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Skateboarder gets big air at the State Fair
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MacDonald tests the Skatewave equipment. (Brandt Williams)
One of the country's most popular skateboarders helped promote a Minnesota-based builder of skate parks during a demonstration at the Minnesota State Fair.

Falcon Heights, Minn. — Champion skateboarder Andy MacDonald effortlessly manuevers his skateboard over a series of ramps and curved inclines. The tallest stands at eight feet. It's curved bottom turns straight up at nearly a 90-degree angle.

After launching off the lip of the structure, MacDonald does a 180 in midair, picks up speed down the ramp and heads toward a smaller ramp about 20 feet away. He hits the ramp, putting about three feet of air between himself and the structure. Before gravity pulls him back down to the other side of the ramp he turns 360 degrees, all while grabbing the bottom of the skateboard.

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Image MacDonald defies gravity

He makes it look easy.

The demonstration is under way at the Wonders of Technology exhibit inside the Progress Center. MacDonald is showing off the wonders of velocity, gravity and balance on equipment built by Skatewave, a company based in Delano, Minnesota.

MacDonald was one of a team of professional skateboarders who helped design the structures. He says it's a far cry from the days when he and his friends built their own ramps out of plywood.

"All the steel pieces are PVC dipped so they won't ever rust," says MacDonald. "The tech track service is a powder coat so -- a lot of times when you build ramps with steel -- it's hard to control the slickness, it gets too slippery when it gets dirty. The riding surface is really important to us."

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Image MacDonald signs autographs

Skatewave was created two years ago by the owners of a playground equipment manufacturer called Landscape Structures, Inc. also based in Delano. Since then, Skatewave has installed more than 350 skateparks around the country. Company spokesman Bill Dietrick says their clients are mostly municipal park and recreation centers.

"Our ramps are designed to withstand the heat of a desert and sit outside in the cold of a winter, all year round, and take the abuse of skateboarders and bikers and inliners. So we have to manufacture them in a way that they're going to last," Dietrick says.

MacDonald is clearly the star of the demo. He's won 13 X-Games medals, he's written a book, been a guest on the Tonight Show and holds the Guinness World's Record for distance jumping. He jumped a skateboard "Evel Knieval style" over four parked cars -- about 57 feet.

After the demonstration, MacDonald's self-proclaimed biggest fans -- Wes Post, Nick Luciano and Robert O'Brien from Lakeville -- wait to get an autograph.

What makes MacDonald so good?

"His ability to fly," says Luciano.

"He can do tricks and stuff," O'Brien adds.

The boys say they also ride skateboards, but they can't do the same kind of tricks MacDonald does. Not yet.

MacDonald says his advice for young skateboarders is to keep doing it as long as they have fun. However, he says if a kid wants to become a pro skateboarder to make a lot of money - he says they'd be better off taking up golf.

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