Air Time

By Dennis Browne
Photos by Dan Sparanga

It's not all puppies and ice cream at the Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA. Sure, kids shoot hoops, swim laps and play hopscotch there, but the Encinitas Y location is also home to one of the county's gnarliest vert ramps.

Vert ramps can get junky from weather and neglect, but the dedicated Y staff keeps their ramp in tip-top condition. Even vert god Tony Hawk has been known to skate there, and apparently his gift-to-shred has rubbed off on a few of the grommets that make the place their second home.

Logging copious air time at the Y each week-often shredding like pros-are: Annika Vrklan, 7, Evan Aronson-Neel, 9, Sammy Schoonderwoerd, 15, and Austin Poynter, 16.

These four bust their noses, break bones and get knocked out...and love nearly every minute of it. They'd all gladly pitch a tent and crash at the Y to gain an extra hour of riding time-if only their parents would let them.

Expect great things from these four upstarts. And when one or more of them ascend to the ranks of Tony Hawk, remember-you saw them here first.

* See lingo definitions at bottom of page

AUSTIN POYNTER (AGE 16)

PacificSD: What's the gnarliest trick you've done on a vert ramp or pool?
Poynter: It would have to be a 540.
Why did you choose vert skating instead of street skating?
Vert always seemed more interesting to me. When I first saw a vert ramp, I told myself, "I want to do that one day."
Describe your worst slam.
I was skating in a pool about 10-feet deep, trying a backside disaster.* It didn't feel right, so I bailed, but on the way down I clipped my foot on the board, and the board flung up in the air
and came straight down on my spine. It pushed my disc forward and I still have to get it pushed back every couple months.
Are you scared to slam like that again?
It was kind of random, but it's still pretty scary.
Number of hospital visits?
About four-just one broken wrist, knock on wood.
Do you listen to music when you skate?
I thrash to the Ramones, Guns N' Roses, Black Sabbath and AC/DC, with some Red Hot Chili Peppers in the mix.

Fill In the Blanks: Austin
I've been skating for: Seven years.
My sponsors are: Oakley, Powell-Peralta, Bones wheels, Osiris skate shoes, S-One helmets, 187 pads and McGill's Skateshop.
My favorite skater is: Alex Perelson, because he has the best style and can skate everything.
My favorite music to skate to is: Classic rock.
Skateboarding is cooler than rollerblading because: It's not even close!
If I won the lottery today, I would: Bring back the old Vans mini-ramps and street course. My goal in skateboarding is to: Keep it fun.
I would be

stoked

if skateboarding became an official Olympic event, because: It would be getting the recognition it needs.

ANNIKA "ANNI" VRKLAN (AGE 7)
PacificSD: What's the gnarliest trick you've done on a vert ramp or pool?
Vrklan: Frontside 5-0* grind on the deep end of the 11-foot bowl.
Is skateboarding cooler than other sports?
No, because most of the skaters I know do a ton of sports, and it is cool to be on a team as well.
Why did you choose vert skating over street skating?
When I started skating, I did skate all transition.* But now I skate everything from bowl to vert to mini-ramp and am really loving rails and huge ollies* in the street.
Describe your worst slam.
It was two years ago, when I was 5. I was warming up for the King of the Groms contest (editor's note: a national skateboarding competition for skaters ages 12 and younger). I was doing a
frontside air, slipped and did a huge faceplant. I went and iced my face in the office and competed anyway, because that's how I roll.

Number of hospital visits?
Once, when I was born.
Do you listen to music when you skateboard?
I'll crank up some Black Eyed Peas, No Doubt, Chili Peppers or All American Rejects.
Do you want to compete with the guys when you grow up?
Yes. I already do and I know I can hang.

Fill in the blanks: Anni
I've been skating for: Three years.
My sponsors are: Hoopla Skateboards, Les Ettes Cosmetics, All Girl Skate Jam, Rockstar Bearings, Tail Wags helmet covers, Little Ruler clothing and Grind King.
My favorite skater is: Lyn-Z Adams Hawkins, because she is so nice to me and inspires me to pull a 720.
My favorite music to skate to is: Fast music like pop and rock. It feels just like I am flying.
When I'm not skateboarding, I like to: Surf, go to the pool, snowboard, do gymnastics and play with my friends.
If I won the lottery today, I would: Build an indoor skate park where all the kids could skate every day, and give the rest to my mom and dad. We would travel to the coolest
skate spots all over the world.
The best thing about skateboarding is: Hanging out with my friends and learning new tricks.
The worst thing about skateboarding is: Slamming hard  spraining anything or watching any friends get hurt.
My goal in skateboarding is to: Always have a great time. I like to have sessions with pros, old guys, groms and anyone that will skate with me and loves what they do.
I would be

stoked

if skateboarding became an official Olympic event, because: Everybody would see that skateboarding does rule, and the signs that say "no skateboarding"
would stop.

