Basic Pools

Skateboard contests. The world’s top pros sparring for big bucks on near-flawless vert ramps, rails, and pyramids. The problem is that it’s the same pros as the last contest on basically the same ramps and/or obstacles. And if that’s not repetitious enough, they’ll show it for months on ESPN.

And now for something completely different–The Fourth Annual Basic Barbecue Grind.


The Basic Pool, generally referred to as “the clover,” is really more of an amoeba shape. Also, heavy rains have caused the deep end to rise about two feet above the other two bowls, and the deathboxes are twice the size of your average backyard pools. Very challenging, yet still as fun and rideable as a pool can be.


First, a group of ams on old equipment who probably skate more often than you do. They skate hard every day–contest or not.

Second, a group of pros who, with a few exceptions, make little off their pool passion. This, however, does little to dampen their desires.


Lance Mountain, Kevin Rucks, and Jamie Henderson.

What Went Down

As with last year’s contest, I volunteered (not asked) to emcee the event (for free). Since I had a blue knee from Vans’ Combi pool, I couldn’t skate anyway, so I accepted the job.

When I arrived just before noon, there was a heated practice session underway. Immediately I was handed a mic, so I cleared out the pros, gathered the judges, and the “Am Jam” proceeded. The snake session was intense, with ten-plus ams hungry for coping. Soon a rhythm set in, and they began to take the pool apart. There was a good crowd cheering on the skaters, with only minimal vocal prodding from me. Ronnie Cinflaco was able to grind enough blocks and toss enough airs to earn a fifth-place nod from the judges. Kyle Emsley showed little regard for the other ams, choosing to bomb-drop off the roof repeatedly yet unsuccessfully (usually during another skater’s run), which earned him enough punk points for fourth.

Last year’s am-victor Brent Hickman threw down high-speed feeble grinds–despite an injury: third place for OC’s golden boy. John Zask had some of the best runs of the contest–many a coping block felt his steel–yet he had to settle for a well-earned second. Jason “Old School” Mitchel made his kingpin scream on layback rollouts. Jim jammed the hip and the judges declared him “The Man” for first place.

As the ams headed for the keg, the pros prepared for heat one, which consisted of Salba, Sam Hitz, Remy Stratton, Nick “Mad Dog” Henderson, Dave Reul, and Rodney Cassel.

Mad Dog wagged some tailslide and did a backside Smith, during which his board snapped and he rode away clean. A few too many falls would keep him and fellow rippers Hitz and Cassel out of the finals and in the keg line. Salba, Reul, and Stanton earned their places in the finals and a shot at the glory with three completely different, yet equally radical, styles.

Heat two saw Jeff Grosso, Jake Piasecki, Ricky Stiles, Mark Partain, Jody Macdonald, and “Shaggy” Palmer dice it up.

Jake was the standout in heat two and easily did the highest airs of the day. Most notably, a six-foot-plus lien air. Grosso was showing signs of his old self, a welcome sight for Jeff’s fans and friends. Mr. Partain marathoned his way to a slot in the finals, while Remy, Ricky, Jody, and Shaggy could not match the pace set by the others. So it was burger time for them.

The stage was set for a jam to the death, and the crowd was ready. Notables in attendance included Steve “Bulky” Olson, Mike “Coach” Smith, John “Lookie” Lucero, and Jim “Jam” Gray. As the finals got underway, it was evident that Jake had used himself up in heat two and was unable to get the magic back. On the other hand, Grosso, Remy, and Salba were like human snowballs–they got bigger and faster with every run. Reul was also steppin’ up the pace with 50-50s and layback “Reul-arounds,” while Mark tried to take the world’s longest runs. The hips were Remy’s playground, as he aired one and grinded the next, as if he were playing add-a-trick with himself.

What can you say about Salba? He won the first-ever pool contest and he can still spank your lily-white ass. He had, hands- down, the most complex lines, period. Even though he’d had a fever the night before, his runs were long and his airs were high. But the day belonged to Grosso. Ten-block-long R&R slides and 50-50s to match. Mix in sweepers, eggs, sadplants, frontside rocks, and 50-50s to fakie over the deathbox, and you have one guy who’s happy to be back.

About this time, the band started, the cops came, and Jake knocked himself out. So we wrapped it up until next year. Thanks to everyone.

After a heated debate, the judges saw it like this:


1) Jeff Grosso

2) Steve Alba

3) Remy Stratton

4) Mark Partain

5) Dave Reul

6) Jake Piasecki


1) Jason Mitchel

2) John Zask

3) Brent Hickman

4) Kyle Emsley

5) Ronnie Cinflaco