Disclaimer : This article is not intended to offend or personally attack any one person. It merely is an observation of an event and a reporting of facts. Read at your own risk.
Skateboarding is a strange creature. Some consider it a lifestyle, some consider it a sport, some do not consider it at all. Skateboarding is not meant to be judged at any level, you either skate or you don’t. But for some reason, people want to know who is the best. So we hold contests to see who is supposed to be the best skateboarder on that day. This is based on the opinion of (usually) three judges. These three judges are supposed to be experts in judging the criteria of a good skate run, whether it be on a ramp, street, or pool. At the end of the contest we hear the results announced, usually a top ten, and then try and decide if the judges made the right call. Ninety percent of the time we probably agree with what the judges have set forth as the results. Even if these results were obviously flawed, you would expect that results would not be changed after being announced. A call by the umpire in baseball is not reversed, even if he blew that call. In the NFL there is instant replay to change a blown call. Maybe we can video the contest, so the results can be changed if a wrong placing is awarded. I just know that skateboarding is one of the only “sports” that sometimes lets personal relationships and politics influence who is in the top ten. That sucks. This is the story of one of the most fucked up contests I have ever been a part of.
Mike McGill Masters winner
MRZ called me a few days after the Protec pool party to let me know about a pro pool contest coming up at the Encinitas park. When he told me it was on june 7th, I thought it was a little weird being so soon after the Protec and also the weekend before the Quicksilver at Malmo contest. I saw the flyer for it and it looked legit, a big sponsors list, and some big name pros listed as well. One would think if you really wanted a good turnout, you’d want more time to promote it? Anyway, I called the number on the flyer, got info, and registered online. The contest was scheduled for Saturday. I had never ridden Encinitas, MRZ and I headed down on Thursday so I could get some practice in. This contest was being put on by Steve Steadham. When he showed up on Thursday, I had some questions for him. What time was pro practice? What time the pro contest would start? Basically what time did I need to be there at. All I got was a real vague answer with no real times. I did find out the am street contest was being held in the morning. So let me get this straight, in one day, they were going to try and accomplish an am street contest, multi division am bowl contest, woman’s bowl contest, pro and master bowl contest, possibly a best trick contest on the vert ramp and be done and out of the park by 6:30 pm. WHAT? Total recipe for disaster.
Andy Macdonald Pro winner.
Saturday came around, and MRZ and I figured if we got there by 1pm, we would be safe. After a quick stop at Jokers skate shop in Huntington Beach to say hi to Corey and pick up some products, we got on the road to Encinitas. We rolled up around 1:30 pm, the am street contest was in full swing and the bowl was open for practice. I went to the registration desk to pay my entry of $50. I was informed that my name was not on the list of confirmed riders, even though I had received a confirmation number(#0342) via e-mail. Oh well, I could still enter by just paying my $50, which I did. I asked for a receipt, so I could show it to my sponsors and get reimburse. No dice, to quote the chick taking the money,” I don’t have a receipt”. WTF? ” You could maybe ask Steve for one.” Then MRZ, who was the only major media there to document this contest was asked to pay $15 dollars for a spectator fee. Double WTF! So now, I started thinking. Why did I have a confirmation number of 0342 when there was not even 100 riders total in this event? What did this number have to do with anything? Obviously it didn’t mean shit. Why doesn’t this chick have a printer on her laptop or a pad of paper to write me a receipt? Are you fucking kidding me? And what’s up with the “spectator fee” ? Does a parent have to pay $15 to see there kid ride in a contest after paying the entrance fee? Or was it a spectators fee? It really wasn’t very clear and I had to wonder ; Is all this money going into Steadham’s bus for gas? Anyway, the chick asks me my name 4 times. Apparently she can’t quite spell KNOX, but signs me up. Or so I thought.
