It’s a relief. I tried to get in there last year by filming a video for it. I filmed really hard for the video and then I felt like I got screwed by some politics, or something. This year when I found out they were doing the Select Series, I realized there’s no way to screw somebody out of something if they’re killing it. I was hyped to get into the Select Series, but then I had an ankle injury which kind of set me back and made me a little bit worried like, “Damn, this might not happen this year.” This year I basically healed myself up and was skating as hard as I could. By the last two stops I was at 100% with regards to my injury. It was just a big relief for me to get through it all and be skating with the dudes I want to skate with, and these dudes will help push my skating.
Some of the dudes in the Select Series aren’t even pro. Youness Amrani is an amateur and so is Felipe Gustavo. These guys are the best amateurs in the world and they’re making some of us pros look like we’re struggling a little bit.
I wouldn’t say so because I skated in the X Games a couple of years ago in 2011 and 2010, so I feel like that was the hardest contest I skated in because of all the dudes in it like P-Rod, Nyjah, and Sheckler. The Select Series is the highest level and gnarliest contest for not being as big as the X Games. I don’t even know how to explain it. Some of the dudes in the Select Series aren’t even pro. Youness Amrani is an amateur and so is Felipe Gustavo. These guys are the best amateurs in the world and they’re making some of us pros look like we’re struggling a little bit. It’s just a super high level of skating in the Select Series.
I was looking at it like these are all the guys who want to get into Street League and who are at the top of their game, but aren’t in the other contests. I was kind of tripping seeing names like Lutzka, Manny Santiago, Felipe Gustavo and Jack Curtin because they are all great skaters. And Youness, too, which makes it six dudes. And Evan Smith which makes it seven. So that’s seven dudes and there are only two spots. It’s gnarly.
I’m not sure what it was. It could have been the Impact Section. That section was hard for a lot of dudes, including myself. Maybe I’m a little bit more well-rounded a skater than some of those guys are? I don’t know, I was just able to say “f— it” and just go for it on the out-rail tricks, whereas some of the other dudes couldn’t get in the zone at practice. Maybe it was having a couple of quarterpipes on the course that made me feel more at home instead of just flat ledges and stuff. I don’t know. Maybe the help course helped me out, but it was definitely a gnarly course and hard for everybody to skate. I know that.
At that point I was honestly so relieved that I didn’t have to skate in the whole Select Series again. That was pretty much my goal this year—to get in the top two. I already knew that Manny was up there and I knew that I didn’t have a chance of beating him, so I was just trying to get a higher score than Lutzka and Felipe. At that point I was just glad to be done and have skated as good as I did and not having to stress about getting into Street League next year. I wasn’t even thinking anything about the next couple days.
The Prelims are a level above the Select Series. The Final is obviously a level above the Prelims. I didn’t practice enough to skate with the likes of P-Rod, Nyjah, and Chris Cole. I was only practicing what I had to do to take out Lutzka, Manny, Felipe, and those guys. When I got to the next level skating with everyone else I had to start practice all over again from scratch, and try and learn some new tricks. I also stuck to what I already knew because it’s kind of hard to change it up that late, you know?
Definitely Manny and Lutzka. Manny definitely had the dedication and he was there practicing super hard, getting his tricks figured out. He was taking it pretty seriously. Manny was definitely the biggest threat for sure.
I wasn’t bummed if I didn’t win the stops, I just wanted to finish with the highest points because then I would have a better chance to make it as the top two dudes. I got second place in Munich and that made me feel better because I got sixth place in Brazil and Barcelona, when my ankle was hurting more. I was definitely relieved after getting second but there was a lot of pressure in LA, so I tried not to think about it.
Get out there and practice. Skate parks. Skate a lot but also have some time off to keep your muscles fresh. When you’re there at the contest practicing and skating you got to go hard, you know? You have to have your tricks ready and your body ready. You can’t be out there destroying yourself in the streets and then expect to kill it with a broken shoulder and a rolled ankle. You’ve got to be feeling fresh when you go in there. It’s hard to find that happy medium because when you skate a lot you get hurt a lot more. When you don’t skate a lot you’re not getting better, you’re losing your skills. So it’s this happy medium of skating a lot and getting the right rest and food and all that stuff.
