ARLINGTON – Longboarders from the Pacific Northwest and around the world wheeled into Arlington over the weekend for the 5th annual Centennial Sk8 Festival.
Angela and Chris Kuhn, the Arlington couple who coordinate the races and festival locally and are themselves riders along with their four children, raved about the event.
“It has been a great success,” Angela Kuhn said, adding, “I would love for more of the community to have come out and seen what we’re doing because longboarding is definitely growing, being recognized worldwide, and really putting Arlington on the map.”
Longboarders arrived from New York City, Miami, San Antonio, New England cities – and even Singapore – to compete on sections of Centennial trail in Arlington. It was the first of three legs of the Pacific Northwest Championship Tour that stops next in Oregon, first in Banks for the “Push in the Woods,” then wrapping up in Bend with the “Bend Beatdown” for prize-winning purses. The races are sanctioned by the International Distance Skateboard Association (IDSA).
Adrian Oh, a school teacher from Singapore, is in the midst of his World On Board tour, skateboarding his way across five continents with his Gbomb longboard. September brought him from the Canadian border to Seattle, with a stop in Arlington before he moves onto the Oregon races.
He’ll have company from other longboarders like Al Kopas of Portland, who competed at Arlington’s Sk8 festival.
Kopas, 48, a Dakota-Sioux tribal member and architectural draftsman originally from South Dakota, ran long distance from the age of 12, trudged in combat boots in the military, and switched to bicycling when he blew out his knees.
They were a mere warmup to longboarding when the competitive skater took up the sport in 2013.
“It was even more fun than running or bicycling. Pretty soon I was passing people on bikes and they were like ‘oh, you’re going faster than me,’” said Kopas, as he sat at a picnic table at the Sk8 festival in Haller Park doing maintenance on his board’s trucks and wheels.
In his first race at “Push in the Woods” two years ago, Kopas took 3rd place in his age group, loved the competition and there was no turning back.
“I just like the sense of freedom that I feel, nothing around me and just flying as fast as I can,” Kopas said. “It’s that sense of freedom that has always captivated me.”
He has also met a bunch of cool skaters. “There’s just this awesome community, a skate family that just supports everyone and everything.”
The two-day longboard and skateboard race event consisted of an 8.5-mile uphill and downhill sunset race on Saturday, and a 5K, free one-mile kids race and 14.5-mile countryside race on Sunday. Closing day featured a community festival in Haller Park with more than 40 vendors, music, food and games.
The idea to bring longboarding to Snohomish County happened thanks to a chance meeting at a national sports symposium in Miami five years ago.
Tammy Dunn, Sports Development Director with the Snohomish County Sports Commission met IDSA founder Jonathan Strauss.
“We expressed an interest in skateboarding and what we could do to bring it to the county,” said Dunn, who was in the information booth at the Sk8 festival.
Strauss flew from Miami to check out Centennial and other trails that for racing purposes were long distance and not interrupted by vehicle traffic.
“He looked at other routes, too, but he really liked the Centennial in Arlington, so that’s how it originally started, first in Legion Park before relocating to Haller Park,” Dunn said.
She said the county’s goal is to grow the event, introduce more people to the growing and more popular distance skateboarding, and help the Kuhn family promote it. She applauded the Kuhns for stepping up and agreeing to coordinating the festival.
“Endurance longboarding is a great sport for families,” said Kuhn, adding that it isn’t just for competitors.
Her husband and children grab their longboards and hop on the Centennial Trail regularly for quality family time.
“It’s a great way to bond and to talk to your kids while you’re exercising and looking at nature,” she said.
Rocky Reyes, 15 of Arlington, is fairly new to the sport. He competed in Saturday’s race and has become a diehard fan.
“I love cruising, rolling around and going fast,” said Reyes. His enthusiasm meter was in the red Sunday at the Sk8 festival when his mom’s boyfriend bought him a brand new longboard with not a scratch on the wheels.
Landyn Jaubert, 11 of Arlington, is stoked about the sport. He said the design and aerodynamics built into longboards gives him and other riders a smooth, speedy ride.
“It’s really great for hills and straight-aways, and easy to go fast,” Jaubert said.
Here are results from Saturday’s 8.5-mile race.