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Teens grind and grab spotlight

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  • Geneb
    *** Teens grind and grab spotlight *** Cherry Hill, NJ -- 06/02/2005 They were not selling a new version of PlayStation2 or debuting a new Harry Potter movie
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 1, 2005
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      *** Teens grind and grab spotlight ***

      Cherry Hill, NJ -- 06/02/2005
      They were not selling a new version of PlayStation2 or
      debuting a new Harry Potter movie inside the Moorestown
      Mall on Sunday.

      So, why were dozens of parents and children lined up outside
      the mall's Food Court entrance as early at 6:30 a.m.?

      C'mon, dude! The Dew Action Sports Tour was in town.

      More than 100 skateboarders from Delaware to Vermont
      waited as long as six hours to get their shots at fulfilling dreams
      of turning pro Sunday when the 2005 Free Flow tour opened
      in the mall's Vans Skatepark.

      Nick Merlino, 17, of Atlantic City won the event, and for the
      second straight year he'll hit the road for a Dew tour stop, this
      time in Portland, Ore. Last year, Merlino joined two other local
      skaters - Elliott Coss of Moorestown and Shaun Williams of
      Williamstown - for a tour stop in Encinitas, Calif.

      "He's insane," said Chris Dziema, 16, of Hopatcong,
      Sussex County. "He deserved to win."

      Dziema placed third in the event;
      Williams finished second.

      Merlino, whose elbow bruises serve as battle scars from
      five years of skateboarding, will compete against 14 other
      amateur skaters Aug. 17 in Portland. The winner of that
      competition will join the Dew Action Sports Tour and compete
      against 25 pro skateboarders in a nationally televised event Oct.
      13 in Orlando, Fla.

      "I think the competition this year was better than last year,"
      Merlino said. "There were a lot more kids from different areas."

      "Nick was super consistent," said Nick Scofield, a 19-year
      skateboarding veteran from Burlington, Vt., and one of the
      event's three judges. "He managed to hit a lot of hard tricks
      and he rode the whole course better than everyone else.
      He was very creative."

      The fact that Moorestown is included in the 15-city tour is an
      indication of how popular the sport has become in this region.
      The next closest tour stop is in Louisville, Ky.

      As a result, Sunday's event brought skaters
      from up and down the Eastern seaboard.

      Paul and Pam Hale from Underhill, Vt., booked airfare for
      themselves and their two sons, Collin, 18, and Cody, 16, so
      they could compete in Sunday's event. The two boys are so
      into skateboarding they have their own business cards.

      "I love it," said Pam Hale. "Our boys sometimes spend eight
      hours a day skateboarding. There is such an individuality to it.
      And when you get to this level, it's pretty competitive."

      Catherine Ashley of Newark, Del., was one of just a handful
      of girls competing on Sunday. But she is no stranger to the Vans
      Skatepark. Her mother, Becky, said she drives her to the
      Moorestown Mall at least once a week because its Vans
      Skatepark is the closest one to her home in Newark.

      Ashley won the girls' event in Moorestown in 2002 and 2003,
      but the tour has since dropped female competitions.

      "I can understand, because there were only about five of us,"
      she said. "I wish there were more girls competing because it's
      hard for girls to do some of the tricks the boys do."

      With music blaring and family members and friends lined three
      deep behind a chain-link fence, the skateboarders roared up
      and down vertical ramps, sometimes grinding along metal poles
      and sometimes soaring high into the air as their boards flipped
      beneath them.

      "I don't understand it," said Marlton's Bill O'Keefe, who was
      watching his 13-year-old grandson Robert Dugan of Moorestown
      skateboard for the first time. "It looks like mayhem to me. I don't
      know how they don't get hurt."

      Don't be mistaken. There were just as
      many spills as there were thrills.

      Kurt Kamrad, 13, of Hamilton, was one of two skateboarders
      who competed with a cast on his arm. He said he cracked the
      growth plate in his right arm while he was doing a "50-50 grind."
      Still, he finished third in the Junior Jam.

      Uwe Dalibor, 14, of Moorestown, hoped to compete, but a
      broken left arm forced him out of the competition. Earlier this
      year he suffered a concussion. And he's only been skateboarding
      a year.

      "I was trying to do an ollie gap by jumping over a bush," he said.
      "It's never going to stop me. I love the adrenaline rush."

      Even Sunday's skateboard champion left the Moorestown
      Mall with a limp. Merlino said he reinjured his left ankle while
      trying one of his tricks.

      "I could probably talk to you for five hours and not list all my
      Merlino said. "Look at my face. Look at my scars. It hasn't stopped
      me yet."

      Donny Hixon, 13, of Moorestown maneuvers on a railing.

      All Things Northwest in BMX!
      ***** Gene`s BMX *****
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