Much high praise has been lauded upon public skateparks in the British Columbia Interior. Photographer Nicholas Khattar takes us on a journey of bowls built on the down-low, private sanctuaries where the faithful ne’er fear to shred.
There’s a convincing argument that the word “church,” as it appears in the New Testament, does not refer to a building. Rather, it’s a congregation of like-minded people who can meet anywhere: the beach, a bike trail, your couch. Really, you can be religious wherever you damn well please.
It can be argued skateboarding is its own religion. Founded in the backyards of unsuspecting pool owners in Southern California in the 1970s, the skating movement went global quickly. Soon legions were gathering in parking lots and public squares to practice—and were persecuted for it.
In response, some built community skate parks, temples where the faithful could safely gather, such as the 16,000-square-foot public park in Revelstoke, British Columbia, which took 10 years of planning before opening last October. But private skate sanctuaries can still be found in the Kootenays: a ramshackle barn in a field, a decrepit garage on a main street, an empty pool in a subdivision. These are the places you’ll find people worshipping heroes like Jay Adams, Tony Alva, Jeff Grosso, and Pedro Barros. In the following pages, we visit five such spots where the décor may not always be pretty, but the vibes are divine.
THE MEG – Fernie
During 2018’s Wet Hot Emerican Summer skate tour, two members of the Emerica pro skate team made a pilgrimage to Todd Farmer’s place in Fernie to try the mega ramp nicknamed the “Meg.” Zach Allen and Erick Winkowski (seen here sticking a sad plant) agree the site is sacred. Farmer’s original ramp was built in 2014 and measured 16 feet wide and four feet high, but weather took a toll. The site was resurrected last year when Farmer bought the personal ramp of Whitefish Ramp Company CEO Brendan Rohan. Now the Meg boasts a 44-foot-wide ramp and a four-foot-wide, six-foot-high tombstone extension. Hallelujah.
THE BARN – Golden
Is there anywhere better for a shrine than an old barn? Located south of Golden, this 27-foot-wide, four-foot-high mini ramp was built by Chris Soper 12 years ago. It’s based on the design of another indoor ramp down the road in the community of Edgewater, but this one has a five-foot extension on which Colin Shewchuck hits a rock to fakie above Cody Martin. The Barn, or “Soap’s Bowl” as it’s also known after Soper’s nickname, comes with a contract: if you rent the house adjacent to it, your tenant agreement requires you to allow anyone to skate the ramp whenever they want. Truly a holy site.
THE SALMO BOWL – Salmo
Altruism is the theme of this communal site that was designed by Joe Davies and built in a former high school machine shop by volunteers from Salmo and Ymir. No government funds were given, but everyone is welcome to use it. The bowl began with a donation of a mini-ramp from a friend of Davies’s over a decade ago, but after two years of construction, it morphed into a five-foot-high kidney bowl with seven-foot radius transitions and an eight-foot-high extension. At one point, the project ran into financial difficulties but a donation from the Shambala Music Festival helped fund the bowl’s completion in 2007. If you’re wondering why a few of the overhead lights aren’t working, it’s deliberate: they were broken by late pro skateboarder and Kootenay legend Josh Evin when he smashed them trying backside 270s over the hip. In the photo at the top of the page we see Trevor Frame with a slightly more pious foot plant.
THE TRAMPOLINE RAMP – Kimberley
In 2015, it only took Rob Palermo two weeks to build this 16-foot-wide ramp on his own at his place in Marysville, just south of Kimberley. It boasts two eight-foot-wide sections, one of which is three feet high and the other four feet, that give this ramp a smooth radius transition with ample room for progression. What really sets this site apart, though, is the fact it was built around an in-ground trampoline. So if you’re looking to dial in your shove-it-double backflips, we recommend asking Palermo if you can visit. Or you can stick to the easier tricks, like this heavenly frontside ollie by Adam Beavers.
THE SECRET BOWL – Nakusp Area
There are secret sites in the skateboarding community where only the most devout are received. Take this undisclosed spot outside of Nakusp, for example. The secrecy surrounding this concrete bowl is similar to that of a Knights Templar initiation ceremony—if you’re in the know, you’re welcome to the show, day or night. Sean Wesley Barrett, aka “The Sinister Minister” according to his business card, gets ready to lay down some fire and brimstone.
THE RANCH – Revelstoke
This 11-foot-wide ramp was built in 2014 at a house known as “The Ranch.” The builders included Sean Wesley Barrett, James “Dozer” Coombs, Taylor Roberts, Chris Curran, and Mark Dickson, who passed away the summer of the ramp’s construction. With a six-foot radius transition, this aggressive mini-ramp commands respect: it has been lit on fire, torn apart, moved, rebuilt, and has withstood five Revelstoke winters. It’s also said to be possessed by something dark and amoral, similar to this nose grind by Taylor Roberts, while Dozer bows his head in praise.