Jul. 19—You'll often find Chatsworth native Austin Taylor huddled over miniature half-pipes and ramps, meticulously manipulating a tiny skateboard to try and get a a trick just right.
Taylor's passion is fingerboarding. Fingerboarders use palm-sized, scaled-down skateboards — complete with working wheels, axels and tacky grip tape — to turn the same flips and grinds that full-size skateboarders do. Fingerboarders just use fingers instead of feet.
That passion recently led Taylor to a breakthrough in the growing hobby.
He became the first gold medalist in fingerboarding in Georgia.
"The battle was hard-fought to win a first-time gold," said Taylor. "It was a very passionate moment for me."
The United States Fingerboarding League, which is, according to its website, the "only national competitive fingerboarding league in the states," held a state championship in Georgia on the league's annual summer tour for the first time earlier this month.
Taylor brought home a gold medal in the Best Run Vert event at the competition, held in Atlanta on July 9.
Events in fingerboarding are analogous to skateboarding events in the X Games and other competitions. Competitors are judged for each run based on the tricks they pull off, with deductions for and mishandles.
"Vert is anything that consists of ramps featuring air tricks," Taylor said. "It's all about grabs and catching tricks in the air and making a clean landing back down — no tilting or holding to get the board down in a cheating way — it has to look real."
Taylor has been competing in more minor competitions for 10 years as the hobby has grown in popularity.
He found his interest in the miniaturized version of skateboarding when he began purchasing Tech Decks, a popular fingerboard brand.
"I was always avidly interested in skateboarding from 3 years old and up," Taylor said. "In 2009, My mom told me I could pick out something at K-Mart. I had this strong urge to get a Tech Deck, and from there the journey began."
He competed in his first competition in a skate shop in the Dalton Mall in 2012 at 16, where he took first place.
Now at 25, the 2015 Murray County High School graduate has his own fingerboarding business. He uses the same dexterity that it takes to operate a fingerboard to design and build his own boards. He sells them in various configurations under the brand name Fresh Baked Fingerboards.
Taylor helped sponsor the state championship event in Atlanta and brought along boards to sell to other enthusiasts at a booth.
"I personally see (fingerboarding) gaining more notice after something like this," Taylor said.
Taylor credits his mother with helping support his passion for fingerboarding.
She bought him his first boards, was there at his first competition in 2012, and, despite battling health problems in recent years, Taylor said, she was able to see her son win gold.
"I knew it meant the world to her to come so I purchased her a ticket and she came out," Taylor said.