The Street League Skateboarding Ontario, CA stop at the Citizen's Bank Arena has come and gone and a few things can be taken in from this past weekend in the Inland Empire (IE). First of all, we have a good idea of which competitors will consistently make the seven man final. We're also getting more evidence who'll be a threat on which types of obstacles. And we now know for sure that the young guys of this league are for real, and are not intimated by their heroes, who are now their competition.
Sean Malto, Nyjah Huston, Paul Rodriguez, Chris Cole and Chaz Ortiz have all made every final of the year. It's only been a total of two, but for now they are the constants and have to be the five favorites to win going into the final stop in Las Vegas. Huston won the Glenadale, AZ stop and finished third at the Ontario stop, so when the official season standings are tallied he should be the mid-season leader. He also further proved he can handle the pressures of this league when he failed to qualify last Friday. He was forced to skate the Last Chance Qualifier, an all out battle between all the competitors who did not make it through, all fighting for the one open spot in the final. Huston was able to land the tricks he needed and skated his way into the main event . Malto won the Ontario stop and finished forth in Glendale, so he should be in the second spot when the season standings are released. He proved he is a major force in this league this past Friday and Saturday by making all but one of the tricks he attempted. He skated a perfect qualifying heat landing 21 of 21 tricks, and 20 out of 21 in the Final.
As the landing percentages are added up and dissected we're going to get a good a idea who the standouts are on which obstacles, and which are going to be the Achilles heel to a few of the guys. Take Ryan Sheckler for example. In Saturday's final he was on lower end leader board going into the final obstacle, the "big" one. And that is Sheckler's zone. The kid goes huge! The Godfather of "going big" in street skateboarding, Jamie Thomas, once said he thinks Sheckler could of kickflipped the "Leap of Faith," a notorious two story ollie in San Diego, now extinct because of the addtion of an elevator shaft. Thomas being the only person to ever land it, an attempt he did not ride away from because he broke his board. The fact that he thinks Sheckler can kickflip it is a testament to the Street League competitor's ability to jump down giant obstacles. Back to the final on Saturday. Sheckler used the kicker at the top of the big four to simply put "go gigantic" three times: a kickflip, a backside 180 and a backside 180 kickflip (his signature move). He fell on a frontside flip and a hard flip that may have made this contest a different story. That said, his three giant tricks propelled him into full possession forth place within striking distance of third, a mere two points separated him and third place finisher Huston.
That's the thing with this league, different guys are going to excel on different parts of the course, making trick selection such a chess match. For example, if PJ Ladd, a ledge skating technical wizard, and David Gonzalez, a guy who loves to throw himself down huge obstacles, were in a final together they would have to know to put down the bangers in their preferred sections. Kind of like their home field. Ladd would have to link his most difficult tech combinations on the ledges, and Gonzalez would have to let it fly on the big stuff.
Another theme of this league is youth. The average age of the top three finishers in Ontario was 17, and in Glendale it was 20, with the winner in Glendale, Huston, being only 15, and the Ontario winner, Malto, a fresh 21 (his birthday was on the Thursday before the contest). So, it is safe to say the young guys of this league are handling the pressure well, with both teenagers of the league making both finals, the above mentioned Huston, and Ortiz, who is 16. Although, Ortiz did have a bit of an unraveling in Ontario when he fell on his last trick, giving Malto the win. He had been winning most of the final and was the last skater of the day. All he had to do was score a 2.0 or higher, a rather low score in Street League. He went for a crooked grind on the out rail of the big section, a harder trick than he needed to attempt. Thus, a mental mistake may have cost the teenager $70,000 since he missed out on the $150,000 first prize, and had to settle for the $80,000 that went with second. Besides that though ,he had been composed for the rest of the day, and will certainly learn from his mistake.
As Street League heads to it's final stop in 2010, Las Vegas, NV, there are still a few things up in the air. Will the same five guys be in every final? Or, will a few of the league heavyweights who haven't made both finals so far (just one or the other) such as: Torey Pudwill, Shane "Nugget" O'Neill, Ryan Sheckler and Greg Lutzka be able to shake things up a bit. Also, will any of the strictly video guys, who only flirt with contests like: Mark Appleyard, Marc Johnson, Brandon Biebel, PJ Ladd, Dyaln Reider, ect. ever make a final. We'll see.
