Stars come out in finals

ORANGE — With his backspins, big jumps off of the sides of the wooden ramps and attacks of large rails Wednesday night at Vans Skatepark, Huntington Beach sophomore skateboarder Chris Chavaria took home a shiny medal.

Wearing a helmet, T-shirt and shorts, Chavaria rode his trusty skateboard to a narrow victory in the street finals of the National Scholastic Skateboarding League indoors at The Outlets at Orange.

The 16-year-old from Garden Grove rode nearly all sides of a large course that included big ramps, rails, wooden boxes and several jumps.

Only 10 points separated the top three in the final standings. Oiler teammate Aaron Kim scored 285 points, while Franky Villani of Costa Mesa High was third with 279 points. Both Kim and Villani also made it to the 10-man bowl finals, with Kim finishing ninth (231 points) and Villani 10th (228).

"It was just my positive [attitude], my happiness and my backspins," Chavaria said of how he won the finals. "It was very tough. Everyone was killing it out there. This was my second win in the street competition. It feels great."

Gage Boan of Edison High won another close competition, beating Tylor Hollenbeck of El Toro in the high school bowl competition, 261-255. After he was done skating, Boan wore a top hat, appropriate for being king of the bowl.

"Throughout the season, Tyler and I have pushed each other," Boan said. "We get a lot of energy from the contest. You go way higher than you normally would. My best trick was a back flipside, where you turn 180 degrees to the board side."

In middle school contests, Costa Mesa Middle School's Michael Schmidt was the star. He won the street finals over Mateo Rael, 282-281, and was second to Colby Franz of Sowers Middle School of Huntington Beach, 279-266.

Each skateboarder was given two runs and three judges each gave them points up to 100. Only their best runs were counted.

As for the league, which finished its second season, it has gone from four teams to 23. League president Katrina Foley said the NSSL has had inquiries about adding teams in Los Angeles, San Francisco, the Inland Empire and perhaps teams in Colorado, New York, Florida and Chicago.

"It's gone beyond what anyone expected," Foley said. "More kids skateboard than play soccer. Eighty percent of the kids in our league have a 2.5 GPA or above. We have pro skateboarders coaching, pros that're judging. We need volunteer coaches and the league pays $500 per season."

Chavaria's best run was his first one. He jumped high off the side of one ramp, went cleanly down the big rail, was able to skid off his back wheels on a metal rim and he tried to land after flipping his board in the air but wasn't quite able to nail it 100 percent. But those earned two marks of 97 and another of 95 from the judges.

Kim showed his wicked skills in the second run. He spun off the ramp on a ramp directly in front of the judges, put together a 180-degree board spin, spun the board on top of another ramp and landed it, then he executed a "fakie," or rode a board backward for a couple seconds.

Villani put together another outstanding first run. The junior with the long hair threw together a 360-degree, clockwise spin with his board, then he put his feet on it a second before it stopped spinning. He landed a backside move off a medium-sized ramp.

"I did all right," Villani said. "I tried a backside flip, where you flip your skateboard while turning 180 degrees. It was pretty fun."

Huntington Beach won a narrow team victory, 24-22, over Northwood High of Irvine. The Oilers won the street finals.

Dwyer Middle School finished second with 19 points in the team standings, with Costa Mesa finished third with 18 points.

"I think we did really well on street," Huntington Beach head coach Matt Reindold said. "They're a local crew, they've been here in Orange about three to four times per week. It was a very high level of competition, we thought going in that it was going to be up in the air."

Boan appeared to put together his best combinations of moves in the second run. He caught some impressive air off the big ramp. He threw down a front side indie grab, where the board is grabbed with the rear hand on the toeside rail of the board while rotating in a backside direction.

Boan also put down a "backside disaster," where a skateboarder pops the skateboard into the air, turns 180 degrees and lands in the center of his board with the front trucks facing toward the ramp and the back trucks over the lip. The skater then leans forward to return back in the ramp. He also put together a fingerflip, where a skater flips the board with his or her hand.

Kouhei Kito of Dwyer Middle School also showed some versatility, finishing third in the street finals with 269 points and eighth with 232 points in the bowl finals.

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