The grind: 3rd Lair Summer Series a hit in Woodbury, Cottage Grove
It's the Little League of skateboarding.
3rd Lair's groundbreaking Summer Series hit south Washington County as the popular skateboarding competition took place at Woodbury's Ojibway Park and, most recently, at Hamlet Park in Cottage Grove.
The 3rd Lair's Summer Series is the first-ever cumulative points skateboard contest series in the state of Minnesota - and one of the only such events in the country. Taking a page from NASCAR, in the Summer Series, points are given to each competitor based on their final standing at each contest. The competitors with the most points at the end of the series are the winners. There are three overall champions crowned - at the beginner, intermediate and expert levels. The Summer Series culminates with the championships at the Minnesota State Fair - from Aug. 26 to 28.
In 2007, current 3rd Lair Skatepark and Skateboard Shop co-owner and president Mark Rodriguez and others at the Golden Valley-based company felt like it was time for someone to organize a way for local kids to compete in a professionally run contest series.
"For us, Summer Series was one of those obvious things that needed to happen," Rodriguez said. "Skateboarding is a summer sport for these kids. We wanted to create a regular, routine event like summer soccer or little league. It really gives that feel of a competitive team like a traditional sport."
Each summer 3rd Lair holds 14 Summer Series skateboard competitions - from May to the end of August. Roughly 50 competitive skaters from all over the metro took part in the contest on May 27 at the brand new Ojibway Park skatepark and at the Hamlet Park skatepark in Cottage Grove on July 26.
"It's really a great event," said Molly Pietruszewski of the City of Cottage Grove Parks and Recreation Department. " I was really impressed with how many Cottage Grove people signed up. It's great how many hometown kids we have take part. That's important to me."
In each Summer Series event, all riders get two, one-minute runs to show what they can do on rails, ramps and half pipes. At each event, riders have an opportunity to get up to 50 points. All entrants automatically get 10 points. First place gets an additional 40 points (50 total), second place gets 30 additional points, third place gets 20 additional points and so on. At the end of the contest series, everyone's points are added up and overall winners are decided. The top three finishers from each division at every Summer Series contest is eligible to compete at the State Fair. Winners of each division at each individual contest also receive a 'Golden Ticket' to the Midwest Melee - an annual contest held at 3rd Lair at the end of the summer - which puts them directly into the finals of that event. In addition to the competition, the events include live play-by-play, music and prizes. Chipotle, the new sponsor of the Summer Series provided 88 skateboards given as prizes at each location. Also, Chipotle covered the entrance fee for each skater this season, which was $10 per person in past years.
"Having Chipotle involved this year has been huge," Rodriguez said.
The Summer Series has made Cottage Grove one of its stops for the past five years.
"With this event we have a nice niche," Pietruszewski said. "With all the skaters and spectators you can tell it's needed. I was really happy with the turnout. It works out great and is really easy to promote."
This year was the first time the Summer Series came to Woodbury. Rodriguez said the new skatepark at Ojibway had a lot to do with 3rd Lair's decision to do so.
"They've really done a lot to their facilities to update and modernize in Woodbury," Rodriguez said. "We like to focus on communities that are making the extra effort. Cottage Grove represents one of those staple facilities that we use. We always have a really great turnout there and look forward to continuing that partnership."
Rodriguez said there are more skate shops and parks on the west side of the metro than in the east metro, but having the competitions in Woodbury and Cottage Grove is important to him.
"It's great to be able to put the spotlight on the east metro a little bit, because there are a lot of really good skaters on that side of town," he said.
Go to www.3rdlair.com for the full results, standings and cumulative point totals of every competitor at the Summer Series.