What follows is my article that, as you may have deduced, did not make the cut over at The Skateboard Mag. It was supposed to hit print last summer but, and I can’t fault the fellas for this, a two page article on an Alabama World Cup Skateboard Contest by some unknown kid did not end up top priority. No hard feelings. However, I will say that I thought that the article turned out quite well. So, instead of letting it sit on my hard drive for eternity I thought that I might post it. Should anyone actually take the time to read, or even, mysteriously enough, enjoy it, please let me know. I would be very flattered.
The Lost Skateboard Mag Article
Through some magic pricking of his thumbs, Alabama shop owner Brian Kelly not only convinced the city of Alabaster to build a solid concrete park (no easy feat in Alabama, gents) but also managed to get Dave Duncan on board to host a World Cup of Skateboarding event in the aforementioned park’s skullbowl. Through a combination of sponsorships and no insignificant strain on his personal pocketbook, Brian was able to pull around 6 grand for prize money, convince Christian Hosoi to help judge, and lure many of the world’s top bowl skaters for what may well have been the largest skateboarding event ever to hit Alabama.
Inches from college graduation and praying to the gods that my future wouldn’t lie in plastics, it would seem that Brian thought of me. In light of my various spats of journalism over the past few years, Brian shot a few e-mails to Mike Mihaly and lined up this writing gig for yours truly. About two hundred fifty bucks down for a plane ticket (read=about 45 tables waited), I found my girlfriend kissing me goodbye at LAX as I headed off for two flights straight through the night that would land me back in Birmingham.
Enter Ride Skateboards, home of Brian Kelly. Somewhat a stranger to skateboard celebrityness, I am a bit taken aback to find Steve Steadham sitting in the corner with his computer pretending not to MySpace. Along comes Sergie Ventura, throwing his fist in the air for his recent HURLEY photo incentives (maybe that will land you a little more jingle Sergie). Benji Galloway wanders in, still groggy after camping, and destroys the pool without ever remembering to take of his flip flops. Wait, there’s Lance Mountain in the parking lot. Jimmy the Greek tailgating. The preliminary days roll on and I find myself, late one night, standing atop the bowl with the World Cup of Skateboarding crew: Dave Duncan, Don Bostick, and Sasha Steinhorst. What to say…? Should I make eye contact…? Oh God, I think I just…
“What’s up, man?” Chubby, hustly voice, and, quite remarkably, with no hint of bitterness in his eye, Dave Duncan walks right up. We roll around at the top of the shallow end for a minute and, talking to a buddy of mine, I roll over the bull nose coping, hit the transition, and charge towards the ten foot at a speed that is anything but extreme. “Man, did you just acid drop into this thing?” Dave again. “Now I know that I’ve gotta do it.” (Turning to Sasha.) “Man, I wasn’t even sure if I was gonna roll into this thing until I saw him (pointing) do it.”
Dave: “That’s sick!”
Me (thinking): “Don’t tell him that you can’t frontside grind.”
That night, dropping a few beers with men who were gods yesterday, either my head or the room spins as I watch Duncan walk Brian’s house in a Ride Skateboards shirt, talk to the Bacon clan, or wander a room over and catch Steadham on the keyboard. This man must have played for at least two hours. Two hours of finger dance as skater after skater found their way into the room, stopped, swayed, and listened to a small piece of Elysium. Well done Steve, you are a master.
A little late to the park the next day, Brian pulls me aside right as I enter. “Miller…I talked to Don, Duncan, and Sasha this morning. They want you to help judge.” Quick. Quick. I’m ushered into the back room to sit with the trio. Crossing my legs in fear of losing my bladder to sheer giddiness, I put my business smile on, try to be polite and lucid, and say that it would be an honor to help out.
Next day. Contest day. I’m sitting on the scaffolded platform, ten feet high poolside, pretending to know what I’m doing as Sasha and Hosoi sit to my left jotting notes. Turns out the event is catered. Local boys Full Moon Barbeque decided to help us out and even offer meals on the house for V.I.P. (insert girly giggle). It turns out that even a veggie head, such as myself, is in luck as barbeque generally means great baked beans. Four signature baked beans sandwiches later and that little diddy from elementary school comes to mind “beans, beans, the magical fruit, the more you eat…” And how. Generally not one to steer away from exorcising my testosterone through a solid derriere rumble, I am a bit unnerved with Hosoi sitting next to me. Not the best way to make a first impression. Steam keeps pushing in, the pistons bulge, and I do my best to smile away as my innards cry for mercy.
In between the beans and my bowels, I have what may well be the best day of my life. Why? Simply this – ever been to a pro demo? Now I can’t hold it against the fellows, I’m sure that life on the road would wear me down as well…but, in my limited exposure, I have only once been to a professional demo where I felt that the skaters wanted to be there. Not the case here in Alabaster. The local skaters, their moms, and fans who drove from as far away as California for the event cheer and cheer (also unlike the demo crowds) as the skaters rip the pool a new deathbox and laugh every minute of the way. I grew up a “street” skater, but I have never had this kind of a time watching the pros on a street course. If you’re a street kid like me and the opportunity to attend a bowl contest ever shows up – take it, the level of raw energy is worth every bit of your time.
So, who ripped? Try to remember a few of these names and maybe even see them live – a personal experience is worth a thousand YouTube clips. These were my favorites –
-Lance Mountain, duh.
-Steve Steadham’s roll-ins and boardslides.
-Ray Fennesey’s opening run. Smith revert the shallow at mach eleventeen.
-Tim Johnson – inches from those frontside 540s to the shallow. Major
-Donovan Rice (my personal favorite).
-Steve Reeves, Creature’s manchild.
-Jimmy the Greek – 100% slams with zero elapsed turnaround time.
-…and, finally, the fellow who skates better than both you and your
favorite pro, Mr. Benji Galloway. Ranked #1 in the world for many a
Contest over. Results posted below. I skipped the after party to see some old friends. No regrets. Thank yous are in order for all involved, most particularly to Sasha, Don, and Dave for pulling me under their wing. However, ultimately, my gratitude lies with Brian Kelly who not only put the whole event together but, after years of patiently living with my eccentricities, gave me this opportunity and even covered my plane ticket by dropping $300 for my time on the judges stand. Brian, I owe you this article and many more. Keep Alabama skateboarding shining. We all know it, a few of us admit it – the scene would be lost without you.
|1. Benji Galloway||1. Lance Mountain||1. Cressey Rice|
|2. Tim Johnson||2. Steve Steadham||2. Susie Strege|
|3. Jimmy “The Greek” Marcus||3. Ray Fennessey||3. Jen Stranko|
|4. Steve Reeves||4. David “Malachi” Smith||4. Megan Mabry|
|5. Morgan Burgess||5. Dave Duncan||5. Dana Burgess|
|6. Sergie Ventura||6. David Ector||6. Ladonna Williams|
|7. Johnny Turgeson||7. Jimmy O’Brien||7. Courtney Payne|
|8. Donovan Rice||8. Scott Hughston|
|9. Josh “Skreech” Sandoval|
|10. Joe Marrara|
P.S. A well earned plug – visit www.rideskateboards.com and send Brian a