Curren Caples: My Own Personal Bieber

Andrew Dalton

My child has yet to reach the age of first celebri-crush, but I'm going to start pushing a candidate, in what I'll call the anyone-but-Bieber strategy.  

Fourteen-year-old skateboard wunderkind Curren Caples is fast going from novelty to serious competitive athlete. He didn't win a thing at the X Games, but his skating style and tight-corduroy fashion sense drew Justin Bieber-level screams from the girl-heavy crowd on the final day of ESPN's action sports Olympics. My inner teen girl was nearly as charmed. He weighs 75 pounds and has the face, and pre-braces teeth, of a 10-year-old.

But as he soared 15 and 20 feet over the park's concrete bowls, the dad in me wanted to grab him and make him put on a helmet.

The finals in Skateboard Park were really my generation against his. They included no one in his 20s -- the five finalists were two guys in their mid-30s and three in their mid-teens. Fifteen-year-old Brazilian Pedro Barrios ended up the winner.

In a generational switch that seemed to me totally backwards, 37-year-old Andy MacDonald -- from my never-wear-a-seatbelt walk-to-school-alone generation -- was weighed down with helmet, elbow and knee pads while Caples, Barros, and the teens of the seemingly over-parented generation soared and scraped around with nothing more than beanies and baseball caps, their jeans too tight for anything resembling padding.    

After watching a while, I swallowed my fear of casts and concussions and found the rawness refreshing. I do have a bias. My 6-year-old is so overwhelmingly timid that she won't even consider sitting in the front seat while I switch parking spots in our car, and she clearly got it from me. I consider the fact that I've never broken a bone -- the result of the same kind of young caution -- to be one of my great failures. I missed out on a lot.
So is it possible that despite wary parents at every turn, some recklessness still lives? I hope so.  

Image via AndrewLivingston/Flickr

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