March 17-18, 2002
Skatepark of Tampa
The annual Tampa Pro Skateboard Contest is widely regarded as the most raw
skateboarding event of the year, recalling (in spirit, at least) the crude
beginnings of street contests back in the '80s-before all the corporate
attempts of recent years to gloss-over skateboarding's jagged edge for mass
Version 2002 of the Tampa Pro lived up to its ongoing reputation of real
and was, like the seven others before it, held at the Skatepark of Tampa:
a fairly ghetto warehouse full of well-aged (and some new) wooden wonders
built and run by real skateboarders like you and eye. A nice, five-foot-deep
wooden footie bowl and lil' kiddie street course with a spine, quarterpipes
and banks hangs-out in the small warehouse, while a new, big-ass vert ramp
stands proudly outside. In the main warehouse, the usual funbox / rail set-ups
and pyramids abound in the center, with banked or quarterpipe ramps on each
end to maintain speed back-and-forth. On one end, a tall-ass take-off wave
is joined with various banks and quarterpipes-matched at the other end by
a ridiculous ten-foot-high quarterpipe with six-foot quarters on either
side. But this is no ordinary ten-foot-high quarterpipe-it gets close to
vert about eight feet up, then tapers away to less-than-vert on the top
couple of feet. This makes pulling tricks kind of awkward and challenging-and
that turned-out to be, you know, like, so kewl.
Well-known for it's morning cartoons, Saturday offered additional entertainment
on this day in the form of a fine round of vert finals. Established names
like Burnquist, Lasek and Way may have been conspicuously absent, but that
didn't stop everyone else who wanted to be there from attending.
A medium-well-sized crowd gathered around the huge halfpipe monolith to
check the pendulum-like activities going down. Modern-day vert dogs continue
to press the progression of perpendicular skateboarding forward-combining
freestyle, street and ramp-riding into an increasingly technical whole that
will perhaps one day require of it's practitioners a diploma from ITT. Later
on, an array of dark clouds floated into the area, threatening to dump rain
on the ramp and everyone involved-but apparently it was all a bluff from
those big, cumulus bullies, as nary a drop was felt.
Yet another ripper from Brazil, Sandro Diaz flung an effortless backside-grab
alley-oop McTwist sky-high and ramp-wide and never failed to stomp it into
the tranny. This fast, powerful skater is also very capable of bustin' all
kinds of tech flips with good consistency, easily netting him the top-spot.
Montreal's Pierre Luc Gagnon qualified first on Friday, but slipped a notch
to second place in the finals due to several falls, nevertheless producing
a nice kickflip mute, a varial McTwist and heelflip Indy along the way.
Sweden's Matthias Ringstrom amazed all attendees with sprightly moves like
the lean air impossible over the channel, a kickflips Indy, backside lip-slide
and more to net third.
Old-school vertster and rowdy drinker, Dallas' Mike Crum (aka The Flying
Pretzel) lived up to his nickname by floating all kinds of ollie variations-like
an alley-oop nollie over the channel-and spin-tricks above the monster vert
for fourth-place. He even unleashed an old-school invert. Great to see this
man still ruling the airwaves.
Long-time vert-man and Costa Mesa, Californian Neal Hendrix donated impressive
gifts like a heelflip Indy gay-twist, kickflip Indy and a salad-grind to
receive a tax-deductible fifth-place receipt for his kindness.
Ocala, Floridian Phil Hajal felt right at home in Tampa, offering up a melon
McTwist and other extreme absurdities-netting himself sixth-place in the
Another long-time vert-man, Tampa local and friend of Neal Hendrix, Mike
Frazier offended the ramp with his on-edge style-gaining seventh-place honors
in the process. Inverts flapped to the point of almost flipping over, a
frontside blunt-slide, fakie alley-oop 5-O and his very own patented nose-stall
to 360 air in blew away those who comprehended the difficulty involved.
