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Publish Date: 8/22/2005

Bernie Keith, 19, attempts a maneuver while Allan John, owner of SOL Skateboards, films him Thursday at an industrial park off Left Hand Circle in Longmont. Keith and many other skaters compete locally and nationally and use the films to attract sponsors. Times-Call/Erin McCracken

Local skaters put their moves on display in new film

LONGMONT — Leaping into the air from a parking lot, 19-year-old Longmont High School graduate Bernie Keith flipped and rotated his skateboard in mid-flight, then landed on a steeply angled concrete wall before riding the bank about 15 feet down to a lower parking lot.

“Gnarles Charles!” yelled Alex Brunelle, 13, watching nearby when Keith landed the impossible-looking trick. (That apparently means something good.)

On film, Keith makes it look easy.

In reality, Keith and fellow filmmaker Allan John, 36, filmed countless failed attempts to get it right.

“Sometimes it’s the first try,” Keith said about capturing skateboarding moves on film. “Sometimes it’s 45 minutes. And sometimes you get hurt.”

Keith’s trick, filmed last week, will be one of many featured in SOL Skateboard Shop’s next Longmont skate movie.

John and Keith will release “Sons of Longmont,” their second local skate feature, Sept. 10 at the Longmont High School auditorium. Admission is $5.

The film documents and promotes some of the best local riders, ranging in age from 13 to 36, in Longmont’s growing skateboarding community.

Culled from approximately 75 hours of raw skateboarding footage, the film documents a variety of great moves a few seconds at a time, as well as a few painful failed attempts.

Last year, 400 people showed up to watch Keith and John’s debut movie. They expect 600 this year.

John believes skateboarding — after years as a fringe sport criticized by some parents as dangerous for children physically and socially — is now more embraced by the mainstream.

The city of Longmont, for example, is increasingly incorporating skateboarding amenities into its park designs.

“We’ve heard for years that skateboarding is a big thing,” said Paula Fitzgerald, projects coordinator for Longmont’s Parks and Recreation department.

Skateboarding, she said, gives teens something to do in the parks.

“We are trying to promote teen activity areas,” Fitzgerald said.

Four new parks in Longmont recently opened or are being designed to include skater-friendly features. The most talked-about project is at Sandstone Ranch, which will include a large concrete park for skateboards, inline skates and BMX bikes.

John rallied the skateboarding community to help design the Sandstone park, alongside BMX riders, and he thinks it will be the best park in the state when it opens next year.

“Before any park project, we do public design meetings,” Fitzgerald said. “Allan (John) was really instrumental because he knows a lot of kids in the skate communities.”

Most of the skaters on “Sons of Longmont” skate for a 14-member team sponsored by John’s SOL Skateboard Shop, at 347 Main St. He calls his networking and team sponsorship “scene building.”

“I don’t know if it’s a typical business model, but it’s my business model,” he said. “I mean, you have to give to get back.”

And while he admits that a few parents remain wary of skateboarding, John maintains that the sport builds character, teaches the importance of practice and is better than playing video games for hours on end.

For the film and the team, he sees it as way to promote the kids who are skating while also promoting his shop.

Some of the skaters, like Alex Brunelle, have used the sponsorship and the video footage to attract bigger sponsors and to compete in events.

“It’s awesome,” Brunelle said. “It does help.”

Keith, one of the best skaters on the team, also acquired new sponsors with the help of John. But since getting into filmmaking, he said he’s setting different goals.

“I want to go to film school and learn how to do this better,” Keith said.

Douglas Crowl can be reached at 303-684-5253, or by e-mail at dcrowl@times-call.com.

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