Skateboarding pros model high-flying tricks for kids
Stars and Stripes August 16, 2009
BAUMHOLDER, Germany — Heather Loar’s son, Shane, spoke in a strange, new tongue when he returned from a session with two professional skateboarders last week.
Confounded by the alien language, Loar located an online glossary of skateboarding terms to discern the meaning of "ollie," "mongo" and her personal favorite — "booty dagger."
But it didn’t help much.
"This is something that I just can’t give him. I don’t speak the language," she said Wednesday, standing on the outskirts of the skate camp, pretending not to take pictures of her son.
Shane, 11, was among more than 30 kids who had come to study the fine art of getting air and grinding ledges from two field experts, Doug Des Autels and Falco Baltys. Des Autels, 31, and Baltys, 35, traveled from California to teach the five-day clinic, put on by Child Youth and School Services and the 3-2-1 Mobile Skate Camp Program, which sponsors skate camps worldwide.
"He thinks the guys are funny, that they are not like adults," Loar said of Shane. Baltys, who was wearing a black T-shirt and baggy pants, frequently used the phrase "all up in his grill" during a skate contest.
"For these kids, 99 percent of them had dads who were gone for the past 14 or 15 months," to war zones, Loar said.
"They’re all having a hard time relating to their dads. So it’s good for them to have male role models to look up to."
For the young skaters, though, the experience was all about learning how to hit that next high-flying trick.
The whirr of wheels and the smacking of boards against pavement never ceased as they bounded from one skate-park obstacle to the next.
Tameric Blockmon, 12, stood on the lip of one apparatus, getting a few last-minute tips from Des Autels, before attempting a 180, a half aerial turn.
"I used to be scared to do this," Tameric said after landing the trick. "He just needed some pumping up," Des Autels said.
Des Autels and Baltys said they aimed to provide the skaters with the confidence that such tricks could be mastered in actual life, not just in Tony Hawk’s video games.
"The thing I’m most happy about is that it’s hard to get them to stop skating," Baltys said.
"When we get here they are skating, and when we leave they are skating."
The pros, who demonstrated several tricks, were happy to go over the basics with the kids and to encourage them to keep trying.
Joshua Javier, 10, breathed deeply as he stood on the edge of 7-foot ramp that resembled half a toilet bowl.
"You can do it," Baltys shouted to him. "You just got to keep your feet on the board."
Joshua pushed his weight to his front foot.
For a moment he slid down, then he tumbled, landing with a thud, face first in the bottom of the bowl. He lay there, motionless.
"I think it’s all in your head," Baltys said to Joshua, who was still prostrate.
"Let’s start from square one. Practice it 20 times over there and then come back and see me."
Joshua picked himself up, gathered his board and headed for the smaller ramp.
"He’s a tough kid," Baltys said. "He’ll get it by the end of the day."