Held at the new Vans Skate Park in Orange, California, Caz Helmstetter of Portland, Oregon and David Bodnar of Melbourne, Australia took home the street and vert titles. Each winner is awarded a one-year pro contract from Vans, a place as a demo skater on the 1999 Vans Warped tour and financial support on the pro-circuit, allowing them their first opportunity to tour as a professional skater.
“It was the competition of a lifetime” said Caz Helmstetter after his street contest win. “I like the skate park and the competition, but it’s a definite change from Burnside, my hometown skate park. I’ll work my hardest and do my best this year for Vans and I wouldn’t want to ride for anyone else.” Caz was able to edge out Brian Dale and Zackary Warren with tricks such as his kickflip over the quarter pipe gap and his ollie over the vert ramp handrail onto the street course.
In the vert competition, David Bodnar was able to defeat Greg Hiler and Dave “Science” Maxwell landing tricks like his nollie backside disaster and heelflip indy. “It’s unbelievable that Vans pays to send all these athletes here for this contest” says Bodnar. “I’m pleased that Vans makes money from the sport and then puts it right back in. I can’t wait to start the Warped Tour and pro-circuit in order to skate with other pros.”
For the third year in a row, Vans has spanned the globe hosting qualification rounds in search of the best amateur vert and street skateboarders in the world. Each skater that qualified then competed in the semi-final rounds which were held at select stops of the Vans Warped Tour ’98. The first-place winners from each semi-final contest then received an all expense-paid trip to California to compete in the 1998 Vans Amateur World Championships of Skateboarding.
“The Vans Amateur World Championships held this weekend was the first event at the new Vans Skate Park and it couldn’t have gone any better” says Steve Van Doren, Vans’ vice-president of promotions. “We’ve had a tremendous response from the Vans Amateur Series and the interest continues to grow. The amateurs that came here are the skateboarding pros of tomorrow.”
Over 3,000 spectators and members of the media witnessed all the action throughout the course of the weekend. Along with Vans, tour sponsors G-Shock and Mountain Dew were on hand to give away posters and stickers to the crowd. In addition, spectators were treated to demonstrations by Vans pro skaters such as Omar Hassan, Peter Hewitt, and previous Vans Amateur World Champion Pierre-Luc Gagnon.
Last years winners in the vert and street competitions were Billy Rohan from Gainesville, Florida, and John Muldoon from Minneapolis, Minnesota respectively. Many skaters that competed in previous Vans Amateur World Championships have gone on to become top pro athletes including Giorgio Zattoni, Pierre-Luc Gagnon and Brent Kronmueller.