Okay, I hope you watched Saturday’s Park Finals (awesome photo sequences below) and weren’t waiting at your computer for me to post trick by trick blog updates. Because, and maybe I should have warned you via Twitter or something beforehand, but instead of doing the Park Final’s blog the old fashioned way, I decided to put a new spin on things and do it orally (I call it verbaloging) live on NBC during the event, saving myself the hassle of a whole lot of unnecessary typing. But for those of you who failed to upgrade your 1980’s model Zenith sets with digital converter boxes, thus hamstringing your ability to watch the event and hear said verbaloging, I’m coming at you one last time from Portland with some final, deep thoughts.
Technically I’m not even in Portland anymore. I’m actually on a plane home as we speak, and just moments ago was perusing the Sunday Oregonian (I know, it doesn’t even sound like a real newspaper, but it is. I swear) when, lo and behold, there in vivid technicolor I see a picture of yours truly on the front page of the sports section.
Because really, who needs action shots of dudes wing-dinging around on the park course when you have the chance to run a rad photo of a know-it-all announcer dropping all sort of skate knowledge while sporting a fashionable headset and expertly trimmed facial hair. But anyway, the article accompanying my awesome picture is all about who makes the most money out there on the park course. I didn’t have any hard figures when I spoke to the reporter who did the piece, but he
dug up some interesting information, from where I don’t remember [After all, I am a blogger; I don’t need to remember. Because we bloggers work outside the framework of traditional journalism (read: we don’t know thing one about responsible reporting so instead just
spout off about the hot topics of the day whether we know what we’re talking about or not. And it’s usually not.)]. But, in the article in question, the journalist, Nick Daschel, states that Sheckler raked in something to the tune of five million dollars last year alone. And reportedly P-Rod cleaned up pretty well himself, clocking in with a not-too-shabby two-million dollar year. I still remember somewhere in the mid-nineties when the hot news around skateboarding’s water cooler was Muska’s lucrative contract with Shorty’s, where he was rumored to be pulling down five grizzles a month. "Imagine!" People said at the time. "A skateboarder can make enough money to rent his own apartment. Amazing!" Skateboarding sure has come a long way...Hold on, I’m starting to feel like your great grandpa, reminiscing about the days of the great depression when a gallon of milk cost a nickel
and that was one heck of a lot of money back then.
So, the contest kicked off at 1:00 pm, PCT, and like I said it was being beamed out there to you all on live television. Moments before that however, my announcer guy co-hosts [Chris Miller and Kenan Harkin] and I pre-taped the show’s opening where we each chimed in about the new format that was being rolled out for the finals and how it would affect some of the Dewds chances of walking away with the thing. The format in question can be broken down like this: Instead of being total free-for-alls, the jam sessions would have the skaters doing tricks in order, one after another, thus allowing the NBC camera crew to keep a camera on each of the six skaters, and then just jump from camera one, to camera two, to camera three, etc, after each skater either made the trick or didn’t. The difference between this format and the one at X-Games being that the skaters didn’t all have to skate the same obstacle and didn’t have to wait for a cue to try their trick. Instead they could skate whatever obstacle they wanted as long as they were doing it after the person they were
supposed to be doing it after.
I don’t know if I’m explaining any of this very well, but that’s the best I can do for the time being. But anyway, we hyped the new format, said how it was going to favor this guy or that guy, and away we went. Well, apparently somewhere in all the excitement, the details of this game changing new system either failed to be passed on to the twelve finalists, or having been passed on to them had failed to be understood by them. Because when the first heat jam kicked off, all six dudes rolled in at the exact same time and skated for the next seven minutes without a care in the world as to which one of their fellow competitors they were supposed to be waiting on. Foot loose and fancy free. Oh well. After that, and to keep things fair and not give the judges any more ulcers than they already have, contest organizers had heat two proceed in the same fashion. But when all of that was over, and before the last top-six super jam, there was a riders meeting where they were (finally/again) told of the new rules. I honestly wasn’t 100% sure that even this would keep the
chaos at bay, but when the buzzer signaled the jam’s start, not only did it go off without a hitch, but it worked so well that it led to what in my very humble expert opinion were some of the best ten minutes of skateboarding to ever go down. Not only that, but the viewers at home (of which I hope you were one) got to see a machine gun fire style display of trick stickery due to it’s made-for-TV like quality. Here’s how I sort of sum it up: since there were ten dudes on the course, skating in virtual whirlwind of perpetual motion for the entire ten minutes, doing tricks one after another, it was the equivalent of watching one full hour of shredding edited down into ten action packed minutes. Hollerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!
You probably already know, (or can look elsewhere on the site to find out) who did what and where they finished in the fracas, so I’m not going to go over it all again here. I just want to say that after what I saw from Chaz Ortiz, I’m thinking there’s a pretty good chance he’ll never lose another contest ever again. Even with Chris Cole doing stuff like 360 ollie kickflips, and backside 180s to switch back smiths, and P-Rod and Ryan Decenzo doing their own versions of the hardest tricks known to man and beast alike, I don’t know how you
can beat a kid that’s doing mind-alteringly complex moves (like kickflip frontside bluntslide shove its) for ten minutes straight without hardly bailing on any of them ever. It’s like on a good day he simply can’t be beat...and he sort of alluded to the fact afterward that for him it wasn’t even really all that good of a day. It makes me think of the time in 1997 when Russian chess champ Gary Kasparov went head to head with Deep Blue, the computer designed by IBM to be the ultimate chess-playing machine. Sure, before they worked the kinks out Gary managed to eek out one very razor thin win, but once they dialed it in, old Gary’s goose was cooked. I’m starting to think of Chaz as our version of Deep Blue. A skateboarding cyborg....a cyborg that happens to like The Notorious B.I.G. But anyway, Gary demanded a remach after his loss, IBM refused however, and soon dismantled the machine [despite beeps, clicks, and blinks of protest from Deep Blue, or so legend has it] and never let anyone see it again. I’m thinking P-Rod and company wouldn’t mind seeing old Chaz suffer a similar fate...I jest. I jest.