Grand finale, or just the 2010 Vans Downtown Showdown? Whatever the case the show went on and another great day of skateboarding at Paramount Studios is in the books. Rumors that this, the 6th edition of the contest was going to be it's last were swirling all day, and whether or not that is the case is up in the air, but one thing for certain is one of the best Downtown Showdowns in the contest's history went off amongst those historic Hollywood sets.
OK, so in case you don't know the theme of this contest here's some Cliff's Notes on the setup. Four industry skate teams are given the task each year of designing an obstacle to be skated. Creativity is encouraged and over the years there have been some classic creations by a few classy skate brands, from Black Label's "Drunk Tank and 12 Step Program," to Girl's "Girlz Gonz Wild," you can rest assured there have been some good ones.
Once the course has been designed it's time for the invited skate brands to show up with their teams of pro and amateur riders and put these obstacles to the test. Here is a quick run down of the contest's format:
•Teams can bring as many team riders as they want.
• Only three skaters from each Team are permitted to skate each Jam.
• At least one Pro must skate each obstacle.
• Top two scores for each Team are averaged to get the Team's final score.
• At least one Pro's score must be used in the final result, even if it is the lowest of the three scores.
• Overall team results are calculated by adding each team's individual obstacle place.
• If only one skater from a team skates, the second score will be a zero, which will likely put the team in last place. For best results, have at least two skaters on each obstacle, with at least one being pro.
• Alternates are permitted, but the removed skater will not be scored.
Now, back to this year's show. Past winning teams like Toy Machine, Foundation and Blind were in the house, and some major skate names like Chris Cole and Omar Hassan skated their favorite flavor of obstacle.
The first stop was Pretzel Grip's "Time Trials Classic," a speed contest set in transition. The team behind this obstacle, Pretzel Grip, was a newcomer to the contest, but just the name Pretzel Grip was new, everyone behind that team has been in the game from the start; more on that later. The names this creation attracted were a who's who in transition skateboarding: Hassan, Trujillo, Duncombe and Mumma. In the end though, it was one legendary name that stood on top next to two members of a legendary team. Hassan in first and Powell Peralta team members Steven Reeves and Nolan Monroe in second and third.
Next it was on to the Black Label Obstacle, which for the past few years has been a running theme. In 2008 it was the "Dive Bar," in 2009 it was the "Drunk Tank and 12 Step Program" and the result of an ineffective 12 Step Program is our 2010 obstacle, simply titled "Off the Wagon," a ledge to double set red rail. The creation came complete with an "Oregon Trail-like" wagon theme, so more than a few people were falling off the wagon last Saturday Night in Hollywood, which is a nightly occurrence in Tinsel Town, just not literally. At this stop of The Showdown a familiar name in competitive skateboarding came out on top, followed by two of the most impressive newcomers out there. Chris Cole got to hold up another big check, although it had a few less zeros than he is used to, and he was followed by youngsters Chris Pfanner and Nick Merlino. Get used to those names because they are going to staples of skateboarding for years to come.
Zero skateboards was in charge of the third stop of this contest, which is right square in the middle of a theatrical four-way street intersection. For the past few years this intersection has been used to create a chaotic obstacle, giving the competitors the ability to come from all directions. And Zero didn't stray from this theme with the creation of the "Blood Bath" a combination of two bank ramps and two quarterpipes, with rails and coping mixed in creating a a criss cross of skateboarding madness. To insure everyone had the speed needed to go as high and grind as far as possible, a big drop-in was also build. This was another obstacle that attracted the tranny crew (weird), the same names as the Pretzel Grip Obstacles. Trujillo went huge, Hassan was as gnarly as usual, and Tommy Sandoval made his first major appearance in the contest and went absolutely nuts. In the end though it was event standout, Vincent Alvarez, who took first followed by Guillaume Mocqui and park god, Trujillo.
The final obstacle of the contest was pure street skateboarding. Foundation's "F-ed Up 12," a combination of all sorts of hubbas: two straight hubbas on each side, and a multiple hubba-ed Foundation "F" in the middle. This course stop saw several people doing hubba-to-hubba transfer grinds. Jamie Tawncowney, who is known for being sketchy, decided to ollie of the entire obstacle. A fellow competitor was walking by, he had to ditch his board, and in the process tweaked his knee. This left Zero to go to their bench and check-in a guy who simply goes by Cole. In the end on the "F-ed Up 12" Nick Merlino took home first followed by Zero riders Garrett Hill and Cole.
There you have it. The obstacles and the riders who excelled on them, now on to some controversy. One of the teams in this contest was a combination of three teams, Pretzel Grip consisted of members of Girl, Chocolate and Anti-Hero skateboards. They did all have their boards gripped with Pretzel Grip, but before this contest most of the skate industry had no idea what Pretzel Grip was. It seemed to many to be a clever little creation by Carroll, Howard, Smyth, Thiebaud and others over at the Crailtap and Deluxe camps. And in the end it was this super team that brought home first overall in the Team division. Zero had killed it all day, but they lacked the transition skaters needed to excel on something like the "Time Trials Classic," so in the end it was Pretzel Grip being Zero's Achilles heel in more ways than one.
There was Pretzel Grip, Powell Peralta, amazing Ams and Chris Cole, which made this the sixth edition of the Downtown Showdown maybe the best. And if this is the final year that this contest will be gracing Paramount Studios with it's presences, it couldn't of gone out in better fashion. And if it's not, one great event to build off of just went down. For complete results click here.
Then there's Vincent Alvarez, who one month ago wasn't even a pro. He's the newest addition to the Chocolate skateboards team, and pretty much showed every young kid in attendance how you become a professional skateboarder; hard work. It will not just be given to you, and Vinny can attest to that. The speedy all-around skateboarder gave it his all on every obstacle Saturday, and was rewarded for his effort. It was a sweat covered Alvarez who stood on the stage at the end of the night with the $5,000 Overall Pro check over his head. And as far as Ams go, one of Dirty Jersey's finest showed us what's to come by not only wining the "F-ed Up 12," but bringing home the $5,000 Overall Am check as well.
Photos: Chris Cole and Zero "Blood Bath" by MRZ via Vans. For more click here.
This past year had some stellar video releases as far as skateboarding goes. Flip finally released the much anticipated Extremely Sorry,which was certainly the biggest release of 2009, but their were a slew of other videos that were dropped. My favorite cinematic experience of the year was Alien Workshop's Mind Field, Greg Hunt killed it as usual. For some reason I thought it was released in 2008, so it
didn't make my rough draft, but after further investigation I came to find it was indeed an 09er. Here's MORINfocus's Top 10 Skate Video Releases of 2009 (now you have something to spend all that X-Mas/Hanuka/Kwanzaa/etc. money on):
1. Alien Workshop's Mind Field
2. Flip's Extremely Sorry
3. Zero's Strange World
4. Tiltmode Army's Bonus Round
5. bLind's The bLind Video
6. Black Label's God Save the Label
7. Baker Boys Distribution's Baker Has A Death Wish Summer Tour
8. Girl and Anti-Hero's Beauty And The Beast 2
9. Thrasher's Under The Bridge
10. Zoo York's State Of Mind
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