Noah Brown stood in the grass on the edge of the Kiwanis Skate Park in downtown Yakima Sunday afternoon and watched as fellow skateboarders showed off their talent, one by one.
Roughly 40 participants of all ages had gathered to compete in the Sizzle in the Streets skateboarding competition, put on by Yakima’s New Yak City skateboarding and clothing shop and the city parks and recreation department. They each selected their skill level — beginner, intermediate or advanced — and rotated through two one-minute opportunities to show off their talent.
Brown was competing at the intermediate level, and many of his peers were repeating tricks they hadn’t landed on their first go during their second attempt, he noted.
“They’re trying to get it done,” the 12-year-old said. “They want it bad.”
His friend, Byron Bernd, was a prime example. The 8-year-old Tony Hawk-wannabe was the first to compete in the intermediate level skate. While he did a variety of tricks, he repeatedly tried to land a blunt-to-rock-to-fakie: a challenging move that requires skating up a ramp, holding the board at the top, and receding down to the bottom without turning the board or your body around.
Bernd stumbled several times, took a couple of hard falls and, in two different attempts, caught his wheel on the top of the ramp, interrupting the move. But he was determined to land it — and judges encouraged him to try again several times, even outside of his allotted time. At the very end of the intermediate cycle, Bernd landed the move to a roar of cheers from fellow skaters.
Brown also worked through a struggle, skating his first round with a cracked board after landing wrong while warming up. It didn’t stop him from taking on air and concluding with a smile. In his second round, he was using a different board, and made a personal record.
“That was awesome,” he said, noting when he held on to the top of his board midair during a jump. “That’s the longest I’ve ever done (that) before. I held it since pretty much the second I jumped.”
Gabe Figgs, the owner of New Yak City, said the event was intended to imitate a block party, bringing skaters together over a competition, music and barbecue. Participants paid $5 each, which helped cover the cost of food, water and a T-shirt.
The event brought together skate partners from throughout the state. Skate Builder of the Tri-Cities contributed three portable ramps to be used in the competition, while judges of the competition hailed from Black Market Skate in Seattle and the local Hardly Hesh Washington clothing line.
The event also brought together skaters from throughout Central Washington.
Faith Doudna, 16, said she had begun skating roughly three years ago and had placed third in the Cinco de Kiwanis competition in May. But after moving into more rural Yakima recently, she hadn’t skated for two months prior to the competition Sunday. To get warmed up for the afternoon event, she said she arrived at the skate park at 9 a.m. to practice.
“Skating here is so dope,” she said. “Being a girl, it’s kind of wack … because I’m the only girl. But everyone is super nice.”
Doudna said she gets nervous while competing, but she said she felt ready for the event and planned to have fun, trying kick flips and a heels trick in which the board rotates on its side beneath the skateboarder’s feet.
Several times during her turn, Doudna climbed multiple feet into the air as her peers cheered her on.
“These kids are all-stars,” said Emily Brown, Noah’s mother. She said her son’s involvement in the local skateboarding community over the past roughly six years had opened up her mind, as she realized how much encouragement, hard work and peer-mentorship was fostered through the sport. Unlike sports played through school, she said, many of the participants don’t have parents or coaches cheering them on. They form their own community instead.
“This is your community. These are the guys that are rooting for you,” she said.
“You can see the tricks they’re doing and the things they are doing are impressive. It takes a lot to do it, so it’s cool,” Brown added. “If you have this kind of dedication to something, I think it’s good for your whole life. If you can commit to something that’s difficult and try it, and try it, and try it until you get it again … then yeah, I think these kids will grow up and a lot of them will be successful because of it.”