By Paul Zitzer,
In order to earn a spot on the Dew Tour, the eager un-pre-qualified hopeful has to jump through a lot of hoops if he wants to skate against the P-rods and Lutzkas in the finals. In Portland those hoops consisted of two rounds of qualifying which included an initial lineup of something like a hundred pros skating in jam after jam to determine which of them would be sent packing, and which would advance to the Semi-Final where they'd jam some more for a spot in the finals.
The fact is that the Dew Tour is the only pro event that's not limited to skaters on some industry insider VIP/bro list, so a healthy amount of skaters came from all over the world to see how they stack up against the media stars, and add to the overall level of shralpitude in the process.
Since I was en route to Portland all day Thursday, I'm a bit shaky on details regarding who did what in the early going, but I'd heard there was a slew of big guns who were guaranteed to make it through, so I expected the finals start list to read like a who's who of skating's Howitzers.
When I finally made it over to the arena and saw names like Kelvin Hoefler from Brazil and Ryo Sejiri from Japan on the list of finalists, I was a little surprised. And by a little I mean a lot. Because to be honest, I'd never seen Kelvin or Ryo skate before.
"These guys beat David Gravette and Austyn Gillette?" I thought. But sure enough, after combing through the results, I found Gravette and Austyn down in 16th and 29th respectively, right alongside Silas Baxter Neal, Anthony Schultz, Dave Bachinsky, Theotis Beasley, Clint Peterson, David Loy, Colin Provost, etc. So yes, Hoefler and Sejiri earned their spots, and in doing so proved that being in possession of a recognizable name doesn't automatically get you anywhere necessarily.
Sejiri put in some serious work on the rails, including proper frontside hurricanes on the flat bar, but Hoefler was exceptionally impressive, with tricks like the nollie backside overcrooks down the big rail every try, and with great style to boot. He ended fourth overall but came oh so close to making a big flip front board down said rail that very well could have bumped him even higher.
An honorable mention also goes out to Scott Decenzo who in his first pro contest in America skated all the way out of the OQ to finish the finals in seventh.
But besides all the new blood on the course, the biggest change from previous years was the course itself. This year the Dew opted out of using Skatelite and into pouring concrete instead. It was by far the most street of any of the Dew courses to date, meaning there was nothing for any vert guy to come and do a McTwist on. But since it was only street guys that entered, they were all psyched and it showed in their skating.
Take Manny Santiago. In his first ever Dew Tour he went crazy with bangers like the front shuv back 50-50 on the massive hubba and the big back board on the nine rail and placed third in the process.
From the outset though I was pretty sure that it was going to be a battle between P-Rod and Lutzka for the top spot. And Lutzka looked like he might live up to my expectations until he broke his board and spent the rest of the finals bailing tricks on one borrowed board after another. Tough break for Greg. Budumbump. Although he managed to hang on to ninth he's got a nice little hole to dig himself out of. Next time bring a backup?
With Lutzka out of the way, P-Rod pretty much cruised his way to the win. Although to be fair, cruising to P-rod involves outskating everyone by switch back lipping down monster rails and switch tre bombing their accompanying stair sets. But anyway, he's now in the driver's seat as far as the old points race goes, but perennial dark horse and Scott Decenzo's brother Ryan Decenzo will no doubt keep Paul on his toes after nipping at his heels into second. Ryan has come close before and I think he's due for a win. If he could get one in Salt Lake then things would get really interesting.
At the end of the day though it was just great to see so many new faces having such a good time doing the Dew, although it's unfortunate that many of the most recognizable ones were sent home so early, it's also awesome because the Dew is about skateboarding, not faces, and the skaters that qualified did the best job of it. So good for them. Now we just have to wait and see if they can live up to all their hype next month in Salt Lake.
Check out the highlight video from Skate Street Finals