Sean Malto completed an exciting week in his life by winning the Ontario stop of Street League Skateboarding, a week that included his 21st birthday, a perfect 21 for 21 qualifying heat, and the $150,000 first place prize. Imagine that, one hundred and fifty Gs two days after you turn 21.
The contest reached its climax after Malto stuck a backside over crooked grind on the out rail of the "big" obstacle, which put him ahead of Chaz Ortiz, who had been leading for most of the contest. Ortiz was only two points behind and was the next and final skater of the day. All he needed to do was land a trick that would give him a 2.0 or higher score, a rather low score in Street League. For some reason he chose to do a crooked grind on the same out rail, his truck got stuck and kicked away his board along with the $150,000 first place prize.
"I guess I should of went to school more. I'm not that good at math," said Ortiz when Street League founder Rob Drydek asked him why he attempted the crooked grind.
Next stop is Vegas where Ortiz will be looking to bounce back along with other Street League heaveyweights like: Chris Cole, Torey Pudwill, Shane O'Neill, Paul Rodriguez and Greg Lutzka who will all be looking for their first win of the reason.
Here are the Top 7:
1. Sean Malto
2. Chaz Ortiz
3. Nyjah Huston
4. Ryan Sheckler
5. Chris Cole
6. Paul Rodriguez
7. Greg Lutzka
Sean Malto completed the first ever perfect heat in Street League skateboarding Friday at the Citizen's Bank Arena, in Ontario, CA, when he landed 21 of 21 tricks in his qualifier, and in the process brought home the highest score of the day an 81.5. Malto finished forth at the first Street League in Glendale, Arizona, and is looking to move further up the standing in the Final on Saturday.
Besides Malto's performance the story of the day was the less than stellar skating of the top three in AZ. Nyjah Huston, Shane "Nugget" O'Neill and Torey Pudwill finished one, two and three at the Jobing.com Arena two weeks ago and all three failed to qualify for the Final. They'll be skating against each other in the Last Chance Qualifier on Saturday, all battling for the one last slot into the main event.
Here are the Top 6 Qualifiers:
1. Sean Malto - 81.5
2. Greg Lutzka - 79.5
3. Chris Cole - 74.8
4. Paul Rodriguez - 72.0
5. Chaz Ortiz - 71.5
6. Ryan Sheckler - 69.3
Photo: Rob Brink via Etnies
The second stop of Rob Drydek's revolutionary new contest venture, Street League Skateboarding, is set to go down Saturday September, 11 at the Citizen's Bank Arena in Ontario, CA. This is the middle stop of a three stop series in 2010 that began at the Jobing.com Arena in Glendale AZ, and will end at the Thomas Mackey Arena in Las Vegas, NV.
Now that we've seen the new ISX judging system, one that instantly scores the skaters in this trick-by-trick format the bigger picture is beginning to take shape.
First and foremost, we have an idea of who is going to shine. Names like Nyjah Huston, Shane "Nugget" O'Neill, Torey Pudwill and Sean Malto. With the exception of Nugget, a guy who's talent had been known by the skate industry for some time but to the mainstream is a bit of an unknown, these names should come as no surprise.
We now also know who needs to either change their Street League approach, or simply step their games up. These are the guys who were expected to do very well, for two of them anything short of a win is a disappointment. This list includes: Chris Cole, Paul Rodriguez, Chaz Ortiz and Greg Lutzka. These skateboarders make up slots 5 through 8 in the overall standings. Cole, who is currently ranked 5th, and Rodriguez, who is currently ranked 7th, really need to bounce back from disappointing finishes (for them) in AZ. Remember, these are the only two skaters to ever win a Maloof Money Cup. Then there's Ortiz and Lutzka who have had stellar years over on the Dew Tour with Lutzka currently ranked 1st overall and Ortiz 2nd.
