Local inliner skates his way to the top
Khai Downing-Krepela is taking rollerblading to a whole different level. In a sport that most people consider good exercise in the park on Sundays, the 15-year-old from Treasure Mountain International Middle School is managing to make a name for himself. This past weekend he won a gold medal at the Amateur Inline League’s second regional competition of the year.
To understand what Downing-Krepela can do on a pair of inline skates, imagine the tricks and jumps at the snowboarding rail park, called street skating, and the non-stop action of a skateboarder at the skate park — all done on rollerblades.
Last weekend, Downing-Krepela traveled in a car with his mother, DeeAnn Downing, to the Woodward West skate park in Tehachapi, Calif. to put his skills to the test.
Each competitor took two 60-second runs, where there they showed off their skating stunts for a panel of judges. Competing against an older field of skaters ages 16 and older, Downing-Krepela was judged on each trick’s creativity, difficulty and style.
The judges were impressed.
Downing-Krepela said he had no idea that he had won the competition after his second run. He was calmly expecting them to announce that he had won third, when he learned that he was the gold medal winner of the event.
"It was good. It was surprising," Downing-Krepela said.
The Amateur Inline League’s three yearly competitions typically attract about 75 rollerbladers from all over the West. There are three age groups each divided into five divisions. There are also levels from intermediate to advanced. Each competition is an opportunity for the skaters to earn points toward the next competition. Thus far, Downing-Krepela has compiled 120 points and hopes to garner more at the next competition in September. The top five finishers at the end of the three events will go to the Aggressive Skaters Association (ASA) World Finals in Dallas, Texas.
"I’m very focused for September," Downing-Krepela said.
Event organizers Pam Velasquez and her husband Richie, a professional rollerblader and street skating legend sing Downing-Krepela’s praises as well.
"Khai is an amazing kid and has the ability to be one of the best athletes in the world," said Richie.
Downing-Krepela’s journey to this point has been a rather rapid one. After moving from Kamas to Park City, he started spending time with a crowd that rollerbladed and soon picked it up. He continued practicing and challenging himself. His Park City friends eventually stopped skating, but Downing-Krepela was hooked. He now travels to Salt Lake to skate with like-minded enthusiasts, and competes at smaller events all over the Wasatch Front.
"Everyone has their own special thing and mine’s rollerblading," Downing-Krepela said.
He says he gets plenty of support from his mom, who drives him to competitions and finances his passion. Even though he isn’t surrounded by fellow skaters in Park City, he says his friends are also supportive, especially when he returns home from competitions with a gold medal around his neck.
"You don’t do it to be like the coolest thing," Downing-Krepela said. "I just like it."
For more information on the Amateur Inline League and rollerblading events, visit. http://www.inlineleague.com.
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