DC King of LA 2008
Posted on Monday, October 20, 2008 by Rob
Photos and Captions by Rob Meronek
The First Class treatment continued at the hotel because we got put up in the Bonaventure Westin, which is really nice and located right in the Downtown LA Business District. Rob and I spent all day working on our computers, but I had the pleasure of rolling with the DC guys over to Belmont to de-knob the handrail.
How often do you get permission to do this type of thing? No too often, but I heard that DC made a generous charitable contribution to the school, so the Dean was cool with pretty much anything, including providing the power. Ryan Smith took charge with the grinding job, cutting off three knobs and finally removing the kink. Rene Rene smoothed down the cuts with the other grinder and the rail was ready to be ripped.
The evening ended early with a business-type dinner, sharing stories and talking the usual crap. One thing that added a bit of a spark was our crazy waitress who didn’t hesitate telling Smith what she wanted him to do to her. I saw him lick her foot at the bar, but didn’t get any details beyond that…
Before we go any further here, I wanted to explain the basic premise behind King of LA. A couple of famous LA spots were picked, the negotiators at DC then made a deal with the facilities, which happened to both be schools this time around, and LA-area shops were invited to send a couple of their top riders. But there was a catch, the entrants were supposed to be relatively unknown guys that were on flow at the most. This is the exact opposite of every other am contest that we run. We’re usually looking for all of the top, most-well-known, sponsored guys to skate in the Damn Ams and Tampa Am, but this time around we were supporting the underdog. That’s a pretty damn good feeling and great way to give back to the unknown rippers that are laying it down on a daily basis and getting very little, if any, recognition.
After eating McDonald’s for the first time in seven years I was reminded of why I haven’t eaten McDonald’s in seven years. The coffee was good though, and got my brain geared up to enter into work mode for the next 10 hours. It was the beginning of a very long day. There were about 60 total entrants, but we could have had a lot more had we permitted anyone to enter. Sorry to the guys that didn’t get to skate…maybe next year. After checking out the potential obstacles we settled on two mini-picnic tables, a curved led, manny pad, regular bench, a bench on top of the bank, and the only really gnarly obstacle…a very small kicker up to big rail.
The skaters were broken into four heats and got to have a free-for-all for 20-minutes. Since we didn’t know most of the entrants, we had them do an “intro trick” to take note of their clothing in order to match it up with their name for judging. Judging itself is difficult, but judging a jam with a bunch of unknowns doesn’t make things any easier.
After the shredding, here’s how it turned out. We actually announced these results right before the jams got started at Belmont, so the guys knew where they stood with being crowned King:
- 1st - $1,000 – Ray Maldonado – I know that this kid was blowing minds and literally doing everything, but of course I can’t remember one single thing since I was announcing and unable to take notes. But I do recall him getting to Belmont and not doing a damn thing…ha
- 2nd - $500 – Kirk Rocha – you know the guy that you see that doesn’t look like he rips, but then gets on a skateboard and you’re blown away? I’m not saying that to dis him at all, but Kirk was the guy that you least expected to kill it…and to top it off he was really nice, too
- 3rd - $400 – Ricky Webb – I’ve seen Ricky around for a while now, but I have a feeling that he won’t be on flow much longer…he’s going to move it up
- 4th - $300 – Billy Davenport – he skated fast and put lines together, sort of like Busenitz before he started to really kill it
- 5th - $200 – Dwayne Fagundes – this ill brotha’ had the biggest gear in the Contest and a great style. He’s definitely a candidate for a DGK hook-up
- 6th - $100 – Cesar Fernandez – originally from Orlando, Cesar has made the move to LA to make it happen for himself. I really like this kid…and I hope it works out for him
- 7th - Nick Merlino – we were able to squeeze Nick into the Contest last minute because a spot opened up. He immediately proceeded to destroy the kicker to rail that we dubbed “The Jefferson Pang Bump to Rail” because it was his idea to put it out there
- 8th - Richie Amador – aw man…I can’t remember a damn thing about him
- 9th - Vitor Borger – this dude definitely had to be from Brazil or Europe
- 10th - Robby Hargreaves – once again…no recollection
Additionally, we had heard the horror stories of people getting their gear stolen, being beaten up, and Chuck Wampler actually getting shot at Lockwood way back-in-the-day, but we didn’t run into even the slightest of problems. Good vibes, Man…
After taking a Chipotle break and grubbing on some free burritos (thanks DC), we informed the participants of what was up. There was going to be a 15-minute jam on the nine-stair followed by a 10-minute jam on the big rail. This was really the only way to do it because time and ultimately daylight would be an issue in the next few hours.
