"Holy shit, that was so fuckin' radical!," proclaims Mike Paproski, a skateboarder with a POV camera who saw Ryan Vitale, one of his fellow competitors, collide with a deer during a practice run at this weekend's Buffalo Bill Downhill Bloodspill race on Lookout Mountain. (We posted the video this morning over at our news blog, the Latest Word, but keep reading for an interview with Paproski.) Deer crossing signs: Not just for cars.
See also: - Longboarder hitting deer video: "Holy sh#t! That was so f#cking radical!" - The long ride: Q&A with father and son longboarders Mike and Greg Paproski - Helicopter crashes while filming 2011 Buffalo Bill Downhill Bloodspill skateboard race
"I was just in the right place at the right time and I had the GoPro 2 camera on my helmet, like I always do," Paproski told Westword. "It was crazy. We were doing practice runs and that part of the course is like 40-45 miles per hour for a big guy. I knew there were some big pros coming up behind me and I was just like, 'I'm gonna chill out because the big 180-degree turn, called The Gooch, was coming up and I didn't want to be in that area going 40 miles an hour with a bunch of people around me.' So I let those guys pass me up a little bit, and as I'm watching them I see that there's four deer crossing the road, from right to left, up ahead. One guy goes all the way to the left side of the road, skids out, and sends the very last deer scrambling back out to the road, and - Bam! - that's the one the guy hits."
Paproski, a Denver-based longboarder whose son, Greg, is one of the top-ranked downhill skateboarders in the U.S., posted his video on Sunday and saw it start to go viral on Monday morning.
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"Ryan Vitale, the guy who got hit, was done for the weekend, but it was pretty much just road rash, bumps and bruises, no broken bones," says Paproski. And the deer? "At the very end of the video, if you watch it to the end, you'll see a deer crossing at the bottom. That's the same deer! They said it was stunned a little bit and it sat there and thought about it for a second, and then it just jumped up and ran off."
Paproski, a skate lifer, is no stranger to road rash and says these kinds of accidents come with the territory, especially when skating on mountain roads. Still it's the first skateboarder-deer collision he knows of.
"Downhill skating to me is always controlled chaos: there are so many thoughts going through your mind that you have to overcome when you're doing that stuff that I don't even really think my brain caught up with me until after I'd stopped," Paproski says. "I was so in shock that I made it through and didn't go down in that crash! In the video it doesn't look like I'm very close to it, but when you're going 40 miles per hour, something 10 feet away looks like it's right in front of you. It was pretty scary! I had to take a chill pill for a minute. People were making fun of me all weekend for the 'radical' comment and I'm sure I'll never let that down, but I just couldn't believe what had just happened."
For more of Paproski's longboarding videos, check out thepapdog's channel on YouTube.
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California skater Byron Essert ended up winning this year's Buffalo Bill Downhill Bloodspill race, beating out Colorado local Zak Maytum and Oregonian Alex Tongue for the top spot.