Fletcher Renegar hopes his third time is the charm.
Later today, the Ringgold, Ga., teenager will try to skate, shred and grind his way to his first berth in a professional tournament by winning the Gatorade Free Flow Tour Finals in Salt Lake City.
It will be his third try at the tournament he joined after winning a regional competition in Nashville in August. He said he's lucky to be back.
"Georgia has some really good skaters and the same with Tennessee," he said.
B.J. Carretta, a spokesman with the tour, said many in the industry consider the finals to be the top amateur competition in the country.
"It took a lot of work to get here," he said. "This actually gives you a pipeline right into the pros."
Renegar will compete against 16 other top skaters with the winner getting a spot among professional skaters in the Dew Tour Championship in Las Vegas in October. After practicing on the course Friday, he said it is "more street-oriented" with longer rails and bigger jumps than in years past. But he doesn't believe that to be a problem for him.
"I like to skate everything," he said.
Renegar, 17, qualified for the finals in 2008, but injuries kept him from participating. He competed in the event in 2009 and 2010. Since his first finals appearance, he's learned to be a better a competitor -- everything from sleeping well and eating better before competitions to improved board control.
"I've definitely progressed," he said.
But despite his experience, Renegar said his competition has also been practicing.
"Its definitely getting harder every year because of everyone's progression," he said. "Everyone that is here is really good."
"These kids just keep getting better and better," he said.
Andy began working at the Times Free Press in July 2008 as a general assignment reporter before focusing on Northwest Georgia and Georgia politics in May of 2009. Before coming to the Times Free Press, Andy worked for the Anniston Star, the Rome News Tribune and the Campus Carrier at Berry College, where he graduated with a communications degree in 2006. He is pursuing a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Tennessee ...