Skateboard/BMX championships coming

Thompson will play host to the 2011 Northern Manitoba skateboard and BMX championships for the first time on June 4, says Jerome Conaty, owner of Funky Threadz skateboard shop in The Pas.

The contest will take place at the skatepark by the Norplex Pool and Conaty says he's looking forward to getting his first look at one of Thompson's newest recreation facilities.

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"Unfortunately, I haven't seen it in person, yet," Conaty said in an email interview. "But I've heard some very positive things about it."

Entrance into the contest is free and skateboarders and bikers will be divided into three age categories: youth (12 and under), teen (13 to 17 years old), and adult (18 years and up). The contest will start at 1 p.m. and registration will close one hour beforehand. Winners of the teen and adult competitions will qualify for contest in Winnipeg put on by Sk8 Skates and Ten pack BMX. All contest winners will take home other prizes as well, including clothing, hats, DVDs, t-shirts, bearings and BMX grips, among other items.

"It's a mix," said Conaty.

Competitors will be judged by experienced bikers and skaters, with consideration given to how much of the course and how many of the obstacles they use, the difficulty of the tricks beings performed, the overall effort and heart demonstrated by the riders and also the general impression that each rider's run gives.

The Northern Manitoba skateboard and BMX championships is getting close to double digits in terms of longevity.

"Our first competition was in 2003, so this is our ninth championship event," says Conaty, and in the past there have been an average of about 50 competitors for each sport.

The presence of a new skatepark was crucial in deciding to move the contest to a new community for the first time.

"The big factor in deciding on our location this year was the City of Thompson's new Norplex Park - given its very modern design and size, it could facilitate an event of this type," says Conaty. "Also we've had great support of our events from Thompson riders in the past, so it only made sense to help promote these sports in other locations within the Nor-Man region."

The contest isn't just for skateboarders and BMX bikers but also for spectators, providing an afternoon of outdoor entertainment at a price that can't be beat - free.

"I believe that Thompson people are very much like people here in The Pas," says Conaty. "We're always wanting to have a bit more variety from the norm, and see something different. This is the perfect opportunity. I just would like to welcome riders of all ages and skill levels to come out, and bring your families to cheer you on."

Some of those spectators may be surprised at the complexity of the tricks they see, even if they're friend or family members of skaters and riders.

"Skateboarding and BMXing have grown dramatically in popularity over the past decades, so the skill levels coming out of the North are definitely something worth seeing in person," Conaty says. "It's a great way to cheer on your kids for the sports they enjoy."

Skaters and bikers who aren't quite ready to perform on the contest stage are also more than welcome to attend, says Conaty, and likely to leave with more than just the memories of seeing what some of the North's other athletes can do. Part of the tradition at the Northern Manitoba skateboard and BMX championships is for Funky Threads to sponsor a product toss - where whoever's willing can try to get a hold of some free clothes or other accessories.

"Because people support the brands that we carry, our brands are very supportive back, and do help out," says Conaty. "Our shop does shoulder the majority of the associated costs, but to us, it's kind of like our 'Christmas' - there's no feeling greater than giving out armfuls of swag during 'product toss.' It's just one way to give back to the people that make our shop a success."

A sizable contingent from The Pas will probably make the trek as Funky Threadz has arranged for a bus to take approximately 30 to 35 people, including parents of riders under 13 to Thompson for the competition. For more information or to obtain a registration form, go to www.funkythreadz.com/2011comp.

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