Fans celebrate pro skateboarder’s return
Football helmets bashing into shoulder pads produce the normal sports sounds at a homecoming, but Thursday the roar of skateboard wheels greeted Chris Senn’s return to Nevada County.
The 1991 Nevada Union High School graduate, who was Thrasher magazine’s Skateboarder of the Year in 1995, rolled into town as part of a national tour for Emerica, a skateboard apparel firm. Senn now lives in Hawaii with his wife and two sons, but said he was glad to be back at the Grass Valley skatepark he helped design and build in 2000.
“Skateboarding is huge everywhere in the world now,” said Senn, 34. He should know. His tour to promote Emerica skate gear has taken him from Copenhagen to China in recent months.
Unlike most, this tour is not performance-oriented. Senn found himself ripping around the skatepark with fellow pros and about 100 local skateboarders all trying to emulate them.
“It’s really an art form,” he said. “There’s nobody who’s better than anybody else.”
On hand was one of Senn’s old buddies, Gus Coronel, owner of the GoodTimes BoardStore skateboard shop in downtown Grass Valley.
“We grew up skating together,” Coronel said. “He’s a skater’s skater.”
“We started in the streets, and people had ramps,” Senn said. “There weren’t any skate parks then.”
He first started skating for money before graduation and landed professional sponsorships right out of high school.
“I never had a job. I got pretty lucky,” Senn said. He handles business-like realities in his life, including marketing duties and constant travel, but he’s not complaining.
“I thought I’d be done when I was 30, but it just gets better,” Senn said. “It’s just fun and I would be dumb to give it up.”
Senn surfs, stretches and does yoga to keep limber between skating exhibitions.
“I don’t train in the gym,” Senn said. “You don’t want to be too big for skateboarding. It’s more about agility.”
The sport goes beyond the physical, he said.
“There’s a mindset you have to get into, the focus, that’s harder than the physical part because you’re risking life and limb and you have to forget about that,” Senn said.
Senn’s grandmother, Patricia Alspaugh, of Grass Valley, watched him careen around the concrete. She said she has no fears for him.
“He’s always been athletic, and the whole family is like that,” Alspaugh said.
Connor Lee, 12, had just rolled with a number of his idols.
“I came to see my favorite skaters in real life,” Lee said. “It’s really cool because I got all their autographs.”
To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4237.
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