Backtothebanks – summer_in_the_city

Summer in the City
Words:Chris Nieratko

I know no one likes to read contest articles and trust me, I don’t like to write about contests one bit. In this modern age of the Internet being an instant source of information contest articles have become completely obsolete, if there was ever a need for them in the first place. By now you already know who did what and how much they won at 5Boro Steve Rodriguez’s Back To The Banks jam and Red Bull’s Manny Mania contests. You’ve already watched and rewatched the footage on 411’s site. You’ve formed opinions. You wondered why Busenitz didn’t place higher and why every pro skater can’t be as fun to watch as him. That said, I won’t waste our time with unnecessary details; I’ll just let you know that it might have been one of the funnest weekends in skateboarding’s history.

Jake Duncombe backside nose blunt Photo: Mehring
New York City is the undisputed greatest city on Earth (but only slightly better than my hometown of Sayreville, NJ) and skating The City is a feeling few things compare to. Aside from the spots, the electricity in the air, the skating in traffic from spot to spot (Did you see Steve Rodriguez’s episodes of “Epicly Later’d?”), one of the greatest things is that you never know who you’ll run into.

Growing up skating NYC it seemed like there was always visiting pro skaters posting up in Manhattan throughout the ’90s and it really feels like that same vibe is in the air again. It’s not uncommon to have a Gonz or Dill or Pensyl or whoever sighting as you’re cruising around and I think that’s what made the weekend of August 11th and 12th so special. People from all points were converging on Manhattan for the Banks jam on Saturday and Manny Mania on Sunday. It felt like what I imagine the early years of hip-hop’s development must have felt like, almost like a scene out The Warriors, with thousands of skaters gathered at the Banks one day, then under the Manhattan Bridge the next. I’d never seen anything like it. People were literally scaling fences and bridge pillars to get a better view, to witness their favorite guys skating.

Steve Rodriguez Photo: Ben Colen
“It might have been one of the funnest weekends in skateboarding history.”

Dennis Busenitz backside lipslide Photo: Colen
It felt good to see some of the biggest names in skateboarding like Kenny Anderson, Dennis Busenitz, Joey Brezinski, Jereme Rogers, Dill, Colin McKay, Danny Montoya, Josh Kalis, Rob Gonzales, Brian Wenning, Eli Reed, SAD, Chico Brenes, Daniel Castillo, Forrest Kirby, Ronnie Creager, Enrique Lorenzo, Chris Roberts, Kerry Getz, Quim Cardona,  Rodrigo Peterson, Malcolm Watson, Zered Bassett, Vinnie Ponte, Pensyl, Anthony Shetler, J Strickland, Phil Ladjanski, Rodney Torres, Justin Strubing, Jeff Pang, Jason Rothmeyer and a ton of other heads rubbing elbows with the rest of the local skate community, all for the love of skateboarding.

Eli Reed FS 180 switch Manny Drop Photo: Colen
Biebel flew from Barcelona to Sacramento for one day before getting on a plane back to NYC just to be a part of it all. And he killed it. He won $6000 for second place and was unbelievably humble to all the kids. He signed everyone’s deck or shirt that asked for it and took photos with whoever asked, often telling them that it would look cool if they held his trophy for the photo. For as many people that turned out there was still a very personal and intimate feel to the entire weekend.

But thegood times don’t magically create themselves. There are always a number of people that go unthanked or underappreciated and this weekend was no different. The two most important people were, hands down, Steve Rodriguez and Bruno Musso. Steve organized the Banks jam and I spoke to him the day before at 9am. I asked how it was going. He told me, “I have to go pick up my three permits from The City right now and they are in three different boroughs and I have to have them all picked up by 2pm because the offices are closing early for the weekend and I personally have to go and sign for them. I can’t send someone else to pick them up.” That right there shows a lot of heart and dedication.