Go ahead and form a mental picture of California in your head. The Ocean breeze, palm trees, 12 lane interstates. Now, for the sake of Damn Am Woodward West in Tehachapi, forget all of that. Out here it’s mountains, scrub brush, and, I know it sounds made up, but packs of roving deer and elk. Totally saw them. But then there’s the skateboarding. The final stop of the 2014 Damn Am kicked off with a full day of practice for the well over 100 entrants, who came from everywhere for the opportunity to shred for the gold. And, to quote Iverson, “We talkin’ ‘bout practice?” Life of Ryan cast member Kane Sheckler signed up for his first ever Damn Am and if he has even one-tenth the success of his big bro he’ll be golden. Other notables on the scene include Mom Shecks, Dylan Williams who won Damn Am at Sixth and Mill last year, and then this absolutely miniscule Japanese kid doing backside sugarcanes down the handrail.
The day ended with a mini ramp jam where Supra, Matix, and Bones product was handed out to whoever the announcers (aka Schaefer, me) thought was ripping. A frontside 540 boneless and a fakie gymnast plant (anything goes!) both done by skaters whose names escape me at the moment were showered with what radio DJ’s would refer to as “schwag.” So too was Fletcher Renegar from Chattanooga who grinded in the backside overcrook fashion, all the rage with the kids these days, and then did like a million switch tricks which is pretty much impossible on a mini ramp in the midst of a snake session. If we had been voting on it, he’d have won. But all that was just warm up. Saturday is Street Qualifying and things are going to get heated, as they do out here in the desert.
Words by Paul Zitzer
Photos and captions by Bart Jones
Welcome to Neverneverland.
Early on the kids were already getting warmed up. Austin Calvello works the sidelines with a Frontside Ollie.
Line 'em up an sign 'em up.. While Zitzer’s Glamour shots studio is in full effect.
Whatever happened to the Salad Grind?! Nate Greenwood brings the Salad back to the table.
Celebrity Sighting!! Mrs. Sheckler happy to take a photo. Her young pup not so much.
Jared Cleland skips the line to go down the rail and barges up it.
These banners aren’t gonna hang themselves! Schaefer puts in the work.
Brandon Stelma probably kickflip front boarded this bump to bar a hundred times, here’s one of em.
Jared Cleland was so hyped to hit the dirt rainbow rail!...
Until I asked him to do it again and this happened. Sorry Jared!
Follow the leader never gets old, Jamal Campbell runs things with an ollie north.
Steven Breeding fastplants, and yea they call him Lefty.
Anthony Anaya pays a small price to the Skate Gods.
Nate Greenwood sees a big cement boob and gets all boned out.
Onlookers wouldn’t shut up about how sick Yuto Horigome’s Backside Sugarcane was.
This is Marisa. I met her down the street from the contest and she said she wanted to go to chill and skate. Looks like her wishes came true and she got some free goods to boot; sounds like a pretty sweet deal.
Austin Calvello takes what was once considered impossible and grabs it by the tail.
The turn out for the mini-ramp contest was a little boof but the handful of guys up there brought a lot of energy to make up for it, like Ole’ Lefty here blasting frontside ollies.
Andreas Laustsen is from Copenhagen and he’s a beast!
Steven Breeding AKA Lefty once again, this time taking a fakie smith stall and slathering it in sauce.
Practice continues into the evening, but lets face it- it’s not practice, but more so a bunch of bros having fun on skateboards.