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KCAD Helps Bring Midwest’s First Sanctioned Downhill Skateboard Race to Downtown Grand Rapids

Posted June 18, 2014 in Public

On June 21 from 4-8pm, the streets of downtown Grand Rapids and will play host to the first sanctioned downhill skateboard race ever held in the Midwest as a part of the 2014 Meijer State Games of Michigan Summer Games.

The course, which will start on Lyon St. east of Lafayette Ave., is one half-mile of urban terrain boasting a 6% grade slope and two 90 degree off-camber turns, a left onto Ransom Ave. from Lyon St. followed by a right onto Fountain St. Riders will finish at the bottom of the Fountain St. hill before Division Ave. Riders will compete in one of three divisions – beginner, intermediate, or pro – and will race in open elimination four-man heats in which the top two riders in each heat will advance to the next round.

As one of the race’s primary sponsors, KCAD has been working with organizers to help connect the event to the community at-large. On race day, the 17 Fountain St. NW building will be transformed into the event’s official hub.  

Promotional poster designed by KCAD Graphic Design student Roy Amos

"We've come to see the skateboarding and longboarding community as an amazing group of passionate and driven individuals, and we're proud to be able to help them connect with the larger community of West Michigan," said Katie Moore, Director of Community Engagement at KCAD. "We're going to activate our campus, our staff, and our students to help make this a multi-faceted event, because we want to engage as many people as possible for the entire day.”

Before the race officially starts at 6pm. Riders and spectators alike will have the opportunity to watch a longboard construction demonstration in KCAD’s state-of-the-art Flex Lab. There will also be a screen-printing workshop in which original designs will be created on blank skateboard decks, as well as tables where KCAD students will be exhibiting and selling original artwork. There’s also a number of KCAD students and alum that will hit the course as participants.

Industrial Design student Mike Strong will be among the event’s over 100 competitors, but he’ll also be running the longboard construction demonstration in the Flex Lab, where he works in his spare time as a technician. He’s experimented with building longboards before as a part of a class project, but he’s excited to have the opportunity to share the process with others.

“That’s the best part of being at KCAD – the access to tools and the willingness of the faculty to help with everything, no matter how off the wall your project is,” said Strong.

Alum Simon Lee (’13, Digital Media) will also be competing. He started longboarding during his sophomore year at KCAD, and soon found himself plugged into West Michigan’s vibrant longboarding community.

“I started skating downtown a bit more, started meeting people and going to events, and then some friends and I started this group, Michigan Downhill,” said Lee. “We just hung out all the time at events and even started organizing a few of our own.”

Patrick Shields, another Industrial Design student who will be competing, sees the event as a way to for longboarders to participate in a larger sense of community. He’s also thrilled to see KCAD facilitating the connection.

“It’s great because it shows our support for the community and our open-mindedness,” said Shields. “As a student, it’s awesome to know that if you have an idea, and if you’re organized, committed, and show a certain level of passion, KCAD is going to support you.”

Graphic Design student Roy Amos won’t be riding in the race, but he’s been immersed in skateboarding culture for a number of years. When he heard about the event, he immediately lent his graphic design talents to creating a promotional poster for the event.

“Everybody I’ve talked to is really stoked that the KCAD is a sponsor,” said Amos. “When your school is supporting what you do outside of what’s affiliated with your classroom work, that creates a personal connection that’s special.”

For more information on the Urban Downhill Skateboarding event, go to stategamesofmichigan.com/grdh.