After two months of qualifiers that took us from coast to coast, through six states and one territory the 2012 Nike SbA Am Series climaxed at the Skatepark of Melbourne this past Saturday March the 31st. Twenty-two Juniors and twenty-three Opens took to the shapes of SPoM with no hesitation and laid, giving us a vivid indication of the incredible local level of today’s (and tomorrow’s) skateboarding. As you will see in the footage and photos: the park houses many obstacles catering for all types of skaters, and every single one of them copped a thrashin’ on Saturday. There are Euro gaps, hubbas of all sizes, spines, whoopdees, vert quarters (with massive drops off the back), bank to walls, square rails, round rails, hips, bank to blocks, out ledges, manual pads, L-blocks, bumps to ledges and China banks. There were also a couple of new additions: a smallish wheelchair ramp and a new pyramid / fun box contraption. The whole course had just been painted in a fresh black n white and once it was visually garnished for the event, it looked better than ever.
The rider's area was loaded with talent... and a beard (pic: hooker)
My assistant judges included Judge Jeremy Corea, Magestriate Mike Martin and Lordship Reece Warren (last year’s Open Amateur Champion). MC’s were MC Fludicrous and MC Anthony Mapstone. Middsy, SOTY Nick Boserio and the Australian Nike SB team were also in the mix. On the eve of Friday the 30th there were a couple of hours of practice, and the place was dripping with ripping. You could just tell that Saturday would be nutty. Even on the Friday the giant shed held more explosive potential than a pallet of Molotov cocktails.
Saturday knocked the wind out of everyone who participated and witnessed. As you will see: crew were lighting up the joint like an arsonist in a firework factory. The comp was held in a jam format: a four person per jam lasting for eight to twelve minutes depending which heat or division you were in.
Words: Morgan Campbell (head judge)
Photos: Matty Hooker and Dave Adair
Video: Matty Hooker and Shane Fowler
14-year-old Victorian Dean Johnston has got back smith skills way beyond his years (pic: adair)
JUNIOR DIVISION (14 & UNDERS)
All the way up from 22nd to the top the Juniors were amazing. Whether it was Beau Kelly’s determination, Ben Kelley’s casper flip rock fakies, Jack O’Grady’s 360 shuvs, Mitchell Folley’s one foots or Blake O’Connor’s lines; there was always some one rad to watch. In sixth was Geelong’s Sam Atkins who also placed sixth last year, but had vastly improved since we had seen him. Smooth lipslides down the big rail and a perfect frontside shuv-it from platform to flat. Everyone who placed above him had a shoe sponsor, which meant that the first place prize of a years worth of shoe sponsorship from Nike SB went to Sam! South Australia’s Jay Runciman breezed his way to fifth with kickflip front boards (he nearly did one to front feebs) and both smith and 50/50 grinds down what was a face height rail. At just twelve Jay was the only pre-teenager to make top six. Queensland’s Keanu Peina’s progression / skate-buddy is Mikey Mendoza and it shows. It is not often you see this much block-steeze in a pint-sized lad, but Keanu has got it. Think Mick Yuen crossed with Pat Channita with a sprinkling of Rodrigo TX and you might be half way there. Homeboy has got difficult tricks for days: back tail biggies, kickflip back tails and uber gee-ed out kickflips to flat over the flat bank. In third was Dingley‘s Dean Johnston whom we were familiar with from the Victorian qualifiers at Clifton Hill the last couple of years. Dean went off and shone light on his general all-rounded-ruling-ness: back smiths down the big rail, lien disasters up a mega extension and pivot to fakies on the vert wall with no platform.
Dani Campbell front foot impossibles with ease (pic: hooker) <click for animated sequence>
Dani Campbell. Dani Campbell. I had to type his name twice, just to try and do justice to how many tricks he did. I remember front foot impossibles, bigger spins, a Heath-like nose grab 360 off the spine onto the whoopdee, a cab flip over the hip and backside 180 back foot flip. But, there was so much more. I reckon Dani would have made more tricks in his allocated jam-time than a lot of people would have made all day. After the first heat in the Junior Final, it seemed like Dani would win...
