After nearly two years of fundraising, construction and dreaming up a new future for skateboarding in the Flathead Valley, the expanded Dave Olseth Memorial Skatepark is now open in Whitefish.
On a Friday afternoon in late September, a dozen skateboarders and bikers of all ages traversed the park’s brand new features. Older skaters taught newcomers the lay of the land, and parents looked on as elementary age children took trial runs on their scooters.
“He’s been doing skate camp here all summer, watching the construction. We were super excited for it to be done,” Larissa Bull, the mother of two young skateboarders said of her older son. “He came here last Saturday to check it out, but it was super busy, so he wanted to come back today and try it out.”
Opened in 2005 and named for Dave Olseth, a Whitefish skateboarder and mountain biker who died in 2001, the skatepark has long been a destination for experienced and beginner skateboarders across the valley. In addition to being a gathering place for local enthusiasts, the park each summer hosts its annual Sk8fish Camp, a month-long summer program run through the city of Whitefish. While it’s been an anchor in the local skateboarding community for years, its recent growth in popularity prompted a coalition of skateboarding community members to begin dreaming up an expansion for the park in 2021 — one that has finally come to fruition.
“This expansion shows that outdoor recreation is growing, and the communities are coming together to let kids have a space to be free, bond and recreate,” Danyel Scott, co-founder of Dreamland Skateparks, an Oregon-based company that designed Whitefish’s skatepark, told the Beacon in February.
Scott is originally from Whitefish and decided to help the city expand its skatepark after hearing rumors of a need for more space during her visits home. Dreamland designed and built the original park in Whitefish in 2005 and worked on the recent expansion. Danyel’s husband, Mark, is a pro skateboarder and the other half of Dreamland Skateparks.
The expansion of the skatepark was spearheaded by the nonprofit Whitefish Skatepark Association (WSA), a coalition of local skateboarders who hoped to develop opportunities for kids to get out on their skateboards in the Flathead Valley.
The expanded Dave Olseth Memorial Skatepark includes more beginner terrain, with wide open spaces and increased visibility. It also allows for scooters and bikes.
“It’s opened up a lot more space, which makes it nicer when it’s super busy. Everybody tends to just spread out about more,” skateboarder Austin Lillie said.
Now that the Whitefish expansion is complete, WSA and Dreamland Skateparks can focus on their next goal: bringing a skatepark to Columbia Falls. In late 2021, skateboarder and former educator Matt Holloway, alongside Rebecca Powell, Tyrel Johnson and Simon Smith, formed the Badrock Skatepark Association (BSA), which seeks to raise funds, community support and involvement to build a skatepark in Columbia Falls. While Whitefish and Kalispell have been home to skateparks for years, Columbia Falls residents looking to skate have long had to drive elsewhere to get their fix.
The Columbia Falls City Council in May gave preliminary approval for the Badrock Skatepark to be located in Fenholt Park on the east side of the town. In a little over a year, BSA has raised more than $400,000 to build the skatepark, which will be built by Dreamland Skateparks and BSA and will be maintained by the city, with some contributions coming from BSA.
More information about the Whitefish skatepark and WSA can be found at www.skatewhitefish.org.
Correction: A previous version of this story identified Matt Holloway as Dave Holloway.
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