By Paul Zitzer
Summing up the weekend of Damn Am Costa Mesa using just one word?
For starters there were 11 skaters that made the roughly 5500 mile trek from Tokyo and surrounding areas, and no less than five of them made it past Qualifiers. Daisuke Ikeda skated well enough in his Jam to get one of the two Straight Shots to the Final, thus skipping the Semi Finals all together. Although he’s not from Japan Maurio McCoy was the number one qualifier on Saturday thanks to what can only be described as the most bionic skating of the weekend, so he too got a pass direct to the Finals.
All told 117 skaters signed up and skated. If you’ve ever been lucky enough to roll around inside the Volcom park you’ll agree that’s a TON of people to pack onto that course. It’s seriously like half the size of Skatepark of Tampa, and Tampa ain’t even big. So just surviving practice and having enough of a line figured out to not make a mockery of yourself in your jam is something to write home about. Manny Santiago took a board to the face in like the first ten minutes, and he wasn’t even skating. That’s how wild it was in there. Other notables in the crowd included Luan Oliveira, Christian Hosoi, Don Brown, and Paul Schmitt. FYI, they all made it out safely. For an added bonus Nick Merlino was serving up Acai bowls in the parking lot all weekend and keeping everyone juiced up.
But back to Japan. The joke de jure is that Brazil better watch out because the dudes from the land of the Rising Sun are coming for them. While I always claim Brazilians are the most tech and have probably the best nollie flip game, the Japanese kids possess unparalleled consistency and have perfected the art of putting runs together. Following in the footsteps of Yuto who you watched qualify onto the SLS World Tour at the Pro Open, Daisuke and company have tricks like switch big heels, 270 lipslides, and even McTwists on the QP, polished to a glossy perfection. Making tricks EVERY try can be a pretty handy tool when you’re trying to win a contest.
The top 12 skaters in the Final was a who’s who of amazing ams: Yoshi Tanenbaum, Ivan Monteiro, Maurice Jordan, Nate Greenwood, Giovanni Vianna, 2016 Costa Mesa winner Alex Midler, and last months Atlanta winner Marcos Montoya (shooting for his second win in an effort to put a hammer lock on Damn Am of the Year). But while everyone came out with guns blazing, falls here and there left the door wide open for whoever could turn in a flawless run. And so on his third and final attempt, Daisuke did just that, going ham and eggs for 60 seconds, not even coming close to stepping off his board, and skated off with the win. You’ll be seeing much more of Daisuke I can promise you. He’s already got a spot in the Tampa Am Semi Finals so if nothing else you’ll see him killing it there.
A great big up to the crew at Volcom who’ve helped make this contest happen since 2001, and also the NHS crew for their support of the entire Damn Am series. The next stop is coming up at Grant Park in Chicago July 8-9. You should come, the course is way bigger so we’ll have plenty of room for you.