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BMX stunt riders wow crowd at Pa. mall

September 25, 1999|By BRENDAN KIRBY

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Three members of the Airwalk BMX Stunt Team combined humor, energy and stupefying leaps and flips Saturday before dozens of thrilled spectators at Chambersburg Mall.

The three-member team, which travels the country, gave three performances Saturday.

"I loved it. It was wonderful," said Chambersburg resident Robert Auman, 33. "The tricks they do nowadays are lot more radical than in my day."

Auman said he fooled around with bicycles growing up, but that was before bicyclists performed elaborate jumps off ramps, he added.

BMX rider Chris Shellkopf and rider/announcer John Bethers wowed the crowd with high leaps off two ramps set up in the mall's parking lot.

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They twisted and turned, performing 360-degree spins. At times, they nearly let go of their bikes in midair seconds before recovering with a slamming thud to the ground.

Bethers had a knack for seemingly sticking his bike on its side to the top of the ramp, holding it in place longer than gravity should allow.

Meanwhile, Brian Hamm provided his own air show on in-line skates.

For the 20-year-old San Diego resident, this was his first show with the Airwalk team. He normally performs for Eulogy Wheels.

The crowd seemed to agree that the finale provided the most impressive stunts.

Bethers gathered speed as he flew down one ramp. When he hit the second ramp, he launched into an end-over-end flip, coming to a safe landing.

Not to be outdone, Shellkopf followed the feat up with his own flip - a no-hands stunt that drew gasps.

"It was pretty cool," said 9-year-old Chris Perkins.

Bethers, who preached a pro-safety and anti-drug message throughout the performance, warned the audience not to imitate the tricks.

"We still crash. We still get hurt. I'm living proof of that," he said, pointing to his reconstructed leg.

Bethers, 24, said he injured himself during a show about seven months ago in Tucson, Ariz. He said he started to perform one trick and then changed his mind in the middle.

When he landed, he broke a bone but still finished announcing the show until the ambulance arrived.

Jim Frey, 26, said Saturday was the first time he had seen a BMX stunt show in person.

"My mom's lucky I didn't see this as a kid," he said. "I'd have done it."

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