BLOOMINGTON - Skateboarders celebrated what has become known as their national holiday Saturday as they participated in SK8 Jam 2009 in Bloomington's O'Neil Park. | Photo gallery
The skateboarding competition, also called "B-Town Throw Down," was part of International Go Skateboarding Day, started in 2003 by the International Association of Skateboard Companies.
On Saturday, about 50 area skateboarders participated in events for three age groups: 13 and younger, 14 to 17 and 18 and older.
Reem Yaqub-agha found a shady spot under some trees to watch her son, Jad Carter, practice for his competition.
The 12-year-old performed jumps and spins on the equipment at the skateboard park that opened last summer, including some moves that made his mother nervous.
"My heart is in my hand watching him," she said.
But Yaqub-agha said the physical aspect of skateboarding is something she appreciates. Jad has been involved in soccer and ice skating in the past -"anything speedy," she said.
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For Jad, the sport represents more than a form of exercise; it's about being part of a cool culture. Dressed in black pants and a shirt with skaters' logos, Jad acknowledged that their clothing, hats and shoes set skateboarders apart from their counterparts.
"I used to be in track, but I dropped out. Track wasn't cool," said Jad.
Saturday's event was sponsored by Shockwaves Skate Shop in Normal with assistance from volunteers like Jeff Knuth.
"This is a great outlet for kids in the Twin Cities and the area. You've got a lot of out-of-town kids who don't have a skate park in their town, and this gives them something to do and a good time," said Knuth, who worked on the committee to build the O'Neil Park facility.
Chekhouna Thiam, 14, practices skateboarding three hours a day in his family's driveway. He took up the sport two years ago.
"It's just fun learning new tricks and hanging out with my friends," said Thiam, who planned to enter all three events.
Participants competed in three events, including Highest Ollie, a hurdle jump; Best Trick; and Best Two-Minute Run. A total of 15 trophies were awarded.