Julie Kindstrand Womans winner
So at around 2:30 they started doing the grom division. 20 minutes practice, heats, age divisions, you get the picture. Put this together with your standard wasted time and bullshit, and is time slipping away. They had kids 12 and under, 13 and over, women’s, etc. Now it is getting late, almost 5pm. The Masters Pro division is just getting its practice going. I had seriously considered just leaving, but MRZ convinced me to stay and skate. We had already invested too much time and money to turn back now. They call the names of the masters, and what do you know? My name isn’t on the list. Great. So now I go to Dave Duncan who is in charge of the heats and say ,” hey man, I’m in the masters.” Duncan says,” Alright, It’s $50 bucks.” I say, “Dude, I payed the chick at the gate.” Duncan tells me ” Oh, then your in”. What exactly was the point of this confirmation number?
Dillon Taylor AM winner.
Just when I had thought all the drama had been put to rest, Steadham ask me if I was in the right division. like I am not supposed to be in masters or something. At the Protec, masters is 37 and older. Already in the heats for masters were Aaron Astorga, and Josh Nelson, two fucking rippers who happen to be my age. All I could reason from Steadham asking me this was A) he wanted me out of the division. B) he did not think i was 37. C) He wanted to hand pick who was in each division. Whatever. I’m skating in the masters.
Zane Timpson Grom winner
The contest starts with two heats, 1 intro run for each rider followed by a 15 minute jam for each heat. Everyone had a good intro run except for myself and Josh Nelson, we each bailed like second wall, oh well that’s why they have a jam. In the jam Josh clearly killed it, he had the best lines and a big bag of tricks. long feebles and smiths, and huge backside airs and frontside ollies. I actually had him in first. Then you had Adrian Demain, Lester Kasai, Eric Nash, Mike McGill, and myself. We all had a steady bag of tricks on the lip and in the air. I thought, you could have arranged any of us in the spots 2nd thru 5th and it would have been legit. The judges responsibility is to watch the contest , and determine who placed where. But what was the criteria they were looking for, lines? tricks? style? height? consistency? or were they even watching? Do they even skate? When all the dust had settled, they announced the top ten in this order 1) Mike McGill 2) Adrian Demain 3) Josh Nelson and Buddy Carr tied for third 5) Tom Knox 6) Eddie Retagui 7) Steve Steadham 8) Eric Nash 9) Lester Kasai 10) Aaron Astorga
Josh Nelson 2nd masters.
Okay, I don’t really give a fuck what place you put me in. I’m just stoked to skate with some of the pros I grew up watching skate, but C’mon Josh clearly had the best shit of the day and I’m sorry but Buddy Carr should not have been in front of Lester, Nash, or myself. When the results were announced a lot people were thoroughly confused and upset. At this point the contest is seriously behind schedule. Duncan takes the judges sheets and quickly starts the pro division. It’s fully rushed.
Jake Piasecki 2nd Pros
It is now 6 pm, the park closes at 6:30 pm, no exceptions everyone out. So it is announced to the displeasure of the pro’s, that they will only get two runs. Thats it. This is supposed to be the premier division. The PRO DIVISION. Hell even the 12 and under got more time. Well it didn’t really matter, because nobody was going to touch Andy Macdonald. he just killed it, he did an insanely hard trick on every wall. No controversy there. He was 1st place. The chaos came when they awarded 2nd place. The judges, must have been watching the little league game next door because they awarded second place to Chris Reeves. Chris did pull off some really sketchy switch grinds, but he fell a lot and his airs although respectable were not as big as the other guys. Cookiehead and Jake Piasecki were going huge, airs, grinds, inverts,etc. you could of put either one of them in 2nd. or third. Clearly Chris should not have been in the top five. They announced the placings 1) Andy Macdonald 2) Chris Reeves 3) Darren Jenkins 4) Jake Piasecki 5) Mike Brookman 6) Josh Rodriquez 7) Blake Cuthbert 8) Bennett Harada 9) Tuma 10) Danny D. Once again people were confused and flat out pissed off at the results.
