“I don’t drink, don’t smoke, just skate, there is nothing better then skating,” says Austin Namba. Namba is one of those skaters out there that can do every trick flawlessly. He is one of the most down to earth chill people you could meet, always down to skate, keeping it low key and mellow. His smooth flowing skate style developed while growing up and skating through the streets of Taylorsville Utah. Namba has been ripping up the skate scene for 10 years. With just a small amount of coverage including a keen part in the Weast DVD and footage in some local Cali videos the time is long over due for the skate culture to see more Namba coverage.
On July 20th Austin Namba and I arose at sun up for an all day skate mission. Our first destination was a virgin marble ledge spot. We arrived around 5:45am, a couple window washers were out front scrubbing away. Lucky for us neither washer could have cared less that we wanted to skate. With virtually no warm up, Namba was already popping into crookeds on the waist high ledge. Landing it with ease, he boosted on to front 180 nose grinds. By the time the sun cleared the mountain peaks, Namba already got two tricks on the tall flat ledge and popped the cherry of the C ledge with a half cab crooks revert. All in all we got to skate this perfect new, untouched spot, hassle free, for over an hour. With this spot deflowered, we packed up our shit and headed to the Redwood Road Wal-Mart for another lofty ledge session.
On our way there Namba told me about his first place win in the Girl Skateboards open house skate comp held in February of this year at their warehouse in California. I asked Namba if winning the comp could end up landing him a spot on the team. He said, “Probably not … I want to film super hard and send in a video. If it happens, I’d be hyped. Who wouldn’t be? But that’s not why I’m skating. I skate because its fun.” Namba won a year’s supply of skate goodies that he hand picked right out of the Girl warehouse. The comp was invite only, with some of Girl and Chocolates big guns judging, like Rick Howard, Mike Carroll, Daniel Castillo and Kenny Anderson. Taking first with guys like that in the jury seat may say a little something about how good Namba actually is. Check out www.crailtap.com, scroll around and look for the “Girl Open House” movie link.
Rolling up to Wally World we skillfully avoided security cameras and encumbered Wally shoppers. Namba made quick work of the ledge sliding through a lofty front tail. After a cop cruised by we took it as a sign to move on. On our way out I spotted some plastic barriers at the far end of the parking lot. Namba and I grabbed one and vanished, taking it across the street to T-ville High in search of smooth ground. Within minutes he popped a butter-smooth nollie shove it right over the barrier.
We retreated back to Namba’s house to wait out the heat and recharge from the mornings session. In ’02 Namba moved out to California with his family. He stuck around for four years skating and making monthly trips back to SLC to skate. I asked Namba what he thought about California vs Utah he said, “I have good friends out there and good friends out here, but it’s better here. California isn’t all it’s cracked up to be; nobody can skate and have fun; everyone is always trying to one up you. And traffic is the worst … you drive to a spot for an hour and a half just to get kicked out.”
While living in California Namba meet good friend Derek Fukuhara who helped hook him up with California skate shop, United. He also started getting flow from Girl and ES’. While we are on the subject he also skates for Salty Peaks board shop and Material Things head wear.
Once everything cooled off enough to skate we headed to Park City. We warmed up at the PC Park before shredding the streets. I was blown away watching Namba session the park, trick after trick, back to back. Front side flips the hard way over the hip, nollie f/s heel over the flat bar. He was firing away like a machine gun, landing everything perfect. As the sun faded out in the distance we took it to the streets. The last spot of the day was a roadside guardrail. Avoiding traffic, he caped the day off with a picture perfect Back 180 nose grind; sun up to sun down, nothing but skating. That’s how you get shit done. Now don’t go thinking all Namba can skate are ledges. Surf over to www.skateboarding.com and check out the July 20th Filmbot Friday video and you’ll see that Namba kills everything.
The 5th Annual World Superpipe Championships was held in Park City, Utah. The comp allowed riders to show off their individual style and skill in a best of three run set up. The pipe was 22ft deep and around 500ft long. It was a perfectly cut tranny and super steep, giving riders tons of speed for massive airs. With a prize purse of $90,000 this was a definite go big or go home broke event. I showed up late catching the last few runs of the women’s heat while enjoying the breakfast of champions (Red Bull vodka and a Heineken). Damn, those girls were killing it. Torah Bright charged her way into the first place spot and a $15,000 prize, throwing down a huge frontside 5, backside 5 and cab 7 in her run. I was blown away by the level that woman’s snowboarding has climbed to. Soko Yamaoka griped on to the second place spot beating out Kelly Clark by only one point. Soko cashed in with $8000 in prize money while Kelly fattened up her pocket book with a $4000 3rd place prize.
