Adaptive Summit County skateboarder Mike Minor continues to push boundaries
FRISCO — Daniel Gale has a challenge for any skateboarder out there: put your hand in your pocket. Then leave it there while you try to perform your favorite trick or ride your favorite line. And see how much you rely on your arms, not just to grab your board, but to balance.
After feeling that variable out, Gale would ask a boarder to realize the challenge X Games medalist Mike Minor of Frisco has when he attempts to Ollie head-high, or skate sideways while executing a grind on his board’s trucks high above one of the flow bowl’s tallest features at the Frisco Skatepark.
“Especially on a skateboard, it’s really critical,” said Gale, the co-founder and executive director of Adaptive Action Sports. “Mike’s got a style that’s really fast and big. He likes to do big tricks. Those ollies — head-high — and bigger, long grinds. And he carries a lot of speed, which is really cool to watch.”
Those who know the 29-year-old are well aware of the boundary-pushing ethos he carries, both on a snowboard or skateboard and throughout his life after he was born without a right forearm.
At the 2018 Pyeongchang winter Paralympics in South Korea, Minor was able to shave off about 2 seconds off his final run in the Banked Slalom SB-Upper Limb competition, racing to a gold medal for the stars and stripes. In another race, he landed a front flip before the finish line. That’s Minor.
The same goes for the all-seasons shredder in the skatepark or streets, wherever his skateboard takes him. At home in Frisco, the Pennsylvania native lives to lace fast lines through the flowing transitions of the Frisco Skatepark. That’s where he spent all of last summer finding transition pockets to keep speed in the brand new park.
A year later, Minor fights through the pain of a skater’s life daily — with his dog Max, or “Dinky”, chasing behind him — to improve his skating and tricks. This is, after all, is the park where he and Gale practiced last summer in advance of his bronze-medal win at the first-ever medal-awarding adaptive skateboard event at an X Games.
“The skatepark portion here is absolutely insane,” Minor said. “The bowls, I like to just get in there and grind the lips, the copings as far as I can. Some of the over-vert bowls are amazing. You don’t even have to do tricks in there. Just ride fast.”
On his snowboard or skateboard, riding fast has left Minor with his share of injuries. Last summer while feeling out possible lines in the new park he had what he called a “stupid fall” that split open his skull. Earlier this year, before a multi-month stay in Europe due to COVID-19, Minor severely rolled his ankle while filming a skate video in his favorite place on earth to ride: Barcelona, Spain.
That injury cut into his snowboarding season before COVID-19 officially ended his winter season and skateboarding filming time as he spent months in Finland with his fiancé. He returned to Frisco just under a month ago, and has been on his skateboard at the skatepark daily ever since.
Hours upon hours spent at the Frisco Skatepark also aid Minor’s unique approach to adaptive snowboarding. While most para snowboarders stick to the banked-slalom and snowboardcross racing hosted by the Paralympics, Minor pushes adaptive boundaries in resort terrain parks. He wows with his inverted tricks off of rail features.
But these days it’s on a skateboard where Minor feels he can push and progress his passion for riding sideways the most. There are more peers, like fellow American para-snowboard stars Evan Strong and Noah Elliott, who also are stylish skaters. To Minor, currently it’s just a more creative medium with friends pushing each other.
And though Gale is not a para athlete himself, he is one of those friends with a vested interest in the future of para skating. Gale is a sport organizer with X Games who brought the sport into the event’s medal conversation last summer.
After the 2019 event, Gale said X Games officials relayed that they loved the debut of para skateboarding and were ready to bring it back this summer. Then the event was canceled due to COVID-19.
“This is a vertical they are interested in expanding, how to do more with it,” Gale said. “It’s cool to watch adaptive skateboarding because it’s so visual. Snowboarding is often covered up. Skating is just so visual and so inspiring.”
X Games isn’t the only extreme-sport height Gale hopes para skating will reach. Gale is currently sitting on a subcommittee put together by U.S. Skateboarding in an effort to bring Paralympic skateboarding to life.
Time will tell if that may be possible for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics that are now delayed to next summer.
“And it’s Mike’s goal, of course, if this comes to fruition to make that team as well as be on the snowboard team,” Gale said. “He’d be a full year-round athlete, dual mediums. … He’s just really passionate about his sports. And he’s a great skate buddy.”
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Oregon’s Laurenne Ross and New Castle’s Alice McKennis Duran both announced their retirement in recent days and celebrated together during Saturday’s downhill. McKennis Duran is a local namesake who grew up skiing at Sunlight in Glenwood and formerly trained with the AVSC.