CARY - Gravity and momentum cancel out at the lip of the quarter-pipe.
In that second, the wheels of Nolan Warner-Sullivans skateboard face the sky, and the 15-year-old rider stares back down, moored to the half-pipes lip by one extended arm.
The invert is his signature of the 50-odd regulars at Carys municipal skate park, hes the only one who can pull off the twisting handstand. The others have their specialties too: Some fly off the ramps, others grind the rails, or they just glide over the humps and tables.
After 10 years of operation, the town-owned Sk8-Cary facility has cultivated 400 members and now the athletes want an upgrade.
You see kids at our age competing at the semi-pro level, because theyve had (larger) ramps facilitated, Warner-Sullivan said, standing with two friends atop a curving jump.
After six years or more at Sk8-Cary, theyre ready to move onto bigger and badder obstacles.
And since the facility, which is in Robert V. Godbold Park off N.W. Maynard Road, is owned by the town, the skaters have had to take on a decidedly un-extreme challenge: the municipal budgetary process.
Thats what put a whole crew of skaters in Cary Town Hall one day last month, led by a skating instructor wearing long shorts, high socks and a thick beard.
As you can see, Im an attorney, he joked.
But their message was serious: By putting more money into its park, they argued, the town would allow athletic progress and draw attention to Cary.
Theyre asking for tens of thousands of dollars worth of upgrades, including a 13-foot-tall vert ramp, compared to the 9-foot jump thats currently the parks tallest.
They want this park to stay current, said Billy Dexter, facility supervisor.
The idea of extreme sports in Cary might run contrary to the square-peg stereotype of this town, but the skate-lobbyists have a decent chance of getting their upgrade. The parks and recreation department has long been a pride of Town Halls, and the local government has poured millions into upgrades for more traditional specialties, such as its soccer and baseball facilities.
Currently, the skate park runs a deficit of about $90,000 each year, at margins that are typical for a town facility. It recoups about 60 percent of its expenses from membership fees, and it hosts three full-time and seven part-time employees, according to town records.
The park is a response to a growing demand for athletics, according to Doug McRainey, Carys director of parks, recreation and cultural resources.
What weve been finding for the last 20 years ... is that the country, our citizens are becoming more diverse, McRainey said. This is what the public is demanding. What used to be something you do on the sidewalk, now we want something more specific.
Cary isnt the only town with a skate park Raleigh and Durham offer unstaffed, free parks, while Chapel Hill outsources the management of its park. Cary, meanwhile, handles everything at its park, from staffing lessons to stocking the skate shop.
That level of control has kept injuries low two broken bones in eight years and repelled some of the grittier aspects of skate culture, said Dexter, a former professional BMX rider.
You dont have to be a hater with a bad attitude, he said.
Just then a call sounded from the main office: Lucas, call your mom, a staffer shouted to a skater.
No teasing ensued.