Hey, I’m Kate. I was born and raised in Alaska, and have been a skateboarder my whole life.
I grew up on the island of Kodiak where there is a very small skate scene. In the late 90’s-early 2000’s there was a fairly large number of skaters here, but as time progressed and things like BMX bikes, and (unfortunately) scooters, became more popular, the skate scene slowly faded out. I am one of very few people left here who still skate regularly. We have 1 small outdoor skatepark here, and growing up it was actually originally placed on a tennis count until sometime later being moved to a concrete basketball court nearby. A few years ago the park was redone and is now centered around BMX bikes.
Skating in Alaska has never been easy, as you can imagine. We live in southern Alaska so we get A TON of rain here. (Averaging 81 inches a year) It doesn’t get as cold as you’d think it does, so in the winter we mostly just have rain and snow mixed. Out of the whole year a person only gets about 5-6 months where you can actually skate on a regular basis. (If its not raining) At least that’s how it is on the island of Kodiak, Alaska.
I recently had the amazing opportunity to travel to the mainland with my husband and do a little sight seeing. I brought my board, and hit up as many parks and skate shops as possible. This is what I learned about what it’s like for other skaters in Alaska.
Our first stop: Fairbanks. Fairbanks is almost directly in the middle of the state, and the farthest north either of us has traveled yet. Its a cute, fairly quiet town, and I learned they’ve got a pretty hardcore skate scene there. They currently have one very, very tiny skate park known as the “John Weaver Memorial Skatepark”. It currently consists of one 3ft ramp, a pyramid, a place to wall ride, one circular rail, and one ledge, all sitting on very rough blacktop.
When we got there we were the only ones so I skated around testing everything out and very quickly took it all in. Shortly after we’d gotten there, two young guys rode up and started skating. After a few minutes I decided to ask them a couple questions. My whole purpose of this trip was to learn more about the skate scene around AK, so I went for it! One guy name Evan, a really good skater of about 3 1/2 years, was happy to answer my couple questions.
Me: “What is the skate scene here like, and do most people skate the park or is it generally is it street skating?”
Evan: “people who really skate, and take it seriously, tend to mostly skate street. Mostly in all the downtown areas.“
Me: “Is there a strong skating community here?”
Evan: “It’s not the biggest skate community, but we all know each other. My friends I skate with, their parents skated together. The people who skated as kids, now skate with us as adults. It’s really cool.”
We went on to talk abut about the park and how there is a coalition happening right now to rebuild the park. Evan said that the adult skaters of the community have come together to build it. They have plans to completely redo it and bring in something completely different and new for the community of Fairbanks. A park including a concrete bowl, Euro Gap & stair set, bank walls, and a quarter pipe.
If you would like more information on the coalition or would like to donate to the cause, contact:
Fairbanks Skatepark Coalition
1800 Marika Road
Fairbanks, AK 99709, 907-378-5779
Next stop: Wasilla.
We took a beautiful 11 hour train ride from Fairbanks down to Wasilla. According to my research, there is only one skatepark in Wasilla. I was able to stop by for a quick picture of it, but unfortunately I was not able to skate it because we were in a hurry. Also, there were no skaters there to ask any questions; however, what I can say is it was a beautifully built park. In my opinion, it was very uniquely designed. I hope to get the chance to go back and skate it one day.
After leaving Wasilla we drove an hour into the biggest city in Alaska, known as Anchorage. Anchorage had more parks than I had thought, including two parks on military bases! We did not attempt to go to those ones, but were able to go to a fairly new park (opened in 2016) located in the Russian Jack Springs Park.
It was a fairly small, but mighty park, sporting the only in-ground concrete bowl currently in Alaska. Next to the bowl, It had two quarter pipes on either end with ledges and a rail separating them. It was definitely the smoothest park I’ve ever skated (don’t forget I’m from Alaska). I found it to not be very spacious, even for me and one other guy skating, but it was definitely well equipped. I got a chance to ask the other skater, a guy named Zay, a couple questions on his perspective of skating in Alaska. Zay is not originally from AK so it turned out to be a cool perspective shared.
Me: “What is your experience skating here and how does it differ from where you’re from?”
Zay: “Where I’m from we don’t have very many parks, we’re more street. When I skate here I don’t see a lot of landmarks and places people would skate. Around her I mostly see parks.
But I don’t see much of a difference between the two though.”
Me: “Not being from here, can you tell me what the skate scene here is like?”
Zay: “I see a couple people here and there but nothing really hardcore like you’d see in the lower 48.(There’s an Alaskan term for ya, just means the rest of the US states, excluding Hawaii.) But I do see some really good casual skaters here.”
After leaving the park we headed to one of only three skate shops in Alaska: The Blue and Gold Board Shop in Anchorage. I was particularly excited about this last stop on our trip because we don’t have a skate shop in Kodiak. It means a lot for me to be able to show love and support to local skate shops whenever I can. They are the real heartbeat of the skating world.
The shop was AWESOME! I had hopes of being able to ask the shop owner some questions for you guys, but he unfortunately was not there that day. Never the less the guy working was super rad to talk to and it was neat to tell him about Nomad and the goals we hope for! I had to show some support and bought one of their signature hats that I’ve been obsessively wearing since. If you would like to show them support, buy some merch, or just learn more about them, check out “blueandgoldak.com”.
Over all, this trip was not only crazy fun and fairly spontaneous, but it helped me to push myself in talking to strangers and getting to feel apart of the skate scene there. I look forward to being able to travel to other skateparks and sick places to skate in the future, and hopefully share those experiences with all of you.