Surviving the 2013 Vans U.S. Open

This year was my first year attending the Vans U.S. Open in Huntington Beach, CA. I’ve heard all the claustrophobic stories of years prior, seen handfuls of chaotic pictures of the insane crowds of people, young girls with sketchy sharpie requests written on their stomachs and backs causing all dads to shake their heads, reminding their daughters they will never go to Huntington Beach in their lives… and of course, the “riots,” which appeared to just be some drunk, shirtless idiots tipping over porter potties?

Despite the “riots” and chaos, it was a fun weekend. Wahoo’s Tacos kept my stomach full and I drank way too many Red Bulls. The Van Doren Invitational was stacked with rippers. From young guns like Rowan Zorilla, Raven Tershy, Greyson Fletcher and Ben Hatchell to OG’s like Christian Hosoi, every heat had the crowd on the edge of their seats. The 40 second intro runs were a great way of introducing the unique styles and skills of the riders, each displaying a different approach to the course. The jam sessions were what really sparked the excitement, though. Even though each round was bound for disaster, I had to keep reminding myself that these dudes are all on top of their shit and have a lot more board control than the average skateboarder. Although a few boards did end up flying into the crowd, and one into the live webcast tent almost killing Chris Pastras. Throw some Slayer in the background and you know these dudes will feed off of it, as they rightfully did.

Ben Hatchell arguably took the cake, but I’d agree that the top three were rightfully selected. The order just had me thinking otherwise. From the start, Raven Tershy (pictured above) was a crowd favorite, spray painting “Trunk Boyz” onto the vert wall and speeding through the bowl with a grip of difficult tricks. He by far had the fastest lines of the day and there was no denying he would place in the top 3. Greyson Fletcher is a pure mad man. There is no one like this dude. He is a straight up skateboarder, spontaneous as all hell. He nollied into the the deep end of the bowl and recovered from at least 5 tricks that anyone else in the world would have slammed straight onto their asses on. And seriously, no one has frontside ollies or one-foots like Greyson. I’m sort of playing favorites here, but I seriously think he should’ve won. He even got the wind knocked out of him during the jam session, minutes later getting up and blasting a backside air on the quarter pipe showing everyone that he was fine. His attitude alone makes him the best dude ever, but how he pulls every trick without a single thought is amazing.

Greyson moments after getting the wind knocked out of him during one of the jam sessions.

Greyson moments after getting the wind knocked out of him during one of the jam sessions.

Some other notable dudes were mentioning were definitely: Tony Trujillo, Ben Raybourn, Curren Caples, Aaron “Jaws” Homoki, Kevin Kowalski, Brad McClain, Chris Gregson, Chalie Blair, Ronnie Sandoval, Christian Hosoi, Pedro Barros and so many more. Everyone was killing it in their own way, and how they were able to still strike awe into the crowd after skating the same damn bowl for a week really says a lot. A simple thing done well really proves to be timeless. Skateboarding rules!

All in all it was a pretty epic weekend. Seeing that type of skateboarding go down first hand is insane! No video recap or photo recap can really do justice to the madness. I’ve selected a few photos from the finals that I really enjoyed, but for a full photo recap from the finals, CLICK HERE. A big congratulations to Ben Hatchell for placing 1st and of course Greyson Fletcher and Raven Tershy for placing a close second and third. Until next year…

-Brian Blakely

Photos courtesy of Aaron Smith and Jaime Owens.

Full photo recap HERE