The first skatepark I ever skated was Mike McGill's in Carlsbad,California, and you know what they had there? Mini ramps. Lots ofmini ramps: hipped mini ramps, spined mini ramps, and–oh yeah–avert ramp. The place wasn't that big–hell, they built it on an oldcatfish farm. The original empty fish ponds that remained were afun break from masonite trannies.
Today's private skateparks, however, need a whole lot morethan just mini ramps and fish ponds to appease the street-hungrymasses. The roll-in-to-funbox-to-roll-in setup (sometimes referredto as "The W" or "Death Valley") quickly became the norm forskatepark street courses as evidenced by the Vans park in Orangeand Rob Dyrdek's TF. It's been rapidly progressing ever since withparks trying to copy the aggressive Euro-contest courses andinvolving more real street obstacles, as the streets are becomingmore illegal to skate. The following are a handful of private parksfrom around the globe and what they're doing to keep skatersstoked on skateparks.
Department Of Skateboarding, Portland,Oregon
You've got rain, and then you've got Burnside. What's a streetskater to do? Well, the good people at Cal's Pharmacy Boardshopopened up this street-oriented park in April of this year. Built byPaul Anderson, Ben Moore, Mike Richardson, Jason White, KyleReynolds, Dan Garland, and others, they made sure to give the parkauthentic street obstacles. Banks, ledges, and gaps abound in acreative multilevel/plaza setup. Then there–s the crowning jewel–aperfect set of seven stairs with an exact replica of the famousWilshire rail in L.A., adjacent to a cement Hubba. Does it get anybetter than this for today's rail dogs? A perfect indoor Hubba andrail to train on bust-free.
Now, you didn't think Oregon skaters were going to make acompletely tranny-free park with all that space, did you? Being thepurists that they are, they made a nice wooden kidney bowl withshallow and deep ends, complete with tile below the coping. Thenext time you get sick of Burnside and it's still raining, check thisplace out at 15 NE Hancock Street; phone: (503) 493-9480;departmentofskateboarding.com.
Extreme Sports Palace, Dexter, Michigan
Due to skateboarding's outlaw status in Ann Arbor,Michigan, neighboring city Dexter opened up this 24,000-square-foot indoor park. Built by Mel Durand of the Toledo-based SuburbanRails skatepark-construction company, it's all wood ramps coveredwith Skatelite. With a mix of skaters–and unfortunately in-liners–toappeal to, the park mixes up your typical quarters, banks, miniramps, funboxes, and rails. They range in size for beginners on up torippers. They utilized the space well for creative lines, avoiding thedreaded congestion of the back and forth "W." Check 'em at 7275Joy Road in Dexter; phone (734) 424-9705;extremesportspalace.com.
Mission Valley YMCA Skatepark, San Diego,California
You can fit a lot of skateable shit into 53,000 square feet.Here's how the Y did it: Most of those square feet are the streetcourse–it's freakin' huge. It looks a lot like the European contestsetups with really wide roll-ins and funboxes, and a variety of ledgesand rails. The enormous platforms of the roll-ins have their ownstreet obstacles on top of them for complete anti-tranny sessions.Transfers and lines are literally infinite. Then there's the thirteen-foot vert ramp. All of this is wood, Skatelite, and outdoors, becausehey, it's San Diego we're talking about. Don't forget the cementpool, too. It's an eight-foot shallow square waterfalling into a ten-foot-deep round at a right-hand kidney angle. Pool guys love thisthing, more so than the Combi replica at Vans in Orange. On any dayyou can catch Neil Blender, Tony Alva, Lance Mountain, and JeffGrosso sessioning. Lots of speed and lots of lines. 3401 ClairemontDrive; phone: (619) 279-9254;missionvalley.ymca.org.
The Source Skatepark, Calgary, Alberta,Canada
The largest indoor skatepark in Canada, and they have all the2002 Slam City Jam ramps. There's nothing more to know, but I'll goon anyway. They've got an entire kids' park for beginners, anintermediate street course (typical "W," but very spacious andoption-laden), and then, of course, the Slam City setup. Inside a50,000-square-foot warehouse, the ramps are made of plywood withMDF topsheets. Skateboard Canada magazine even admitted, "It'sconfirmed: Calgary, Alberta will be the new skate mecca." Acquiringentire contest courses seems like a genius way to get skaters intoyour park–a sign of the future? Building H4 2732 Falaise AvenueSW; phone: (403) 802-1200;thesourceskateboards.com.
Rampworx, Liverpool, England
The skate scene in Liverpool is both infamous and unique,and they've got Rampworx, one of Europe's largest indoorparks–55,000 square feet–to handle it. It's all wood, and because italso accommodates BMX and in-liners, there's a lot of transition. Bigkickers, tabletops, wallrides, mini ramps, and a vert ramp. They?vejust recently put in a nice capsule bowl varying in heights that looksto be the best part of the park. BMXers and Rollerblades just can'thave as much fun in bowls as skaters. 1-3 Leckwith Road, Netherton,Liverpool; phone: 0151-530-1500;rampworx.com.