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Skateboarding hopefuls put their abilities to the test

ENCINITAS — Saturday was a chance for young skaters to prove their mettle, testing their abilities against other competitors from around the county and furthering their dreams of becoming professional skateboarders during K5’s 12th annual “Game of Skate” competition. “The event started for just building a basis for the community,” said Wallace Hargraves, K5’s marketing director. “We wanted to do our own little community event for our community,” he added.

Weston Sparks competes in the 12th annual Game of Skate Saturday at K5 in Encinitas. He took second place in the 16 and over heat. Photo by Tony Cagala

Weston Starks, 23, who lives in Encinitas, wanted to compete in the event after learning about it through his friends. He’s been skating for 10 years, something he took to, he said, after his friends got involved in it.

“(Skateboarding’s) something I have to do every day,” Starks said. “It’s an addiction.” And it’s something that he hopes to do professionally, he said.

This was the first time he competed in the game of skate event.

The game is similar to the basketball shooting game of “Horse.” In “Skate,” the lead skater attempts a trick on one of the obstacles available. If the trick is successfully completed, the subsequent skaters must attempt and complete the trick. If not, they earn a letter. Once the skater has amassed the letters to spell “skate,” they are eliminated from the competition.

Saturday’s event drew 45 skaters from around the county, including Brendon Villanueva, 17, from Poway. He first stood on a skateboard at the age of three, he said, learning how to skate from his uncle. He’s been skating ever since then and hopes to become a professional skateboarder, too; Villanueva is sponsored by K5. It was his fifth time competing in the event.

The talent level of skateboarders in Encinitas is pretty high, Hargraves said. “You’ve got Mike McGill, from McGill’s, Bob Burnquist, a local; there’s a lot of local skaters that are professional caliber, X-Games caliber skaters. And then you’ve got all of the youth coming up looking up at these guys that are in their backyard, and it’s a chance for them to look at their heroes and try to live their dream.”

Professional skaters Ryan Schekler and Bob Burnquist also visited the event to sign autographs, and talk to young skateboarding hopefuls.

“I think the Encinitas community is a great hotbed of talent and it also helps promote healthy sport,” Hargraves said.

With the growing legitimacy of the sport through widely-attended and nationally broadcasted competitions like the X-Games, skateboarding has seemingly lost that criminal activity aspect it once had.

One of the reasons for this, Hargraves thinks, is because of the Magdalena Ecke YMCA skate park. “You have that type of community where you have professionals skating right next to kids that are learning…there’s not too many places that are like that,” he said.

In the 16 and over heat Brendon Villanueva took first place, Weston Starks second and Will Fyock third. In the 15 and under heat, Brice Hagan won first, Cody Pennefather second and Tylre Wilcox third.

Oceanside skater Dane Vaughn won the best trick contest.

Vendors at the event helped to raise funds, which will be donated to the San Dieguito Boys & Girls Club.

In May, K5 began hosting “Fun Bar Fridays,” a community “social happening” in front of the store where kids could skate, listen to music, play games and more. The events are held the first Friday of each month in Encinitas from 6 to 8 p.m. The next Friday event is July 6.

K5 first came to San Diego in 1987. Their Encinitas store location will be celebrating its 25th anniversary later this year.