Competitive skating offers a mixed bag


In skateboarding competitions, competitors can participate in a variety of categories such as street, park, and bowl skateboarding. They are given two to three attempts to complete their combination of tricks called ‘runs.’ Judges award points based on the execution, difficulty, and flow of the run. 

Zael Johnson, a junior, started competing in skateboarding during his freshman year. “There’s not that much (of a) competitive environment about it … Even in competitive skateboarding, everyone’s cheering each other on. Even your opponent is super hyped when you land a trick,” Johnson said.

Jordan Fenigstein, a BHS sophomore, started competing in skateboarding with her skate team in 2021. “(Competitions) are fun, but … the environment can be kind of stressful,” Fenigstein said. In the days leading up to competitions, Fenigstein spends hours practicing her runs and perfecting her tricks. “You just make sure all your tricks are (consistent) … You practice over and over and over again, so it can get a little repetitive and frustrating, but if you do it right in contests, it’s fun,” Fenigstein said.

For freshman Greyson Grubb-Smith, skateboard competitions gave him opportunities to connect with other skateboarders and explore new skateparks. “(Competing) got me into a lot of different skateparks and stuff that I couldn’t have gotten into otherwise,” Grubb-Smith said.

Johnson stopped competing in his sophomore year due to his busy schedule, but he continued to skate with his sponsor, Squang Skateboards. “(Being sponsored) is both kind of terrifying because there’s so much of a commitment sometimes, but also kind of relieving because it makes me feel very appreciated,” Johnson said.

For Grubb-Smith, the intensity of competitions were detrimental to his physical health. “(Competitions) kind of burnt me out a little bit. I was skating five times a week, and I was getting injured a lot … I just got knee surgery last week, and I also broke both my elbows. I was getting hurt a lot which was definitely tough,” Grubb-Smith said. 

Grubb-Smith plans to skate again after recovering from his knee injury, but he is unsure if he’ll go back to competing. “(Competitions) are already making me not be able to live my life how I want to. The injuries are just getting to be so much and so long-lasting. I can’t move my elbows how I want to anymore,” Grubb-Smith said. “My goal is to grow old skating and teach my kids how to skate and just spread the joy of skating to other people when I get old.”

Fenigstein didn’t enjoy the stress and pressure that came with competition and stopped competing after two years. “I didn’t really like (competing). I felt like I was comparing myself to other people and it was a lot of pressure on myself, which I think is why I quit contests,” Fenigstein said. Even though she doesn’t compete anymore, Fenigstein enjoys producing videos with her sponsor, Squang Skateboards. “We do a ton of tricks and go travel to different places to get clips. Then we make a big video after like a year or two and everyone comes and watches it (which is) really fun,” Fenigstein said. 

Although being sponsored comes with its own pressure to perform, Fenigstein finds it less stressful than competitions. “It’s still pressure because you still want to do good and get good tricks, but (it’s) definitely a lot less because it’s not as competitive,” Fenigstein said.