Sydney is a prime travel destination… it has one of the most beautiful harbours in the world. The beaches rock. The infinite rolling hills lead to amazing street spots. The food options are off the charts. Who wouldn’t grasp an opportunity to go there on a skate trip? During the 90’s the Hordern Pavilion was home to several street comps that set a new standard for Aussie skate get togethers. Good to see that almost twenty years after the first comp was held there we are taking these gatherings up to a whole new level. Thunderdome brought together numerous gifted skateboarders and crews from all over our isle for one prime reason: a reunion jam that will go down in history.
words: morgan campbell
photos: matt hooker, jason morey and cameron sparkes <click all images to view larger>
video: anthony de sylva, danny jenkins, leo townsend, morgs and sparrow
The Thunderdome course is unparalleled in Australian skate history. Sure, there may have been bigger purpose-built courses, but definitely not for an all-Aussie comp. The level of the forty-odd guys that were pre-qualified and invited was beyond what any of us have ever personally seen in any single Aussie skate congregation. I guess the only problem with the collective bar raising that has gone on as a result of this one, is topping it, but surely, somehow the Aussie skate massive will do that yet again next year.
Cuzza’s initial drawings were for a multiple directional, almost circular ‘Mothership’ that one would be able to get speed for via use of a ‘Boomeramp’. The preliminary designs were circulated amongst a couple of members of the SbA team and shown to a few of the Pro/Am shredders, the design was then whittled and beveled into what you will see in this article and video. The course flowed beyond belief. During the practice session the skaters were enveloped into a swirling circle of shred: it was even pinball-esque at times. The Mothership featured a proper three-flat-five double set (complete with kinked rail), long five-stairs with out ledges, banks with stair channels and ledges atop, a Euro gap up the three, a knee-high long manual pad, some banked corners and steep, tight banked hips. The Boomeramp was a fifty-foot wide quarter pipe bent in the middle to resemble a boomerang. Its low ends were about three foot high and hipped, the centre bowled corner escalated up to six-foot high, the transition was a seven and a half footer. If you locked into the right lip trick you would be taken the whole way down in an accelerated balance test. Ramp builder Shane Serena and his crew rocked up on the Wednesday before and worked against the clock to get it ready for Saturday. By the time the first wheels hit the contours, it was quite clear that the shred switch had been flicked into turbo mode. People were being slung every which way, ripping every single obstacle in sight as well as those not so obvious, hidden ones.
The support crew was pretty all star… Judges were Brett Margaritis, Darren Kaehne, Dean Armour and Sean Holland. The blogger was Cameron Sparkes. The chigwagging MC’s were Captain Cuzza and Glenn Scott with DJ i-Cuz in full effect. Matty Hooker was our staff photog and Anthony Sylva and his crew were taking care of the video side of things.
After losing a couple of registered names to injuries (get well fellas) we ended up with thirty-nine skaters in the comp. These guys were split into ten heats, which were all four man jams (apart from one three). Of the thirty-nine that competed, ninety percent of them ripped to an unfathomable degree. The upper echelon of the field was straight up Pro-town and it was an incredible spectacle to see them pulverise the Hordern during the day.
Bryce Golder is a powerhouse. Despite being in first the heat he did one of the biggest ollies of the day, from the Mothership platform over the out ledge to flat. He also backside big spinned down the long five with authority. Matt Cheney has to be one of the raddest rad-dads out there. He was sprouting a grin of ear to ear proportions whilst gracing the course with his fierce flow. He fronside shuv’d the double set and gapped to feeble on the last kink of the rail.
Owner of the curtains in Mobbin’ Deep: Alex Lawton was in the mix and he made great shapes with backside noseblunt slides on the out ledge and tre’s down the double. Jeremy Corea was one of the best looking serpent surfers on the course and he sure does have a sweet looking backside ollie. It wasn’t uncommon for him to link four or five ‘rads’ in a row, inventing spots in his wake.Josh Pall: another ripper, one who is “in the window” right now. You just had to see one of his 360 flips over the stair gap to know how on point he is at this time.
Lewis Marnell was in attendance and was hyper-popping his was through his deep bag of flip tricks: taking big spin flips, frontside flips and even a nollie heel to fakie over the stair channel. We saw him getting buck on the trannie too with long back tails and exotic looking crooked grinds ripped out to forwards. I swear at one point I looked over during one of the latter qualification heats and I saw Dean Parsons make the most perfect backside heelflip down the double set, then someone told me it was first try! How does that even happen? At one point Bugs Fardellchannelled his inner Madonna in the corner, shook his foot like it had a fresh bit of dog gunk stuck to it and slapped his tail so loud that the Hordern roof pigeons cooed. Will Hine performed two highly original feats on the handrail: a past the kink caveman and a gap to frontside Willy grind on the kink.
