Board Stiffs

Six days of the week -- sometimes all seven -- you'll find Seth Riveras, Baron Faust and Ethan Bortin in the maze of rails, obstacles and ramps that is Phoenix Skatepark. The three 13-year-olds have been skateboarding together since they first set their feet on a deck about four years ago. So they're tight -- tight enough to question each other's manhood and get away with it. "This one likes boys," Riveras and Faust say of Bortin, a scruffy kid with shaggy, light brown hair and crystal-clear, blue eyes. Bortin shrugs off the absurdity -- especially with so many teenage Bettys floating about.

But don't expect even cordial harassment when the three face off in competition. Not when each is focused on becoming a sponsored pro skater in the near future. "I always get better after contests, because you wanna try new stuff you've never done before," says Bortin, who's sweaty, dirty and holding his skateboard at his side. "We push ourselves to be better than one another."

With a pro sponsorship on the line, expect plenty of pushing Saturday, July 17, when Bortin, Riveras and Faust -- along with more than 100 other local skaters -- compete in the jam-style Mountain Dew Free Flow Tour at Phoenix Skatepark. Three winners from the team division of the 13-to-18 age bracket will earn spots on the Free Flow team, and win a chance to be judged by pros Shaun White, Rune Glifberg and Pat Channita at the tour finals in Encinitas, California, later this month. (Other skaters in the 12-and-under and 19-and-older brackets will earn prizes, as well.)

It's conceivable, says Phoenix Skatepark general manager Justin Fronda, that Bortin, Riveras and Faust could end up winning the coveted spots on the Free Flow Team. "One of them, for sure, will win," Fronda says.

Just one of them winning would be a shame, though, since breaking up is hard to do.