landing.
Advanced best run
Tyler Jermano won the advanced best run contest, in part due to a trick he had spent all day practicing — a grind up a rail. His specialty was grinding, both up and down rails and edges.
Guerette took second with a unique trick, jumping from balancing the tail of the board on a lip to balancing on the tongue of the board.
Joey Handy and Will Blanchard tied for third. Handy had quick spins with his board, always keeping it low to the ground. Blanchard got big air and moved fast.
Both had runs with few errors.
Best trick jam
The best trick of the day competition came down to a one-on-one skate battle between Blanchard and Jake Kyler.
Both were sending it hard, pushing themselves to land difficult tricks. Both had also taken some pretty good falls earlier in the day.
Blanchard twisted his ankle jumping off the tall wall in practice. He was visibly in pain whenever he landed wrong in the battle. Kyler had slammed his side on the edge of the quarter pipe in his first competition run.
Both were looking beat. They were sweating in the hot sun and had been skating for hours. At one point, toward the end of the battle, they rested on each other for a second for a breather.
With several clean grinds, slides and flips, Kyler took home first place.
He said he wasn’t even planning on coming. Asked if he was glad he did, he held up his $500 check.
“I’m going to put that in my son’s savings account,” Kyler said. He’s got a 4-month-old at home. “Or maybe I’ll invest it in Bitcoin.”
Kyler is 30 years old. He said he’s “phasing out” of competition, but was glad he was still able to bring the heat Sunday.
The skating didn’t stop after the competitions. The park was still full hours later as the Malone-based band Amber in Green set the mood in the park with unique time signatures, skilled fretboard work and experimental noise sounds.