Jon Casson cuts around a bowl at the Bear River Skate Park on Thursday. Casson will be leading a series of camps at the park this summer, beginning June 17.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Jon Casson cuts around a bowl at the Bear River Skate Park on Thursday. Casson will be leading a series of camps at the park this summer, beginning June 17.

Bear River parks work continues, improvements still coming

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Asher Lesyshen-Kirlan drops in at the Bear River Skate Park on Thursday in Steamboat Springs.

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Nik Keyek scopes out his line Thursday at the Bear River Skate Park.

— It’s always a challenge to imagine things as they existed before your time, and by that rule, Steamboat Springs never has been without a real concrete skatepark as far as Asher Lesyshen-Kirlan sees things.

He came to the Bear River Skate Park in Steamboat Springs on Thursday after school with buddy Nik Keyek in tow, the pair riding as parents and a sister looked on.

Asher and Nik, both 9 years old and skiers with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club in the winter, had big plans for their skating Thursday. Asher was focused on grinding a box that had bedeviled him while Nik, a freestyler on snow, was concentrating on getting more air.

The pair of relative novices, who spent an ample amount of time chasing their skateboards, have been at the sport less than two years, so they’ve never known a Steamboat without Bear River Skate Park.

On Thursday, it didn’t seem it had ever been any other way, even as work continues to turn that area into an action sports hotspot in Steamboat. With the growth of the next-door Bear River Bike Park and other improvements under way, there’s no shortage of places for fun.

“Skateboards and bike have some great synergy,” said Jon Casson, active in both the skateboarding and mountain biking worlds.

This marks the first season for the park with a new entrance road and an actual parking lot, resolving one of the more awkward aspects of the park’s first three years of existence. Steamboat Director of Parks, Open Space & Recreational Services Chris Wilson confirmed that the road is open, though it's still prone to intermittent closures as crews finish up work and prepare the route to be paved with asphalt.

The area is far from finished, but work is progressing. The asphalt should be down early this summer and work already has begun on the next-door Bear River Bike Park’s newest amenity, an expert jump line financed by the Bell Built bike grant Steamboat Springs won via an online voting contest.

Trucks have been delivering dirt for the project and park designers are due in town next month to help direct work.

“We’re excited,” Wilson said. “The elements that are there are fitting together well, and now you have access down there and that’s a great step toward making it all come together.”

Casson said there still are dreams of expanding the skatepark. It currently occupies about 11,000 square feet and there’s room on the footprint for a 3,000- or 4,000-square-foot addition. He said the only thing the park really lacks at this time is a deeper bowl. Everything else simply would add more options for riders, though it all could be a ways off thanks to a funding shortfall at this point.

Skateboard classes coming soon

Casson also is offering skateboarding classes for this summer through the Winter Sports Club. As the organization's snowboard director, he said he expected the classes to be perfect off-season training for his riders, but the appeal has grown to encompass snowboarders, skiers and skateboards of all backgrounds.

“It’s an opportunity to go to the skatepark and be with someone who understands how to skate,” said Casson, pointing out that the trio of three-week summer sessions fall short of lessons but will offer instruction.

“Parents can just drop a kid off and know they’re with someone they can trust, who knows how to skate and stay safe,” he said. “We want the kids to get comfortable in the skatepark and understand its flow and some of the fundamental skills they need to progress on their own.”

The classes are broken up throughout the week by skill level, two days per week for each division. Beginner classes will meet Mondays and Thursdays at either 8:45 a.m. or 10:30 a.m. while intermediate classes will meet Tuesdays and Fridays at either 8:45 or 10:30. They begin June 17 and cost $130 per three-week session.

For more information, check out www.sswsc.org or call the Winter Sports Club’s office at 970-879-0695.

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