EVAN ARONSON-NEEL (AGE 9)
PacificSD: What's the gnarliest trick you've done on a vert ramp or pool?
Aronson-Neel: Frontside 540* on the vert ramp at the YMCA in Encinitas.
Is skateboarding cooler than other sports?
Yeah, skaters are just different. But any sport is better than video games. And it's my transportation.
Why did you choose vert skating instead of street skating?
I also like street skating. Variety is the spice of life.
Describe your worst slam.
I was trying to board-slide a big rail and sacked* it. It was sunny out. Is that descriptive enough?
Are you scared to slam like that again?
Scared is a big word, but, yes.
Number of hospital visits?

I broke my arm walking on the train tracks, broke my hand running to the water fountain. Nothing from skating, though.
Do you listen to music when you skateboard?
I like Green Day, Dead Kennedys, Jacko, Cee Lo Green , AC/DC, Purple Helmet-that's my dad's horrible band-NOFX and Nirvana.

Fill in the blank: Evan
I've been skating for: Seven years.
My sponsors are: Emerald City Surf/Skate in Coronado and Anarchy Eyewear.
My favorite skater is: Tony Hawk.
My favorite music to skate to is: Green Day.
Skateboarding is cooler than rollerblading, because: Rollerblading is lame-no offense.
When I'm not skateboarding, I like to: Play the drums, play baseball and eat candy.
If I won the lottery today, I would: Buy a yacht, build a huge hotel with a skate park and buy a party island with waves for when I'm 21.
My goal in skateboarding is: To become a pro.
I would be

stoked

if skateboarding became an official Olympic event, because: I'd be competing, going for the gold, baby!

SAMMY SCHOONDERWOERD (AGE 15)
PacificSD: What's the gnarliest trick you've done on a vert ramp or pool?
Schoonderwoerd: A corked-out Indy 540.*
Is skateboarding cooler than other sports?
Yes. Skating is less performance-based and more about expressing yourself creatively. With skating, you don't have to be super tall or a certain body type. You can shred no matter what size you are.
Why did you choose vert skating instead of street skating?
You go a lot faster and a lot higher.
Describe your worst slam.
I got knocked trying an Indy 540. The last thing I remember is going up the ramp, and then I was laying on my back, looking up at the bottom of the ramp with seven people surrounding me.
Number of hospital visits?
Seven. I've been lucky to not break a bone in skating but I have gotten a lot of concussions-and stitches about three times.
Do you listen to music when you skateboard?
No. Every time I listen to music while skating, I get worked. I fell and bent my iPod so bad it looked like a half-pipe.
What have been your biggest achievements in skateboarding?
Probably the Gatorade Free Flow Tour in Salt Lake City. I got free food, free flight, free hotel. I felt like a rock star. It was so rad.

Fill in the blank: Evan
I've been skating for: Eight years
My sponsors are: McGill's skate shop, Powell, Bones, S-One helmets, 187 pads.
My favorite skater is: Alex Perelson, because he works really hard and he just wants to learn new tricks. He doesn't sweat contests too much.
Skateboarding is cooler than rollerblading because: Which is in the X Games ? Enough said.
When I'm not skateboarding, I like to: Play basketball, surf, hang out with friends.
If I won the lottery today, I would: Travel all over and skate every park in the world. Also, I would go skydiving-one of my top goals in life.
The best thing about skateboarding is: Working super hard to land a trick and finally stomp it.
The worst thing about skateboarding is: Slamming and having to take time off from skating. Then you're all rusty.
My goal in skateboarding is to: Work as hard as I can and learn as many tricks as I can. The rest will pan out.
I would be

bummed

if skateboarding became an official Olympic event, because: Skateboarding is so much different than just a random sport. It has no rules or regulations.

SAY WHAT ?!  *Skate lingo defined:
BACKSIDE DISASTER: 180-degree turn with a stall/pause at the top of the ramp
CORKED OUT: air with a combo twist/invert (upside down)
FRONTSIDE 5-0 GRIND: only back truck (wheel axle) grinds pool coping
INDY 540: 540-degree rotation combined with an Indy (back-hand) grab
OLLIE: popping the board into air using momentum from feet and legs (no hands)
SACKED IT: fell painfully-with one leg on either side of a rail
TRANSITION: skating on anything but the street or flat ground (i.e., ramps or pools)

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