San Dieguito Rail Challenge March 23, 2003

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rail challenge

Sun Diego skate shop is located at Fashion Valley mall in San Diego and was host to the second San Dieguito rail challenge. I always get a little skeptical when the word “mall” is associated with skateboarding. Whenever I hear those two words together the whole pros-and-cons debate automatically starts in my brain. Some of the factors you have to deal with are mall rats/jocks applauding and laughing when someone wrecks themselves, crowds, unintelligent comments being yelled from the crowd, and security goons. So needless to say, I was a little hesitant to wake up early on a Saturday morning and drive to one of Southern California’s most populated malls.

I awoke to a pestering phone call from Kristian Svitak (everything is pestering when all you want to do is sleep). He seems to have a good knack for persuading me to wake up and skate rather than sleep in.

The drive down was a very pleasant one. Good music, fun conversation, and Saturday traffic was at an all-time low. Driving into the mall entrance our eyes were quickly affixed to an older woman rocking an Exorcist T-shirt. Seeing that had already made the trip worthwhile!

Walking into the demo area we spotted Brad Staba and Brian Anderson playing a game of “Skate”. In the late 80s, Brad, Kristian, and I grew up skating in the same neighborhood, so of course I needed to stop, talk, and get a photo of the three of us. After a few smiles and handshakes we made our way over to the street course. I couldn’t believe how beautifully the day was going so far, and it would only get better.

While entering the street course I noticed the Girl team: Sean Sheffey, Mike Carrol, Paul Rodriguez, Sean Sheffey, Eric Koston, Jereme Rogers, and did I mention Sean Sheffey? This is what I meant by the day getting better! It’s not every day you get to witness Mike Carrol and Sean Sheffey skating, and Sean skating everything switch. I’d show some photos if I had them, but I think I was in awe just like everyone else, and before I knew it they both disapeared. Yeah, nice move on my part, my apologies maybe next time—Yeah Right. I did manage to score some photos of Paul. He skated the entire time and seemed to land everything first try and way too smooth. I’ll bet if he wanted to he could’ve landed this 360 flip to a handstand.

The one and only Nate Sherwood was also in attendance. It’s always fun to see what kind of crazy maneuvers he has up his sleeve. He always seems to come through when the “pressure” is on. I heard Nate skated so much that by the end of the day he was dehydra”skated.”

The rail challenge was about to begin, and as I walked over to find a strategic spot, I noticed the infamous crowd and mall rats/jocks taking over the whole area. Seeing that instantly brought me back to reality, we were in a mall parking lot. Now, all I wanted to do was sneak my way up front and snap a few photos. I remember politely saying, “Excuse me” to three different people, and in return I received three dirty looks—go figure! I decided to watch from a distance for a while.

I’m always amazed by the progression of skateboarding. The tricks kids warm up with are all ones that may have won a contest like this not so long ago. Front feebles, kickflip boardslides, bluntslides, and switch 50-50s were just some of the first tricks to go down.

The skaters definitely started pushing their limits and this resulted in a lot of bodily harm. I believe at one point I watched three out of four kids sack themselves on the rail. My ears instantly picked up a mall jock yelling out, “Just give up already!” He was laughing, talking on his cell phone, and as luck would have it, standing right up front. Right then and there, I knew where I would be shooting my photos from. I proceeded to work my way through the crowd to strategically place myself right in front of him, thus blocking his view. It didn’t seem to bother him at alll, and a few minutes later I watched him lurk back into the mall. I should say that others there were laughing as well. Like the 70s classic rocker guy, but if I were him I’d probably be laughing too. He at least respected the fact that these guys get wrecked but get right back up and go for it again. I’m sure he related to this one way or another.

The timing couldn’t have been better. Curtis Colamonica had just started to launch his arsenal of tricks on the rail. He landed two kickflip backside lipslides in a row, a backside noseblunt-slide, a frontside bluntslide (almost landing one to a 270 varial out), kickflip boardslide, a proper front board to body varial, and a kickflip frontside boardslide. I thought Curtis was definitely taking home the 2,000-dollar prize. I couldn’t believe what we all witnessed next. Out of nowhere, Andrew Alan landed a switch heelflip to frontside boardslide. This was the same kid who had to hear the loudmouth mall jock yell “Just give up already!” It’s funny how things always seem to work out. We all watched Andrew flirting with this trick throughout the contest but he never really committed to one, and I wasn’t quite sure what he was going for. Well, I now know and am glad to have witnessed it. The 2,000-dollar prize money did go to Andrew, and it was well-deserved!

As we left, I could only wonder if all the people there knew how lucky they were to have witnessed the event. For some it could probably be a lifelong memory, for others, maybe just another day at the mall.