Surf Expo September 2007 – Volcom’s “Big Gig” Mini-Ramp Jam Article at Skatepark of Tampa

Surf Expo September 2007 – Volcom’s “Big Gig” Mini-Ramp Jam

Posted on Monday, September 17, 2007 by Ryan

Words by Ryan Clements
Photos and Captions by Rob Meronek

Chet Thomas - switch 360 frontside air
Mike Peterson - front blunt
Rob Aaron - stalefish
Remy Stratton - ollie up to backside 5-0
Rune Glifberg - ollie up to frontside 5-0
Kyle Berard - back tail pop back in
Donny Barley - wallie
Chet Thomas - meron grab with no coping in the photo like a newspaper
Forrest Kirby - frontside feeble grind to fakie
Justin Strubing - feeble grind frontside 270 out
Donny Barley - 5-0 to fakie from the left of the photo to the right
Remy Stratton - eggplant
Ben Schroeder was running people down like a freight train
Rune Glifberg - backside ollie
Scott Koerner from Dakine is further reducing his party to skate photo ratio with this back smith
Top three got a champagne shower
Chris Lehman - frontside hurricane
George Evans - frontside frip meron grab
Levi blew it and didn't make the Finals
Herr yeah, another meron grag. This time from Timmy Knuth
Grant Taylor missed the cut by one
How does Lehman come back in on these tweaked out Andrechts?
Dalton Dern - kickflip fakie
Marky Clements - madonna
Jordan Price - frontside air and two nice back tails
Jordan Price - frontside air and a better view of the two nice back tails
Trade Shows 101
At any trade show in any industry, the whole point is to promote your brand and make sales. Each and every company has a flashy booth and display area promoting their newest products. Out in front of their booths are sales reps and models trying to get you interested in each individual brand. That’s the abbreviated version of the whole entire skateboarding industry, but fortunately we have fun jobs and are surrounded by cool people (mostly) with interesting backgrounds.

To add to the fun times at shows, sometimes great companies like Volcom come along and throw events, so that’s why SPoTlight Productions gets to host the “Big Gig” Mini-Ramp Jam. But before we move along to that, I need to tell you a little bit more about the Show.

Surf Expo is hosted in Orlando, Florida…and has been for as long as my skateboarding-memory allows me to recall. I first came to Expo at the young age of 15 as a shop rider. At the time, there were no skateboarding events, but I was overwhelmed at all of the product that you could just walk around and check out.

And if you’ve read any of these articles in the past, you know that each and every night there is some type of party to attend or something fun going on. Each attendee has multiple choices on where to spend their “relaxation time.”

Before it gets boring, I’ll end it right there. Okay, your lesson is now complete. Welcome to the Skateboarding Industry. Now let’s talk about some skateboarding…

Pro “Big Gig” Mini-Ramp Jam
Team Pain built yet another monstrosity of a mini-ramp, logging in at about 80’ wide with huge decks, extensions, sub boxes, a channel, and even a vert quarter on top of the deck with pool coping. It was the proper terrain to witness some mini-ramp destruction.

The Contest got started a little after 12pm, with each contestant getting two, 45-second runs and the best run counting. The webcast was rolling, DJ Wade was spinning the proper tunes, and it was on! The energy in the Orange County Convention Center is always intense during these Contests and it’s a good time for all. There are some serious skateboarding enthusiasts in the crowd as well as some people that are just walking around the floor and happened to come upon the Jam It was rad to see the Zoo York family in full effect with Kevin Taylor and Forrest Kirby skating, but not making the cut. Another guy that I would have liked to see in the Finals was Tosh Townend, but it just didn’t work out this time around – he comes out and supports many of our events and it’s always great to see him.

