By Paul Zitzer
Some contests are the most fun. Some have the most skaters. Some are the most exciting. Last weekend’s Damn Am Woodward West, in addition to being fun, exciting and packed, now also holds the undisputed title as the most competitive Damn Am of all time. For starters, all four 2017 Damn Am winners thus far were there to battle it out: Marcos Montoya [Atlanta] Maurio McCoy [Chicago], Daisuke Ikeda [Costa Mesa and Australia], and Ivan Monteiro [Amsterdam]. Plus there were four past year winners: Alex Midler, Gage Boyle, Lucas Alves, and the defending Woodward West Champ Zach Saraceno.
The story about where the Damn Am series leads has become almost as vital as the skating lately. For starters, the top 10 skaters at every stop are guaranteed a spot in Tampa Am’s Saturday Qualifiers. This is nothing to sneeze at, with hundreds and hundreds of skaters trying to sign up from absolutely all over the world, the path from Damn Am is by far the most direct way to get in there. Additionally, the winner of each Damn Am gets the Straight Shot prize to the Tampa Am Semi Finals, meaning they don’t have to land even one trick in Tampa until Sunday, while everyone else is sweating it out in jams on Friday and Saturday. Lastly, not only does the skater with the best two Damn Am finishes gets the invite to the Tampa Am Final, aka instant top 12, but they also get a ticket into next year’s SLS Pro Open. If there’s any doubt about where that can mean, just refer to Dashawn Jordan’s last six months.
Coming in to Woodward, Daisuke Ikeda was the frontrunner for Damn Am of the Year. With two wins under his belt, the only way for anyone to take him out would be to match him with two wins. But sadly Daisuke fell victim to the crush of talent in the Qualifiers and failed to advance to the Final. “Failed” is too strong of a word I think since he absolutely crushed the course, and in that way totally succeeded, but some others just succeeded a little more, including Marcos Montoya, Maurio McCoy and Ivan Monteiro, who were suddenly in a very favorable spot to take another win and tie up the series.
The Finals at all Damn Ams consist of 12 skaters who each get three one minute runs with the best run being the only one that matters. Two little Japanese rippers, Kento Urano and Sora Negishi, both came out with tons of variety and consistency and finished 10th and 6th respectively. Mike Piwowar and John Ozkvarek repped Chicago into 11th and 12th. Christian Dufrene, Marcos Montoya and Austin Thongvivong all had the tricks to win but needed to make just a few more of theirs probably. Lucas Alves from Brazil, and star of the new Motivation 3 doc, can tre flip noseslide anything but couldn’t land it in the Finals, he still skated good enough for 5th. Gage Boyle made everything, used the whole course, looked great doing it, but his tool belt came up one hammer short to reach the podium, 4th place. Midler rips like a Pro in training and knows how to put a line together, 3rd place. And in the end it came down to the Mario McCoy and Ivan Monteiro who did hands down and by far the most bonkers runs of the day. There was no doubt one of them had won the contest, and it came down to number of tricks, technique, and difficulty. While it could be argued that Ivan may have edged out Mario in the difficulty department (he did tre flip noseblunt slide and a backside, backside 270 kickflip over the hip, and 270 kickflip lipslide on the handrail to Maurio’s kickflip crook, kickflip frontside noseblunt, and kickflip front lip shove on the A frame rail), Mario had the upper hand in power and speed. It’s always possible to debate the judging, but when Billy Marks, Chany Jeanguenin, and Kelly Hart are the dudes punching in scores, it’s not a bad idea to take their word for it.
So Mario skated away with the win, meaning he tied Daisuke with two. The Damn Am of the Year tie breaker is not based on a third Damn Am result, if it were, Maurio would break the tie in his favor with his second place finish from Costa Mesa. Instead we look to the highest run score of the year to break the tie, and surprise surprise, Maurio’s 93.33 Woodward score wins there too when put up against Daisuke’s 86.67 from Australia.
So with the final Damn Am of 2017 scheduled for NYC’s LES skatepark on September 23rd, Maurio is looking good to hang on the Damn Am of the Year title, but it’s far from being a lock. There are officially 3 skaters who can scoop it out from under him: Marcos Montoya, Ivan Monteiro, and Daisuke Ikeda. For any of them to do it, first they’ll have to win, and then they need to make sure it’s with a score higher than 93.33. If you’ve seen any of these guys skate you know it’s highly possible that one of them could do it. But Maurio will be there to fend them off. Can’t wait to see what happens! Stay tuned.