Photo by Bryan Soderlind
Sports and Recreation - Staff Picks
Published: July 12, 2011
5043 Forsyth Commerce Road; 407-440-2802; midtownskatepark.com
We skateboarders (there is one of us here at the Weekly) are typically a self-centered bunch; while skating we can usually be found with a pair of headphones on, gaze averted downward, communicating only with taps of the board. But when we anti-social shredders see our cohorts breaking with the pack in an attempt to create a skateboarding community, we’re secretly thrilled. Midtown Skatepark, which opened last August on Forsyth Road, has brought a vibrant new skate scene to a quasi-industrial quadrant of town, not only by hosting a constantly changing – and improving – series of obstacles, but by playing host to lively contests, premieres of videos both local and national, and generally being a good place to watch dudes that are way better than you utterly kill it.
Best 5 o’clock shadow
Orlando Magic players stop shaving during playoffs
This year was supposed to be the year – again – for the Orlando Magic to bring home the NBA title, especially with the team’s spiffy new Amway Center home and the addition of seasoned veteran Gilbert Arenas to the team after the season-turning trades. To spark the team’s “Blue & White Ignite” flame, forward Quentin Richardson convinced his fellow players to stop shaving their faces (they veteoed shaving their heads due to the fact that a few players were already balding) during their playoff run. The campaign hairballed into a citywide hirsute effort. Diehard fans, local radio personalities and even Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer were part of the stubbly mess. Turns out the hair didn’t help the team much: The Magic suffered an embarrassing series loss to Atlanta in the first-round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Now Magic fans are tearing their hair out in frustration.
Best cross-state rivalry
War on I-4: Orlando Predators vs. Tampa Bay Storm
If you’ve ever been to an arena football game you know the high-action plays on the field – and even more so the drunken fans in the stands – create one hell of a rowdy atmosphere. And the fierce rivalry between these two down-the-road opponents – which this year celebrates its 20th anniversary since its inception back in 1991 (not to be confused with the later conceived college-football battle between UCF and USF) – continues to create hostility between players and fans alike. The Predators and the Storm meet at least twice a year, and both teams are known for bussing fans along I-4 (hence the name) to the respective opponent’s arena for away games. The decades-long series stood tied evenly until the Predators defeated the Storm at the new Amway Center in May, when the Preds sought revenge for their defeat in last year’s American Conference Championship. That shiny new arena might just be a good luck charm for the Preds, after all.
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