All the way from Encinitas, California, Etnies' very own Jesse Fritsch impressed
all area life-forms and snagged eighth-place by launching a tricky hardflip
to fakie over the channel and a big Indy-to-fakie-not to mention some sweet-but-big
mutes and tail-grab airs. Jesse also pulled a bodacious ollie up into the
channel to blunt to fakie on the bridge. He recently bought a house.
Brazil-via-Costa Mesa, California's Lincoln
Ueda (Etnies) launched his Christian Hosoi-inspired sky-show that is
always a crowd favorite-including a gutsy overhead body jar, a big-ass backside-grab
McTwist, the sickest sky-scraping lean-air and everything else air you can
think of. I spoke with the coping of the vert ramp afterward and it commented,
"Maybe it's just me, but I kind of felt like Lincoln was ignoring me.
I thought we were becoming good friends, but now I just don't know."
Lincoln claimed that ninth place belonged to him-I didn't try to arm-wrestle
him for it.
Baltimore's only known reptile collector / pro vert skater Matt Dove gave
up an insane tail-grab 720-plus plenty of other impressive moves like frontside
fakie 360 nose-slides, kickflip Indys and various big airs from his trick
collection-for the audience to study. He was rewarded with a diploma for
tenth-place-suitable for framing.
Local Tampa man Anthony Furlong added an eleventh-place result to his three-year
vert career by way of a madonna, big frontside air and a nose-grind over
the bridge for eleventh-place.
The last spot of twelfth-place in the finals was claimed by the Vertical
Vampire, Darren Navarette, who braved the bright light of day to float a
host of difficult moves like a kickflip mute and an Indy-kickflip gay twist
over the monster vert ramp.
Vert Finals Results
1. Sandro Diaz
2. Pierre Luc Gagnon
3. Matthias Ringstrom
4. Mike Crum
5. Neal Hendrix
6. Phil Hajal
7. Mike Frazier
8. Jesse Fritsch (Etnies)
9. Lincoln Ueda (Etnies)
10. Matt Dove
11. Anthony Furlong
12. Darren Navarette (Emerica)
The Vert Best-Trick event raged on for half an hour under big lights at
dusk after the vert finals. Some amazing crap was pulled-check the results
Vert Best-Trick Results
1. Jake Brown-nollie frontside 540 tail-grab
2. Micael Simao-540 ollie nose-grind over channel bridge
3. Mike Frazier-frontside blunt-slide over channel bridge
4. Matt Dove-switch shove-it nose-grind
5. Darren Navarrette-backside crail-slide revert over channel bridge
The evening was topped-off with a screening of New Deal's new 7-Year Glitch
video and the 2002 Tampa-Am video in the lil' warehouse.
A hot, muggy Sunday brought the Street Finals into view. The sun hammered
the metal warehouse relentlessly all day-causing endless sweat to pour from
every pore in the house. With plenty of heavy metal and the not-exactly-shy
SPOT owner / announcer Brian Schaefer both blasting away on the speakers
and skaters pounding away at every object, this overly loud and obnoxious
event was well under way.
Brian manned the public-address system with in-depth knowledge of raw language,
occasional shallow-depth knowledge of trick names and pulled no punches
when it came down to heckling audience members for blocking aisles (and
each other's view), and a lone photographer perched high in the rafters.
Santa Ana, California's Rodrigo was showing-off a backside 180 nollie and
switch pop-shove-it over the funbox, a nollie crooked-grind on the funbox
rail, a switch 5-0 grind and kickflip 5-0 across a ledge and a kickflip
backside lipslide on a flatbar-all for seventh-place awards.
On one memorable, energetic run, the low-center-of-gravity powerhouse from
Brazil, Carlos De
Andrade (Etnies), flew about the course as if set aloft by a powerful
breeze, offering-up a flawless run which included all manner of kickflipped
and aerially-rotated maneuvers-including a choice-cut kickflip nose-grind
on the flat rail over a funbox. Numerous falls in other runs, however, donated
a still-respectable sixth-place to the man.
