August 8, 2004
Years from now, when the Exit Skate Classic is an annual competition drawing hundreds of skateboarders to Salem, no one will remember how the first event really began.
So for the sake of history, this is how it went.
With a skateboard balanced across his knees, event organizer Jake Hauswirth scratched out a list of contests on a piece of paper, shrugged his shoulders, and said: “We’ll just wing it.”
And with that, the first Skate Classic was born Saturday at Bush’s Pasture Park on Soap Box Derby Hill.
The classic was put on by Exit Real World, the skate, snow, and surf clothing and equipment store in Salem.
More than 40 skateboard contestants, ranging in age from 10 to 42 came to the park, vying for a total of $1,000 in prize money in four different events.
Elimination-style contests took place in slalom, speed bomb, wheelie and ollie.
Tay Hunt, a professional skateboarder and past world champion from the 1970s, wowed the skating crowd by winning both the slalom and speed bomb events.
In the slalom run, Hunt successfully weaved his aerodynamic board through a 100-yard course of cones in the fastest time, earning him $250.
The second event, the speed bomb, featured skaters riding straight down the hill as fast as they could.
Hunt doubled his winnings when, again, he zipped down Derby Hill with a winning time of 16.73 seconds in the speed bomb.
Hunt, 42, grew up skating in empty swimming pools in Southern California, but quit when he was 17.
It wasn’t until a childhood friend of his told him about the contests that he decided to make a comeback.
Now living in Bandon, Hunt came to Salem to compete in the classic.
“I quit for 18 years, never touched a board before a friend of mine started winning money in these contests, and I thought, ‘I’m better than him, I should do that.’”
Other younger, and less experienced skaters didn’t get left out of the loot, however.
Noah Baxter, a 26 year-old Salem resident, surprised everyone, including himself by winning the ollie contest.
The event features skaters trying to jump with their board over a bar raised to a certain height.
After failing to clear 37 inches in practice, Baxter popped his board over the the height, drawing the day’s biggest cheers and $250.
“I’ve never won anything for skateboarding before, it’s always just been for fun,” Baxter said.
Dave Hupp of Portland won the wheelie competition, riding down the hill the farthest while balanced on his back wheels.
Ten-year-old Tyler Withers, the classic’s youngest competitor, didn’t win any money, but he did win a free T-shirt in a raffle drawing, making him happy.
As anyone who has ever been to Exit Real World knows, no one goes home without getting something for free.
“I had fun,” said the Morningside Elementary School student. His brother, 16-year-old Scott, eliminated him in the speed bomb.
Following the awards ceremony, a harried Hauswirth smiled and declared the day a success.
“Everything went pretty smoothly,” he said. “It was just good to get the local skating community together. I can’t wait to do it again next year.”
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