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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, July 5, 2002

Blazin' Circus dazzles young fans

By Michael Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

By late afternoon yesterday, after a crowd of about 5,000 had convinced sponsors that their investment had been rewarded, and after BMX legend Mat Hoffman had left in his wake a trail of jaw-dragging, high-fiving teens, the only drama left at the Blazin' Circus was this:

Thumper Nagasako, of Wailuku, Maui, catches some air during the in-line skating portion of the Blazin' Circus.

Cory Lum • The Honolulu Advertiser

Which Yasutoko brother — Eito or Takeshi — would be the first to blast through the ceiling of the Neal Blaisdell Exhibition Center?

The Yasutokos, two of the best in-line skaters around, were part of a series of non-competitive exhibitions by some of the top athletes in in-line skating, BMX, skateboarding and Go-Peds.

With a monster half-pipe serving as center stage, the brothers took turns soaring off the 12-foot lips, sometimes spinning, sometimes frozen in dramatic pose, each time rising closer and closer to the pipes hanging from the ceiling.

"Damn," said 14-year-old Silver Fong. "That's nasty."

Thumper Nagasako, 19, had one of the best, and most nerve-wracking, seats in the room. The only amateur participating in the exhibition, the Maui resident found himself sharing the pipe — so to speak — with an all-star lineup of skaters, including the Yasutokos, Cesar Mora and top-ranked female skater Fabiola Da Silva.

"It took a while to get used to the ramp, being with all these pros and skating in front of all these people," Nagasako said. "I'm kind of just used to skating by myself."

The Blazin' Circus offered every opportunity for sensory overload yesterday. A few yards away from the exhibition area, children on in-line skates and skateboards took advantage of an open ramp-and-rail set-up. Next to that, younger skaters took furtive rides up and down a shallow half-pipe.

In an effort to make the event appealing to a broader audience, organizers eschewed the traditional punk, hip-hop and hard-core music for a more local mix of Hookani and Natural Vibrations. Still, the majority of people in attendance fit snugly into the prized adolescent-to-young-adult consumer bracket.

"We're really excited at the turnout, especially because it's the Fourth of July," said Lisa Adams, who was working at the Heely's booth. "It really hits our target market."

The lychee martini and Jack Daniels stands notwithstanding, most of the exhibitors seemed perfectly suited for the young crowd.

Shane Stein, 21, wasn't sure what the Explicit Models booth was trying to market. And he didn't care.

"Wow," Stein said, shaking his head at the women working the booth. "Wow."

Jimmy Tadeo, 16, came to the exhibition hoping to maybe talk Sobe representatives into sponsoring his fledgling BMX career. He settled for some killer footage of Hoffman and a glimpse at the sound system of his dreams at the Titan Motorsports Street FX Import Car Show.

Still, most of the people in attendance came for the exhibitions. Chris Owens and his two sons flew in from Maui just to catch the action.

Owens, who spearheaded the construction of Hilo's first skate park with partner Ryan Welter, became quickly enamored with the giant half-pipe.

"We need one of these," he said.

"This is it," Owens said of the event. "This is the future of sporting events for kids."