Finally, the AZ stop put a little bit more proof to the hunch we all had about the straight up video guys. These are the skaters that have put together some of the best video sections skateboarding has ever seen, and at the same time have been virtually unknowns in the contest world. Dyrdek wanted the best skateboarding had to offer, and these guys certainly are, but not so much in a competition. Look for names such as: Mark Appleyard, Davey Gonzalez, Dylan Rieder, Mike Mo Capaldi and Brandon Biebel to struggle once again. All of these skateboarders have had incredible rolls in videos over the years. Appleyard in all the Flip videos, Gonzalez in the most recent Flip video, Extremely Sorry, Mo Calpaldi and Biebel in Fully Flared and Dyaln Rieder in Mind Field and .Dylan (a Gravis short film). But in the setting of skateboarding as a sport these guys will probably remain extras.
The qualifiers will start Friday and it will be interesting to see who makes it through, since everyone has to qualify. And the main event is Saturday, by the end of the day, a somber day in American history (9th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks), we will have a better idea of what Street League Skateboarding is amounting to.
Here are the current standings straight from Street League:
What is Chris Cole thinking right now? As of August 12 it wasn't much of a question. Maybe something along the lines of:
Alright everything is going pretty good this year. I won my third straight Money Cup, and Joe Maloof has just handed me my third $100,000 1st place check. Now off to Street League.
That may have been so, as far competitive skateboarding goes, until Tuesday August 13 arrived. That was the day Maloof announced he is offering up a $1 million bonus to the first skateboarder who can win four straight Maloof Money Cups.
Now that had to have thrown a wrench into Cole's year, which had been simply rolling up until that point. There's no way around it. That was a strategically played chess move by Maloof to win back Cole, who had signed an excusive deal with skateboarding legend, Rob Dyrdek, and his new contest venture, Street League Skateboarding, a contract that would prevent Cole from competing in the next Maloof Money Cup.
"I don't know how everyone will react to it, but I believe it's one of the biggest opportunities in skateboarding history," said Maloof. If he decides to skate, OK, no problem, someone will start a new streak. Basically, somebody's going to win it."
On August 8, Cole won his third straight Maloof Money Cup, and it has to be four in a row to get the $1 million. In the new Maloof Money Cup Platinum Circuit that debuts next year there will be 5 stops, including one in South Africa. In other words, someone will have to win four of five if Cole chooses not to compete in the next offering. Plus, the field behind him in the last three Money Cups hasn't been the steadiest of groups, with Nyjah Huston being the only multiple top three finisher.
"It's crazy. I'm just so curious--is that a singular ploy to get Chris Cole?" Dydrek said in an official release.
Dydrek is the star of the MTV reality television show, Rob Dyrdek's Fantasy Factory, set at his warehouse in LA, which can be summed up as a man-boy heaven full of dirt bikes, race cars, foam pits, a zip line, you name it. He's also a savvy businessman who owns Dydrek Enterprises, which dabbles in all sorts of business opportunities. On this venture though, he seems to have riled a few industry tycoons when he started signing exclusive contracts with skateboarders, ones that wouldn't allow them to do other contests. Thus, making him the direct competition of the Money Cup and the money making machine that is Joe, Gavin and George Maloof.
The Las Vegas based trio has a few fantasy factories of their own including the Palms Hotel and Casino in Vegas and the Sacramento Kings. Not to mention the capital to throw a $1 million bonus out there like it's nothing.
Street League kicks off on August 28 in Glendale, AZ. It is offering over $1 million in the three contests that will take place this year, but that's a purse; total prize money from first to last. Chris Cole could skate one contest next year and win $1,100,000. One hundred thousand dollars for first place and the million dollar bonus, and it will be a contest format he has proven to be unstoppable in. Although, he has skated a mock Street League contest and won that too.
Dyrdek is a skateboarder, has been for life, and as of right now has Cole under contract. Will he stay, or try to breach it? Cole is a loyal guy, a family man who's been with the same sponsors for years. Will he stay with Street League because he feels it's the next big thing in skateboarding, and because Dyrdek is from the same world as him? This is the only contest this year that will put him up against the five best competitive skateboarders (besides himself) in the world: Paul Rodriguez, Nyjah Huston, Torey Pudwill, Sean Malto and Ryan Sheckler.
Although, a million dollars is a lot of money, and as far as his Maloof career goes, it could be the easiest $million made next year. This weekend in Glendale, AZ should be interesting; skateboarding can't wait.