Mitch Robertom has had a ripper of a year. Blazing video parts, photos and comps all over the joint (including a Victorian Nike SbA Qualifier Am Series Qualifier win and an Am Series Final second place). Mitch did picture-perfect blunts on the out ledges not to mention 360 flips and frontside flips down the set of doubleness. It was the joint-birthdays of 2012 Am Champ Sam Tranand John Dickenson and boy were they stoked on their birthday present: the best SbA course yet. I have never seen anyone so comfortable on a kinked rail as Jake Hayes was. Sure he went the gap out option but he also settled in for boardlsides, front boards, lipslides and back lips: which took him across the flat and down the kink in the most casual demeanour. Whilst this man has grown a fair bit over the past year, I think his fear receptor might have diminished in entirety.
Rob Kenworthy has that supreme athletic technique that comes from a skateboarding superhero. His gaps to crook on the last kink were Tonka Tuff and every flip trick he did was waist-high. Pat Dandy did the sickest two tricker on the Boomerang: a smith grind (with ollie out) staight into a frontside flip on the next wall. Bjorn Johnston has some of the hardest ledge tricks on absolute lock. His out ledge assault included nollie 180 switch k’s, switch smiths and switch tails, he also lipslid through the kinker. Shane Azar some how front boarded to pop out over the second kink of the kinker and nailed half cab frontside nosegrinds to fakie over the hips.
It is always a pleasure to watch Jake Duncombe skate: he linked up lines all over the joint and performed the longest frontside 5-0 to fakie through the corner of the ‘Rang’. Sam Giles out of absolutely nowhere did a massive nollie big spin heel in the corner of the Boomeramp; he also casually snapped a 360 flip down the double set. Dane Burman ripped in front of his home crowd with hard flips down the double and 5-0’s through the kinks. Last years Am Series winner: Reece Warren man-tackled the rail and did tidy little Boomeramp combos such as back tails straight into escalator induced frontside alley-oop fifties.
Eighth-placer Sammy Winter had the best push of the day. So good on the old eyes is Sammy. Switch flip manny across the Mothership Pad, nollie 360’s up the Euro and a last stair-clipping, yet-perfect switch flip in the final.
Seventh went to Harry Clark who did some of the hardest tricks of the comp (all first try), including a switch flip down the double, a switch stance backside flip over the stair channel, fingerflip to whack bonk disasters and frontside five-o shuv on the Boomer.
In at sixth was Jackson Pilz whose electric use of the Boomeramp included: leins, face high backside ollies, crooks for days, and a ludicrous nose grind through the corner one which he popped out to nose wheelie and continued on his merry way.
Fifth-placer Jesse Noonan was relentless. ‘Red’ Energiser-bunnied himself through the whole day: back and forth between the Boomeramp and the gap to rail. A Saran wrap body jar went down as did double set gaps to smith and feeble and lipslid through the whole thing.
You may have seen the video of Dean Palmer destroying Sydney streets in the lead up to Thunderdome? If so you will not be surprised to hear he styled it into fourth at Thunderdome. Big spin back tail fakies over the stair channel not to mention tre flips and switch frontside flips down the double set!
Third went to velocity machine Jack Kirk; whose electric flow had everyone transfixed all day: chest high frontside alley oops over the Boomerhip, massive belly jars (backside air disasters), picture perfect back tails, a 360 ollie up the Euro straight into tre off the drop and even managed a Boomerhip ollie into tailslide on the barrier behind the platform.
Blake Harris was smiling whilst ripping all day. Dazzling double set gaps out to overcrook, gaps out to back smith, backside noseblunt slides on the out ledge, frontside flip the double and even managed to dodge dizzydom during frontside tailslide backside reverts into fakie frontside 5-0 fakies on the Boomeramp.
Tommy Fynn missed a few tricks early in his final heat and then he simply turned it on: nollie flip into the Euro, 360 flip down the double, backside 360 kickflip up the Euro (first try!), 360 flip nose slide to forwards over the bank channel, back tail biggies, backside 180 nose grinds to 180 on the out ledge, gap to nose grind and nose blunt on the kinker, frontside nose grind pop ins and backside overcrook pop ins on the corner.
THUNDERDOME 2012 FINAL RESULTS
1st Tommy Fynn (QLD) – $4000
2nd Blake Harris (NSW) – $2500
3rd Jack Kirk (VIC) – $1500
4th Dean Palmer (NSW) – $800
5th Jesse Noonan (QLD) – $500
6th Jackson Pilz (QLD) – $300
7th Harry Clark (WA) – $200
8th Sammy Winter (QLD) – $200
After the results were compiled, the top three were announced and we were thrilled to be able to crown Tommy the title of “Oz Champion” for the second year running. His perpetual ripping and the effort he went to making room in his international timetable for each stop of the tour paid off. 2011 and 2012 were landmark years for Tommy, and we are curious to see whether there will be a three peat?
See all you rulers next year. I can’t fathom the fact that by this time next year everyone will be ripping harder than they were on the weekend. How is it possible? Thanks to everyone who was involved with turning the Thunderdome into the melting pot of awesome that it became. Who ever made it down witnessed history. Whoever didn’t: you best be watching that video down there.