The Seventh Annual Texas Skate Jam

Friday, November 14
Rockets 90, Suns 85

I lost my virginity in Houston, Texas. I went to my first NBA game at the new Toyota Arena in downtown with Chris Ortiz and Reese Forbes. Reese had gotten tickets for him and Ortiz through Nike, so I had to go to the ticket window and buy one. I paid 150 dollars for a ticket at almost center court and about eleven rows back--pretty damn close. The players looked bigger and the court seemed smaller than on TV, but that could be because basketballers are huge anyway. I bet the center for the Rockets, Yao Ming, must be the largest human ever grown in China. Rockets won. I wonder if I can expense the ticket since I mentioned it in the story?

Saturday, November 15
Day One TSJ7

I went to the park early to try and skate Southside Skatepark before the place went chaotic with pros and ams flying all over the place. If you’ve never been to Houston, you should go there and visit Southside--great park to skate.

Houston in general looks like a fun place to skate. For some reason every business has flatbars surrounding the building. I heard it was so they could tie up their horses, but I don’t know--it could be hearsay. Another thing I learned about Houston is there’re no Starbucks or any coffeehouses for that matter. I think the city opted for building barbecue restaurants instead of coffeehouses. We were in the South after all.

Once the park was open to the public, there were kids everywhere. Chris Ortiz looks at me and says, “Hey, you should go and get your bag. Good idea, because when I went to pick up my camera bag, a kid had already placed one foot on it already using it as a viewing perch. It’s hard to say how many kids were inside, but it must have been a few-hundred. The whole thing was emceed by none other than the SkatePark of Tampa heads Brain Schaefer and Ryan Clements. Those guys talked for four hours straight, maybe longer.

For the past seven years, Damian Hebert of South Shore Distribution and Southside Skatepark has organized the Texas Skate Jam to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation. This year the goal was to raise 40,000 dollars through donations and ticket admissions.

Just before the best trick was about to take place on the mini Hubbas, Ortiz looks at me like he’s stressing. “What’s up, Chris? I ask.

“I think I just erased all the photos, he replied. The downfall to the digital arena--one wrong push of a button and blammo, the memory card’s erased. That’s what happened to Chris. But like the superstar photographer he is, Ortiz snapped some more flicks before the demo was done, including Mike V.’s nosepick on the wall seven feet above the coping of the bowl. It was berzerker.

Unknown Ian Gow won the best trick on the Hubbas with a kickflip frontside nosegrind over the likes of Brian Sumner, who wasn’t able to pull the kickflip backside noseblunt-slide, Jesse Paez landed the 360 flip noseslide, and about 25 other heads all waited patiently. Damn, kid! A donation of 5,000 dollars was made out in Ian’s name to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Other standout tricks of the day included Ryan Sheckler’s huge frontside flip over the big hip in the corner (one of the sequences erased on Ortiz’s camera), while everyone 360 flipped up the Euro gap. Dan Drehobl and Tony Trujillo killed the bowl, and Malcom Watson skated with a perma-smile. Paul Rodriguez was there, color-coordinated with some sweet Nike kicks and nollie heelflipping up the Euro gap and throwin’ a variety of switch tricks down the Hubbas.

Sunday, November 16
Day Two TSJ7

Day two was a lot like day one, but this time when the crowd was cheering I actually saw the tricks, unlike yesterday when I’d hear the cheering and wonder what just went down. The only thing about trying to cover an event like this for a magazine is that you can easily miss good skating. You can’t be everywhere and see everything. So, day ttwo I spent the day watching instead of trying to shoot photos.

I positioned myself by the Euro-gap to watch the annihilation. Steve Nesser cruised around fakie flipping the Euro-gap. I think he busted a huge kickflip to flat off the pyramid, too. But maybe I’m wrong. Felix Arguelles feebled to fakie off the flat ledge into the bank--that was pretty sick. This kid Joey Corey killed it--huge backside 180s to flat off the pyramid, back Smith on the big rail, and a heelflip frontside grab to flat off the deck.

Unfortunately, I had to leave the park early on Sunday to catch my flight back to lovely San Diego. I heard that Stacey Lowery had won the best trick on the Euro-gap. He kickflipped over the Euro-gap to frontside five-0 on the flat rail--easily chest-high. You’ll have to wait for the 411VM footage to believe it.

Going to Houston was super fun. The whole event had a rad vibe, and maybe it’s the Southern hospitality coming through. Make the trip sometime. Next year’s going to be a good time.

This event couldn’t have happened without the help of the sponsors and these people: Adio Footwear, Hurley, 411VM, TransWorld SKATEboarding, Spitfire Wheels, Southside Indoor Skatepark, South Shore Distribution, Jeff Taylor, Chris Miller, Charlie Thomas, Chris Ortiz, Steve Douglas, Jim Thiebaud, Thomas Mixon, Damian Hebert, Activision, T.H.U.G., PS2, SoBe, Mike Vallely and all the skaters who attended.

SkatePark of Tampa’s Web site has a bunch of photos if you’d like to see more: