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Life's Looking Up For Skateboarders 

Things are looking up for Charlotte-area skaters with the advent of a new local website and a park that's scheduled to be completed by the end of summer. This comes as welcome news to the thousands of in-line and skateboard enthusiasts who have long been complaining that the Queen City is sorely lacking in decent facilities.

Dave Collier is the guy behind the new website. It's a great resource for local skaters, as it contains trick tips, news about the local scene, hot spots, upcoming events, product information, profiles of some of the area's best skaters, and even mini-movies showing skaters in action.

Collier started designing the site last year while on the mend from shoulder surgery -- a result of his years spent as a pro snowboarder. Collier grew up in Banner Elk, NC and was an avid snowboarder growing up and all through high school. After graduation he decided to forego college, and moved to Colorado to focus on snowboarding. He turned pro in 1990, went on photo-shoots, appeared in snowboarding videos, magazines, and even traveled to Japan where he competed in a pro series.

While life as a pro snowboarder was pretty sweet, there were some drawbacks. "The sport was so young back then you couldn't really make any money." Collier said.

Collier eventually decided to commit himself full-time to college. In '98 he hung up his spurs, moved to Charlotte, and got married. He also landed a job doing website development and project management, which gave him the skills to start his own skateboarding website.

"I had some hard-core skateboarder friends in Charlotte, and I just started taking pictures of them skating with my digital camera, and they turned out really good," Collier said.

The pictures were so good, in fact, Collier started posting them on the Internet. He then started posting good spots to skate, trick tips, and by last November had developed his own website (www.skatecharlotte.com.) which he says is continuing to grow in popularity. "It's a great way to promote the sport and keep people informed," he says.

One thing Collier plans to keep people informed about is news of a skateboard park that's in the works for Grayson Park off Eastway. Tyrelle Evans, of County Parks and Rec Department, says the 8,000-square-foot concrete park is tentatively scheduled to be completed by the end of the summer. The project came together after a nine-member skateboard park committee consisting of skaters, parents and park officials was organized last year.

"The committee is going to be very involved in the design and planning of the skateboard park," Evans said. "We figured the best people to provide input are the ones who are going to be using it."

Planners and developers say the new park will be bigger and more challenging than Charlotte's other skate park, located off Shamrock Dr.

"It's an exciting time to be a skateboarder in Charlotte," Collier said. "There's a thriving scene going on that people are just starting to find out about, and I believe it's only going to get better." *

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