Louisville Skatepark

Louisville Skatepark
Hats off to Mayor Armstrong.
Words by Sali Baba

It always starts with a phone call describing transitional radness of some sort. It’s always embellished to the point where I don’t believe anything anymore until I see it with my own two eyes.

“The pool is epic!” he said. “You won’t believe it, man. It’s incredible! It’s the best thing I’ve ever seen!”

I hear this kind of stuff all the time, except most of the time the people are wacked in their descriptions of radness. So to get back on track, Keith Meek from Santa Cruz fame informed me that a friend of his had designed this hell-bent skatepark in the middle of B.F.E. It’s in the state of Kentucky, no less than three time zones away from Southern California-in Louisville, Kentucky of all places.

The last time I was in Louisville was for the NSA Bluegrass Ramp Jam where Gator (Mark Rogowski) won wearing all white, and Rob Roskopp, Jason Jessee, the Godoys (Art and Steve) got in trouble with some Christian girls’ school teens who were staying at the same hotel as us.

This time, one thing lead to another, and in a matter of days, I had the computer CAD designs in front of me-not really believing it was true. A fullpipe? Zach Wormhoudt-a big-wave surfer who rides Mavericks in Half Moon Bay, California-fell into the world of skatepark design after his father designed and built Derby and Soquel skateparks back in the days of myth and magic. With over twenty parks built to Zach’s credit, the city of Louisville wanted to step up things a few notches with something the big boys would remember. So basically, Zach came up with the craziest skatepark yet.

Extreme Sports Park

That’s right, and you can thank the city of Louisville’s Mayor Dan Armstrong, the design board of local skaters, the park and landscape architects like Zach Wormhoudt and Luckett & Farley who dreamed up the thing, Hardcore Shotcrete from Arizona, and Mac construction-the people who built it. A skater’s dream come true where the yellow-brick road really does exist-2.5-million dollars’ worth, and that’s just the first phase.

The park features all kinds of skate structures for the beginner to the pro/expert level. There’re painted signs corresponding to the degree of difficulty for the runs, ranging from “blue” for the starters to “black diamond” runs for the vertical KISS fans. Whether you’re into street, tech, bowls, carving, old school, or you’re just a plain overall ripper-you’ll love this park!

Louisville’s skatepark has separate yet connected bowls of various sizes from three to five feet in the beginner area, a six-to-seven-foot mid area with rounded hips to ollie over, enclosed eight-foot bowls connected to the street course that has rails and ledges of different sizes, and the grandpa of ’em all-the 24-by-40-foot-wide fullpipe connected to a long halfpipe-ish deal with hips on either side and a huge twelve-foot bowl that’s connected on the other side of the pipe. It’s completely ridiculous to have a park of this size and stature on the cusp of the Midwest. Unbelievable.

Where Are All The Boys At?

It was rumored to be a big weekend of skating with all-stars. Guys like Matt Moffett, Al Partanen, Eric Jueden, Lance Mountain, Kelly Bellmar, Rune Glifberg, Alan Petersen, Remy Stratton, Brian Howard, and Mike Peterson were supposed to show up. Nobody was there that first night except Dan Drehobl, Steve Nesser, Brewce Martin and some of his friends, and some locals like Larry Lesher, Dave Probus, and Walter.

We didn’t need any superstars, I guess, but it would’ve been nice to skate with them had they made it. They were blowing it! But believe me, there was plenty of excitement to be had as people cheered you on at midnight-hooting, hollering, screaming, and yelling. Plus, I got a chance to skate with Drehobl, which isn’t an everyday occurrence. Skating at night is tthe best, for sure. Especially when the park’s open with lights every day 24/7. Believe it or not.

Mayor Armstrong

Every skater should thank the mayor of Louisville, Mr. Armstrong. A former judge whose son happens to be an skater, he wanted to step up to the plate and build something that would not only put Louisville on the map, but make the skaters come back time and time again. With the recent success of the X-Games qualifier held in Louisville the previous summer (which brought over 90,000 people per day to the event), Mayor Armstrong figured if the city would fund and build the “extreme” park that “they” would come.

And he was right.

“They” are coming from the East Coast, the Midwest, the West

Coast, Canada, and even Europe-people are coming from all over.

On an average day, 4,000 kids skate the park, and 5,000 to 6,000 kids per day come on a busy weekend.

“These are just rough estimates,” said Mayor Armstrong. I’d say he’s right, judging by the people there throughout the day and night. The park is over 40,000 square feet, and the next phase will feature a 20,000-square-foot indoor wooden park with bowls, street obstacles, restrooms, water facilities, lockers, showers, and an upstairs skating and viewing platform. It’ll cost an additional two-million dollars, but it’s worth every penny to give the kids a place to skate. Hats off to Mayor Armstrong.

The Locals

What do you think of when you hear the word Louisville? Hicks? Fontucky? Bluegrass? The Smokey Mountains? Muhammed Ali? Inventor Thomas Edison’s discovery of the lightbulb? Isn’t Louisville the capital of Kentucky? I think of Kentucky bourbon. Or Daniel Boone with his ‘coon hat. Or how about the Louisville Slugger baseball bat? Well, when you think of Louisville now, you can think of skateboarding. Skateboarding in Kentucky? Hell yeah!

Just watch out for the locals. They’re out to get you. Because the place is open 24/7, lots of (shall I say, different?) people mill about-hill people, dudes with Mohawks, eleventeen-year-old girls with skimpy clothing, punkers, rockers, heavy metallers, guys with mullet haircuts, and college kids. Just keep your eyes open and watch out for the Rollerbladers because they never watch where they’re going. Oh, and also watch out for the lame BMXers who think they own the place-they’ll drop in on you at various drop-in spots along the vertical corridor.

The Last Sesh

We rode and rode until we couldn’t ride anymore. Cramps were the final stopper. The place takes a lot out of you because there’s no downtime-straight balls-to-the-walls concentration is needed on the black-diamond run at all times. Louisville, Kentucky is a place where dreams come true. Seriously. No other place in America is as rad as the whole package here. No pads, no rules, and lights 24/7. It doesn’t get any better than this. Do yourself a favor and go skate there. You won’t regret it! Louisville rules!