The seats were sold out months in advance, and the crowd was hype in the packed Olympic stadium when the Finals began. With Tony Hawk on the mic and fellow Bones Brigader Steve Caballero on the sidelines, the stage was set for a new legend to emerge. The new, tighter course design in Munich let the pros pack in the tricks (though it looked a bit like the set of a German musical) and the skaters didn’t hold back.
Though the sketchy first runs exposed the skaters nerves, the second runs showed who the contenders would be. Shane O’Neill set the bar high with a 9.2 in the Flow Section with a run that included a nose manual nollie flip out and a mind-boggling switch 360 double kickflip down the stairs. (Good luck to anyone else trying those tricks in a run.)
Torey Pudwill finally got his lost luggage (never check your board!) and unleashed his inimitable flick on a kickflip 50-50 on the rail that became an unintentional feeble grind… and still looked good with his recovery on the trick. T-Puds also added a long backside tailslide off the ledge to drop, and got the beer-filled crowd on their feet with a massive backside 360 ollie off the center ramp.
Chris Cole, as usual, had the best-planned run in the Flow Section, mixing frontside and backside variations of bluntslides and Smith grinds, even deviating from his plan and grinding up the handrail in his second run—a sign he was feeling it. Judging by the crowd’s reaction, they were feeling it, too. His run should’ve been a 9 Club, but was just shy at 8.9.
Paul Rodriguez is textbook bolts. His style of perfection may not excite every skater, and his staccato contest routine—jumping on and off his board to set up his next trick—certainly lacks flow. But no one will deny his trick difficulty and consistency. He was nailing his runs, skating switch throughout.
As the Flow Section ended, Shane sat atop the leaderboard. In Nyjah’s absence, no one was surprised to see P-Rod, Shane, Cole, and Luan out front.
Worth noting: Peter Ramondetta is not an SLS Finals regular, but there’s no reason he shouldn’t be. His runs were well-planned and powerful, with hurricanes both frontside and backside on the rails, and even a wallie thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately, Peter just barely sketched on many of his tricks, and was eliminated. Barring a couple of close slips, he could’ve been a contender. We’ll see if he’s found his footing and can follow with another Final in Portland.
The Control Section, and not the Impact Section, was arguably the most interesting part of the Munich event. With low rails and manual pads, skaters like Shane and Luan got a chance to put their technical prowess on show, and it was something to see. On the bump to rail, Luan pulled out a trick rarely (if ever) seen: he nollied over the rail to switch crooked grind on the other side—then did it again to revert. Sporting a shoelace belt, Luan also almost pulled a varial heelflp manual all the way into a blunt to kickflip fakie. It’s a trick much better seen than described, so just check the practice video where he did it first.
Pudwill stayed in the mix with a backside tailslide to 270 out on the ledge to drop. He also did a sick backside 360 ollie kickflip after his last trick was bailed—no score for it, just for the fans. Gotta love that.
Then along came a couple of 9 Club specials, with P-Rod casually throwing a switch kickflip Smith grind on the rail for 9.2. Sean Malto pulled a crisp frontside crooked grind nollie flip out for 9.3—unbelievably, Malto’s very first 9 Club score.
Shane and Cole seemed to be playing it a bit safer, stacking smaller scores and more of them. As the Control Section wrapped, Shane was still in the lead, but Cole was building momentum. Oddly, Ishod Wair flailed in the Control Section, and was eliminated before the Impact Section began.
Finally, it was time to go big and take it to the rails. Leading all the way to this point, Shane O’Neill threw a pristine nollie backside heelflip and fresh nollie backside kickflip down the stairs. Both looked amazing, but surprisingly that was it for Shane. Two makes of seven attempts in the Impact Section will never keep you on top, and Shane faded down to sixth.
Pudwill’s beanie-juggling show began with a blazing backside Smith grind to backside 180 out on the big rail, followed by one of his signature tweaked-out kickflips to crooked grind, then a 360 ollie down the steps. But he didn’t back those up with a crucial fourth score, which landed him in fifth.
Malto took it to the rail with a nollie frontside crooked grind, a backside noseblunt slide, and a nollie frontside noseblunt slide. Not easy tricks by any means, but Sean didn’t seem to have a big Impact Section score planned. It looked like he’d peaked in the Control Section and was just hanging on, unable to unleash anything that looked like a 9 Club. His consistency was his savior, though, and with four makes he settled into fourth.
Luan, meanwhile, threw a huge hardflip over the rail, along with crispy frontside flip that was in zero danger of not making it over the rail. He followed with a crazy-looking switch frontside flip down the stairs that he barely held onto. Luan didn’t shy away from going for the win, because for his fourth counted score he went for it: a 360 flip to noseslide on the handrail. Unfortunately, it flipped away from him and he ended up third.
P-Rod could’ve won; he went in with a clear plan and executed perfectly. It was textbook Paul, including a buttery switch backside Smith grind down the rail, a switch frontside bluntslide, and a switch backside tailslide. All landed right on the bolts. Unfortunately for Paul, his consistency finally failed. When it all came down to P-Rod’s last try, he fell while rolling away from a switch 360 flip down the stairs, a trick he spins and lands in his sleep.
Chris Cole was just that little bit better today. He rolled out a variety of tricks in the Impact Section, like a fakie ollie backside tailslide, a kickflip crooked grind, and a frontside 180 to switch crooks. On his last try, Cole needed only a 1.1 to take the lead from P-Rod. But he needed a make, and a bail would’ve cost him the contest. And that’s when Cole stepped up his game, going way over the top and dropping a 9 Club score that ensured the victory. Granted his 360 flip to 50-50 on the rail was clearly meant to be a 5-0, but that trick was so hard and the recovery and landing so flawless that he still got a 9.0. With the make, Chris finally sealed his first SLS win, and did it by going big and coming through huge under pressure.
It’s worth remembering that Chris Cole has finished in second place FIVE times in Street League, losing mostly to Nyjah. Guessing what effect Nyjah might have had, or how well he’d have skated in Munich is purely speculative—Nyjah may not even have made the Finals. But Nyjah’s absence was certainly felt in Munich. For better or worse, it changed the dynamic of the contest; Nyjah forces the other pros to go a bit harder, dig a bit deeper, and pack in more tricks if they want to compete with him.
Congrats to Chris Cole on his first SLS win and $100,000 prize. Cole earned it. But Cole’s biggest test is still to come: he still hasn’t beat Nyjah, who says he’ll be back in time for Portland. Cole gave Nyjah a run for the money in KC, but he and every other SLS pro knows Nyjah will be ready to start another winning streak.
For the full scorecard of results from Munich, visit the Results page.
SLS FINALS MUNICH