Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion  Brady Baker grabs his scooter and takes off during a the BMX biking competition portion of the 5th Annual Bike & Skate Challenge Saturday Sept. 6, 2014 iat the Soldotna Skate Park in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Brady Baker grabs his scooter and takes off during a the BMX biking competition portion of the 5th Annual Bike & Skate Challenge Saturday Sept. 6, 2014 iat the Soldotna Skate Park in Soldotna, Alaska.

5th Annual Bike and Skate competition held in Soldotna

  • By Rashah McChesney
  • Saturday, September 6, 2014 10:14pm
  • News

Four boys sat on a concrete block, squinting in the direct sunlight and dripping sweat from an afternoon of jumping, flipping, spinning and wrestling steady landings out of their scooters.

One had a bloody nose, another picked a large scab on his knee. They spoke intermittently as they watched a group of older competitors race BMX bikes up and down the ramps Saturday at the Soldotna Skate Park.

For the fifth year, the annual Bike and Skate competition brought athletes of the two and four-wheeled variety to Soldotna — though no skateboarders participated in this year’s events.

Nelson Watt sat sipping a Capri Sun juice, mulling over his first place win in the 12-and-under category for scooters.

“I did things that I knew I could do, and the kids that didn’t, didn’t get medals. They did tricks they didn’t know, like bar spins,” he said.

Watt said he’d been “scooter-ing” since Christmas and has mastered some signature tricks, like the tail whip — an acrobatic maneuver that requires jumping off of the scooter mid-air and whipping the base 360-degrees before landing.

He said he audience members cheered when he landed it.

“I guess I jumped pretty high,” he said, adjusting his blue, wire-framed glasses.

But it wasn’t all successful landings for Watt and the other 14 who signed up to compete.

Watt missed a 360-degree spin, but others wiped out on ramps or in bone-jarring drops from several feet in the air.

Each got up and kept going, no matter how gnarly the fall.

That sort of dogged perseverance is the mentality that event founder and sponsor and Senator Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, wanted to reward when he started the competition as Soldotna’s then-mayor.

“Nobody is coaching these kids,” he said. “It’s all about hard landings, broken bones and torn ligaments until they can land confidently. I thought they deserved recognition for all their hard work.”

Micciche emceed the event, calling on each of the contestants by name and praising them during their one-minute competition runs.

“They’re very talented athletes,” he said. “When they land something like a reverse back flip, that’s hundreds of hours of not-so pleasant landings and practice.”

In between runs, a crowd of about 20 snacked on barbecue, chips and drinks provided by the event sponsors, which include Tesoro, Conocco-Phillips, the City of Soldotna and Joe Gallagher.

Brody Baker, 9, licked his chapped lips and shifted steadily as he watched a group of teens compete.

Baker took second place following Watt and sat with the other boy — talking about tricks they wanted to learn.

Baker scraped at the scab on his knee, the result of a run-in with a speed ramp.

“My foot didn’t want to go down on the deck,” he said, pointing to the portion of the scooter where he stands.

It isn’t his first injury and he doesn’t think it will be his last. Still, he likes scootering “because a lot of people like to scooter with me,” he said.

Baker’s cousin, who placed third in the 12-and-under category, agreed that being with friends was one of the best parts of learning the ins and outs of their scooters.

“It’s active and easier than bikes and skateboards,” said Riley Johnson as he dabbed at his bloody nose.

 

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion  14 people competed  during the 5th Annual Bike & Skate Challenge Saturday Sept. 6, 2014 iat the Soldotna Skate Park in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion 14 people competed during the 5th Annual Bike & Skate Challenge Saturday Sept. 6, 2014 iat the Soldotna Skate Park in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion  Brodi Perkins, 16, drops down a ramp during the 5th Annual Bike & Skate Challenge Saturday at the Soldotna Skate Park in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Brodi Perkins, 16, drops down a ramp during the 5th Annual Bike & Skate Challenge Saturday at the Soldotna Skate Park in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion  14 people competed  during the 5th Annual Bike & Skate Challenge Saturday Sept. 6, 2014 iat the Soldotna Skate Park in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion 14 people competed during the 5th Annual Bike & Skate Challenge Saturday Sept. 6, 2014 iat the Soldotna Skate Park in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion  Jake Graham gets some air while competing in the 5th Annual Bike & Skate Challenge Saturday Sept. 6, 2014 iat the Soldotna Skate Park in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Jake Graham gets some air while competing in the 5th Annual Bike & Skate Challenge Saturday Sept. 6, 2014 iat the Soldotna Skate Park in Soldotna, Alaska.

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