By Paul Zitzer,

Anyone who witnessed the inaugural Dew Tour bowl comp in Ocean City this past weekend would have realized really quickly that it was one of those things that people might refer to as being off the hook. Whatever apprehension there was that the first-of-its-kind portable bowl might not live up to expectations was put to rest after the first drop in. In visual terms, with the Atlantic Ocean as a backdrop, it looked like something you'd only expect to see at some exotic skate oasis visited in a dream. In tactile terms the bowl felt even better than it looked. And over the course of the three-day comp the crowd stayed hyped and the skaters went mental in the thing. As they do.

At your typical contest, the dedicated fan knows more or less exactly what to expect. The vert guys will have their runs dialed in before they even show up and the street guys will have worked out the kinks in their go-to bangers long before the final round. But in the bowl at Ocean City it was one surprise after another, the first being the list of dudes who came to carve. Guys like Cab, who killed it sans the psychological crutch of going up against the old masters of his generation and then whippersnappers like Tom Schaar on the opposite end of the spectrum, an 11 year old mini shred who did 720s like he was taking candy from…well, from someone only slightly younger than himself really.

Steve Caballero, frontside invert

But besides the wildly varying ages represented, probably the raddest things about the comp was watching the padded up dudes with vert backgrounds go up against the padless kids that grew up in the bowls. Rune and Bucky vs. Kowalski and Raybourn? Count me in! Each came out with their own lines, their own signature moves, and their own unique way of getting out of sketchy situations. But in the end it was those that had kept safety in mind who seemed to have the advantage, Ben Hatchell being the only one to make the top five who was not dressed for kneeslides (suggesting that either the deep end was maybe a hair too deep to be diving into padless or that if you aren't padding up, you better deliver on the shallow end rippery).

Ben Hatchell, frontside blunt

Hatchell spent some real quality time in the small section with lip tricks like the feeble grind to frontside 270, and with 540s both ways in the deep it was enough to land him in third. But the guys who spent the most time flying through the air in the 12 got the most love from the judges. Bucky brought his big bowl skills learned in his backyard, and whatever he lacked in speed lines in the shallow he made up for with spin moves in the deep end corners.

Rune Glifberg, frontside ollie

But no one looked nearly as at home in the entire bowl than Pedro Barros. He did literally grow up skating bowls after all, and rode like such a freak that it's easy to forget he's only sixteen. He looked to be the only one who was truly going all out, 100%, on each wall of every run AND somehow managing to stay on. Hands down he had the best lines, the highest airs, the biggest transfers, the farthest grinds…but talking about it really doesn't do it justice.

Kevin Kowalski, invert

That's why it's so awesome that the contest was on TV (twice) over the weekend. Not bad for the first major broadcast of a contest focused solely on round wall. No rails, no bank to walls, just transition and coping. And the exposure will only help to ensure that more and more kids demand to be taken to the nearest bowl, the existence of which can no doubt be traced directly back to Portland, Oregon, which, not all that coincidentally is the next Dew stop. With a million amazing bowls in the area already, it's not like Portland NEEDS another one, but whatever, the Dew Tour bowl is on its way there right now*, and maybe you should consider following it. Because now that everyone who skated Ocean City is used to it, the Portland stop is going to make OC look like a dress rehearsal.

Ben Raybourn, backside air

*In case you were wondering, like I was, how they're getting a cement bowl all the way across the country for next month's stop, basically they built it by pouring concrete into prefabricated metal forms, and then joining them together with giant bolts and a nice smooth top coat. When the OC event ended, they cut it apart at the seems and then loaded the million pound sections on five flatbeds for the move. I'm pretty sure they might have also used a crane somewhere in the process.

Benji Galloway, frontside nose grind

For a little history lesson on bowl skating, check out Zitzer’s The Great Bowl Resurgence in two parts.

Bucky Lasek, switch frontside invert