Jorge Simoes – Fs 180 Switch Crook
Tampa Am was always a big deal, partly because people came from all over the US to skate it. Only later did it really start to attract skaters from all over the world, making it an even bigger deal, but this year its international reach was next level. Of the 20 plus countries represented, ranging from South Korea and Australia to Peru and Columbia, six of those countries had skaters make it all the way to the Finals.
Jake Ilardi – Gap Back Lip
Speaking of making it to the Finals, that’s not getting any easier. In fact the skating is on par with Tampa Pro, at least. These days getting approved to even enter Tampa Am can be tough. And this may or may not be fair, but the closer you live to SPoT the higher the standards get. If you’re coming from Zimbabwe and have a mean pop shove, that might be enough to get the green light to skate, and those skaters’ challenges typically include getting a visa to enter the US and figuring out how to pay for the flight, hotel, etc. But if you live in Seminole Heights, Florida, you better have either made it to the top 10 in a Damn Am or have someone like Jim Thiebaud himself asking to let you in.
Hermene Stene – Back Tail
But back to skateboarding. 250 skaters with all kinds of crazy talent were in the Skatepark of Tampa for a shot at becoming the next Donny Barley, or Nyjah, or Luan, or Trevor Colden, or Dashawn Jordan. Those are just a few previous winners from Tampa Ams past, and based on how things have turned out for them, can you blame anyone for thinking it might be cool to do the same?
Jake Wooten – Fs Air during the Concrete Jam
The Tampa Am contest format is pretty intense, especially for skaters not already pre seeded into Saturday. For those stuck skating the Friday Open Qualifier, they had to go up against 155 other rippers, and somehow grab enough of the judges’ attention to get a bunch of points while sharing the course with two other skaters, and make a top 12 cut. So only about one in 13 skaters from Friday advanced. The number one skater of the day, Jhancarlos Gonzalez traveled all the way from Columbia to kickflip frontside lipslide the A-frame rail every try and get the Straight Shot to Sunday’s Semis, where he placed 7th, and became the only skater to make it all the way to Finals from Friday.
Fernando Bramsmark – Fs Stalefish
The skaters in Saturday’s Qualifier had easier math to contend with as 29 of the 100 were slated to advance to the Semis, but the problem was that Saturday’s pool of skaters consisted of the heaviest 100 ams in the world. These were the International Celebrities like Robert Neal and Jacopo Carozzi, plus all of top 10 finishers from each of the Damn Am stops, and dudes who the biggest and best skate companies support the hardest. To give you an idea, at the end of the day Christian Dufrene from Louisiana and Kento Urano from Japan tied for 29th and both just barely survived to skate another day. Taking into account their insane levels of talent, the cut was unforgiving to those who fell even a one too many times.
Felipe Nunes – 5-0
The Sunday format is old school. It’s cool though because it goes back to a standard run format. Skaters get two 60 second attempts at their best stuff in Semis, and the ones that make it through get 3 tries in Finals.
Aaaaaand speaking of Finals. Any one of the 12 skaters that made it that far had a shot at winning, at least at first. BUT, after few runs it became apparent that it would take a flawless run to win it. And since no one was half stepping, cruising, or safety dancing, it was going to take a skater’s best best to come out on top. You don’t need a full rundown of the top 12; you can go back and watch it all for yourself on ETN, but here’s the top 3 and how they got there:
Vincent Milou – Kickflip Boardslide
3rd Place: Marcos Montoya is from Florida and has been entering SPoT contests since 2010. This was his 4th Tampa Am. His best prior finish was 19th last year. This year he’s turned his game WAY up. With his win at Damn Am Atlanta he got a Straight Shot all the way to the Semi Finals at Tampa, so he was one of the lucky few who didn’t have to skate until Sunday. Marcos did his absolute best skating in the Semis, with some of the most choice tricks (like front feebles across the flat bar popped out early), done the most properly with the best overall course flow than any other skater of the weekend. In the Finals he was one of the few skaters who was on their way to a potential win more than once, when each of his three runs fell apart by the end. He still ruled it and won over a whole lot of new fans.
Marcos Montoya – Fs Feeble
2nd Place: Ivan Monteiro is from Brazil and travels the world non-stop to skate just about every am contest that exists. He made it to 5 of the 7 Damn Am stops this past year including the Amsterdam stop. He did better than any other skater in the Damn Ams, getting two 2nd place finishes, and two 1sts. For his trouble he took home Damn Am of the Year top honors and got a Straight Shot to the Tampa Am Finals. Ivan is a machine, and successfully pulls a trick out of his insanely deep bag about 99% of the time. Unfortunately there’s that pesky 1%, and Ivan missed one key trick in his best run (but still made the tre flip noseslide on the ledge and the tre flip noseblunt on the handrail) and that’s all it took to NOT win.
Ivan Monteiro – 360 Flip Noseblunt
1st Place. Gustavo Ribeiro skated his first Damn Am at the one Portugal Damn Am back in 2014 and finished 18th. He made it to his first Tampa Am last year based on a top 10 Damn Am Woodward finish. And this year he won best trick at the same stop with a kickflip crook nollie varial heel. Add the fact that he’s a Euro willing to come all the way over the Atlantic to skate and there was no saying no to Gustavo this year. He started of with a spot in Saturday’s Qualifiers, barely survived the 30 cut to Sunday with a 26th place finish, then got 6th in the Semi Finals to make it all the way to Finals. The general trend for Gustavo has always been onward and upward. And he saved his very best skating for his second run in the Finals, which you’ve hopefully seen by now and was one that included exactly a million different tricks, no lie, where he flipped his board onto a rail, and landed PERFECTLY (including a bigger flip to front board fakie!). There wasn’t a sketch or a wobble anywhere to be found, as if it was some simulated video of the ultimate in tech heavy skateboarding. When he ended the run with back 270 lipslide down the rail at the buzzer (there isn’t actually a buzzer but it felt dramatic enough for there to be one) there was no questioning that his was the run to beat, and after every single other skater finished their run after run, there was also no question that none of them had managed to do better.
The 2017 Tampa Am winner Gustavo Ribeiro!
So for the second year in the last three a skater from Europe has won Tampa Am. It was truly a melting-pot of stoke and shred inside SPoT all weekend long and anyone who was there needs to consider themselves #blessed. And no matter how bad the news makes everything sound for the world’s future, with kids like this out in there doing it, everything is going to be okay.
Top 3: 1st Gustavo Ribeiro, 2nd Ivan Monteiro & 3rd Marcos Montoya