Words by Paul Zitzer
Kyle Walker won the first ever Damn Am Woodward West stop in 2011. That’s what I’d call a promising start. The Woodward West stop this year kept that tradition alive with over 100 amateur skaters coming from everywhere, including Japan, Portugal, Thailand, and Brazil, all attempting to tie together their best moves for a spot at the podium, or in this case a spot on top of the ice cream scoop obstacle that we call a podium.
While West’s street course is definitely fun to cruise around on, it’s not easy to get buck on, and you need to have all types of skills to make it work. There’s a load of transitions, the sushi dish perched atop a hard-to-manage roller, and then everyone’s favorite, the A-frame with the rails and hubbas that also doubles as the Independent Best Trick obstacle.
Speaking of Independent Best Trick, JP Oliveira [Brazil] won the thing with a cab flip backside lipslide, and he probably would have won it twice if that were possible because he also did a cab back tail bigspin out. But you never know, because second place went to Ivan Monteiro [Brazil] who did a backside 270 flip lipslide to 270 out. Imagine doing that even one time in your life.
Moving on to the Street Finals, it was made up of the top 16 skaters from Qualifiers. There were big ones and small ones, short ones and tall ones, two skaters from Japan, and then Gage Boyle with a cast in place of his hand. Usually after all the skateboarding is over it’s easy to predict who’ll be the winner, but this time it came down to a call from the judges. Zion Wright finished 3rd, and he was so unimpressed with his chances of placing well that by the time we called him up for his trophy he was already long gone. So it came down to Tyson Bowerbank and Zach Saraceno in the top two spots. Tyson did the 540 ollie over the hip with ease, wrapped his impossibles onto the sushi tray like a boss, and boosted lien airs over the QP hip. Zach had nollie backside 270 heelflips over the hip on command, huge frontside airs on the QP, and some of the best nollie backside flips over the A-frame of all time. Same with his backside threes, glue footed. In the end the judges went with Zach, giving him a long overdue win to say the least [He skated his first Damn Am in 2010].
The skating and overall vibe at the contest was amazing, but there’s an even bigger story to be told, and it has to do with the battle for Damn Am of the Year [DAotY]. Let’s get into it shall we? The DAotY is the skater with the highest finishes at any two Damn Am stops. If you want to be in the running you need to enter two stops at least, but if you want a really good chance you probably want to hit them all. Zion Wright has been to three of them, and his 3rd place finish at WWW happens to be his worst. His 2nd at Volcom and his 2nd in Chicago have him in the lead, for now. But…
There are 13 skaters, each with at least one top 3 finish, who still have a chance to win it as we head into NYC which is the last stop, and thus the last chance of the year. If you’re into nerding out on scores and results, well then what follows is all you.
If a skater has not finished in the top 3 they have no chance because even with a win in NYC, Zion Wright already has them beat with his two 2nd place finishes.
These five skaters have each already won a stop, and a win in NYC would clinch it:
Jereme Knibbs [Atlanta] Lucas Alves [Brazil] Alex Midler [Costa Mesa] Yoshi Tanenbaum [Chicago] Zach Saraceno [Woodward West]
If none of those five win, but they manage a 2nd, they will be DAotY [UNLESS one of the four skaters with a 2nd place finish wins]:
BUT, if Zion, Niko, Lucas, or Tyson win [and the second place finisher is someone OTHER than one of the winners-so-far] then they will be DAotY.
If a skater finishes with a 1st and a 3rd, they would automatically beat Zion with two 2nd place finishes. If there are any ties [e.g. Zion Wright wins in NYC and Jereme Knibbs gets 2nd, giving them each a 1st and a 2nd] then the skater with the higher score on their winning run wins the tiebreaker. If their winning run scores are tied, then we’ll look at the scores from their 2nd place finishes. If those scores are tied, then we might just have them play a game of SKATE or do a push up contest…. Midler might want to start bulking up for that just in case.
Finally, there are the four skaters other than Zion who have a 3rd place finish this year and who with a win have a chance to be DAotY assuming we avoid all of the scenarios spelled out above:
And that’s pretty much the gist of it. Make sense? Bottom line is if you see your name on this list, you should do everything in your power to make it to NYC, because not only does the Damn Am of the Year get to brag about himself for the rest of his life, but they also get to go straight to the Tampa Am Finals and take a crack at qualifying into SLS next spring at the Pro Open. Pretty heavy.