Day by Day at ASR Sept 2002
Posted on Friday, September 06, 2002 by Rob Meronek
ASR September 2002It’s time once again for the Fall ASR Trade Show. In case you’ve never heard of it, this is where “it’s” all happening. For three days, the entire skateboarding industry will be working, and partying, in San Diego. From the guys that design the concaves, to the reps that write the orders, practically everyone will be there. Although it never works out, I’m going to attempt to give a day-by-day account...first thing I need to do is get a digital camera.
Tuesday, September 3, 2002 – Day OneWe flew into San Diego last night, got a lift to the hotel, and were pretty much too tired to do anything. This morning we had to wake up early and make it over to the San Diego Convention Center. It’s an enormous building, and even looks more ridiculously huge with absolutely nothing in it. At this point, the “trade show” is nothing but a warehouse that is getting packed with boxes and crates. Then, in basically a two-day period, the place is transformed into aisle after aisle of every “cool” company you could possibly imagine, hustling their product.
Wednesday, September 4, 2002 – Day TwoOur hotel is about a half-mile skate to the Convention Center. Being from Florida, everyone that lives there knows that if you attempt to skate that far in the summer, or pretty much any time of the year, that you would be drenched in sweat. After our skate this morning, the lack of humidity in the air left us with no perspiration...just a little added benefit of being on the West Coast.
As for work, we finished setting up the entire street course on Tuesday, so all we had to do today was hang banners. Easier said than done considering that about half of the sponsors didn’t have their banners readily accessible. But when you’re working in the skateboarding industry, you tend to get used to dealing with that type of stuff.
In the late afternoon, Paul Zitzer came and picked me up (in his car with no air conditioning – but you don’t need it out here). We went to this skate park in Ocean Beach and it kind of sucked. The lines were weak, the bowl was slow, and a lot of the cement had almost a broom finish (like your driveway). On the positive side, there were a lot of really cool locals that made for a good vibe, so I still had a great time.
The remainder of the evening consisted of hanging out at the Embassy Suites hotel bar and schmoozing with this rep and that manager. The only pro around was Andrew Reynolds. Other than that, it was just pretty much the business chumps. These are the people that we talk to on the phone from the various companies that we purchase from at SPoT, so it’s cool that we get to put the faces with the names.
Thursday, September 5, 2002 – Day ThreeThis was the standard ‘beginning of the trade show day.’ Barry hit up all of his appointments, Rob snapped photos, and Brian and I organized the demos. Mid-day, there was a meeting with all of the big skateboarding company owners on some rather important issues, but the most interesting aspect of the meeting were the attendees. The list went something like this: Todd Swank, Per Welinder, Tony Magnusson, Bob Denike, Rick Novak, Greg Carroll, Steve Douglas, Paul Schmitt, Bob Boyle, and on and on. If you don’t know who these mentioned are (most are former pros), they are the people that RUN the people that design, market, make, test, and promote all of the skateboarding products that you use. Not to mention, they own the companies that your favorite skateboarders are sponsored by.
As for fun times, how one spends his evenings during ASR is a tough decision. There is party, after dinner, after offer of this and that. We hit up the ASR/Oneil (surf, Bra) Party and then tried to see Andrew W.K. play at another venue. It was sold out, but somehow Schaefer got in (go figure) and had drinks with Andrew himself. You know what was crazy about the whole day? I don’t think that I pulled a single dollar out of my pocket. The entire day was comped in some fashion...from breakfast to drinks after dinner, someone else picked up the tab. Gee. Thanks.
Friday, September 6, 2002 – Day FourThe only thing even worth talking about today was the Grind King Longest Gap Contest. It was basically a bank-to-bank type set-up, about the height and angle of SPoT’s old pyramid. There were over 30 entrants, with names ranging from Joey Corey to Fabrizio Santos, and everyone in between. Even Donger and Ron Allen were up in there. The first (and only) prize was $10,000! This fact definitely ensured that every single entrant was giving a full effort, and then some. It was cool to see them hucking themselves as far as possible and hanging on and slamming when they should have bailed. When there are unique contests such as this one, the entire industry is there to watch.
