Teen's vision of vert ramp at skate park almost complete

July 14, 2012
photo - Jonathan Schwan at the skateboard park Saturday in Memorial Park. Photo by NATHAN VAIL/The Gazette
Jonathan Schwan at the skateboard park Saturday in Memorial Park. Photo by NATHAN VAIL/The Gazette 

On a hot Saturday, Jonathan Schwan saw two years worth of work finally come to fruition. Schwan, 15, was seeing the completion of two new vertical ramps at Memorial Park in Colorado Springs.

“This will be the only park in the U.S. with all four skate disciplines: vert, bowl, street, and super park,” he said — and it’ll be free to skate on.

The construction of the ramps started as a joint effort by Schwan and local nonprofit Sk8strong. They bought the ramps and the city agreed to cover most of the assembling costs. “The city has been an incredible help. I can’t thank them enough.”

On Saturday the six-foot vert ramp was completed. Schwan said the 14-foot ramp should be completed by next week. A vertical ramp is a U-shaped structure used in sports such as skateboarding and snowboarding.

“It’s coming up a lot faster than I thought,” Schwan said.

The wooden vert ramps have a large advantage over the concrete bowl because skaters have more assurances on the softer material. “The progression rate on wood is much faster,” said Schwan. “Skater’s confidence is increased and they learn tricks faster. It’s also all about mental conditioning.”

Robert Ehlers, 42, was at the park with his 7-year-old son, Lennox.

“The vision and focus of this project is amazing. The fact that we have a ramp of this size in Colorado Springs is incredible,” Ehlers said. He has been skating since his teens and felt he was coming full circle. “I haven’t been on a vert ramp in years,” he said.

He looked at the young skaters and said if given the resources they need, “Out of this group here, four or five might go pro.”

As for going pro, Schwan stressed that people should skate for the love of the sport. “It’s a safe place to come and think about other things. It’s also really helped my focus.”

Skaters at the park hope that the additions attract attention to Colorado Springs.

“We also want to have competitions and events here,” said Schwan.

Bradley Fallentine, 17, is an avid skater at the park. “We’ve got this amazing vert ramp now, and it’s one of the best ramps I’ve ever seen,” he said. “It’s gonna be a lot of fun.”

The park is the second largest of its kind in Colorado at 40,000 square feet. In April, the city approved $46,000 to build a 7,500 square foot concrete slab for the ramps to rest on.

Volunteers were putting the finishing touches on the smaller ramp. “I can’t wait to see what everyone does with it,” Schwan said.

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