Since 15-year-old Jono Schwan moved to Colorado Springs from Melbourne, Australia, two years ago, he's been up to a few things.
He started the nonprofit Sk8-Strong, pitched City Council on securing a mini-ramp and vert ramp for Memorial Park Skateboard Park, and raised about $55,000 to make it happen.
Next on his agenda: the ramps' grand opening this Saturday, which will make Memorial Park Skateboard Park the only public park in the nation with professional-level facilities for all four skating disciplines: street, a style that uses paved surfaces with curbs, handrails and stairs; super park, with various platforms and ledges; bowl, essentially pool skating; and vert, skating on a version of a half-pipe (Schwan's favorite).
"I was kinda raised that way with all the skate parks in Australia, so when I came over, the only vert ramp in Colorado had closed after I only had a few sessions on it," says Schwan, referring to Woodward Denver Park, which closed in March 2011. Instead of accepting the loss, he began a project for his nonprofit.
With donations raised through Sk8-Strong, he purchased the park's 7-by-40-foot mini-ramp and 13½-by-56-foot vert ramp, then dismantled them and transported them to Colorado Springs with donated assistance from Fort Carson's 32nd Transportation Company.
"I felt like there was something missing in the skateboarding community, so I wanted to bring my love to this park and show other people what vert skating is all about," Schwan says.
The nearly two months of construction that followed has seen more than 800 hours of volunteer work, 350 of which were spent on dismantling and relocation. Brad Fallentine, owner of Innovative Construction, personally donated hundreds of hours to rebuilding the ramps, a task he says is more difficult than building them from scratch.
Beyond the grand opening, Schwan has also organized the Destroy the Bowl Jam, an open bowl competition. The top four skaters will qualify for World Cup Skateboarding's Rocky Mountain Rampage in August, with a total of $15,000 in prizes up for grabs.
So proud of you Catherine!!! I knew you could do it!!!
I read an early draft of Ghostland in 2014 that was written by Jon Orr…