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Skate park packs ‘em in for Bowl Jam




thumbnail Girls at Bowl Jam 2020-41For the ninth year running skaters wowed spectators at a recent skateboarding competition, the largest such event in New Zealand, carving up the local bowl and performing a range of stunts, lifts and tricks on four wheels.

Mangawhai Bowl Jam, held at Mangawhai Activity Zone skate park, has become an iconic, must-see show, attracting an ever-increasing number of both talented participants and enthusiastic audience members.

The 2020 Jam on February 8 saw over 70 Kiwi and Australian skaters at play with an age range from eight to 55, and an impressive record crowd bordering on 3000 lining the expanded seating arena.

Presented by surf, skate and street wear store Backdoor NZ, organiser Jesse Peters says ‘it felt like an afternoon session at the local’.

“But turned up to ‘11’ with a stadium-sized crowd hanging on every move,” he says. “One of the defining parts of this year’s event was the progression and drive of the female contenders… a significant lift in the prowess of all the women skaters was obvious.”

Although advertised as a competition with a total prize pool of $9000 awarded to the six top skaters in each division, the Bowl Jam is said to be more about camaraderie than ‘battling it out’, with competitors inspiring one another to push personal limits, making the event one of the ‘most inclusive and positive skateboarding events we’ve seen to date on the New Zealand bowl circuit’.

“I am a little biased, but I think we have the most incredible community of people that comes together to enjoy world-class skateboarding in an environment that feels inclusive,” Peters says. “That’s a pretty big thing for me.”

To accommodate the predicted large crowd, MAZ volunteers arranged for extra scaffolding over the small bowl and opened up the lower field for additional parking. Chair Colin Gallagher says the standard of skating was ‘supremely high’.

“Also the crowd was not only the biggest ever, they were also the best behaved. It was a stunning event for Mangawhai... this brought huge benefits to the local economy for accommodation and food.”

Local building business, Bespoke Homes, is a sponsor of the event and co-owner, skater Scott Manwaring, says he has watched the Jam gain momentum and status over the years.

“It’s a fantastic event… it has a positive effect on local businesses, especially food and hospitality… I believe it also really helps the cause of MAZ, a park built through community funding,” he says. “The event creates a great deal of hype around town and the community fully supports and immerses itself into it, seeing the relevance of all the investment.”

Many people, both locals and out-of-towners, are involved with the creating of the Jam to make the event the success it has become, including the MAZ volunteers whose vision, passion and dedication created the world-class skating facility Peters says.

“The biggest thank you is to the sponsors who back the event and make it possible, to the crowd for being the best any event could ever ask for, and to the skaters for traveling from near and far to compete and put on a world-class display of skateboarding,” he says. “To MAZ and the wider Mangawhai community, thank you also for accepting this ragtag group of people with open arms every year.”

The skill and profile of the women skaters was a feature of this year’s Jam. PHOTO/DAVID MURRELL

“Everyone encourages each other and the camaraderie is incredible.”

-- Andrew Morrison, veteran skateboarder

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