Biking through downtown Des Moines today, we encountered many young people riding or carrying skateboards and speaking all kinds of language. “Where are you from?” I asked one smiling handsome young guy. “Argentina!” he said with a big smile, reminding me of the fun-loving Argentinians I worked with on a kibbutz 40-some years ago.
Des Moines’s new world-class Lauridson Skatepark (reportedly the nation’s largest), overlooking the river downtown, is hosting a world-class skateboard competition, the Dew Tour, (as in Mountain Dew), that starts this Thursday May 20 and runs through May 23. Word has it the tour is the only U.S.-based Olympic skateboard qualifying event in 2021. (Skateboarding will debut as an Olympic event this summer in Tokyo, if the games happen.)
Tickets sold out in a flash but you can see the pros – and wannabes and amateurs – doing crazy stunts now, from a comfortable perch atop 2nd Street near I-235. (We rode our bikes there.) I was the one exclaiming “Oh my God!” as young men zipped up and down a pro-level course designed for world-class and amateur events. We overlooked what looked like a deep unfilled swimming pool, watching young fearless men flipping in mid-air, zipping down and back up, riding the rim of the pool and any other rim of any other structure nearby. When they got separated from their board, they’d often catch it and land like acrobats on the side wall of the pool and run down and back up. They seemed to be having the time of their lives – and I’m glad they were wearing helmets.
The skateboarders have discovered Zombie Burger in the East Village. Quite the scene, with an unlikely mix of long-haired often foul-mouthed but otherwise pleasant young skateboarders (“I met this f-king Finnish dude, f-king rad,” the skinny scraggly-haired skateboarder said to his pal at the table next to us), bikers in black leather jackets (the “Nomads” appear to be amassing), Little League families and us. Love it!