Now it’s 6:45 and the YMCA people want everyone out, but the master and pros want the prize money that was promised. Duncan announces the placings again and the prize money amount for each placing. My name is called out and for my hard fought “supposed” 5th place I won $75. Wow. Where do I get my check? Wait. What? The check will be in the mail? All I have to do is fill out a W-9. Really? You mean all I have to do is give a complete stranger my social security number and I can get $75 bucks? Anyone who placed and was getting a check had to fill out this form. Chaos. Everybody was looking for a pen and some guys didn’t even know what there number was. I filled out the form with a fake social and my brothers address. I didn’t give a shit at this point. I am sure the check will be in the mail. Really, they said they would send it. Needless to say, there were a lot of pissed off pros, not only because of no checks, but because of some of the absurd placements.
Steve Steadham 3rd Masters
Cookie Head 3rd Pros
MRZ and myself hit the road back to Long Beach, and on the way back stopped for a bite to eat. We sat all fucking day without eating, so this was a good chance to sit and talk about what had just happened. Around 8pm MRZ’s phone rings. It’s Duncan, informing him that the results that were announced were not the official results. The judges sheets were being re-tallied, and the official results would be announced later. Are you fucking kidding? Is this American Idol and we drag out the results for another show? Did they have some hanging chads on the ballots the judges were using? Was Al Gore one of the judges? WTF!
Lynz Hawkins 2nd womens
Now it is sunday june 8th, the day after the contest. MRZ emails me the “OFFICIAL RESULTS”. masters 1) Mike mcgill 2) Josh Nelson 3) Steve Steadham 4) Lester Kasai 5) Buddy Carr 6) Adrian Demain 7) Tom Knox 8) Eric Nash 9) Eddie reatagui 10) Aaron Astorga
pros 1) Andy Macdonald 2) Jake Piasecki 3) Darren Jenkins 4) Chris Reeves 5) Mike Brockman 6) Josh Rodriquez 7) Blake Cuthbert 8) Bennet Harada 9) Eric Britton 10) Danny D
Buddy Carr 5th masters
let me first address the masters. Josh Nelson still was not the winner? What were they thinking? Steve Steadham put himself in 3rd! Are you kidding me? Dude only made some rail slides and two foot airs.I guess when you throw the contest you can bump yourself from 7th to 3rd with a recount. At least Lester got some justice moving form 9th to 4th. Some how Buddy Carr managed to still beat out Eric Nash and myself. He did some solid grinds and a couple of sketchy lien to tails, but i think Eric and I definitely went higher and had more tricks. Honestly, I dont really care, you can give me last, but be fucking fair. Fuck, I just got placed out of my $75 bucks. They told me the check was in the mail.
Tom Knox 7th masters
Eric Nash 8th masters
Now how about the pros? Andy Mac without a doubt won. They put Jake 2nd, Cookie head 3rd. That was a close call so it’s all good. I still don’t think Chris Reeves was top five and they had him in 4th. Mike Brockman had a huge bag of tricks and got 5th. I sense some hostility from the judges toward the Inland empire.
Mike Brookman 5th pros
Look. I know it is hard work throwing a contest, and you cant please everyone. More than anything I feel bad for the parents who had to fork out $$$$ to watch their kid skate, and for anyone who drove more than 30 minutes to get to this contest. I also feel for any pro that planned on using the winnings to pay bills, buy food, or prostitutes. Because ” The check is in the mail.”
A slew of skaters came from all over the place to participate in the Death Race. Pros from 4 decades were among…
….We couldn’t believe he came to our ramp to skate with us. He even gave us his phone number to call to come skate his ramp. Fuckin eh! that kinda shit doesn’t happen every day! I think it took us several weeks to even get the balls up to call the number
1.What years were you a pro from?
I was pro from ’87 through the start of ’92. That was kinda when skating slowed down a bit and a lot of the older vert skaters started getting pushed to the side as the companies focused on the core skaters buying boards – street riders. I also skated as a sponsored am from ’83 to ’87. Back in those days, the pro contests usually had an amateur contest also and so I got to travel with the pros a lot of the time. A very cool time!
