Tampa Pro – Friday

Friday started off with two hours of open practice. Come 11am it was time to start the official competition. Heat #1 of 4 had 15 minutes to practice and then it was time to begin timed runs. The best of two runs was all that mattered and all the riders were doing their best to make the cut of 16 guys who will advance to the semi-finals on Sunday. Charlie Wilkins from Maple was MR. Unfortunate in missing the cut by 1 slot. Chet Childress had an explosive run but didn’t have quite enough juice to get in the top 16. He had to settle for 20th. Mike Vallely put on a show but in doing so only landed one trick. He was still a crowd favorite and that is nearly as important as placing high in the standings. Fred Gall had a fairly solid run. I wonder if the judges realized most of his run was switch.

Moving on to the standout from the top 16. Kristain Svitak weaved together a speedy line packed w/ on edge tricks hitting nearly every obstacle on the course. Justin Strubing was on fire. Ollie over to frontside tail fakie down the pyramid rail. Rick McCrank did the ollie up to backside 50-50 on the slam wall in both his runs. Local boy, Jeff Lenoce, had a solid run that hopped him in the 5th place spot. Ronnie Creager was on it with a solid line that earned him a 4th place spot. Last year’s winner, Kerry Getz banged out a run for 3rd. Rodrigo Tx was the first skater of the day in Heat 1 and still managed to pull the number 2 qualifying spot. Mr. Koston got a hold of the golden ticket with impressive run. He goes right into the finals on Sunday. That can really take the pressure off a fella.

The vert prelims happened in the mid afternoon and it was nice to see that the WIND calmed down and cooperated. Lincoln qualified in third. A bearded Dane named Rune secured 2nd. And the man of the hour, BOB Burnquist, with wife and baby girl watching, took contest skating to a new level. At the end of his last power packed run he threw in a completely mind blowing trick. Completely new, never tried it in practice. I had the misfortune of not watching at that moment, but I heard the crowd erupt when he pulled a frontside blunt revert during the closing seconds of his run. He couldn’t be more deserving of the top qualifying slot.

Evening festivities including a world premiere viewing of the new Santa Cruz video, “Uprising”. It was a fine showing of the current talent on the team. It was straight-forward with out a lot of the BS intertwined in a lot of today’s videos. Burning brightest in my memory are Stefan Attardo and Jayme Fortune’s parts. I hear that the final cut will have a Tim Brauch memorial at the end. “Uprising” premieres in Santa Cruz next Friday and in San Jose on next Saturday. It should be in stores within a few weeks. Mike Vallely did a “spoken word” directly after the viewing and had the attention of a full house. Then some people “partied” and some people slept, both types knowing that a full day was ahead of them on Saturday.