Jennings Brandel flew down a steep and sloping skate park component called a vert ramp, whizzed across a flat space and lifted onto a rail — his skateboard nearly vertical and seemingly attached to his shoes with glue.
Fellow competitors at Sunday’s Red Bull Cornerstone skateboarding competition in Dubuque banged their skateboards in appreciation and gave Brandel fist bumps when he successfully completed his trick.
“That’s half the reason we come here — the camaraderie,” Brandel said.
Brandel, of Dubuque, was one of more than 35 participants in the competition, held at Olliewood Action Sports, 3125 Cedar Crest Ridge.
“This is the biggest skateboard event we’ve ever had here,” said Olliewood owner Casey Hinderman. “This is a dream come true, really.”
For the past three years, the Red Bull Cornerstone series of events has traveled the Midwest, drawing the region’s top skateboarders to compete at indoor skate parks. Top skateboarders advance to a final event held in Nebraska.
“It’s a way to celebrate — as the name says — the cornerstones, these indoor parks,” said Casey Peterson, an organizer of the event with Red Bull. “They really allow the (skateboarding) communities to grow and thrive in the inclement weather that we have here in the Midwest.”
Indoor parks such as Olliewood, Peterson said, “are where we continue to grow the communities, grow the sport.”
“This is Red Bull’s way to partner with these parks and say, ‘We love what you’re doing, let’s keep doing it,’” Peterson said.
Sunday marked the first time the Red Bull Cornerstone tour has come to Dubuque.
“We added Dubuque, Milwaukee and Detroit to the tour this year,” Peterson said. “We’ve expanded to seven stops in as many states — Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. We go to where the indoor parks are, and this (skate park) is definitely a hub for the community. There’s a thriving scene here (in Dubuque).”
James Kleinschrodt, of Dubuque, is known on the local skateboarding scene as “Old Man James.”
“Every once in a while, someone comes to the skate park that is older than me, and then I’m like, ‘Oh cool, I’m not the oldest one here’ — but that’s few and far between,” said Kleinschrodt, who is 46.
“I’ve been skateboarding since I was 5, but I got my first real skateboard 36 years ago.”
Kleinschrodt served as a judge at Sunday’s event and said he can remember a time when Dubuque’s skateboarding scene wasn’t nearly as high-profile or respectable among certain segments of society.
“It ain’t what it is today,” he said. “I’ve run from the cops (when I was younger), I’ve run from property owners, I’ve run from parents. Now, it’s cool to skate.”
Matt Carr, of Davenport, Iowa, competed in the first of Sunday’s events — a 90-second “jam” featuring three skateboarders.
After earning competitors’ recognition for some difficult tricks, Carr described the rush of adrenaline he experienced.
“It’s the craziest,” he said.
Carr also described what it’s like gathering with his fellow skateboarders.
“We’re all a family,” he said.