The Summer of Death contests have served as a springboard for countless Utah rippers to go from snot-nosed kids who annihilate local spots and parks to permanent fixtures in the skate community, including local all-star Lizard King, who earned a spot at the Tampa Am for his win at a Summer of Death Contest when he was knee-high to a grasshopper. This summer’s first installment of SLUG’s 15th annual Summer of Death series took place at the indoor Crossroads Skate Park in Ogden on June 21. If you didn’t already know, this is a special date for skateboarders all over the world, as it marks not only the longest day of the year, the summer solstice, but it is also duly named Go Skateboarding Day.
The Crossroads Skate Park features a good spread of obstacles: a couple of banks and quarter pipe, an a-frame with grindables and a drop with a downrail next to a miniature euro-gap. The contest was divided into two divisions: an amateur class, and an open division consisting of 14-year-olds to twentysomethings. The amateur division was first. Despite the large number of contestants in this class, few kids stuck it out to the end of the competition—there were obviously a lot of first-timers. Even so, these kids tore up the course. The opening minutes were fraught with break-neck attempts at bangers for which the emcees advised the contestants to pace themselves. By the end of the first jam, there were two pairs of split pants and a busted shoe—not to mention a winded gaggle of skaters.
Kade Gallegos, nicknamed “Gilligan” by the emcees for his bucket hat and Hawaiian shirt, hucked a few honest attempts at a frontside 180 off the side of the fun box. He threw a boneless and a boneless 50-50 down the drop and the down ledge respectively, earning him third place in the contest. Johnathan Aquino made the backside boardslide and the boardslide fakies across the flat bar look easy. He also slid a slick frontside 5-0 on the launch-to-bench, which, among other hammers, earned him second place. The winner of the Amateur Division Jam was Lucky Stables, who proved worthy of a name that could belong to a thoroughbred racehorse. Among the memorable tricks this cat landed were a 50-50 early grab roast beef and a lipslide across the flat bar. The three winners were awarded gear, new skate decks and trophies made by Mark Judd of Afterdark Skateboards. After the ceremony, the rest of us got to share their glory in the form of free pizza donated by Ogden pizza slingers Lucky Slice.
The open division was much more cutthroat. Many of the contestants in this class used every free second in the interim to hone their tricks. The emcees had to repeatedly ask the contestants to stop skating so that they could line up the contestants and start the competition. Because of the insistence on the part of some of the skateboarders to ride with headphones on, these requests fell on deaf ears. Since there was a shorter time alloted for the advanced division, the contestants went at it hard. It would be exhausting to rattle off all of the notable tricks landed in this division, but I will note a few. A finalist named Koleman Stunet, who rocked a tie-dye shirt, swung an alley-oop frontside 360 transfer from the big quarter pipe to the bank and an impetuous feeble-boardslide-feeble combo across the flat bar—a favorite of myself and the emcees. Bryan Sweat, who won Third Place, stuck a frontside overcrook across the flat bar and got an airwalk off the side of the fun box. Tyler Olsen nabbed a nollie backside bigger spin off the side of the fun box—perfect spin and catch—and a frontside bluntside across the bar. The winner of the Open Division Jam, one Austin Ramirez, nailed trick after trick. Some of the notables include a boosty backside air on the quarter pipe, a frontside crooked grind across the rail and—the one that won best trick—a flawless tre flip off the side of the fun box.
After the awards were given out, the rest of the attendees vied for flying apparel in the product toss while local band Sunchaser set up on the dais overlooking the park. Although most of the kids were eager to hit the streets to soak up the rest of Go Skateboarding Day, those who stuck around to skate the park dug the multi-layered tunes with a heavy dirge, which accompanied the skating.
Another year and another success. SLUG would like to thank all of our awesome sponsors who made The 15th Annual Summer of Death possible: Crossroads Skate Shop, SLUG Magazine, After Dark Skateboards, Blue Plate Diner, RAMP Sports, BC Surf & Sport, Us Against One Clothing, Skate For Health, Saltypeaks Board Shop, Milo Sport, Publik Coffee, Discrete, Lucky Slice Pizza and iNi Cooperative. A big thank all the judges who donated their afternoons to helping out with the contest, as well as the emcees and the volunteers who helped make this thing happen—you know who you are.
By Jordan Deveraux