Deng Tear – Backside 180 Late Flip. Photo: Niels Jensen
Deng Tear – Backside 180 Late Flip. Photo: Niels Jensen

SLUG’s sixth incarnation of Summer of Death: Roughside Presented by Monster took place over the past weekend. Roughside is a travelling contest that has mainly centered in the downtown Salt Lake area in the past. This time around, the West Valley/Taylorsville area got some love from some 30-plus skaters eager to win some prizes and huck some tricks.

The spots of the day were: “DIY Spot” at the cultural center, 10-stair at The Maverick Center, West Valley TRAX Station, eight-stair rail at Taylorsville High School, T-ville Skate Park and finally, the awards and product toss hosted by Graywhale. West Valley is much different than Downtown—there aren’t any businessmen in suits or bums tying off in broad daylight. The sidewalks are free of crowds, and the bust factor is minimal.

The DIY Spot was intended for warm-up/registration, but that didn’t stop the growing group of skaters from ripping as hard as they could. Mike Zanelli rattled off plenty of backside maneuvers (50-50, crook, lip and tail) on the concrete kicker to the tall skinny ledge. Jordan Brown had a battle with a noseblunt on the skinny ledge that he finally won as the contest switched to the next spot.

Jordan Brown must have been pretty psyched on that nose blunt because he landed a kickflip at the Maverick Center ten stair within minutes of him and his twin brother Nate showing up to the spot. Deng Tear got himself dizzy after a number of attempts at a backside 360, but in the end, he rolled away with no hand drag. Jose Suitt landed a backside 180 and a shuvit tailgrab. Suitt also had his own battle with a frontside flip that he gave up on due to the crowd congregating to the TRAX station.

Controlled chaos is what was happening at the third stop of the contest. Wherever you looked, tricks were being stomped. The crowd grew from a couple of skaters to a group of hoodlums that could be mistaken for an Occupy movement if they had picket signs instead of boards. One TRAX employee decided to take video of the contest instead of trying to kick out the massive amount of skateboarders taking up the plaza. Plenty of grinds and slides on the handrail and even more tricks down the stair set were landed at the congested spot. Some notable tricks were: tre flip down the set by Jerry Alvarado, blunt to fakie on the handrail by Jose Suitt, and a nose manual firecracker by Eric Ferguson on the steps.

The last spots of the day were Taylorsville High School and T-ville Skatepark where some of the most heavy-hitting bangers went down. Deng Tear landed a back lip on the eight stair rail and ended the day with a heelflip down the four block. Mr. Suitt was able to get some redemption by taking that frontside flip to the side of the blocks and rolled away clean. As Jason “Chedder” Gianchetta directed the crowd to head to Graywhale, he proclaimed, “Be careful when you’re crossing the street—this is West Valley and they don’t give a fuck!”

Third Place went to youngling Deng Tear, who kept it consistent throughout the contest. Brandon Aguayo won Second Place and best trick for a bigspin front boardslide to fakie at T-ville. Aguayo also landed a frontside bigspin down the four block at T-ville, which garnered plenty of applause from the crowd. Last—but actually First—Jose Suitt took top honors for killing it at every spot. SLUG would like to give thanks to all of the sponsors who helped out with Summer of Death: Roughside Presented by Monster: After Dark Skateboards, Blue Plate Diner, Graywhale Entertainment, iNi Cooperative, Jaybird Sport, Milo Sport, Natural Cause Productions, Publik Coffee, Roughneck Hardware, Saga Outerwear and Salty Peaks. See you scum next year.

Photo gallery by Niels Jensen, Sam Milianta and Weston Colton.

SLUG would like to give thanks to all of the sponsors who helped out with Summer of Death: Roughside Presented by Monster:After Dark Skateboards, Blue Plate Diner, Graywhale Entertainment, iNi Cooperative, Jaybird Sport, Milo Sport, Natural Cause Productions, Publik Coffee, Roughneck Hardware, Saga Outerwear and Salty Peaks.

Shylio Sweat – Front Crook Pop Over – Richfield, Utah. Photo: Weston Colton

I grew up in rural Southern Utah—small towns, hardly any skaters and even fewer skate spots. One of those spots was the Kmart loading dock. We usually got kicked out within five minutes, so we jumped down the dock as many times as we could, as fast we could. Coincidentally, Shylio Sweat, Jerome Farrell and I ended up in Richfield on the same weekend. While showing them my old “spots,” we went to the now-closed Kmart to check out the old loading dock. All the railings had been broken off the dock. With a little creativity, we figured out a new way to skate the spot, and Shylio and Jerome got some good tricks

Shylio Sweat – Front Crook Pop Over – Richfield, Utah. Photo: Weston Colton
Shylio Sweat – Front Crook Pop Over – Richfield, Utah. Photo: Weston Colton
Colin Sheffield – Early Grab Board Slide – Provo, Utah. Photo: Weston Colton.

