SportsFEST/West Virginia Games draws competitors of all ages
Lucas Pauley, 11, didn’t show an ounce of fear as he pushed off a steep ramp and flew down a tight slalom skateboarding course at the SportsFEST/West Virginia Games Saturday.
Lucas and his father, Larry Pauley, joined more than 10 other athletes participating in tight slalom and hybrid slalom competition Saturday at Magic Island in Charleston.
Slalom skateboarding is the newest sport to be added to the weekend events, which includes Brazilian jiu-jitsu, a crossfit challenge, a cheerleading competition, professional watercross/Jet-Ski events, professional volleyball tournaments and more.
Butch Hiles, coordinator of the West Virginia Games, said in 2013 SportsFEST and West Virginia Games combined efforts to join in the same location and on the same weekend, making it the largest collection of sanctioned sports and sporting events in West Virginia.
He expected between 2,000 and 3,000 athletes to participate in the variety of sports held throughout the weekend at Magic Island and along the Kanawha River.
The free event welcomes people to participate in the amateur sporting events as well as the chance to watch professional athletes compete in the Hydro-Turf Pro Watercross Tour on the Kanawha River as well as athletes competing in the EVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour.
“This year is even bigger. We’re trying to expose people to a healthier lifestyle,” Hiles said.
Ben Barkey, a member of the Hillbilly Outlaw Slalom Skater [HOSS] organization based out of Huntington, said he worked with Hiles to add slalom skateboarding to the event lineup.
As a small sporting community, Barkey was able to get the majority of slalom skateboarders that live in the Charleston-Huntington area to participate in the first Charlie West Slalom Fest Saturday.
Wearing a bright blue helmet and protective knee pads, Lucas Pauley, a resident of St. Albans, said he was excited to compete close to home.
He showed the older competitors how it was done as he weaved through 24 marked cones placed six-feet apart and in a straight line. In the tight slalom race, competitors were allotted an hour to record three timed runs down the 166-feet course.
Competitors would step onto the starting ramp and confirm to Barkey when they wanted a run to be timed. Out of the three timed runs, only the two fastest times would be recorded and added up for a final score.
Barkey said after the tight slalom was complete, the course, which was located between Kanawha Boulevard between Delaware and Park Avenue, would be reset for a hybrid course that allowed for bigger turns.
Regarding West Virginia Games’ newest event, skateboarding participant Lenny Poage said, “I’d love to see it get a little bit bigger because it’s something that hardly anyone - even if they are familiar with skateboarding - is familiar with. This is a completely different beast.”
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