In October, Boulder resident George Pappas went to the World Skate Games in Argentina with the intention of proving that anything is possible, no matter your background. For Pappas, leaving the games as the highest-placing American man was proof that comeback stories aren’t just fiction.

George Pappas, left, celebrates his second- place finish at the 2022 World Skate Games next to fellow competitor Jakub Jirman. (Courtesy Photo)

“It was storybook,” said Pappas, who spent most of this year training for the games.

Pappas, 58, has been skating since he was 12. A former World Skate Games champion, his career was put on hold in 2015 when he was arrested and charged with attempted first-degree murder. After being released on parole last year, he worked with The Reentry Initiative in Longmont and prioritized making it to the games.

Pappas competed in four events: hybrid slalom, tight straight slalom, special slalom and giant slalom, all of which involve racing downhill and weaving between cones on a skateboard. Pappas qualified ninth in each of the first three events, which was disappointing for him.

“It didn’t all go down like I wanted it to,” he said. “In my mind, I was there to take the whole thing. I was questioning everything about myself as a skateboarder.”

After a shift in mentality and a commitment to “bring it” for the giant slalom race, Pappas secured a second-place finish. He was the only American man to podium at the games, receiving a silver medal for his giant slalom score. He said it felt great to represent not just the U.S., but Boulder, specifically.

“Standing on the podium on the fourth day, breathing it in and knowing that I had done my best … I count that as a win,” Pappas said. “It just felt so awesome to get second place.”

By finishing sixth overall, Pappas was one spot short of receiving a monetary prize. He said it’s not about the money, but the opportunity to have an effect on people through his passion.

Going forward, Pappas has several goals to focus on. These include writing his memoir, coaching other skaters and training for the 2024 World Skate Games in Italy.

“I’m going to promote skateboard racing here in Colorado and do my part to keep it rolling on an international level,” he said. “There is no finish line.”

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Dana Cadey
2022-11-27 23:00:59
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