The third instalment of Hay River’s Skate Jam – rebranded as the X-Games to include more events – took over the temporary skate and BMX park behind the Hay River Community Youth Centre on Sept. 14.
“It’s looking great,” said Greg Harder, a member of the Hay River BMX Skate Park Association. “The toughest part was getting the park in order so we could actually have it, but it turned out great and we’re happy to see so many people out for this event.”
About 40 participants vied for top prizes in skateboard, scooter and BMX bike events – each further divided into junior and senior categories to level the playing field.
Kjel Crook and Clell Crook took first and second, respectively, in the senior BMX category, with Dawson McMeekin coming in third. Ziggy Beaulieu, Zack Horton and Jared Garbin were the top three in the junior category.
Max Anderson took the top spot in senior skate, with Jordan Schumann and Scott Belanger rounding out the top three. Zack Horton and Brad Belanger took first and second in junior skate, an event with only the two entries.
Familiar faces Scott Belanger, Jordan Schumann and Dawson McMeekin placed first through third in senior scooter, with Zack Horton, Trey Beck and Sierra Balsillie doing the same in the junior category.
Horton, 12, said he thought his runs on the scooter had gone well, but was looking forward to competing on his bike, as well.
“I’m entered in all three (events),” he told The Hub. “On the scooter, in the second run I tried some stuff I don’t really usually land, but it was good anyway.”
Horton was pleased with the later date of the X-Games this year, as last year it coincided with hockey school in August and he didn’t get a chance to compete.
Of the three events, he said BMX was his favourite.
“Biking is the best,” he said. “It’s so much harder to learn tricks and how to do stuff. On a scooter, you can learn a trick every five minutes, but on a bike it’s like a week to get to land something cool, unless you’re really, really good or the trick was easy.”
Harder was joined on the judging panel by Marina Marshall and Ian Frankton, the Town of Hay River’s director of recreation. The latter said he was more than happy to be involved in the competition and is keen to promote physical activity of all kinds for youth in the community.
“We had Louise Schumann and her great group of volunteers put this great day together,” he said. “It’s exciting to see so many kids out for this. It’s one thing to go and practise on your own in the skate park, but another to come out and compete in front of judges and an audience. That takes some courage.”
Frankton also pointed out the event’s partnership with the Helmets for Hardy program out of Yellowknife. Helmets were available to competitors who came without their own in remembrance of a Yellowknife boy who died as a result of a head injury incurred while not wearing proper protective headgear.
“We want to promote helmets in these activities, in particular,” said Frankton. “But we also want to raise awareness for safety in sport in general.”
While turnout was about the same as last year, Louise Schumann, the force behind the Hay River BMX Skate Park Association and co-organizer of Sept. 14 event, said she had hoped more people from the surrounding communities would have come.
“We’ve also got some kids from Hay River out of town this weekend for a hockey camp up in Yellowknife,” she said. “So there are a few who would have been here otherwise.”
Both Schumann and Harder hope to see the 2014 X-Games hosted in a permanent park next year, set to be constructed behind the NWT Centennial Library and Fields store.
“It’ll be great,” she said. “And we’re crossing our fingers for it to happen in time for next year’s X-Games.”
— Sarah Ladik