Summer temperatures are reaching over 100 degrees, but that’s no reason to retire your skate shoes and deck. Salty Peaks has been keeping the skate community alive every summer with jam sessions and contests since they opened their doors in 1987, and melting asphalt and raging forest fires aren’t going to stop ‘em. This year’s summer-long venture––Salty’s Summer Skate Series––is approaching the final dates with a contest at Fairmont on Aug. 12 and the championship in Kearns on Sept. 9. Rose Park was the kickoff spot on June 10, followed by SoJo on July 8, but the rest of the series is still wide open for fresh-blooded skaters and the chance to win a week at Camp Woodward. If you don’t have big enough cajones to enter, or you’re whining to your brofriend (‘cause God knows you don’t have a girlfriend) with an injury excuse, all I can tell you is: Shut up already. We caught up with Salty Peaks owner Dennis Nazari for an interview that will get you there.
SLUG: How is this competition different from others?
Nazari: This one is points cumulative and the winner gets a week at Woodward skate camp in Tahoe [worth $2,000]. Funny thing is, after the first two contests, not one winner has shown up again. So, at this point, the Woodward prize is wide open to anyone for the taking.
SLUG: What motivated you to organize a summer-long series like this?
Nazari: Skateboarding is in a slump and needs a shot in the arm to stoke kids out. We also won the Dew Tour’s Unlock Your Spot team contest last September, and they gave us $1,000 to promote the shop and local skateboarding. What better way to do both than to put on a skate series? While it costs more than $1,000 to put on a skate series like this, it goes a long way to helping out. The Salty Peaks team guys that won the team contest were Kendall Johnson, Jason Gianchetta, Isaiah Beh and Oliver Buchanan, who also won 500 bucks. So next time you see one of those cats, thank them for their help in contributing back to the skate community.
SLUG: Who’s involved in running it?
Nazari: Salty Peaks is running it, so we do it all with our crew’s time and effort. We have help from outside the shop with judges to keep it fair and unbiased, and it’s been a lot of fun so far.
SLUG: What’s the format and judging of the contests?
Nazari: Skaters get two one-minute runs in which tricks are judged based on difficulty, style, completion and overall impression. There can be bonus points added for creativity and just flat-out going big.
SLUG: Any benefit to hosting the series at different skate parks?
Nazari: We reach more skaters in areas that don’t normally get exposed to Salty Peaks. In some cases, we picked lower-income areas to help out that kid who’s mowing lawns to buy skate decks.
SLUG: What specific tricks will impress the judges this year?
Nazari: I’m not one of the judges, but the guys that went big, or got the crowd cheering, seemed to get better scores. Personally, I think the bowl riders have a bit of an advantage, especially if they’re boosting airs.
SLUG: How would you describe a skater with good style?
Nazari: Smooth, fluid motion in whatever trick they are doing. The guy flailing his hands, rolling down the windows like he just barely made it won’t score as high as the guy that sticks it and made it look simple. That’s standard with most contest standards of style: “Did it look good?”
SLUG: Is there a certain age group that typically delivers skaters with skill?
Nazari: The bigger, more experienced skaters usually have the spotlight. We had an 8-year-old named Hayden that went toe-to-toe with kids as old as 13, and while he didn’t win, he had a good showing, and you could tell he had the potential to be a skater for life, just ‘cause he was having fun and had the support of his family. Skylar Ordean is one to keep an eye on ‘cause he’s got skills in both skate and snow. He won showing off skills in both street and bowl, and did it with style. Then you had the old guys like Jed Fuller aka Rad Dad doing it for the love of skating.
SLUG: Why do you think it’s important for local shops to get involved in the skate scene and host events like this?
Nazari: Where would skating be without us? Salty Peaks is one of three shops that have been around for more than 10 years. When we started Salty Peaks, we did a lot of firsts in Utah skateboarding. I remember when we built Utah’s biggest half pipe for the Ramp and Roll contest. Today, there’s more corporate money flowing into big contests, but they are driven by a return on that investment, not the love of skateboarding.
SLUG: Would you say that going to Woodward is a sure-fire way to get professionally sponsored?
Nazari: Nothing is “sure-fire” these days, but it’s an excellent chance to learn and skate with other motivated kids. Getting a sponsor only gets the door open. It’s up to the skater’s skills and, just as important, his attitude, that usually gets him on the pro roster. I can’t tell you how many good skaters with pro skills I’ve seen blow it because of drugs and alcohol, or a bad attitude.
SLUG: Does the overall winner have any obligations to Salty Peaks throughout the rest of the year?
Nazari: HELLS YEAH! WE OWN THAT BIAAATCH! Just kidding. No further obligations other than to listen to your mom and do something productive with your life (that’s productive, not reproductive).
SLUG: Is there a skater you can already foresee as the winner, or will it be a close call?
Nazari: It’s anyone’s race right now, wide open. Only 18 skaters with scores that count towards the finals, and only six with first-place scores.
SLUG: Any last words, skate-wise?
Nazari: Show some respect to skateboarding. Don’t act like a gossip drama queen. Be cool to your fellow skaters, take responsibility for your actions and words, pick up your garbage and keep the skate parks clean. And support your local shop, even if it’s not Salty Peaks.
This competition is dope, and it’s willing and waiting for friendly skaters. More great prizes will be given away from brands like Altamont, Baker, Skullcandy, Zero and Deathwish. Don’t forget, anyone can enter at Fairmont Park on Aug. 12 with a small, on-site entry fee of $10 ($5 at Salty Peaks for pre-registration), or at Kearns Skatepark on Sep. 9 for the championship. Go to saltypeaks.com for more details. Be there or skate square.