QLD's 14-year-old Mikey Mendoza has got steeze! Backside flip the wheelchair (pic: hooker)
That is until we saw Mikey blast out of the gates. He seemingly made four consecutive tricks before some of the other guys had even dropped in. His run was pretty delightful and it was clear that he is going to put a healthy notch in the Aussie skateboarding tree. He blasted bigger flips over the hip, kickflips over the big rail and the long fun box, backside flips over the wheelchair ramp, stoinked tre flips over the steep hip, manuals to kickflip, kickflips to nosewheelie and perfectly folded hardflips down the bank. What a little ripper and yep: only fourteen. It was Mikey’s last chance to take out the Juniors before he does a ‘Ryder’ and has to step to the Opens next year. In fact, five of the top six will be doing a ‘Ryder’ next year. It is going to be a pretty heated Opens in 2013 indeed.
Juniors (L to R): Atkins, Runciman, Peina, Johnston, Campbell and Mendoza (pic: hooker)
1st Mikey Mendoza – 14 – QLD
2nd Dani Campbell – 14 – NSW
3rd Dean Johnston – 14 – VIC
4th Keanu Peina – 14 – QLD
5th Jay Runciman – 12 – SA
6th Sam Atkins – 14 – VIC
7th Blake O’Connor – 14 – NSW
8th Mitchell Folley – 14 – NSW
9th Joe Cormack – 13 – NSW (tie)
9th Jack O’Grady – 14 – NSW (tie)
11th Harry McEvoy – 13 – VIC
12th Zac Clinkers – 13 – WA
13th Fergus Doherty – 14 – TAS
14th Jack Paterson – 14 – NSW
15th Dylan Scott – 14 – NSW
16th Ben Kelley – 14 – SA
17th Matt Archer – 13 – WA
18th Bradley “Biscuit” Saunders – 10 – VIC
19th Josh Heske – 14 – WA
20th Mitchell Horn – 14 – SA
21st Max Kunkler – 11 – WA
22nd Beau Kelly – 11 – TAS
Mikey Mendoza is the AUSTRALIAN JUNIOR AMATEUR CHAMPION (pic: hooker)
OPEN DIVISION (15 & OVERS)
It was such a radical snap sound and it definitely added to the atmos but, I wish Kristian Rowell hadn’t broken his board on his opening fun box clearing airwalk to flat. He is a beast and he destroyed Devonport Terminator-style during the Tassie Qualifier, would have been awesome to see him skate this comp on his own board! Paul Bruno took to the vert quarter like a frog to water. We particularly liked his sweepers and backside bonelesses.
17-year-old Froggy (WA) sweeping the tranny clear of debris (pic: adair)
Matt Reilly was one of the most interesting to watch with proper street lines linking up left of field approaches to all the obstacles. His 5-0 to fakie over the China bank carve gap was nothing short of superb. Pat Gemzik found the longest, lowest Euro gap you have ever seen and proceeded to clear the whole thing. We were hyped… so was he actually. Matt Cheney was on clearly another plane from everyone else and by getting stuck in bins, disappearing beneath ramps and surf-paddling across the course, he had us all in tears. If he didn’t get stuck trying to layback boardslide down the big rail (yep a rail) he would have no doubt placed higher. Adam Haydec easily Jenk-os flipped the wheelchair ramp and 360 flipped the big funbox. Tasmania’s Laif Johannesen nose grinded the big hubba and kickflip back boarded the big rail. Beau Hinge was another one of the standouts for sure: silky backside flips and backside big spins over the wheel chair ramp.
Beau Hinge (SA) back bigspins with style (pic: hooker) <click for animated sequence>
Cali transplant Waylon Hendrix not only had one of the best names of the series, he also stunned on-lookers with his big spins over the bank to flat and his nasal grindage down the big rail. QLD's Beacho was all over everything at once and managed to 50/50 up the big hubba and fakie lipped to 270 on the L-block. Seventh placer Scott Hetherington was amazingly consistent all day, but his large hubba attack including a beastly back tail blew us all to smithereens.
Seventh in the Opens went to Scott Hetherington (WA) who owns the back smith (pic: hooker)
Jason Rainbird smashed it at Clifton Hill. Jason Rainbird smashed it in Mitcham. I am of the understanding that Jason Rainbird pretty much smashes it everywhere he goes. In Mitcham on Saturday Jase put down backside double flips and both backside heels and back threes down one of the smaller banks. In fifth was WA’s Quayde Baker who had one of the most interesting interpretations of the skatepark. He ollied the whole wheelchair ramp the hard way (from flat), tre-flipped it off the bump, smith grinded up a hubba and back tailed to ollie out like he was Max Schaaf on a block. Quayde has such a diverse bag and if he continues in the direction he is heading I think he will be known as an Australian great. Where was the switch backside boneless though Quayde? So who was in fourth you might ask?
