Maybe next time
Insurance stalls organized skateboarding competition at new park

Dane Gibson
Northern News Services

NNSL (Sep 17/99) - With close to 100 kids kicking it on the half-pipe, sliding the rail and tuning their boards last Sunday at Yellowknife's Frame Lake South skate park, you would think there was a skateboarding event going on.

It's true a small army of youth tried all summer to organize an official competition, but Storefront For Volunteer Agencies manager of volunteers Shawn McCann was quick to point out that the bustling skateboard park was just a bunch of kids having a good time, not a competition.

"We had around 20 kids attend five meetings this summer to help organize a skateboarding event. It didn't happen," McCann said.

"Everyone says these kids volunteered their time to organize it for themselves, but they were doing it for their friends. They were doing it because they were bored and that's something everyone should be aware of."

After posting a bulletin at the park asking kids if they wanted to plan a competition, the response was huge. A few meetings later, they had a commitment from the Saint John's Ambulance Brigade and RCMP members wishing to volunteer at the event.

Helmets were donated by the Stanton Regional Hospital and Overlander Sports came forward with several prizes. The problem came when the City of Yellowknife raised insurance concerns. Even though the law firm of Bayly Williams donated their time to draft a waiver form for participants, a city official confirmed special events on city property fall outside the city insurance policy.

"The city was very supportive, they thought it was a good idea, but currently they won't allow us to hold an event without our own insurance," McCann said.

For the one day event, $1 million in extra liability was necessary at a cost of $2,500.

"Because skateboarding has a rebel image and it's not organized, the premiums are extremely high. We did try and raise the money, but we couldn't raise enough," McCann said.

Perhaps those most disappointed were the kids.

"I like skating because it gives me something to do with my time, rather than going out and doing drugs and drinking. Besides, it's really fun," Matthew Rivet said.

"I tried helping out to get (the competition) to work. It really made me mad when I found out what the insurance cost for one day."

When Sarah Reid found out the deal had fallen through, she felt the community missed out on a great opportunity to learn more about skating.

"When I heard we couldn't have a competition I was like; 'That sucks,'" Reid said.

"Skateboarding takes a lot of skill and if we had an event that the people could come and watch, they would probably appreciate the sport more."

Overlander Sports still allowed McCann to give out the prizes they donated, so on Sunday she gave them to the throngs of kids skating that day. She said she's more committed than ever to getting a skateboarding event going next summer.

"I still have the infrastructure in place for a competition so number one, we have to develop a better relationship with the community, and number two, we have to find a fund-raising method that works," McCann said.

"If we can do those two things, we will have organized skateboarding events next summer."