Obstacles To Be Submitted For Next Year’s Vans Downtown Showdown

There seems to be a similar recipe skateboarding contests like to follow. Ingredients include one-quarter skateboarders, one-quarter ramps, one-quarter prize money, and one-quarter audience and judges. Mix and stir together, pop it in the oven for about an hour, and out comes your contest. With a new contest going down every week, this might be the reason it’s hard to decipher one from the other-casserole after casserole, so to speak (and for the record, casserole ain’t so tasty). So when Vans threw some new and fresh flavors into the mix and slammed in a needed Emeril “Bam!” to the standard contest formula, that dreaded dinner dish turned into a four-course meal-or in other words, the Downtown Showdown.
The four obstacles chosen for this contest come straight from the not-quite-sick-but-still-twisted minds of the skaters themselves-which explains such names as the “Dick Gauntlet” and the “Hella Hyphy Bank.” And with each team competing as a single squad and being judged individually at each obstacle but scored on an overall team performance for the day, normally unseen teamrider matchups-like Girl against Real and Toy Machine against enjoi-kept the skating quality at top-notch status.
If that wasn’t enough, the mere choice of venue separates this contest from the rest. Held in the Paramount Studios on the New York Street film set, competitors and attendees were free to roam throughout the mock downtown area as they pleased. Filmers and photographers hung out of apartment windows and climbed onto three-story fire escapes to get that ideal long-lens shot, while others walked the same streets Kramer strolled down in Seinfeld and sat on the same front porch Cliff Huxtable walked up in The Cosby Show.
After each and every obstacle had been shredded to smithereens, it was Girl who won top honors and the 30,000-dollar prize for the overall Showdown performance. Nick Dompierre took the best am performance, while Rick McCrank was proclaimed the day’s top pro. But since every obstacle was a mini contest in itself, we’ve broken it down into four parts so you’ll know exactly what went down, who won what, and where the hell the ideas for these obstacles came from.-Ben Kelly

enjoi’s Dick Gauntlet
More formally known as Mr. Richard Gauntlet, we’re claiming the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on what inspired this long and hard creation. But somewhere in between a Louie Barletta and Jerry Hsu brainstorm, a seven-foot-tall pillar, hittable on three sides and topped with a cement slab, was born.
As the first skate obstacle of the day, the cement slowly deteriorated with every stall and pivot and began spewing pieces of rock to the hairy flatbottom and onto the run-up. Hsu still pulled off a blunt to fakie and Barletta had no problem with his staple gun, but the judges didn’t seem to be stimulated. But Rick McCrank proved it wasn’t the size of your tricks but the motion in the ocean that got the job done. With his stylish frontside disasters and ollie transfers, he took first place, while Dennis Busenitz and Alex Olson deservedly followed right behind at second and third.

Real’s Hella Hyphy Bank
Staying true to famed NorCal verbiage, the Hella Hyphy Bank served as a political statement as much as it did an obstacle. But the crowd was in no mood for a Hannity & Colmes debate-especially when Busenitz was haulin’ ass through the wallride gap and coming back even harder with Smiths and nosegrinds across the ledge.
The roll-ins on each side of the Hella Hyphy kept the momentum going on the nearly ten-foot-tall, 40-foot-long bank. The curved rail near the top seemed to be a skater favorite, with Josh Harmony taking the most liking by way of a feeble 180, Smith, nosegrind, and an eventual noseblunt-it’s no wonder the man took first. Though Mike V. and Corey Duffel respectively landed in second and third, a mention must be made about Kenny AAnderson’s feeble pop-out across the gap on the top of the wall. It went down after the official time had expired, but we saw it, Kenny, and loved it just as much.

Element’s Double Down
The older pros gladly sat this one out and let the younger knees handle the impact from this ten-stair hubba. And halfway through the session, those on the bench realized they’d made the right decision, ’cause the “double” in the Double Down finally showed its face as ramp builders extended the set to a five-flat-five and screwed in a handrail for more pain and pleasure.
Josh Harmony wasted no time, and within ten minutes a five-0 180, Smith, and nosegrind down the hubba were a done deal along with third place. Nyjah Huston was in the middle of an all-out assault, including a switch flip down the ten-stair and kickflip front boardslide down the rail, until a bruising sack took him out and landed him in second. It was Corey Duffel’s pop-shove-it 50-50 and bluntslide down the hubbas early on and his fakie flip down the double-set late in the game that made him an easy choice for first place.

Girl’s Mini Mega
This concoction, straight from the rolling wheels in Alex Olson’s brain, was the most anticipated obstacle of the day-and it was no surprise it was saved for the grand finale. But one drop-in on this beast and it was quickly learned that there was nothing “mini” about this mega. The men-Nick Dompierre, Caswell Berry, and Rick McCrank-were instantly separated from the boys, but surprisingly the slams were few and far between (unless you count Dustin Dollin’s drunken headfirst plunge over the gap and down the landing).
Though many stepped up and ignored the sack-factor and the length of the rainbow rail and gap, the spotlight, for good reason, never left Dompierre. He got the five-0, the tailslide, and the lipslide, but once he landed the frontside and backside noseblunts all within a few tries, the contest was over. Contest commentator Brian Schaefer begged Nick to stop skating-his skating was “just too good,” and the judges had the easiest choice of the day giving him first place.