Scoring freestyle points

In past years, an unassuming cluster of skateboarders varying in age would file into Verdugo Skate Park for what they and organizers characterized as often uninspired tournaments.

But Sunday, even with the weather gloomy and skaters banished to the basketball courts while their beloved park undergoes a face-lift, dozens were satisfied with the decision to trade sleeping in for the prospect of collecting ribbons and trophies.

More than 50 skaters throughout the day kick-flipped their way through team SKATE, a high-jump, flatland freestyle and flatland battle, said park manager Adam Porte. Organizers predicted a larger, more enthusiastic crowd with the installation of team competitions, Porte said.

Buddies Alex Liebendorfer and Ben Shourd looked on patiently as members of the 16-year-old division — including McCoy Kirgo and Oliver and Grady Kinnoin — tore through the team competitions employing tricks of varying degrees of difficulty.

“I want to get out there,” said Ben, pulling a small knit cap over a shock of dark hair.

A park facilitator, after discovering that the iPod connector was not going to get set up on the large speakers, asked skaters what their second choice behind Wu Tang Clan was — “’80s punk or Barry Manilow?” he asked. Manilow, chosen out of biting irony, no doubt, emerged as the crowd favorite.

Kyle Dunbar, of Whittier, rolled to Glendale with buddies from Two Felons Skate Co. While his team fared poorly in the team competition, partly because it wound up being more one-on-one, Dunbar expressed disappointment with the closure of nearby Verdugo Skate Park.

The city recently approved some $25,000 to overhaul the park. Coping joints, along with the tiles underneath, have significantly deteriorated, requiring daily repairs at an annual cost of roughly $3,700. The denser coping concrete comes with a five-year warranty and is designed to withstand the stress of standard skateboarding.

Constructed five years ago, the 15,000-square-foot facility features a 6- to 9-foot clover bowl with 11 feet over vert section, 6- to 10-foot kidney pool, street plaza with rails and ledges, snake run that lets out into a 9-foot bowl with a love seat. The park hosts about 1,500 visitors a month and generates about $36,500 annually from filming permits and nonresident user fees.

“It’s a great park, great flow to it,” Dunbar said.

Families huddled around the basketball courts for a final, while children as young as 8 mingled with much older peers.

By the time Dunbar’s bracket was ushered off the court, Alex and Ben were already skating, smiles stretched across their faces.


 CHRISTOPHER CADELAGO covers Burbank City Hall and the courts. He may be reached at (818) 637-3242 or by e-mail at christopher.cadelago@ latimes.com.

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