by Dave Hoang
Amateurs from all over flew or drove into town the week of this contest—the last Damn Am event of the year. East Coast kids, Brazilians and guys from all over California were in attendance. Winning this contest had nothing to do with money, because, no money was involved. Instead, every am wanted to be a finalist so they could qualify for the Tampa Am in January. The winner of this event receives the “Golden Ticket,” automatically sending them to the finals at Tampa. With over a hundred and twenty skaters in the mix, it was going to be a good weekend, filled with hungry skaters, showing off what they had in order to make finals.
October 25th—The first day of the event and an all-day practice session from nine in the morning to five in the afternoon. Everyone knew it was going to be hectic trying to share the course with all the competitors, but you do what you have to do. Then the worst thing that could happen did: rain came down on Southern California. Since the contest was outdoors, practice was cut really short when it started to rain around two o’clock. Everyone sought refuge inside, where there were talks of the contest being cancelled. Those that showed-up late to practice got no love.
October 26th—Round one of qualifying began and six heats were born. There were over a hundred and twenty skaters to go through, but only twenty something skaters would advance to the next day, because others had pre-qualified for the semi-finals. Tons of amazing skating went down, from Spanky's kickflip wall rides to Billy Marks' kickflip feeble grinds—so much good skating going on.
October 27th—Start of semi-finals. Billy Marks told me early in the morning that he was feeling ill, so I told him to "man-up" and skate the contest, and he did. After Billy’s first run, he went straight to the bushes and threw-up whatever vile sickness was in his stomach. Things were not looking so good. The semis passed by and thirteen ams advanced to finals—each having three runs to put together. Billy’s first run was okay, but his second run was complete shit. After that, he threw-up again. Then he won the contest. Here’s what did the trick: Drop in, kickflip boardslide to fakie, kickflip frontside feeble (crowd pleaser), nollie over the hip and kickflip frontside 5-0 on the hubba. He stayed on his board and kickflipped into everything—it was amazing. All this after feeling sick all day and barfing twice. If the people only knew...