by MICHAELA GAFFKE
Two years after the construction of Anthem Skate Park at the West End Recreation Center, one of the co-founders is heading off to Tampa Am to compete in his biggest competition yet.
Drake Pozanc, a 25-year-old from Winona, has been skateboarding for half his life. In November, he will be showcasing his skills at the 2017 Tampa Am in Tampa, Fla. From November 9-12, skaters from all around the country come to compete, in hopes to make a name for themselves in the skateboarding world. The competition attracts around 200 amateur skaters each year.
Pozanc is heading out to Tampa three days before the competition. He is planning to practice and feel out the course. He has some ideas about what tricks he wants to bring, but nothing is set in stone yet.
“If you skate somewhere else, the different textures throw your tricks different,” he said. “So I have to go get used to how the tricks will be done there. I have to make sure all my muscles are in tune.”
Before Tampa Am, Pozanc competed in Chicago, where one of the other amateur contests takes place around the United States. Qualifiers from those competitions get to go to Tampa.
This year is the 24th annual Tampa Am, with open practice starting on Wednesday, and the competitions starting on Friday. After the competitions, there will be events each evening ending with a celebration of the 2017 winner.
“I feel like this is my lucky break, and I don’t want to break it into two, or my bones in two,” he said. “I am not going to hold anything back. This is my one time to throw down. If it comes to breaking bones, it will be worth it.”
Pozanc hopes Tampa Am could be the gateway to making a career out of skateboarding. In addition to skateboarding for himself, he helped open Anthem with friends who are also skateboarders, to replace the old skate park on the East Recreation Center.
The old East End skate park was run down and rusty, and the city did not have the funding to repair it. The group cleaned up the ramps, and brought them to the West End Recreation Center. It was opened as a year-round indoor skatepark. They built Anthem Skate Park and Board Shop in under three months. It is open to the public, with a small membership fee.
Winning Tampa Am would mean a golden ticket to get paid for skateboarding, according to Pozanc. He is excited to ride the rollercoaster and see where it takes him.
“Everyone is making a big deal about this, and yes, it is a big deal for me,” Pozanc said. “It has been my lifetime dream, and there will be lots of people there. My chances are low, but who knows? Maybe small-town Winona will get on the map.”