by Paul Zitzer
There are places that are amazing to visit, IF you go at the right time. Daytona Beach during Spring Break. Rio for Carnival. The North Pole at Christmas. And during Damn Am Chicago this past weekend you could not find a better place to be as a skateboarder. The whole scene went down at Grant Park, one of the best public skateparks in the country, sitting on Lake Michigan right in the heart of downtown.
Chicago was the third stop of eight for the 2017 Damn Am, Atlanta and Costa Mesa being the first two. With a couple of first time winners so far (Marcos Montoya and Daisuke Ikeda) in the series we’re starting to get an idea of who could be the next Damn Am of the Year, but more on that later.
Chicago is the Damn Am most central to the rest of the US, and it’s the stop that draws the most diverse group of skaters: West Coast celebrity ams, East Coast city kids, and literally everything in between. There was tie-dye, headbands, shants, and one dude whose hammer-est move was a 30 second handstand ride around the entire street course (sadly he wasn’t actually skating the contest).
Saturday was the kickoff, with all day practice capped by Independent Best Trick on the 8 stair rail / stairs / hubbas. Two things: skaters were more respectful of their bros at this one, opting for one dude on the rail at a time as opposed to double and triple stacking themselves onto it. But still, there were so many wild tricks landed that the win could have gone to any number of dudes. Midler back 270 noseblunted the rail at the buzzer (his first one ever on an actual handrail) and Jake Ilardi opted to kickflip into a front blunt. Then Mike Piwowar nollie flipped out of a frontside nosegrind. What!?! But Maurio McCoy shut the whole thing down like the boss he is and skated off with the 1st place trophy by doing one of the crispiest frontside flip lipslides to shove it that you could ever imagine. Truth is that even done sloppy that trick would most likely win.
Sunday things got more serious. Out of Qualifiers, 12 skaters advanced to the Final. That’s a harsh cut, but the top dudes were up for it. David Dixon from Detroit didn’t think he skated all that well so he went to go eat. Well surprise surprise, he made the cut, missed his runs and placed 12th . Next time David, next time. Marcos Montoya, winner of Damn Am Atlanta came out gunning for his second win but a few falls kept him from really putting a lock on Damn Am of the year, he finished 10th . Yoshi Tanenbaum looked like he was saving his perfect run for his last of three, but when he snapped the nose off of his board on the first trick it was all over, 8th place. Tyler Peterson out of St. Louis didn’t have a perfect run, but the last three moves of his final go was maybe the best combo of the weekend (kickflip fs board the rail, crooked grind nollie flip out of the bump to ledge, then a switch heel down the second set of stairs. (Boom boom boom!) Zach Saraceno was Damn Am of the Year in 2016 and is famous for doing rad flatground tricks in his run. In Chicago a high-speed flatground tre threw him off his board and that might have been all the difference, 4th place.
The top three these days has become a preview to who’ll be pro in the next few years. In this case, Jake Ilardi from Florida slayed the course on all levels, and wrapped his weekend with a carving McTwist on the VERY HARD TO GET TO vert wall for 3rd place. But the top two came down to East vs. West with Pennsylvania’s Maurio McCoy going up against Cali Golden Boy Alex Midler. Little Midler is all grown up and we call him Big Al now, he did 270 lipslides in his run, back noseblunts on the A-frame rail, and brought steady ripping and a trick for every obstacle. But Maurio McCoy was fire in Chicago. He goes huge even on little obstacles and uses crazy snap on all of his tricks. He does kickflip frontside tailslides on the hubba like nothing. He has insane control and his runs were all of his best tricks perfectly executed. Even his frontside bluntslides on the flatbar were done with bionic pop out. So after a close second last month in Costa Mesa Maurio followed up his Best Trick win with his first ever Damn Am win, back to back. And here’s some breaking news for you: Mr. McCoy is now the official current leader in the race for Damn Am of the Year, with a second and a first place finish in his pocket the only way for anyone to take it away from him is by winning two stops. Good luck to anyone who wants to do it, you should probably go ahead and book your flights to Damn Am Australia TODAY.
Thanks to all of the skaters who made the trek to Chicago for the contest, we couldn’t do it without you. Also a huge thanks to Nike SB and all of the rest of the Damn Am sponsors for making the weekend one for the books. We’ll see you next down under!
Damn Am Chicago Results:
1: MAURIO MCCOY
2: ALEX MIDLER
3: JAKE ILARDI
4: ZACH SARACENO
5: TYLER PETERSON
6: GAGE BOYLE
7: MIKE PIWOWAR
8: YOSHI TANENBAUM
9: HENRY GARTLAND
10: MARCOS MONTOYA
11: CARTER WOOD
12: DAVID DIXON