Los Angeles' Paul Rodriguez has been taking the world of pro skate competitions
by storm lately-as an amateur. Tampa was no different, as he claimed an
impressive fifth-place as his own. Paul's bright and natural talents switched
the building on full-power with a switch 360 flip over the funbox, a switch
frontside boardslide down a funbox rail and a switch backside lipslide down
a small rail. A sunny future seems to be in store for this young upstart.
Before comfortably settling into fourth-place, Philadelphia's consistent
kickflip king Kerry Getz flipped more tricks than just about anyone-including
your grandma. A sure-fire, crowd-stoking double-heelflip over the funbox
sure didn't spoil the day.
A powerful Florida hurricane known as Caine Gayle forced his way into third-place-displaying
over a dozen solid tricks-including a judge-impressing nollie fifty-fifty
on the edge of the stage right in front of their very eyes.
The tall, light and lanky Andrew Reynolds, who also hails from these here
parts, came home from Hollywood to visit a little family, do a little laundry
and maybe trade-in about half a dozen amazing tricks-including a frontside
180º kickflip clear over the funbox all the way to the floor-for the
second-place spot. Yeah, Andrew! You da man!
It shouldn't be surprising that Los Angeles, California's The Champ (aka
Eric Koston) took top-honors once again with an even larger collection of
really pleasing, differenter-some might say better-tricks like a nollie
to frontside blunt across a long-ass ledge and a switch nollie to frontside
boardslide down a rail-all delivered via a confident, consistent performance
Street Finals Results
1. Eric Koston
2. Andrew Reynolds
3. Caine Gayle
4. Kerry Getz
5. Paul Rodriguez
6. Carlos De Andrade (Etnies)
7. Rodrigo Tx
8. Matt Beach
9. Kenny Anderson
10. Stefan Janoski
11. Colt Cannon
12. Patrick Melcher
13. Chris Senn
The Street Best-Trick contest was held on the crazy ten-foot-high quarterpipe
and, like the vert version, raged on for half an hour. It was definitely
the highlight of the whole weekend with loads of chaos, excitement and most
participants pushing it as far as they could.
Street Best-Trick Results
1. Mike Vallely (Etnies)-360
frontside air to wall, no-comply tail-slide, invert to fakie, three-foot
2. Chany Jeanguenin-low-to-high backside lipslide revert, quarterpipe to
sugar cane, quarterpipe to sugarcane revert
3. Aaron Suski-frontside tail-slide backside revert out
4. Dan Drehobl-frontside180 rollout frontside half-cab in, nose-blunt slide
stalefish grab in
5. Patrick Melcher-nollie backside tail-slide revert
6. Chris Senn-half-flip casper stall, frontside 180 to nose-slide fakie,
low-to-high 180 nose-grind
As the Street Best-Trick winners were being announced, Bill Weiss performed
a lil' Best-Trick of his own (simultaneously one-upping the almost-naked
voyeurdorm.com girls in the process) by dropping in nude on the vert ramp
out back and spinning a nice, breezy McTwist. Ah, the Old South-it's just
Official Contest Lowlight: A high-speed runaway skateboard shot across the
floor, flew up the take-off wave at a jillion miles per hour and nailed
a spectating girl straight in the head. Later on, she was sitting up talking
and seemed to be okay. This whole situation sucks big-time-skateparks should
always put up nets in blatant tranny-to-face situations like that.
Travel Tip: Beware of con-artist taxi-cab drivers-they will turn off the
meter, drive the longest possible route and otherwise ream you as much as
they can. Fun places to visit in the Tampa area include Bern's Steakhouse
(amazing, dark, Haunted Mansion-style vibe inside, special dessert rooms,
good veg choices, too), Mons Venus nightclub and the Salvador Dali Art Museum
in nearby St. Petersburg. I will never forget any of these fine establishments-neither
Thanks and a big shout-out to The Skatepark of Tampa for hosting the contest
March 17-18, 2002