The Way to ride

KAPAA — It’s not every day that most skaters get to practice their skills on a mega ramp — a vertical ramp structure that can, in some cases, span from 200 to 360 feet in length.

It’s even more of a treat, for those who are not faint-hearted, to take that leap of faith alongside professional skateboarder Danny Way, who helped to pioneer the use and setup of mega ramps — now a common fixture at high-profile competitions like the X Games.

But that is what happened on Saturday as nearly 50 people from Kauai Skate Ohana and the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Kauai converged on Way’s home in Kapaa, where he built his own mega ramp, about four stories tall, in his backyard.

“I’m trying to share as much aloha spirit with everybody as possible,” Way said. “I know a lot of people have had some curiosity with what I’ve built here, and obviously, it’s not for everybody, but at the same time, it’s still attractive for kids and people who are intrigued by skateboarding, so I wanted everybody to come take a look and have a little bit of an experience up here to get a feel of what we do.”

Tessa Bueno, who grew up skating and has known Way since she was a teenager, encouraged her 5-year-old son, Titan Lindstedt, to try his hand at the sport with a little help from visiting professional skateboarder Jake Brown.

Bueno said her son wasn’t really getting into it, at least not yet, but explained that the sport itself means a lot to her.

“It’s a family thing,” she explained. “I’ve known some of these guys for decades, so for me, it’s family — it’s a common thread that binds together.”

Kauai Skate Ohana Co-founder Mark Cooper agreed and said skateboarding allows him and other volunteers “to influence the youth in a positive manner through character building and an encouraging atmosphere.”

“It just shows kids the possibilities of what’s out there and gives them an avenue to do something new and exciting,” Kauai Skate Ohana Co-founder Mark Cooper. “It’s a physical outlet as well, too. I mean, you’ve got surfing and mixed martial arts on this island for kids to do — and hunting — unless they want to get involved in school sports, so that leaves a lot of kids that have a lot of aggression who don’t have a big outlet. Skateboarding just funnels that energy into an outlet, so it becomes a positive thing.”

The event, Way said, also gave him the opportunity to collaborate with people who are interested in seeing a new skate area in Kapaa. In February, the part-time resident unveiled plans to revitalize the skate area in Kapaa New Town Park with the help of Kauai State Ohana and his charity, the Danny Way Foundation.

Now that he has come up with a design for the skate park, Way estimated it would cost about $500,000 to complete the project, which would include a covered ceiling structure.

“We’re at a stand still until we can raise more money,” Way said. “I wish I was in the position to do it — I would do it so quickly just because I want to see it done so bad. If the community want it this bad, it’s going to be our job to come together as a community and make it happen.”

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Darin Moriki, county government reporter, can be reached at 245-0428.

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