In-line skaters relish the chills, skills of their `aggressive' sport


January 12, 2000|By Heather Tepe | Heather Tepe,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

UNDER A cold winter sky, Nathan Pesce, 16, dressed in T-shirt, baggy jeans and skating helmet, swooped down the half pipe. For those not in tune with skating culture, a half pipe is a 180-degree wooden ramp in the shape of a half circle.

Nathan was demonstrating a switchstance kind grind, moving sideways on the edge of the half-pipe platform at Columbia SkatePark. It was a maneuver that won him first place last summer in the Best Trick competition at Camp Woodward, an aggressive in-line skating camp in Woodward, Pa.

The summer camp wasn't cheap. A one-week session cost $685. Equipment wasn't cheap either. Nathan's skates cost $289.

A helmet -- required equipment for aggressive in-line skating -- costs about $35, although you can pay more. Knee pads are $25; elbow pads are $15 to $20. Wrist guards are $10 to $45. Shin guards are $20. You also need a pair of pants that you don't mind destroying.

At camp, Nathan enjoyed the opportunity to learn some new skills and chill with other skaters.

"It's huge, and the ramps are so good," he said. "It's like real phat."

Nathan lives with his parents, Dennis and Debbie Pesce, and his brother Jonathan, 5, near the Village of Hickory Ridge.

His brother Anthony, 18, a freshman at Clemson University in South Carolina, was a pole vaulter at Atholton High School.

Nathan loves the challenge of aggressive in-line skating.

"It's hard to do," he said. "Most all of the tricks are dangerous."

So far, he's been lucky. His only injuries from skating have been two sprained wrists, a pulled muscle in his back and bruises.

A junior at Wilde Lake High School, Nathan is glad to have a place in Columbia where he can skate without being hassled. But, like other skating enthusiasts, he wishes the park were bigger. The SkatePark is adjacent to the Columbia Association's SportsPark in the Village of Harper's Choice.

"I think they made it too small," he said.

He prefers the layout at larger parks, such as Spicy's SkatePark in White Marsh, where a greater variety of apparatus is available and the ramps are bigger. The Columbia park has two low flip bank ramps, two quarter pipe vert walls, a three-sided bank launch box with a rail, and a 20-foot kink rail.

Ask Nathan what all that means.

Admission to the park requires a signed waiver from parents.

Town Center resident Troy Timberlake, 28, started aggressive in-line skating seven months ago. He took up the activity as a way to exercise.

"It's a great sport," he said. "I like it because you have to challenge yourself."

Timberlake agrees that the Columbia SkatePark would be better if it were bigger and had a different layout.

He hopes that even though the SportsPark is expected to fall $145,000 short of budget projections this year, the Columbia Association will expand the SkatePark.

"I don't want to knock anybody's design, but I've never been to a park that actually has planters in it," Timberlake said. "They definitely get in the way."

Andrew Price, 17, a senior at Long Reach High School, works part-time at the SkatePark.

Andrew said 20 to 25 people a day visit the park on weekends. The biggest problem they have at the park, he said, is making sure the skaters and skateboarders wear pads.

Wearing pads is not cool, the kids said, although they are willing to wear helmets.

Timberlake and Lee Barwick, 21, of Kings Contrivance have formed a club for in-line skaters.

Their Columbia Inline Aggressive Skate Club has 50 members ranging in age from 5 to 28.

The club is organizing a trip Saturday to Cheap Skates -- an indoor skate park -- in Line Lexington, Pa. They plan to sponsor trips to other parks and to co-sponsor competitions at the Columbia SkatePark with Rascals -- a store in The Mall in Columbia that sells skateboards, in-line skates, snowboards and accessories.

Club dues are $10 for the first year; $5 after that.

Information about the Columbia Inline Aggressive Skate Club: Rascals, 410-730-2344.

Information about Columbia's SkatePark: 410-715-3054.

Longfellow winners

Thirty-nine pupils at Longfellow Elementary School participated in the 1999 National PTA Reflections Program.

Students were invited to create works of literature, visual arts, musical compositions and photographs in response to this year's theme, "Anything is possible "

Twenty-three Longfellow pupils have had their work chosen to advance to the county level for judging. In visual arts, they are Natalie Burke, Jeffrey Chiariello, Caitlin Foarde, Theresa Schwarzwalder, Maddie Burke, Andre Geovjian, Caroline Romero and Elizabeth Thomas.

For photography, Matthew Bollinger, Emily Rizzo, Sam Scheltema, Derek Gandy, Tory Schuster, Ben Tschirgi and Laura Tschirgi will move on to the next level of judging.

In the literature category, winners at the school level are Anne Schwarzwalder, Matthew Steinberg, Paul Tschirgi, Carolyn Bevans, Jill Cleveland, Derek Gandy and Laura Tschirgi.

The National PTA Reflections Program is open to students in preschool through grade 12. Submissions are judged by professionals in each field and the work chosen is advanced to the state or national levels for judging.

Photos at Slayton House

Slayton House Gallery in Wilde Lake Village Center is presenting an exhibit by the Maryland Photographic Alliance, "Inner Visions -- 2000," through Jan. 29.

The exhibit focuses on several categories, including animal photography and new photographic techniques.

Included is work by artists Jay Anderson, Marilyn Anderson, Roderick Barr, Chuck Bress, Pat Bress, Ron Brunsvold, Clarence Carvell, Alex Cummins, Dave Hornick, Suzanne Izzo, Anne Lewis, Gunther Miller, Jim Mitchell, Anne Rohlfing, Richard Rohlfing, Maxwell Strange and Becky Swick.

Information: 410-730-3987.

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