Summer of Death: Urban Surfin’
Some people believe skateboarding to be an art. Others would say that jumping around on a wooden toy is a monumental waste of time. I say, every minute you are skateboarding is a minute that you aren’t stealing an old lady’s purse. In celebration of not making an octogenarian your prey, the 14th annual Summer of Death Presented by Scion had its first contest of the year on Saturday, July 20, paired with the Urban Arts Festival.
The festival was held at the Gateway Mall where the streets were blocked off to make way for art booths and the skate contest. We Are One Skatepark provided the ramps, which were set up all day for skaters to bounce off of and rearranged for the contest at 3 p.m. The obstacles included in the course were: a flat bar, two different sized, tranny-able quarter pipes, a double step box and a cheese wedge. The contest took center stage at the festival, with all kinds of spectators crowding around the intersection to catch a glimpse of skaters hucking themselves in the air while on their way to look at other forms of art.
As the contest was being set up, with 45 people registering, I was able to speak with Mark Judd. Judd is the owner of After Dark Skateboards, which has been in business since 2010. Judd handmade the trophy boards being given away as prizes in the contest. He doesn’t just screen-print his graphics on blank decks––he actually presses and shapes the boards himself to his standard, which is AA grade wood from top to bottom sheet. His boards can be found via local companies such as Sk801, BC Surf and Sport, Blindside and Milo, among others. Needless to say, After Dark was a Summer of Death sponsor, and Judd had a tent with some product for sale at the competition.
The contest began set to the beats of DJ Bo York, whose booth was solar-powered by Goal Zero, pumping out green energy in three-digit temps. The 15 and under division started things off with 20-minute heats, giving some of the younger kids a chance to compete without the fear of being smashed by a full grown man.
Eric “Spock” Uquillas, the founder of Spock’s Skate Camp, brought out some of the younger kids to compete—you could tell who they were because they were wearing helmets and elbow pads, and were about three feet tall, as some of them looked no older than 5 years old. Longtime SOD vet Dino Porobic landed an ollie and an early grab back 180, securing him a Third Place position. Jordan Mohr was skating like a man with his clean backside flip off the kicker, which landed him into the Second Place position. Another past contestant, Jorge Martinez, was skating the course well before the contest started.
Martinez landed a front bigspin off the kicker, back 50-50 on the box and a foot plant to tail on the quarter pipe—these tricks guaranteed him First Place in the 15 and under division.
For the open division, the flat bar was moved on top of the box in order to step up the difficulty. As soon as the contest started, the skaters were hucking their bodies. Some tricks landed, some not—either way, it was fun to watch. The appointed judges were Laura Hadar, Kordell Black, James Atkin of Goal Zero and Christian Jensen.
The judges were not only looking for the number of tricks landed––they wanted to see good use of all the obstacles in the heat. Aaron Gailey landed a scarewalk, front tail to bigflip out and a shuv-it benihana, which didn’t earn him Best Trick, but he was compensated for a hard hit later on, taking home Best Digger. Chandler Seipert almost stomped a shuv-it over the box––there was a rogue board in the way that caused him not to roll away from it. The skaters landed many tricks, but only a few could move on to the final round.
A barrier was put in front of the cheese wedge for the final heat to add even more difficulty. This did not scare Jeff McGrath one bit, who blasted a back 180 melon, benihana, backside flip off the wedge and ollied from the kicker to 50-50 on the lower end of the box—all of these tricks got him Third Place. McGrath shared Third Place with Gailey, who landed a back 180, kickflip to back tail on the box and a tre flip to tail grab over the barrier.
Second Place went to Jordan Brown, who did a backside lipslide on the flat bar, nollie 360 off the kicker and a kickflip over the box. Seipert landed the shuv-it he was trying earlier and won Best Trick for a smooth backside smith to back 180 out. Finally, Gabe Spotts landed a tre flip, frontside flip and a nollie backside heelflip off the cheese wedge. These tricks secured Spotts, who was recently featured in SLUG’s July issue, the First Place position, right in front of one of his sponsor’s booths (Board of Provo).
After the contest, product was tossed from the second level, where even more spectators had congregated, and into the hands of the people who stuck around until the end of the competition. Along with the usual free decks and swag, Goal Zero handed out solar-powered panels and speakers.
Summer of Death Presented by Scion and the Urban Arts Festival gave many people a reason to enjoy a day outside. Instead of sitting at home watching Judge Judy, attendees were able to draw some chalk art on the sidewalk, look at psychedelic paintings of Katy Perry, spray paint on a wall without getting busted and watch an epic skate contest.
Much thanks to our sponsors: Scion, who was our presenting sponsor, Goal Zero, After Dark Skateboards, Arcade Belts, I.N.I Cooperative, Unhinged Boutique, Slingshot Pop Clothing, Milo, Salty Peaks, Board of Provo, Arize Board Shop, Epic Board Shop, Sk801, Saga, Spock’s Skate Camp and We Are One Skatepark for supporting the contest.
Don’t miss the next contest of the series, Summer of Death: Rough Side of the Trax 4 Presented by Scion, featuring famed San Francisco ripper Johnny Roughneck on Sept. 7. Find details at summerofdeath.com.
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