Ryan Sheckler puts it down on the Dew park course. Mark Epstein © 2006
Sheckler Skates to Another Dew WinJun 25 2006 / Louisville, KY
Sheckler Wins Skate Park Finals at Panasonic Open
After watching the Skate Park Prelims with Ryan Sheckler in 1st and Nyjah Huston in 2nd, we predicted that the showdown between the returning champ and the new kid on the block would continue into today’s Finals, and got right to work hyping Huston. We were right. Everyone around here was talking up the head-to-head between the two youngest competitors, and the contest format lent itself to the showdown: On the Dew Tour, each of 12 skaters get 2 rounds of individual runs to show their stuff. The top 8 progress to a 5-minute jam session on half the course all at once; the top 5 from session that progress to a final jam together on the rest of the course.
Because Sheckler and Huston finished 1st and 2nd in the Prelims, they skated one after another tonight. They were 1 and 2 after Round 1, 1 and 2 after Round 2, and 1 and 2 through both jam sessions. They played up the fledgling rivalry in the jam sessions, hitting many of the same obstacles and some of the same tricks, and even, at one point, dropped in simultaneously to hit the rail and the ledge on the box.
Today’s Park Finals were proof-positive that even as pro contests have gotten bigger and bigger, it still comes down to individual vs. individual, and each competitor’s bag of tricks, creative lines, and personal style thankfully remains wildly diverse. What many feared would lead to the homogenization of skateboarding has instead become a celebration of individuality within the sport. There are still plenty of outstanding skaters who you will never see skating in contests, but the ones who are represent a broad spectrum.
- 30 year-old Mike Peterson rides like he’s been spending a lot of time ripping the new concrete skate parks that have become beautifully ubiquitous. He skates fast, uses the entire course, and makes huge transfers between ramps. He even shows his age every once in while: today he broke out a no-comply on the bank, rocked a nice feeble grind, and styled out a nice backside boneless on the quarterpipe, perhaps preparing a little skate history lesson for Huston. For a minute there in Round 2, it actually looked as if Peterson was going to bump Huston out of 2nd place and rain on the parade for all the kids in the crowd. If Dew Tour Park obstacles start incorporating more features from the concrete skatepark revolution – some bowled-out corners, perhaps, or maybe even a cradle? – then Peterson will probably be placing higher than 4th for his efforts. He was in 3rd tonight until Jereme Rogers edged him out in the final jam session.
- 11 year-old Nyjah Huston has an insane command of technical park tricks for such a young man – especially on the rails and ledges – and he’s a joy to watch: dreadlocks flopping around in his wake as he breaks out stunners like switch heel flips, nollie double heel flips, kickflip backside slides, and solid grinds on the curved rail. He’s clearly been engaging in some real street skating in a variety of world-class locales, and he obviously knows his way around a wood skatepark. What he doesn’t have is the speed, power, and creative lines of, say, Peterson (see above), which means he’s not getting the big transfers and he doesn’t look like a powerhouse. That’s why, in the middle of his run, you’ll see him get off his board and actually climb up to the next obstacle. Some of that will come with age and experience, and some of it is just a matter of style. But one thing is clear: this kid is a quick study, and he’s coming up very fast.
- 16 year-old Ryan Sheckler seems to have this thing all figured out – he did win the overall title last year, after all – and he’s only gotten stronger since last year. For one thing, he actually looks physically stronger. Somewhat paradoxically, he’s gotten more confident and less cocky. He’s also using more of the course, launching higher airs, and generally ripping, and his runs are flawless, even as he’s taking bigger risks. For the moment, judges seem to agree that he’s the perfect middle ground on the style spectrum between Peterson and Huston. Translation: Everyone else has their work cut out for them for the rest of the Dew Tour.
– Colin Bane