Sharing the Good Vibes at Winter Park Skatepark
Visit Winter Park, Colorado
Sharing the Good Vibes at Winter Park Skatepark
By: Tyler Macleod
Winter Park Skatepark
Skateboarding has traveled a long way from its counter culture roots of the 1960s and 1970s. By the early 2000s, skateboarding had become so commonplace by way of Tony Hawk video games and highly televised X-Games events that it was no longer viewed as some degenerate’s sport – in fact, it suddenly became completely acceptable to tag it as such – a sport – as more and more kids were trading in baseball mitts and football helmets for a skateboard.
The ensuing result was more and more skateparks popping up all over the country to accommodate the rise in popularity and the desire to keep skateboarding and its sister sports’ counter culture antics off the streets, curbs and rails of local cities and communities. After the first decade of the new millennium, it seemed as though every town had its own skatepark. Unfortunately, quantity seemed to take priority over quality, and those few quality parks only existed in larger cities and heavily populated areas.
Which is what makes Winter Park’s skatepark such a diamond in the rough. Sure, it’s odd to consider the beauty of Winter Park and the surrounding areas as anything close to “rough,” but with such a small full-time population and a winter season that spans well over six months of the year, a skatepark of this magnitude and popularity seems highly unlikely.
But despite its unlikeliness, the skatepark is, in fact, a reality and has become an overwhelmingly popular space that is hardly taken for granted by its locals and summer visitors.
Initially built in the summer of 2007 by well-respected Grindline Skateparks, the skatepark located in Hideaway Park quickly became so popular that the town decided to expand another 6,000 square feet just three years later. By 2010, the skatepark was over 14,000 square feet thanks to grant funding by Great Outdoors Colorado and included three separate bowls, a snake run, multiple rails and manual pads and a growing influence on its local community – both young and old.
Today, the space is a hotspot of activity and provides a much-appreciated resource for local skaters and bikers – varying from the first timer to the seasoned veteran. As a result, the skatepark has created a community that transcends age, gender or background, tearing down social barriers that are so commonly found in the rest of everyday life. Nine-year-olds skate alongside 30-year-olds, girls alongside boys, skateboarders alongside BMXers, and the list goes on.
And perhaps that’s what really sets Winter Park’s skatepark apart from the rest. It’s not the physical layout – the quirky, yet still flowing transitions, or the smooth but grippy concrete – rather, it’s the camaraderie that is found there on those cool, midweek summer evenings when the sun is just starting the set and the clouds refract vibrant hues of orange, pink, purple and blue against the Continental Divide. There’s a strong sense of community that seems to manifest at these times, and the skatepark becomes a microcosm of the surrounding Fraser Valley – a sense that everyone is part of a larger something. Sure, the act of pushing around on a plank of wood and wheels seems trivial in the grand scheme of things, but that feeling of belonging to somewhere and to something is much more.
“I keep coming back to Winter Park skatepark because my heart tells me to,” says Sam Gold, who grew up in the area but now calls Denver home. “I can always know that good people are going to be there – even if they are strangers. The bonds that I have made there are bonds that I never want to break in my life.”
Gold, who is now in his late teens, is just as likely to skate with the “older dudes” as he is with the local teenagers. Age is just a number at the skatepark, and with that in mind has become a sort of fountain of youth for him and many of his peers; something that his friend and fellow skater Ricky Bugos is trying to share with the younger generations.
“I learned to skate here and now I teach lessons to give back to the kids,” says 16-year-old Bugos. “I just love this park – it’s flowy, fun and never gets old. You’ve got good vibes, live music going on, and just the locals make this place so great.”
Through the Fraser Valley Recreation District, Bugos and his sister, Carlie, teach skateboard lessons every Friday to help expose local and visiting youth to the skatepark scene. They instruct on everything from tricks to etiquette, ensuring that the younger generation can safely and enjoyably experience all that the culture has to offer for many years to come.
After all, skateboarding isn’t something that you just grow out of, especially in Winter Park.
“I’ve been skating there since I was 12,” says Gold. “I skated at Granby a lot, but was always drawn back to Winter Park where my friends were. I love so many parks because of the locals, but Winter Park just has a super low-key, chill vibe to it.”
So next time you’re in Winter Park, be sure to drop by the skatepark and see what the good vibes are all about. Whether you’re 15 or 50, a guy or a girl, a pro or a first-timer, the park will surely become a place you’ll want to revisit for years. Who knows, it may just make you want to trade in your own baseball mitt or football helmet for a board.
An East Coast transplant, Tyler grew up just north of Baltimore, Md., where he studied Journalism and New Media at nearby Towson University. He moved to Grand County in the fall of 2011, and aside from a brief stint in Bozeman, Mont., has called the Fraser Valley home ever since. Currently, he is a freelance writer and photographer who spends the majority of his free time snowboarding, cycling, and hanging out at the local skatepark.