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February 20, 2013

Bitter Cold Showdown hits Modern Skate Feb. 22-23

International event draws skaters from around the world

By Andy Kozlowski
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
Bitter Cold Showdown hits Modern Skate Feb. 22-23
Franco Cammayo ascends a ramp during last year’s Bitter Cold Showdown.

MADISON HEIGHTS/ROYAL OAK — It’s one of the biggest events in stunt rollerblading, attracting skaters from Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, South Africa and all 50 states, including Hawaii and Alaska. 

Modern Skate Park, on Stephenson Highway just south of 12 Mile, will once again host the Bitter Cold Showdown. Now in its 13th year, the main event is from 3:30-9 p.m. Feb. 23. The industry tradeshow starts at noon the same day, providing an opportunity for the public to mingle with pros and purchase special gear.

Qualifiers are the night before, with an open skate session from 10:30 p.m. to midnight on Feb. 22. Regular business hours that day are from noon to 9:30 p.m.

At the main event, some of the most competitive skaters in the world will grind rails, rocket up ramps and pirouette through the air, netting points from a panel of judges, while spectators look on from bleachers set up for the event.

Skaters compete in amateur and pro divisions. Similar to the X-Games, judges look for a creative variety of tricks and smooth transitions, giving bonus points to especially difficult or over-the-top maneuvers.

All ages are welcome, but competitors ages 18 and younger must fill out a Modern Skate Park waiver, and all competitors must wear helmets.

This year’s competitors will include a returning champion from a couple years back, Chris Haffey, of California, who was also a gold medalist in the Asian X-Games in Shanghai in 2011. Brett Urbas, a Detroit-area skater who took second in the pro division last year and placed ahead of Haffey, will also return for another shot at the top.

“Around 1,700 people attended last year’s Bitter Cold Showdown — 300 competitors and 1,400 spectators,” said George Leichtweis, owner of Modern Skate Park. “Our attendance grew the year before, so we think it’s going to grow this year, as well. We’re proud of the fact that we can attract a national audience to the Detroit area.”

Modern Skate is the third largest indoor skate park in the country, featuring more than one acre of ramps and rails. The 80,000-square-foot facility crosses the border between Madison Heights and Royal Oak, situated in both cities.

Throughout the weekend, there will be open skate sessions and video premieres.

Linda Williams, economic development coordinator for the city of Madison Heights, said the event is good for the city.

“This event is an international attraction, a big one for our local economy,” Williams said. “The skaters and their families flying in will be taking up a good share of our hotel accommodations, and of course we’re hoping they will eat and dine here, as well, and take in some of the area sights. So we’re definitely very pleased and excited that our local business, Modern Skate Park, hosts this event year after year.”

The 13th annual Bitter Cold Showdown will take place at Modern Skate Park, 1500 N. Stephenson Highway, from 3:30-9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23. The industry tradeshow starts at noon the same day. Admission for the tradeshow and showdown is $15.

Qualifiers are the day before, with an open skate session from 10:30 p.m. to midnight Friday, Feb. 22..

For more information, call (248) 546-7275 or visit www.modernskate.com.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Andy Kozlowski at akozlowski@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1104.