When the women’s heat ended the pipe crew salted the lips of the pipe, and groomed the flat bottom before the men started their warm up session. The men weren’t holding back during warm up, riders were training wicked lines down the pipe making the warm up seem sicker then the comp. At any one time there were three or four guys all boosting out of the pipe, some getting at least double overhead high. It was a rush watching them land within inches of where I was standing. One rider took a rough hit under rotating a back 7, bouncing off the deck and smacking his face in the flat bottom. Later I saw him hiking the pipe with a bloody face and huge smile. These dudes are raw.
When the warm up session ended energy was high, the crowd was super pumped and the riders started really throwing down some gnarly shit. Screams roared through the crowd while big guns like Luke Mitrani and Keir Dillon stomped some astonishing tricks. Everything was being tossed into the mix, invert 9s, back to back 1080s, crazy Mc-twist variations, Haakon flips, Alley Oop Michaelchuck 540s, crazy tricks I didn’t even recognize. It was a massacre of trickery. Everyone was going insane on what these riders were throwing down.
Personally, I can’t deny that riders who keep it simple and steezy always get my vote for the dopest tricks. My favorite goes out to a homie I didn’t recognize. He flew out of the pipe with a huge melon fakie, easily soaring 12-15ft high. Nothing like a straight air to keep you in check on how fast and big you’re actually going.
I’ll give you one guess at who snatched up the $15000 first place spot. Shaun White. Some may think he’s a crazy flying contest circus monkey, but he rips, lands everything smooth, consistently and goes bigger then everyone else. It was no surprise seeing him stand at the first place podium. 2nd place and $8000 went to Danny Davis while Mason Aguirre got the $4000 prize for 3rd.
It was a spectacular day on the pipe. All the riders killed it, firing off a barrage of amazing tricks. Some good slams went down and nobody got seriously injured. The crowd was bursting with energy, everyone had a spectacular time. Before catching my ride back to the city I stopped by the Red Bull tent for a quick afternoon snack, vodka and beer anyone?
With each new season the progression of snowboarding reaches a higher level. Bigger gaps are discovered. Urban spots are constantly being built in cities around the world. Riders think up innovative technical tricks that nobody has ever seen. Terrain parks allow new tricks to be dialed before taking them to the streets or backcountry. Television, magazines and videos have allowed riders to see the innovations that people come up with like hitting an old spot in a new light, or never-been-done trick variations. Everyone gets to see it and build off of it. It’s like the entire snowboarding world is shredding together and getting hyped on one another.
Even industry technology is pushing snowboarding’s progression. The creation of short flexible boards with no edges designed for rails and long ridged ones for jumps. Wax created for every weather condition, pipe dragons that can cut walls 20+ feet deep and new jump concepts like the one David Benedek came up with in “91 words for snow” allowing riders to go bigger and stay safer.
Who knows where it will end up this year. Just when it seems that the industry has seen the craziest it can get, someone steps it up to a new level. Is there any limit to snowboarding’s progression? Can it reach a point when “it’s been done before” defines the sport? I doubt it.
One thing is for sure, riders will always have to pay to play, make it or break it. Nothing can every change that. A good slam could be exactly what’s needed to jump start your session with a hit of adrenalin. Or it could lead to exactly what isn’t needed–lying to waste the rest of the day.
Such was the case on this beautiful blue-sky day. Keeping it low tech and steezy Cody Comrie glided flawlessly through a front board on this concrete ledge with a treacherous drop to one side. Amped on Cody, Ricky Cheney got taxed on an attempt to up the ante with a switch front board. We’ve all been there, that half a second that lasts half the day as you wait to slam into the ground like a limp rag doll.
No worries though, you always have good friends close by to point and laugh while you gasp for breath. After a quick “thorough” examination you will certainly be left alone in agony while everyone huddles together to check the footy in super slow motion. Undoubtedly heaps of OOOOOoooosss will below from the group at that exact moment when body meets ground. Most likely you yourself will smirk and laugh a bit at what has just happened. Assuming you’re still conscious.