Wounded Knee Skateboards at Skate Ignatius Skatepark

This ain’t your parent’s skate rink
Skate Ignatius Skatepark commemorates first anniversary with hot dogs, competition and good time
By B.L. Azure

ST. IGNATIUS — Saturday was a good day to skate. And what better place to skate than the Skate Ignatius Skatepark, nestled beneath the world-class beauty of the majestic Mission Mountains. And if a reason was needed it just so happened that the skate park was celebrating its first year on the planet last Saturday. Perfect, like the weather – not too hot, not too cool but just right. Mix in hundreds of folks of all ages, many with skateboard fever, throw in some hot dogs, chips and sodas, and some skateboard competition with prizes and it was a recipe for fun under the Big Sky sun. All that tickled the tickly spots of the event organizers.

“The turnout has exceeded my expectations,” said Kristie Nerby, Skate Ignatius Skatepark spokesperson. She estimated more than 350 people attended the event. “We have a great crowd, great weather, amazing volunteers and top notch skaters for our first birthday skate competition. There is a large amount of participation in the competition and this (public turnout) is great support for our skate park project.”

Skate Ignatius Skatepark is currently raising funds to complete the second phase of the 17,000 square-foot skate park. Phase 1 is the existing 7,000 square-foot section and phase 2 will add another 10,000 square feet to the skate park.

“We are presently raising funds for the second phase,” Nerby said, adding that time and familial duties have handcuffed her a bit. The Skate Ignatius Skatepark project currently has a $90,000 grant request pending with the Montana Tourism Department. “The only thing hard about this is trying to find the time needed to do everything that needs to be done to get phase 2 completed. The first phase came together so fast it was like a miracle and miracles don’t happen; often that’s why they’re miracles.”

A miracle of sorts – Jeff Ament – was on hand Saturday with gifts, prizes and encouragement for the skating competitors and non-competitive skaters. Montana homeboy Ament from Big Sandy is the bass guitar player for the rock group Pearl Jam. He is also a skateboard enthusiast and served as a judge in the skateboard competition. Ament, who currently resides in Missoula, also donated a large sum of money for phase 1 of the Skate Ignatius Skatepark project. He has also donated time and money to other Montana skate parks.

Ament has come St. Ignatius a half dozen times in the last year to skate at Skate Ignatius Skatepark. “I had a blast today,” Ament said Saturday, adding that his friends in the skateboarding industry have helped him with skate competition prizes and with merchandise giveaways for the Skate Ignatius Skatepark Skate Jam.

Wounded Knee Skateboards of New York City donated skateboards given as prizes in skating competition. The company CEO Jim Murphy, an American Indian from New York, is working with Ament to build a skate park on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

Ament said he would like to see phase 2 completed by next summer.

Once phase 2 is completed it is very possible that the All-Nations Skate Jam could be scheduled at Skate Ignatius. The All-Nations Skate Jam is the largest all-Indian skateboard competitive gathering in America and Ament said it would be a good fit for the Skate Ignatius Skatepark. “We would like to get it here,” Ament said. “Maybe when they get phase 2 done we could get it here. I sure would like to get it here.”

And so would Nerby. “More and more skateboard competition is coming into Indian Country,” she said. “There are opportunities like the All-Nations Skate Jam waiting for us out there.”

Ament, who played football and basketball at Big Sandy High School, said he has been skateboarding since the late-1970s. “When I was around 13 I visited my cousins in California. Skateboarding was big there. That was in 1977,” Ament said. “When I got back to Big Sandy I built a ramp on our farm and have been skating since. This is a whole other side of life for me.”

He said skateboarding and skaters have heretofore gotten an undeserved bad rap. However skateboarding provides a good positive athletic outlet for youth who may not get involved in team or school sanctioned sports.

“Some people see this as negative but it is 100 percent positive,” he said. “A lot of kids aren’t going to become involved in team sports. Skating is a place for those kids. A skate park like this gives those kids a place to come to be involved positively in a fun activity. Kids need an outlet, a way to expend pent up energy. If that is not football or basketball then skateboarding is another way to get that energy out.”

Ament said that in the year that he has been coming to Skate Ignatius Skatepark he has noticed how the local skaters have improved. “There are six to 10 kids here that can skate (competitively) anywhere,” Ament said. “There are at least six or seven world class skate parks in western Montana that are attracting and creating a lot of good skaters. What you have here in St. Ignatius is incredible. There are more people here today than there were at the Missoula Skate Jam a few weeks back. On the way up I thought that I might have too many prizes but this turnout is incredible. What Kristie, Bruce and everyone else has done here is incredible.”

For more information on Skate Ignatius Skatepark project, call Kristie Nerby at 745-4888 or 546-5936.

Original story with images here