Bringing ‘flow’ to the parking garage
VAIL ” The raw materials are laid out on the top level of the Lionshead parking garage: planks, plywood, rails. Power tools are strewn about and music is blasting.
Time to make some sweet jumps.
That is the task of Jona Owings, a 30-year-old from Georgia who the town of Vail tapped to build its new skate park.
Owings, with long blond hair, a beard, a T-shirt that reads “Antihero,” and a colorful tattoo on his elbow, owns Hazard County Construction. Building jumps is gratifying, like giving Christmas gifts, he says.
“From a heart standpoint, if I did something else, I’d be an idiot,” he says.
Owings’ crew mills about the site. There is Allen Russell, who is framing a “pyramid” feature. His boss says Russell is one of the best skateboard-jump-makers in the world.
“I don’t care if that dude punched me in the face ” I wouldn’t fire him,” Owings says as Russell toils away, shrouded in a hoodie.
There is also Travis Wiles, a 19-year-old from Santa Cruz., Calif., who Owings hired a few months ago when they met at a South Carolina skate park.
A good skate park must have, above all, flow, Owing says, and this park will have plenty of it, he assures a visitor.
“It’ll be a figure-eight motion,” he says. “That infinity symbol is the way to go.”
It will have a miniramp, rails, “weird banks” and “angled ledges,” he said. The park is designed so it will appeal to a wide range of ages, from 4-year-olds to 40-year-olds, he said.
Skateboarding is safe ” it has the same injury rate as volleyball, Owings says. And, now, decades after skateboarding became popular, fathers are teaching their sons how to skateboard.
“Just like going fishing or something,” he says.
The crew is now spending about eight hours a day, six days a week, rain or shine, and staying in the Holiday Inn. They toiled as grapple snow fell last weekend. Owings calls it Dippin’ Dots, a candy that, coincidentally, is quite popular with skateboarders these days, he says.
They spend a lot of time on the road, Owings says. From here, they’ll go to Boulder, North Carolina and maybe Florida.
Vail paid Hazard County $160,000 to build the park. The company will come back to Vail to take it apart this fall, and the park is supposed to return next year.
The skate park should be a good fit for Vail, Owings says.
“A lot of kids, if they can handle that,” Owings points to the mountain “they’re not going to have a problem here.”
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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