2. How many years would you say you’ve been a skateboarder?
Well…I started skateboarding in 1977 at the ripe age of 9. I skated pretty much non-stop nearly every day through 1992 – 15 years. Then I kinda got slapped with a bit of reality and had to go find a job. So from 1993 through 1999, I didn’t really skate that much. During that time, I finished going to school and then got a job where I worked 10-12 hour days. Skated a couple of times a year…but for the most part, every time I did, I completely sucked (practically bailing on rock-n-rolls and grinds) and felt really embarrassed. But even in those times, I of course still considered myself a skater. Since ’99, I’ve been skating a lot more down at Vans and at Northridge. Add it all up, and it’s been a long time!
3. Where was the best place you’ve ever skated and why?
I would have to say one of the best was Marseille France. That was a public park right on the beach and they had this cool bowl where you could hit a bunch of different walls. The beach atmosphere was insane. The best old time park I ever rode was Skate City in Whittier. They had an insane clover bowl that went right to vert, a great big Keyhole with big transitions, and a ton of other pools and small stuff that was near perfect to ride. One of the best ramps I ever rode was in Amsterdam…the Bridge ramp. It was a public ramp under a bridge and had steel for some speedy runs.
4. Who have you seen skateboarding recently that impresses you?
Well, most all of the pros impress me and I have a great time watching them all skate. I’ve always liked to watch Neil Hendrix skate because of the way he uses every inch of the ramp. Bob Burnquist does tricks that I don’t think the skate Gods ever planned on humans making. Lincoln Ueda goes so fast and so high, I can’t believe his wheels don’t melt. Rune Glifberg can make any trick look awesome with his style. Also, I really liked watching Sandro Dias skate at the Vans Triple Crown – his alley oop 540s over the massive gap were sick!
5. Do you ever think you’ll end up working in the Sk8 industry?
I don’t know. I would love to work for a skate-related company. I always see some of my old friends at the contests who own companies now and I can tell they are having a great time doing what they love to do and making money at it. But, who knows.
6. Do you have any superstitions?
None that I can think of. But, if I slam real hard, my crazy mind will look for something that I did out of the ordinary that day and somehow try to relate it to slam. Crazy stuff!
7. What skaters influenced you when you were coming up?
Well, a lot of the Skate City (local park I rode in Whittier) riders. Neil Blender and Lance Mountain for their creativity they bring to skateboarding as well as life in general. Definitely John Lucero who helped both Grosso and myself learn the basics and actually talked me into entering my first skate contest. I would have to say my main influence was Jeff Grosso…we went to elementary school together and we were the only skaters at school. So we just breathed, slept and ate skateboarding. And we both pushed each other really hard to continue to learn new tricks. Other influences were Jeff Phillips, Gator and Caballero because of their styles and the way they blend airs, lip and tech tricks.
8. How long did you go out with your wife before you got married?
A long time! We dated for 12 years before we got married. We did have some break ups in between, but I always knew we would get back together…throughout all 1500 breakups! Now that we’re married, my love for her has grown even stronger…she was definitely my soul mate!
9. Do you plan on becoming a father and having a skate rat kid?
Definitely! I’m sure in the next couple of years. My wife and I are still having fun being together and being young, going to dinner, etc. But I can feel kids are right around the corner.
10. Does it ever bum you out when you think that now skaters can make a decent living?
Absolutely NOT! I am so stoked for the skaters now and skateboarding in general. This is pretty much what we hoped would happen to skateboarding back in the old days. Skaters take a lot risks screwing up their bodies and have never been paid accordingly. So now with cash floating in from the TV networks and the corporate world, it gives skaters a chance to make some bucks and continue to rage on. Plus, more cash means that skateboarding will get that much more exposure and help introduce even more kids to skateboarding. More power to any skater that can make a buck.
Independent Trucks presents Bellmar’s Bowl 20 Years Deep jam:
Featuring Steve Alba, Peter Hewitt, Jeff Grosso, Darren Navarrette, Sam Hitz, Lance Mountain, Al Partanen, Christian Hosoi, Omar Hassan, Micke Alba, Eric Nash, Cara Beth Burnside, Josh Borden, Pat Ngoho, Crazy Kyle, and Jay Haizlip