To begin, the ramps were placed with a 15ft. gap and the first skater in was Andrew Reynolds. Push, squat, “crack,” (silence), land...and the crowd goes absolutely wild! Seeing Andrew make that first ollie set the precedent for all to follow. It was obvious that Drew was the guy to beat. As usual, we had placed side bets on what the longest distance was going to be and at this point I pretty much thought that my 18ft. guess was severely underestimated. But there must be a point of human limitations, right? For example, the world record highest ollie is 44.5”...how much higher can someone realistically ollie? And is someone actually ever going to make the Jamie Thomas Leap Of Faith?
As the ramps kept getting moved apart, surprisingly, talented skater after accomplished skater was becoming eliminated. Reese Forbes...later. Kris Markovich...peace out. Harold Hunter...whatever. Kareem Campbell...“Most Expensive Pants Award.” Robbie Gangemi...no ‘love.’ Justin Strubing...outta’ there. Diego Bucchierri...chopped. Jud Heald – the Lord was not working in mysterious ways.
The crowd takes it to the head on a shot out board
It got down to three amazing skateboarders: Mike Peterson, Mike Vallely, and Andrew Reynolds...all making the 17ft. mark and going for the 18ft. Andrew Reynolds does it on his first attempt, not even needing the other two! Florida in the house, but Peterson was unable to go the distance after five attempts. Mike V. missed his five, but on his fifth called “crowd interference.” The judges could have gone either way with that claim, but allowed him to get another try. The entire audience was getting ridiculously close to the ramps, so it’s easy to understand how V. could have psyched himself out or “mis-pushed” on the runway. Try six: Mike V. was pushing his ass off, aggressive Mike V. style, 110% determined, ollie, mute grab, hold on, hold on...it’s a make!
At 19ft., it was only Andrew and Mike V. Amazingly, Drew pulled it on his second ollie. (He only ollied five times in the entire contest!) The 2000+ crowd was absolutely out of hand. It was kind of evident that Mike V. was pretty much maxed-out...you could just tell that he was struggling to make it happen. And after five tries, he just couldn’t pull it off. I was standing about eight feet from Drew on Mike V.’s final attempt, our eyes met, and I just gave him the biggest smile. It’s like you just “knew.”
After seeing Andrew really focus on getting the job done, he definitely has secured himself a spot as one of my favorite skateboarders of all time. He’s proven that when he puts his mind to the task at hand, that he can simply do whatever he desires. Andrew was calm about the whole deal throughout the entire contest; the way he pushed up to the bank exemplified confidence mixed with natural ability and determination. I’m proud of him and it gets me especially stoked to think that he came right out of Lakeland, FLORIDA! Congratulations, Andrew, and thanks for winning me $110 on my side bet.
Saturday, September 7, 2002 – Day FiveThe third day of the trade show is generally mellow-dramatic, especially after the Longest Gap Contest. At the street course demo, some big guns like Carlos de Andrade, Austin Seaholm, and Jarret Berry (my favorite) were in attendance for our Improv Best Trick Contest. Schaefer and I collected about $300 and gave it out to anyone that pulled something gnarly on the bank-to-bank flat bar set-up. Highlights were Kurtis Kolimonica’s kickflip bs lip and kickflip crooks and Seaholm did noseslide pop-up to crooks and boardslide to switch fs smith (weird), among others. While this was going on, Rob and Barak were at the Tum Yeto Coup D'Etat Show watching the "San Dieguito Hand Rail Challenge."
As the show ended, the “ASR Staff Street Course After-Session” was in full effect with Schaefer, Darrin, Scott, and myself terrorizing the course. Schaefer slammed at least 25 times trying an iceplant to fakie on the qp...hilarious. From there we hit happy hour, dinner, and late night drinks. Highlights include Peter Smolik and posse in the lobby of Embassy Suites yelling “F*&k Ogayris!” and threatening to fight. The next morning (Sunday) we flew home. With a layover in Texas and losing three hours in the time change, it was just one of those wasted days.
Barak is down with the Shorty's crew and their freestyle circle at the hotel
Rob bombs the up escalator in Ralph's Grocery Store
Overall, the trip was a complete success considering that it’s Monday and I’m still totally exhausted. I recommend that if you live and breath skateboarding that you make it to an ASR show, just for the experience.