Unexpected tricks by unexpected people are the best. I had just met Colin about 45 minutes before shooting this photo. I went out to shoot with someone else, and Colin was skating with him. After a hard slam at the first spot, I suggested this crazy spot that hasn’t seen much skating. It’s a tall 12-stair with a steep rail. Colin thought that he might be able to early-grab over the rail. After successfully early-grabbing the stairs, to my shock, he’s suddenly trying to early-grab to back board-slide. A handful of tries later, he’s rolling away.

Colin Sheffield – Early Grab Board Slide – Provo, Utah. Photo: Weston Colton.
Colin Sheffield – Early Grab Board Slide – Provo, Utah. Photo: Weston Colton.
Photo: Weston Colton

I don’t know the whole story about how this snowboard park rail ended up at the Rail Gardens. I don’t know the story of how the Rail Gardens even came to be, for that matter. Somebody in the Parks and Rec. Department somehow convinced everyone that the stairs with the perfect handrails intermittently dispersed throughout the park were for people walking their dogs? Jeremy Jones and JP Walker slipped somebody a wad of bills and some blueprints a couple Decade(s) ago? Seems feasible. Whatever the story, Kaleb Hadlock took full advantage of this cold November morning before the snow hit the valley, and the snowboarders descended on these rails. FYI, pulling away from a board slide on a rail off the side of the sidewalk is pretty hard to do. Kaleb took some pretty hard slams at the bottom before rolling away from this one.

Photo: Weston Colton
Photo: Weston Colton
Jordan Vigil – 360 Flip – SLC, UT

I don’t really know Jordan at all. My impression: He doesn’t say a lot, but rather, he lets his skating do the talking. I watched him cruise around the 9th and 9th park hitting every obstacle there. Ledges, rails, gaps, transition, all with the same effortless style. He looks like he’s having fun. No stressing out, just loving every minute. The same was true for the 16 times he jumped down this set of stairs. Always smiling, never stressing. He landed the 360 flip, rode off the curb, did a frontside flip and switch bombed the hill. Too perfect.

Jordan Vigil – 360 Flip – SLC, UT
Jordan Vigil – 360 Flip – SLC, UT
Photo: Weston Colton

Garrison Conklin – Pole Jam to Fakie – SLC, Utah

Every now and then, I see the potential for a trick that “would be so cool,” but in reality, it would be nearly impossible to actually do. I suggest these tricks to skaters, and usually, nothing comes of it. I mean, they are pretty ridiculous tricks. Enter Garrison Conklin. Sam Milianta once described Garrison as a ninja on a skateboard. If anybody could do this pole jam, Garrison could, right? It took a little getting used to the jam, but 15 minutes later, he was rolling away fakie. Just goes to show that it never hurts to ask.

Photo: Weston Colton

Mike Zanelli Crooked Grind SLC, Utah

It’s probably a dream of almost every skater to open they own skate shop, but in reality, it’s quite hard to do and be successful year after year. 2016 marked the 20th anniversary of Blindside. That’s a pretty impressive milestone in this rollercoaster of an industry. I spent five years working in the Orem location (RIP), and have a lot of BNSD pride because of it. Much respect to Milo, Salty Peaks, BC and Lip Trix in St. George for also supporting the Utah skate scene for over two decades. In an era of giant mall chains and internet shopping, let’s remember to support our local shops. They are the backbone of our local scene.

Mike Zanelli has been skating for Blindside since 2007. He’s not slowing down as he heads into his 10th year on the team. This is a first try at a crooked grind last summer in SLC. #20yearsofblindside

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Dakoda Osusky – Backside Disaster – Utah County

Dakoda Osusky – Backside Disaster – Utah County

With nearly 65,000 college kids in Utah County, there has always been an influx of talented skaters coming from out of state. Dakoda Osusky was a bit an anomaly, however, as he came here from the heat of Arizona to spend the summer working in our more “temperate” climate. After work, he skated and racked up some good footage that will be in an upcoming video by Seth Haupt called Sol, including this backside disaster. Keep an eye out for the premiere in January.

Mikey Martinez – Frontside Smith – Cottonwood Heights, Utah

Mikey Martinez – Frontside Smith – Cottonwood Heights, Utah

Mikey Martinez had made up his mind about skating this 15-stair rail before he ever sent me an email asking if I’d like to shoot it. I asked if the spot was a bust, and he told me he’d only need a couple tries either way. I applaud that confidence, but I’ve been shooting long enough to know courage can fade when you are actually looking down that rail.

Mikey showed up right on time. He took a good look at the rail, rolled up a few times and went for it. He locked right into the smith and ground the whole rail. I expected him to collapse into the ground at the bottom on impact, but instead, he rolled away clean. Afterward, he said he’d never been more scared or more excited in his life. Thanks, Mikey, for asking me to come out!

Bambi – Ollie – SLC, Utah

Bambi – Ollie – SLC, Utah

A man named Bambi likes to jump down things on his skateboard—or, in this case, jump over things.

How many of you out there know Bambi? And how many of you actually know his real name, or even his last name, for that matter? I didn’t—not that it matters. Bambi is sufficient. Here, Bambi ran across the lawn, threaded the needle gap between the railings, threw his board down on the uphill ramp and ollied the bar at just the right angle to land back onto the sidewalk.