Chris Russell charges with straight legs. All photos by Transition Photography.
In the lead up to the first ever Vans Park Series (starting this Saturday), we have a chat with the Global Marketing Manager from Vans Skateboarding. Justin Regan sheds some light on why Melbourne's St Kilda bowl is the premier pick, if padding up is going to be perceived as rad or bad, and who's looking good for the win.
Interview by Trent Fahey
Why did Vans pick Australia as the destination to kick off the Park Series?
Well, we knew we wanted to do at least one event per region. So when it came to Asia Pacific, the home of skateboarding, at least in our opinion, is Australia. [Choosing] Australia was a no-brainer.
Do the touring pros see St Kilda bowl as a good choice for this type of comp?
So far people are really stoked on the bowl. I was a little nervous because it’s kinda small. This event series is meant to be smaller bowls. We’re definitely trying to carve out a discipline that’s different from, say, Bowl-A-Rama or the Pool Party. [Something] that lets a different type of skater shine. We wanted smaller parks, even though this one’s on the smaller side of what we’re looking for. Everyone that’s been skating it is super stoked. They’re like, “Nah, this is really, really fun.” I was stoked to hear that, because we were definitely nervous about it.
Curren Caples hits the bowled-off corner with a backside lipslide.
Is anyone padding up? And will they lose points for doing so?
[Laughs] We have three unwritten rules: no pads, no dabs, and no 540 grabs. But, they’re unwritten, so anyone can do whatever they want. We have a couple of transgressors in the contest so far – a couple of rule breakers.
You've bowled in the shallow corner and have some other extensions set up, right?
The main one is bowling off the corner so that guys can redirect their speed back into the bowl. This park’s not built for the event we’re trying to host, so we had to add something to make it work. The bowled off corner is working now, and we’re looking at adding another feature that cuts off one of the hips, so it’d be like an extension on the deck. But right now it’s too small, so we’re gonna look at making it taller. If we can get that done in time we might add it before Saturday. We just want to make sure that it’s fun. That’s the most important thing.
Raven Tershy floats a frontside ollie.
Have any of the Australians you’ve seen skating the bowl of an afternoon stood out to you?
Jack Fardell was one of the pre-invited guys, and of all the events this year, this is the one he can’t make it to, which is kind of a bummer. He’s on deadline for the adidas video. There’s a little guy called Keegan [Palmer]. He’s skating in the qualifiers and he’s been ripping. I don’t know who else is actually in it yet. People are still signing up.
How many skaters will be in the contest and can anyone enter?
We can accommodate up to 60 people in the Open qualifiers on Friday. But to be accepted, the competition organisers, which are The Boardr, need to review footage tapes. So any kid from the street can enter, and if they’re good enough they could possibly get in. Anyone can apply to skate, and then The Boardr will review that application.
Tony Trujillo doesn't need matching shoes to perform high speed stand-up grinds.
You’ve got to keep the standard high.
Exactly. And then from Friday, depending on how many people show up from the pre-qualified list, we take between five and eight people from Friday into Saturday.
Some of the world’s best bowl skaters are out here to give it a nudge – who do you think are the main contenders with a chance at taking it out?
I don’t know. It’s tough. The guys who always really stand out are like Raven Tershy, Pedro Barros, Curren [Caples] could be in there. The thing is this bowl’s kind of small, and those guys skate really fast and powerful. If you skate too fast in this bowl you end up flying out somewhere, so this one might actually favour more of the tech guys like Ben Hatchell or Brad McClain. So we’ll see. It should be interesting. Oh, a minor detail that may be worth mentioning is we’re calling it ‘park skating’. And that’s just so that there’s no confusion between this type of skating and a Bowl-A-Rama-type skating.
So it’s park skating, but it’s sanctioned in the bowl.
Yeah, we’re calling them park courses. If they’re under nine-feet deep, and they have spines, hips and extensions, and ‘features’, it’s park terrain. And then if they’re vert, basically, then we’re calling it bowl.
Rowan Zorilla styles a frontside air.
There’s a question I’m sure everyone wants answered: Is Grant Taylor here?
He’s my favourite. I asked [Ryan] Clements about him yesterday. He said he’s injured, so I don’t think he’s gonna make it, which is a bummer. Out of 15 people he’s my favourite dude. He’s magic. And that’s a perfect example of this ‘discipline’ that we’re trying to carve out here. We’re trying to build a platform for skaters like Grant. Grant will look really awesome in a Bowl-A-Rama contest, but he could never win that because he’s not padding up and he’s not gonna do an eight-foot 540.
And he wouldn’t skate a wall-to-wall like a vert ramp.
Exactly. So in these smaller parks where there’s no vert, you have to hit your tail to get any air. It’s a different type of skating, and a different type of skater, and we want to try and create a platform for those guys to shine. There’s already a platform for the Bucky Lasek’s of the world.
Head to St Kilda skatepark this Saturday, April 16 to watch this free event, or tune in at 2pm to stream it live at: vansparkseries.com.
Pedro Barros with a lofty Lien melon.
The Qualifiers are wrapped up – see who's shredding on competition day tomorrow.
Park Series Select Pros - Confirmed
Aaron Jaws Hamoki
Oskar Rozenberg Hallberg
Top 8 Challengers - Advancing
Vinicius Kakinho (1st)
Kalle Berglind (2nd)