All four jams (eight total) on both areas were amazing. However, it was such a long day that I’m assuming that some of the skaters were over it because when it was time for the big rail a lot of them opted out. Either that or the fact that the thing was simply intimidating. Considering the situation, we decided to not count each jam as 50% of your score and made the second jam more of a “bonus” instead of your score. So when Nick Merlino stepped up and did nollie noseblunts and nollie fs feebles, he got A LOT of extra credit.
- 1st - $1,000 – Nick Merlino – I’ve known Nick for the past three years or so. I met him at Tampa Am when he showed up without properly registering. But after seeing him skate I was like, “You’re the first guy in the first heat on Friday morning.” He ended up making the cut to the Semis that year
- 2nd - $500 – Ricky Webb – I thought that he was simply going for a fs bluntslide, but when Ricky did a shove-it out on the big rail the place erupted
- 3rd - $400 – Keelan Dadd – I think that Keelan was the only dude in the event that snuck in as a flow guy even though he’s a full-on am based on his recent DGK ad. He reminded us of a young Kareem Campbell with his confidence and buttery style…the dude even makes falling look ill
- 4th - $300 – Trevor McClung – I think I had this guy confused with someone else
- 5th - $200 – Kevin Romar – nollie bs 360 is his go-to move, but he’s got many more in his bag
- 6th - $100 – Michael Sanchez – we had to keep giving him “one more” to see that crazy-looking (in a good way) 360 flip down the big stairs
- 7th - Moose! – the man with one name has been showing up everywhere. After putting his name on the map up in SF at that recent Thrasher Rail Challenge, he’s showing up a bit on the radar. The skating was so good in this jam that his cab kickflip down the stairs didn’t get him into the money, but maybe because it was after time
- 8th - David Vargas – I recall him wearing a Greg Lutzka style hat, but that’s it
- 9th - Shaun Hover – he’s as tall as Sean Payne (Think am from way back), so getting up on that big rail wasn’t such an issue and Shaun did a smith grind 180 out on it
- 10th - Paul Flores – across his chest it reads “100% Mexican,” but he should get “100% Good Attitude” on his back because this kid is super-cool
The King of LA is…Nick Merlino. Upon hearing his name called I think that he was truly shocked because he was pretty much expressionless. Once reality set in and he was holding that big-ass check and everyone was shooting photos and videos of him I think he finally realized that he had just come up an additional $5,000.
One of his pals told me that Nick was about to run out of money and head back to the east coast where he’s from, but now it looks like he’s got another shot at making something happen for himself.
Thanks to our judges – Jason Rothmeyer, Bob Reynolds, Jefferson Pang, and special guest pro skateboarder judge Jani Laitiala. Let’s not forget that DJ Alfred Hawkins did a great job of spinning the records all day. And thanks to all of the skaters and supporters that attended both stops.
DC does it right…and they had a lot of their other guys like Colin McKay, Lindsey Robertson, Matt Miller, and Greg Myers just hanging out. Additionally, everything was free…no entry fee, free water, free food, free t-shirts…all for a bunch of ams that no one really knows. The concept is sick and hopefully it continues. So thanks BG, Heavy, Jimmy, Sean, Blabac, and rest of the DC guys for having SPoTlight as a part of your event. We’re stoked on the concept and look forward to the next one.