Skateboarding rolls into the Cornhusker State Games

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July 13, 2011 - 7:00pm

It's not uncommon to see a Cornhusker State Games event at a sports bar, a school or in the middle of a lake. But what about inside a mall?

The Cornhusker State Games continues to grow. With the addition of three new events this year - skateboarding, pickelball and bass fishing - the CSG has grown from a 19-sport event with 3,000 participants in 1985 to 65 competitions hosting more than 12,000 athletes.

Dave Mlnarik is the executive director of the Nebraska Sports Council. He said the addition of these sports helps fulfill the mission of the games.


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Photo by Hilary Stohs-Krause, NET News

JR Smith practices on July 6, 2011, at Bay 198 at Westfield Shopping Center in Lincoln, Neb.



Photo by Hilary Stohs-Krause, NET News

Dusty Rue, 19, has been skateboarding since he was seven. Seen here at Bay 198 in Westfield Shopping Center in Lincoln, Neb., Rue will be participating in the Cornhusker State Games this weekend.

"The state games are a quality of life event," he said. "It's one thing that brings together Nebraskans from all parts of the state."

The Cornhusker State Games kicks off its opening ceremonies at 8 p.m. on Friday, July 15 at Seacrest Field in Lincoln. The next morning, at Bay 198 in the Westfield Shopping Center, skateboarding officially rolls into the roster of events for Nebraska's version of Olympic-style statewide competitions.

Bay 198 is Lincoln's only indoor skate park. It has an urban feel: concrete floors, graffiti on the walls, stairs, railings, ledges and what look like discarded boxes strewn about. It's designed to give the skateboarders a sense of skating on the street.

Mike Smith is the state games' skateboarding director, and owner of Bay 198. He said one reason the sport is being added to this year's games is popularity.

"Skateboarding has been one of the fastest-growing sports for a long time," said Smith. "It's the third most popular thing for kids to do."

Smith said 25 percent 14- to 16-year-olds say they like to ride a skateboard.

"Skateboarding doesn't get the credit it deserves as far as athleticism and how talented these guys are," Smith continued.

He said skateboarders are not unlike any other athlete: practicing a half-pipe move for hours on end is no different than a basketball player shooting a thousand free throws or a gymnast endlessly working on a floor routine.

"Guys will spend 8 hours working on one trick and then they'll get it dialed in, and once they've got it, they've got it," he said. "It's hard to see cause it happens so fast, but if you could slow it down to see everything it takes to do just a simple kick-flip - the pop and the flick of the board, and (then) the board rotates a full 360 degrees, then you land back on it. The mechanics and hours it takes to learn that trick alone is just insane."

The two other new sports to the Games are pickleball and bass fishing.

Pickleball, according to the USA Pickleball Association website - is played on a badminton court with the net lowered to 34 inches at center. Players use a perforated plastic baseball - similar to a whiffle ball - and wood or composite paddles.

Mlnarik said pickleball is a fast game, but it doesn't require the stress on the body's joints like tennis. Like tennis pickelball might be played as a single or doubles.

"It kind of took hold in Omaha the past three or four years, and now it's kind of spreading through the state of Nebraska," Mlnarik said.

The pickleball event will begin at 8 a.m. next Saturday, July 23 at Meadow Lane Park, 116th and Farnam streets in Omaha.

For those interested in bass fishing, the boating competition will be held at Branched Oak Lake in Raymond, with registration beginning at 5 a.m. and launch set for 6 a.m. Each boat must consist of either a two-person team or an individual.

As for the skateboarders, Smith said he expects between 150 and 200 contestants and spectators. Beginners, intermediate and advanced skaters compete Saturday, July 16, with experts taking to the pavement Sunday, July 17.

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