Saturday, May 29, 2004

Air France: Overseas venture translates into gold for teen

Mobile Skatepark Series notebook

By Colleen Kane
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Steven Aleil traveled a long way for some gold this weekend.

Aleil, a member of the K2 France team from Paris, took home the Mobile Skatepark Series' first championship medal Friday with a score of 52.50 in the ASA amateur in-line vert competition at Sawyer Point.

He was one of just four vert competitors, after four others scratched. Jesse Diana, 15, of Brick, N.J., placed second with 34.25 points.

Aleil, 17, who has been skating for seven years, is used to the travel, having already competed in Washington D.C., Los Angeles and Miami. But he doesn't speak much English, and neither did his teammates who were trying to help translate. His feelings on Friday's performance, however, which qualified him for the Amateur World Championships, were quite clear.

"I'm happy," he said.

Aleil is also one of several skaters who will add an international flavor to today's amateur street finals. He placed 10th in the amateur street preliminaries Friday with an average score of 71.00. His K2 France teammate Aviram Druckman, 16, of Israel, finished 12th with a score of 67.00, and Julien Sptizer, 17, also of Paris, finished 11th with 68.63 to advance.

Aleil's hope for today's street finals wasn't difficult to translate either: He wants to get first.

COMMENCEMENT ON WHEELS: Aaron Pyle finished his Middletown High School career two days ago, but he won't be at graduation Tuesday. Because when it came down to attending a mandatory graduation practice or the ASA amateur in-line street prelims, there was no question which option won.

"I have my priorities straight," Pyle said, smiling.

At the top of his list Friday was qualifying for the finals, which he did with an average score of 66.88 for 13th place. Pyle, who placed second last year in the street competition, was the only area skater to advance.

He did it despite throwing up on the edge of the course at the end of his first run. He said a combination of drinking too much water and tiring himself out during practice made him sick, but he recovered to score a 67.00 on his second run.

"I always smile, regardless of how bad I do. After I puked, I laughed," Pyle said. "(Today) I'll drink water so I'm hydrated, but I'll try not to practice so hard."

His main goal for today is to place in the top handful of skaters who will be picked to advance to the ASA Amateur World Championships. The 18-year-old Pyle, who has been skating for four years, placed 31st at the World Championships last year.

UP TODAY: In-line amateur street finals, noon-1 p.m.; in-line pro vert final, 2-3:30 p.m.; in-line pro street final, 4:15-7 p.m.

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Air France: Overseas venture translates into gold for teen

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