Teen’s Skiing Death Inspires Construction of Tahoe Skate Park

by Alex Falls

A pop-up skatepark recently opened in Tahoe City in memory of a 16-year-old who died in a ski accident last winter. The Scotty Lapp Memorial Skatepark opened up in an unused parking lot behind an old restaurant called Blue Agave. Just across from Commons Beach.

The newly sanctioned place for skateboarding has 4,000 square feet of terrain filled with half-pipes, stairs, ramps, and a lot more. The skatepark is a temporary installation. It’s open on weekends starting at 10 AM until sunset. The park will remain open until the first snowfall of the year attracts residents back to the mountains for skiing and snowboarding.

Since the park opened, it’s been a haven for kids in the Tahoe area. It immediately filled the need for the kids looking for something to do besides going on another hike through one of the city’s beautiful landscapes. Sometimes younger people want something a little more extreme.

The people who built the skate park are working to find a permanent location for the Scotty Lapp Memorial Skatepark. They’re motivated to find a permanent home to give kids a place where they’re allowed to ride freely and make new friends.

“Our intention is to give people of all ages and backgrounds a local, legal, safe place to gather and connect to their common love of skateboarding,” said Amy Lapp, Scotty Lapp’s mom and co-founder of the Scotty Lapp Foundation.

The Lapps moved to Lake Tahoe in August 2021. But they frequently visited the city before moving there full time. Their two sons enrolled in one of the ski teams at Palisades Tahoe. When the pandemic began, Scotty took full advantage of what Tahoe had to offer. He rock-climbed, skateboarded, wake-surfed and skied. “He was living his best life,” Amy said. 

When the Lapps moved to Lake Tahoe, they found it was surprisingly difficult to find reliable places for longboarding. People might consider Tahoe to be a haven for outdoor activities. But the aging community is somewhat small and quiet and limited for things kids can do. In town, restaurants tend to close early. Some of which aren’t even open seven days a week.

Outside the ski areas, there are not many areas adolescent kids can gather. For kids like Scotty, it was difficult to find a place to go skateboarding where you didn’t also risk getting shut down by law enforcement.

“When [Scotty] wasn’t doing dryland training here at Palisades, he would go skateboarding with his friends in Tahoe City, and he came home to me and he’s like, ‘Yeah, Mom, I made friends with the sheriff,'” Amy said.

Without an officially sanctioned skatepark, kids were drawn to empty parking lots and sidewalks in front of businesses. They skated wherever they could until the local sheriff’s deputy arrived. The idea to build this new park came to Amy almost immediately after her son’s passing.

“Literally, within hours of his passing, I looked over, and I was like, I’m building a skate park,” Amy said. “It just came out of my mouth. I don’t know where it came from. There were a million thoughts going through my head, but I was like, we’re building a skate park.”