Ryder Lawson (15) big spins to front board (pic: adair) <click for animated sequence>
Well it was wee Ryder, last year he won the Junior Division and went on to make monumental waves internationally by landing a spot on Flip and competing in the Maloof Money Cup in NYC. This year he turned fifteen and graduated to the Open Division. On the big rail Ryder poked out his back smiths, flicked out his back lips to forwards and fakie (depending what mood he was in) and 360 shuved it to lip in his stride. Down the small rail he toyed with big spin front boards and over the hips he twirled front threes. He backside late shuved the wheelchair ramp and ice picked to fakie on the vert wall. Anthony Bull was perplexing us all day. His style was familiar, but no one could put it down to being similar to any one skater. He has a proper man-style with slow mo power topped with giant finesse. Bull owned the joint with salad grinds, kickflip back tails on the out block, frontside pivot to fakies on the bank to block and a dicey 5-0 to switch crook down a hubba.
Anthony Bull had one of the best styles of the day as shown in this frontside salad (pic: adair)
Mitch Robertom has been on a bit of a roll lately and there was no doubt that he was one of the favourites to take it out. Rampage was an understatement when it comes to his attack of the terrain. Unfortunately for Mitch a shoelace related mishap resulted in a brutal foot smash mid-final, which no doubt led to less makes in the latter part of his heat, but he still killed it nevertheless. He noseblunted, nosgrinded and frontside blunted the big rail. He ollied a whole hubba from start to finish to flat. He 360 flipped and 360 shuved the steep hip, back smithed over the L-block and did a line with a switch front board down the big rail followed by a cab over the wheelchair ramp! Mitch is amazing.
Sam Tran hardflips as a part of his rampage that took him to first <click to view larger>
It was Adelaide’s Sam Tran aka ‘Thug Angel’ aka ‘Gunti’ who snatched first and boy was his shredding pleasurable to the old retinas. He was one of the few people I saw nollieing into his ledge or tail tricks. Nollie back k’s and nollie front k’s down the rails. Also lines with 360 flips down one bank followed by hard flips down the next. He also pounced on 360 flips down the big bank to flat and kickflip frontside 50/50’d the hubba. All done with a smattering of freshness that would make any greengrocer envious. Congratulations Sam, you are now the Australian Open Amateur Champion!
Opens (L to R): Rainbird, Baker, Lawson, Bull, Robertom and an elated Tran (pic: hooker)
1st Sam Tran – 22 – SA
2nd Mitch Robertom – 20 – VIC
3rd Anthony Bull – 19 – NSW
4th Ryder Lawson – 15 – NSW
5th Quayde Baker – 19 – WA
6th Jason Rainbird – 15 – VIC
7th Scott Hetherington – 23 – WA
8th Andrew Beauchamp – 23 – QLD
9th Walyon Hendricks – 21 – VIC
10th Beau Hinge – 21 – SA
11th Laif Johannesen – 26 – TAS
12th Anthony Davie – 16 – VIC
13th Adam Haydec – 25 – NSW
14th Todd Baker – 21 – ACT
15th Matt Cheney – 19 – ACT (tie)
15th Pat Gemzik – 24 – QLD (tie)
17th Matt Reilly – 20 – WA
18th Paul “Froggy“ Bruno – 17 – WA
19th Kristian Rowell – 20 – TAS
20th Russell Grundy – 29 – NSW
21st Jack Bridges – 22 – SA
22nd Jamey Foxton – 15 – NSW (tie)
22nd Nathan Mason – 21 – TAS (tie)
Sam Tran is the AUSTRALIAN OPEN AMATEUR CHAMPION (pic: hooker)
After the Qualifiers and the Finals we can say that Australia’s Skateboarding future is in good hands (and feet), not only is this current and next generation ridiculously talented but, they are some of the nicest people you could ever meet. Thank you to all the sponsors, volunteers, councils, SbA staff, parents, medics, BBQ-ers, planes, cars, trains, buses, taxis, boats and pets that were involved with the 2012 Nike SbA Am Series, we literally couldn’t have done it without you.