Because of the pandemic, it’s been two years since River Rat Skate Shop hosted its last skate competition, but that’s going to change this weekend.
River Rat has teamed up with Lawrence Parks and Recreation for the first time, and they’re planning to hold a much larger event than River Rat’s last contest.
“It’s been a long time coming, doing a contest,” said John “Nish” Niswonger, manager of the North Lawrence skate shop. “We like to do at least one a year.”
Saturday’s contest at Centennial Park will include beginner, intermediate and advanced categories for jam session competitions in addition to various best trick contests, all of which will be judged by River Rat’s five-person skate team.
“They’re gonna be judging and then putting on a little demo,” Niswonger said. “The sponsored guys are kind of the best guys in town, so that gives everyone else a chance to win something.”
The competition is open to all ages and is free to enter. Prizes for the winners include gift certificates to River Rat, T-shirts and skateboards, and there will also be a product toss, so even those who don’t win the competition will have a chance to get some prizes.
In addition to sponsoring skate competitions, River Rat has worked to rally Lawrence skateboarders and pushed for the City Commission to fund improvements to the skate parks in town, including the one at Centennial Park.
“It’s a nice park, but it has a lot of unfinished areas,” said Josh Rukes, River Rat’s retail and team manager. “We did get the city’s approval for some improvements, but it’s been pushed back to December.”
With the inclusion of skateboarding in the Summer Olympic Games this year, Rukes is hoping the sport will be given more attention so that more improvements can be made.
“We’re trying to really expand the park and possibly maybe even get an indoor one or a sports pavilion,” he said. “Just with it being in the Olympics, we would hope that people are gonna start taking it a little more seriously.”
Registration for the event starts at 1 p.m. and the competition begins at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 4 at Centennial Park, 600 Rockledge Road. There is no vaccine requirement, but masks are recommended, and helmets are mandatory for all competitors.