Hundreds of local skaters lined up at Lauridsen Skatepark at 9am on Sunday for the chance to skate the pro Dew Tour street course with Mariah Duran, Chris “Cookie” Colbourn, and Sean Malto for the fifth installment of the 2022 MTN DEW Unlock The Spot tour.
Mariah Duran (who hosted one of the previous Unlock The Spot events at Civic Plaza in Albuquerque, New Mexico) said watching the Des Moines locals mob the skatepark the moment the gates came down on Sunday hyped her up as much as anything else that happened in a weekend of Dew Tour highlights.
“It was pretty amazing seeing them just waiting at the gate, just so ready to go skate, that it kind of brought a tear to my eye.” Duran said. “It shows how big skateboarding is. It’s not always about the contests: even though those are super rad and fun, at the end of the day just getting out and skating with everybody will always beat that.”
Chris Colbourn (who hosted the Unlock The Spot tour stop at Hula Lakeside in Burlington, Vermont) said he was feeling the love from the Des Moines skate community all week, especially when they crowded the hill above the skatepark for his Men’s Street contest. He was honored to give back on Sunday by helping host a Cash For Tricks contest on some of the pro-level features that were temporarily installed to create the Street course, including a pallet of Mountain Dew that created a bump-to-gap-to-flat-to-step-down feature and a ramped Euro stair gap on the 9-stair rails feature.
“When I saw and heard those fans cheering from up on the hill during the Final, I could tell it means everything to the community here in Iowa that this Lauridsen Skatepark has been built: it looked like the whole town came out,” Colbourn said. “Subsect, their local skateshop team, won the shop contest yesterday and today we see dozens and dozens of local kids ripping. It just shows that this park is really breeding a lot of great skaters, in just a year since it opened, and I don’t think they could have chosen a better spot for it than out here along the river. I think these Unlock The Spot events have been super special because it’s great to see people skating just for the love of it: everybody’s throwing down and having a good time. You can feel that energy. It’s real!”
Sean Malto (who hosted the Unlock The Spot tour stop at “The Slabs” in Kansas City, Missouri) said it felt perfect to end the Unlock The Spot tour with the Lauridsen Skatepark event, sharing a proper Dew Tour contest course with the locals.
“You know, contests are amazing, they’re incredible. To get to see that type of talent displayed within an hour or two is a real treat for any skateboarder, but the core of skateboarding is street skateboarding,” Malto said. “For Mountain Dew to recognize that and to host Unlock The Spot on street spots that we’ve grown up skating, places we’ve been kicked out of our whole lives, for them to permit out these spots has been really special. It’s been cool to give the communities a chance to skate these street spots. And now to end it here in Des Moines, so kids can actually skate a contest-caliber skate spot with all these different features that are going away after the contest, I think it’s amazing. I’m psyched to be a part of it.”
Sunday’s Unlock The Spot event was organized with help from two skaters who were instrumental in building Lauridsen Skatepark in the first place, and in bringing Dew Tour to Des Moines.
Norm Sterzenbach is president of Skate DSM, the non-profit organization that helped get Lauridsen Skatepark built, with a mission to help Greater Des Moines become “a community where skateboarding is a celebrated activity, for people of all ages and backgrounds, that fosters community, creativity, health, perseverance, and leadership.” And Kevin Jones is the owner of Subsect Skateshop and a member of the board of directors at Skate DSM.
“It took almost 20 years to get the park built, but one of the great benefits of it taking so long is that we had to get so much buy-in from the community in order to get it built, that once it was built, we had already done the work to sell everybody on how amazing skateboarding was,” Sterzenbach said. “The community has just been solidly embracing skateboarding, and that’s been really amazing to see. I mean, just look around: the park is right in one of the best parts of the city, right downtown on the river, with beautiful views. Not only did they want to build the park, but they built it right where everyone can see it, right where it’s most accessible. It’s been so cool to see it getting skated by so many people year round, and an event like today, where the kids get to skate with the pros and reclaim their skatepark after a weekend of pro contests, is such a validation of everything we’ve done here: I got here at 7:30am and kids were already camped out by the gates, waiting for that 9am start.”
Skate DSM has been offering Learn To Skate clinics at the skatepark all year, to help build skills and create a healthy and positive skatepark culture, and also launched the Get On Board Project to make skateboarding even more accessible to the Des Moines community: as of Sunday, Get On Board is halfway to its goal of donating 500 complete skateboard setups to help get more kids in grades K-8 on skateboards, regardless of their families’ financial means.
Des Moines skaters got a lot of love this week, with Subsect Skateshop team skaters Jacob Kelly and Mirza Jasarovic winning Saturday’s Battle of the Shops and local Joey Murillo competing in the Adaptive Park contest, and dozens of locals taking stacks of cash off of Duran, Colbourn, and Malto on Sunday morning.
“It’s awesome that the hometown guys got to bring it home and listen to the Des Moines crowd cheer for them,” Sterzenbach said. “I mean, that’s just so cool and reminds the community in Des Moines that it’s not just the pros here for Dew Tour: we’ve got some really cool, really rad skaters that are here every day.”
Kevin Jones worked for more than 20 years to get the park built. At first it was about getting support from the local community and city government. Then it was about fundraising. Ultimately, he said, it was about building the right team to get it done.
Jones said watching the skaters participating in Sunday’s Unlock The Spot event helped illustrate the point of it all.
“After putting in that hard fight, all the years to get the skatepark and to better our skate scene, every day that I’m here at the skate park, I think to myself, ‘It was worth it,’” Jones said. “I will honestly tell you that after growing up skating these streets and all the years of fighting for skateboarding and for this park, and now coming here and seeing this place packed with people and pro skaters, I don’t know how many times I’ve had a tear in my eye. Stuff just finally worked out, after all these years. Now I get to sit back and watch this new generation that gets to grow up with this amazing skatepark. It won’t be long before we’ll have a hometown person skating in and winning the pro contest at Dew Tour.”