February 28 and March 2 were big days for Santiago’s thousands of skateboard aficionados. On these two afternoons, five of the best known skateboarders out of the United States demonstrated their skills for free on the skate parks of Parque de los Reyes and Parque O’Higgins, both located in downtown Santiago. Organized by the North American sports brand Quicksilver, the circuit in Peru, Chile and Argentina will be telecast by ESPN and Fox Sports.
Nearly 600 Santiaguinos came out for the first day of the presentation in Parque de los Reyes as the five pros performed on the world-class, publicly accessible facilities. This skate park, inaugurated nearly four years ago in April of 2007, is a testament to the growing popularity of skateboarding amongst Santiago’s youth.
Though groups of skateboarders are regularly spotted throughout Santiago’s parks, squares and barrios, the development of public, professional-level skate parks can change the shape of skating culture, according to the major American figures who came to Santiago, many of whom came of age skating solely on the street.
Reese Forbes, one of the five visiting skateboarders and manager of the group, told El Mercurio “the parks don’t just help the sport grow, they also help kids to keep busy with something healthy and prevent them from falling in with drugs and delinquency.”
“The region has lots of potential, which until now has been insufficiently explored,” Forbes continued. Parks like those found in these two Santiago parks demonstrate that growing potential, which is most marked in major urban centers like Buenos Aires and Lima, the two other locations included in the tour.