By Morgan Campbell (SbA Head Judge)
Many moons ago street comps were about actual street skating and were built more for the enjoyment of the skaters, not the audience. In 2011 the 'street skating' that is brought to the masses via the contest arena is pretty far removed from what actually goes down in our back alleys, cities and abandoned spaces. Shocklands was an attempt to get back to the roots of street with real obstacles; tables, lots of right angles, kickers, flat bars, ledges, concrete hips and a distinct lack of drop-in ramps or transitions.
This was Stop #2 of the 2011 SbA Pro/Am Invitational Tour. Stop #1 was the Billabong City Squared comp held at South Bank in April, and Stop #3 will be held on Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour in December. You will be able to count on Stop #2 as being the one that becomes associated with the most legit street skating.
The Docklands has seen some fierce redevelopment since the mid-nineties and this has lead to it being home to a plethora of random street terrain for quite some time now. So it seemed pretty fitting that Docklands Shed 4 was chosen as the setting for a true street comp. Upon initial scouting of the venue there were several seductive obstacles lying in the vicinity. Some of these included several massive railway sleepers (which got known as the chopsticks) and a section of the old hips that were located near the numbers and the Docklands pebble gap. These massive sections of concrete looked heavy (turns out they were practically immovable as they weighed 4.5 tonne each), but imagine if we could have got those inside there to skate? That would have been awesome.
Turns out that having the City of Melbourne on board as a sponsor comes in handy. We got the chopsticks and the bank. Also turns out that having Convic on board as a sponsor is pretty handy too. They collaborated on the designs and helped with the logistics of moving the behemoths. Added to the mix was a china bank/manual bank configuration, picnic table, a fat snakey flat bar (aka the python), a kicker over three street bouys, a long low flat bar with a booter on the end, a kicker to flat rail, kickers to chopstick up ledges and a chop stick was placed over the top of the docklands hip. Tom 'Flazza' Flaherty had been enlisted to help with any kickers, wooden elements and also took the time to join the bottom of the banks to the ground. On the Friday, as the sawdust was swept up and the true radness of the course was revealed, you could see Australia's best street skaters cruising around grinning happy as a family of Cheshire kitties in a catnip plantation.
The standard of skating over the days of the comp was simply astounding. The talent of the legs in that Shed on Saturday was phenomenal. The names on the list were like the back cover of an Australian street dream team. Orginally there were forty in the list but a number fell to the sidelines due to injury. A couple of other big names pulled a no show as they hung up on a series of bars the night before. After a few wild cards were pulled into the mix we were sitting at 35 heads. Jam format suits these comps well as people get the chance of sessioning together and taking a few tries to make something if they have to.
Highlights from those who didn't make the final included: Ryan Wilson's noseslides off flat onto the top of the China bank. Sam Giles stoked everyone by just being there. Jeremy Corea was putting together genuine high-speed street lines incorporating obstacles that were close together. Adam Davies performed a mind-blowingly clean back tail to bigspin flip up one of the chopsticks. Juan Onekawa is about as street as it gets with proper steez on flat rail front boards off flat, great ollies over the steep hip and a stunning rendition of the backside 5-0 to frontside 180 on the bump to table. Rob Kenworthy did the best nosegrind 180 on the bump to flat bar. Jack Crook owned it with the only flip trick performed over the steep hip: a beautiful hovering kickflip.
So, only 8 could make it through to the final, which was a little sad as pretty much anyone in the top 20 could have hung in the mix. But the cut off had to be made and our scores were tallied.
Adam Dawes is an absolute beast who scored 8th with major board control and a lack of fear as he back noseblunted the bump to rail and copped a gruesome leg-corking on a kickflip back lip that could have actually been a de-balling. In 7th place was Reece Warren who won the SbA Am Series back in April at Cranbourne. At Shed 4 he nose grinded and back lipped the bump to bar, and nailed perfect kickflips over the chopstick kicker gap. Reece also managed to frontside boardslide the length of the python to fakie.
6TH: KURT WINTER - $300. Kurt just gets better and better. He tre-flipped the street bouys, back smithed up the gnarly chopstick, kickflip front 50ed the picnic table and kickflip front feebled the flat bar almost every go.
5TH: JACK KIRK - $500. Kirksy is one of the best around right now. He feebled the length of the flat bar to backside 180 out of the scoop, back tailed to flip and 360 on the manual pad block, he also got buck with alley oop back 50/50s and back tails across the chopstick from bank to bank. This was an obstacle that barely anyone touched. The python was also given full-length half cab boardslide 270 by Jack's magical toots.
4TH: ALEX CAMPBELL - $800. Alex stoked people out just by being there. He is one person who most people have seen on video, but not in real life. His confidence and skateboard-aided leap really does have to be seen first hand. Alex Howard grinded the bump to table (first try), 50/50'd the python, back tailed across the bank and popped out to flat and also ollied into the China bank from behind (which was well gnarly). Oh, he also through down backside 50/50's on the waist high flat rail, no kicker needed.
3RD: JOEL MCILROY - $1500. JMAC was definitely the skater's favourite of the day. There is something awesome about someone leaping from underground notoriety to legendary status overnight. It is also pretty epic that he skated so well after getting home at 8am that morning. Yep he hung up on a bar too. Hangover foggy head has no impact on Joel's skating: he nailed back smiths up the gnar chopstick, front crook pop over's on the python. Numerous back smiths on the waist high flat bar off flat and a line that included a frontside crooks on the same bar followed by a backside nosegrind up the gnar-chop
2ND: CHIMA FERGUSON - $2500. I personally hadn't seen Chima skate in real life for about a decade and it really was quite phenomenal. Switch heels, 360 nollies and switch backside heels over the python, flawless varial heels over the chopsticks, switch back tails over the chop stick up ledge, backside and frontside 180s over the picnic table off of flat, gnarbotic back tails and boardslide transfers on the outledge and a mind twisting switch 180 over the big flat bar. Flatground pop is definitely not one of Chima's weaknesses. Wow.
1ST: TOMMY FYNN - $4000. Tommy placed second in the 1st stop of the 2011 Pro-Am and was sitting pretty with a nice chunk of points. He flew back from the States knowing that if he placed well in this one he would have a good chance at the title of 2011 Australian Champion and the bonus $5000 that accompanies said title. Tommy won with first try 360 flip nose slides, back lip shuvs and back noseblunts on the bump to bar, backside flips over the chopstick kicker, 50/50s across the entire python and after time whacked out a kickflip backside noseblunt slide on the top storey of the bump to table.
I know I've waffled on a bit, but I'm actually speechless. Shocklands was amazing. Thanks to the myriad of good heads involved, all the sponsors and builders, SbA (supported by the Australian Sports Commission) and a massive thanks to the City Of Melbourne for their involvement as well. See you all at Cockatoo Island this December.