I’ll probably be skating a bunch of parks and skating with guys in the League. I’ll be just trying to figure out what tricks I want to do when the time comes and get those tricks on lock.
To be honest, it’s pretty unbelieveable to think that you’re one of the two. I was up against guys like Felipe Gustavo, Jack Curtin, and Keelan Dadd. It definitely wasn’t something where I was like “I got this” every stop. Once I won the first one in Brazil, I had a little bit of confidence. Then I won the one in Barcelona and I had more confidence. But then in Munich I didn’t even come close to making the Final. So making the League is definitely an honor. I still can’t believe it. It’s crazy to think that I got an opportunity or a chance to skate along those guys so I’m super hyped.
The thing about the Select Series is that it prepares you for the big show. There’s really no comparison. It’s the rookie league versus the major league.
I would say that the actual Street League contest is tougher. It’s definitely the most nerve-wracking contest.
I kind of knew some of the guys who were going to be in it, but when I saw the rest of the list I had to mentally prepare to be able to skate it because they were all amazing skaters and it could have went any way. I was definitely nervous and intimidated. You have Felipe who only made the podium at one of the stops, but he’s the only Select Series skater to have multiple 9 Club scores. So he definitely has the tricks. At any point in time anybody could win the contest. I guess I played it smarter, because I was actually watching the points and counting and kind of figuring it out as I went, so I had a little bit of an advantage. At the end of the day, just because I took risks I kind of ended up being where I ended up.
I was already watching the contest in the past, and when I’d be at a stop I would skate the course, because how could you not be in an arena with a big skatepark in it and not skate it? I just figured out how the format went and then I prepared myself to be able to land the tricks I was trying. I think what helped me was my determination and the fact that I had it figured out. But everybody knew the format. I think I just played it better by paying attention to the scores and counting numbers. If other people were doing good I had to step it up. In Barcelona, I was doing the tricks I wanted to do and I didn’t care how the judges were going to score it. I just did it and if I landed it I landed it and if I didn’t land those tricks, I didn’t. I think that’s what made me stand out at the end because I did the tricks I wanted to do and I didn’t have to change my mind. I did all the tricks that I went there to try.
I was hyped because the goal is to skate the big contest, which is Street League. I was really looking forward to it. I felt I should have been part of the contest last year, so I wanted it badly because I wanted to be in it. I’m never nervous to skate with the big dogs. I have to skate a little differently because I already skated the contest once so by the time I’m in the final I don’t want the judges to get sick of my tricks because this is the third time they’re seeing me skating the contest.
It’s a whole different contest. In Street League you’re going against the elite. These are guys who are landing sevens, eights, and nines every trick. You have to really step up your game. The thing about the Select Series is that it prepares you for the big show. There’s really no comparison. It’s the rookie league versus the major league. Once you make it to the major league you have to step it up a lot more. The Select Series only seems intense because they pick one person, but the Street League’s skating is more intense than the Select Series.
It was between Lutzka, Decenzo, and Felipe. But look at Youness. Youness became a contender late in the series. He was definitely someone people were looking out for. I would say Decenzo out of everybody because he’s so used to skating contests and he’s really hungry and wanted to be in Street League. I could say the same about Felipe. Felipe’s got the hard tricks. He can skate switch and he’s out there nollie flipping and tre flipping into everything. Then you’ve got Lutzka who doesn’t fall at all. I’d say it was between those four guys.
Yes, because I won the first two and then all I had to do was make the Final in Munich and I completely blew it. It all came down to LA and if I didn’t make the Final in LA my two wins wouldn’t have counted for anything. It was definitely stressful. Imagine making the podium in Brazil and Barcelona and then not even making the Final at the next stop. It was definitely stressful.
Stay hungry, work hard, and do the tricks you want to do. Don’t do the tricks you have to do.
For the next eight months I’m imagining what it’s going to be like putting my arms up, raising that SLS trophy in my hands.