Skaters and bikers of all ages converged on the Justin Leavitt Memorial Skatepark in Pahrump on Saturday. They came with their family and friends, bringing their equipment, and their backpacks stuffed with tools and parts and drinks.
“Wow! This park is packed!” said one teen as she arrived to watch the $200 Best Trick contest.
The Whosoevers, a punk-rock Christian group based out of California and local Cavalry Chapel Pahrump Valley church, co-sponsored the event.
A DJ played classic 70’s rock under sunshine and perfect Pahrump 65-degree weather.
Contestants loosened up with their skateboards, scooters and bikes before the contest began.
“They’re out there feeling their boards,” said Ryan Ries, lead of The Whosoevers and an organizer and judge of the event. “We received an extra donation this morning, so the prize money is up to $300 now. We’re going to split it up so that each category of equipment gets some prize money.”
Ries surveyed the contestants dropping in from the edges, then flying and swooping about the runs using ledges, bowls and the flat-topped pyramid.
“Look at that guy,” Ries said, focusing on 59-year-old Ron Mortison, who looped up and down fluidly on the quarter pipe curved wall on his skateboard. “That’s awesome! He’s older than me!”
Ries used his colorful megaphone to gather and direct the active contestants.
Riders had 10 minutes each on four obstacle runs. Their objective: impress judges with their best trick.
The first challenge featured two pyramids, using the quarter pipe to gain speed. The audience was thrilled by a triple tail wind, and then a heel flip.
On the next run, skaters navigated corner-to-corner with an upright trash can placed on the edge of the skate park.
Many skaters cleared it and landed successfully. The audience cheered after watching a benihana on a board,
and a 270 bar spin on a bike.
The next 10 minutes started with a fly-out, and targeted the trash can hurdle. Skillful skateboarders scaled the obstacle, leaving their board behind at the last second for the jump, then landing on a skateboard held steady on the deck by a partner. The last run was a fly-out off the Q-block to the concrete level six feet below. There were tail whips on razors, and many attempts at landing kick-flips on boards.
Ries gathered the contestants around and congratulated them on their hard work and dedication. He told his own story of decades in the skating and music industries, and his victory over substance abuse, suicidal thoughts and depression. His anxiety and emptiness was erased during a six-hour Bible reading marathon while on an airline flight, he said.
“I stole a Gideon Bible from my motel room. You know what? Jesus Christ was punk rock. The disciples were Motley Crue,” he said.
Ries said his relationship with God changed and healed him.
Chris Blakey, an 11th-grader, won $60 on Saturday for his backside flip on the pyramid, his kick-flip down the Q block, his benihana, and his kick-flip over a pyramid. Blakey has been skateboarding for seven years. He said he’s invested about $200 in equipment over the years.
When asked what he planned to do with his cash prize, he said, “I dunno — probably go out to dinner.”
Colby Murillo, 21, also won $60 for his back flip and 270 bar spin on his bike. He’s been riding for eight years.
“I feel so free when I’m upside-down,” Murillo said.
Zander Stephens, an eighth-grader, did a frontside 180 over the trash can. He’s been skating “for a long time.”
“It’s mostly just fun,” he said, of why he skates. “Me and my friends are all around the same skill level, so if we learn something, we teach each other how to do it.”
His advice to new skaters?
“Get on a board! The skate park isn’t as scary as it looks,” he said. “When you’re a beginner, you’re scared to go there. It looks scary. But you get there and you’re like, ‘Whoa!’”
Stephens said the skate community often helps each other to improve.
“Everybody – the first day I came here – everybody came over and helped me learn how to drop in. You put your tail on the quarter, and just go in. They showed me.”
Gavriella Villeda, a seventh-grader, said there are lots of people to connect with at the park. She’s been practicing for two years on her skateboard.
She was proud to point out that her dad, Gus, had also been a skateboarder. He was able to get her oriented back in 2020 after she got her board.
“This park is just fun!” she said.