- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 4, 2011

Skateboarders from around the globe rolled into Washington on Sunday to compete for one of the sport’s biggest cash prizes and properly scuff up the city’s newest skate park.

Wearing a navy knit hat, Hollywood, Calif., resident and longtime skateboard pro Andrew “the Boss” Reynolds took home the $160,000 first prize in the Maloof Money Cup competition thanks to his fancy footwork and aerial maneuvers.

Mr. Reynolds said skate parks like the Maloof Cup Park in which he skated to victory are important because “kids grow up skating on streets and wherever they can find,” but have to worry about being kicked out.

He also said the growing appeal of the “art” is that everyone is so different.

“Sometimes what you do wrong is better to watch,” Mr. Reynolds said.

Despite the humidity and threat of rain, skaters of all ages - many with parents in tow - braved the heat in skinny jeans and dark T-shirts to watch up-and-coming amateurs and well-known pros skate for more than $300,000 in prize money.

Unlike most special-event venues that are torn down after closing, the 15,000-square-foot park outside RFK Stadium, where the contest was held, will be a permanent fixture and good neighbor for the city, said co-founder Joe Maloof.

“We’re able to connect with cities because we leave something of great value to the kids,” he said. “Next year we’ll refurbish it and add more obstacles. This park gives them a place to go.”

Until now, District skaters had few opportunities beyond the Shaw Skate Park, in Northwest, or private or restricted public property.

“This keeps us from doing bad things,” said 18-year-old Kelvin Taper, as he stood in the shade bleachers with his board.

Lane Campbell, 13, said one of the best places to skate is Freedom Plaza, just blocks from the White House, but getting caught could result in police confiscating one’s board.

That’s where Mr. Maloof and his designers stepped in.

“We listened to the skateboarders,” he said. “They designed [a skate park] and we built it.”

The new park boasts multiple stages and stairs, banks and gaps and a bump to a metal trash can, which is commonly found in D.C. cement plazas.

Throughout the day the sound of skidding wheels and clapping boards could be heard the cement plaza as skaters launched their boards up and over ledges and balanced along the length of stair rails.

The Maloof group in 2010 built a skate park for Queens, N.Y., and at the end of this month the group will head to Kimberley, South Africa, for the Maloof Money Cup World Skateboarding Championships.

Mr. Maloof said he first noticed the popularity of skateboarding when he and his brother were hosting basketball camps in California.

They decided to run their own skateboard camps, which grew in popularity. The first Maloof Money Cup was held in 2008 in Orange County, Calif.

“We looked at the X Games and at the Mountain Dew Tour and thought what can we do that’s relevant to skateboarding,” Mr. Maloof said. “D.C. was first class. They rolled out the red carpet for us. Everyone was involved.”