We took the top 10 to the Finals. They each got one intro-run, skate-until-you-fall. Then there was a 20-minute free-for-all Jam. Finally, we ended with another skate-until-you-fall run. The best run of the two counted. We threw in a first-wall rebate, so that stepped up the level of difficulty on the first tricks of the runs. When it was all said and done, here’s how it ended up:
  • 1st - $10,000 – Rune Glifberg – the Great Dane destroyed and got himself a first place finish. Rune took over all parts of the ramp with huge airs, ollies, wall jams, and even threw in a fs ollie late shove-it for the hell of it
  • 2nd - $7500 – Kyle Berard – ol’ “Carl Beard” is back in business after several months of injuries. He has the best lien-to-tails period out of anyone on a mini-ramp and did a bs sugarcane revert on the pool coping extension
  • 3rd - $5000 – Mike Peterson – he drove down from Jacksonville the morning of the event, showed up later than most of the other pros, and hopped on the ramp and made it happen. That’s how Peterson does it and can do it on command at any time
  • 4th - $3000 – Chet Thomas – who? That’s right, Mr. Chet Thomas himself, who is pretty much living-legend status at this point, made it out for the event. We all know that he’s the mini-ramp-champ from forever ago, but he proceeded to learn kickflip fs stalefishes this weekend to impress some old fans
  • 5th - $2000 – Remy Stratton – Volcom’s finest decided to enter last minute and look what happened. Rem-dog skated the ramp like there was no tomorrow and Schaefer commented, “Remy is skating good. I mean…like really, he’s ripping.” Dead on
  • 6th - $1500 – Donny Barley – all I can think of is Mark Nardelli yelling, “BAAARLEEEEE!” time after time, and one helluva smile on Barley’s face. Donny used the entire ramp in his true fashion with long tailslides, 5-0’s, and wallies wherever he could throw them in
  • 7th - $1000 – Tyler Mumma – in addition to getting 7th place, Tyler also won an award for the Best Moustache of the Contest. Tyler had all of the lip trick moves including bs 5-0 crail grabs to fakie and everything frontside to revert
  • 8th - $1000 – Justin Strubing – it’s about time that Strubing made the damn cut. He skates 100 m.p.h. with some of the best style out there. It’s not always what you do, but how you do it, and Justin’s lipslides to 5-0 were out of control
  • 9th - $1000 – Will Powers – the weird little guy from the northwest put together lines that would make your head spin. He had not gotten all cramped up he probably would have placed higher…must have been one of the too many energy drinks that were being passed out
  • 10th - $1000 – Ben Schroeder – that’s right, Big Ben made an appearance and made it happen. The bigger they are, the harder they fall, and Ben goes full-force the entire time. This guy is truly a pleasure to watch and had moves that were freaking everyone out
The prizes were dispersed, the champagne got shot, and the tax forms got filled out. Everyone mingled, the band played the Big Gig at the Volcom tent, beer flowed, and the ams skated to get ready for their Contest on Sunday. It was time to go enjoy some Saturday night-life in Orlando. Hello Hooters!

Am “Big Gig” Mini-Ramp Jam
Sunday morning at the trade shows are extra-mellow, but the excitement level surrounding the mini-ramp was definitely amped up. When I rolled up to the ramp area, the decks were already packed with the kids (and some man ams) working on their lines.

There were the usual attempts at late entries. I know that you rip mini-ramps…is there anyone that doesn’t? I mean, everyone has a couple of moves on a mini, so you’re not really that special when it comes down to it. For everyone that I pissed off for not letting them in the Contest, next time please follow the rules like the rest of the competitors and register with Rob ahead of time –

The format was exactly the same as the Pro, with the exception of the first-wall-rebate. We removed that little bonus and left it exclusively for the pros.

Bummer that a few of our boys didn’t make the cut, but that’s how it goes sometimes. With the skill level at such a high, the likes of Grant Taylor, Vince Del Valle, and Levi Combs just didn’t get squeezed in there. It was down to if you fell at all then your chances were slim to make the Finals. If you bailed more than once…forget about it.

Some of the runs that got pulled in the Final Jam were absolutely ridiculous…it was like the ams couldn’t fall. The top 10 were decided on, and when the dust settled, here’s how it panned out:
  • 1st – Mark Clements - $500 – Marky used the entire ramp and dominated the Jam. He has all of the basics and threw in kickflip bs disaster reverts and nollie bigspin bs disaster reverts, too. His wall-jam to bs disaster revert was insane
  • 2nd – George Evans - $400 – although he didn’t flow as much as some of the others, George threw in moves that were undeniable, like the straight nollie flip in and the smith stall kickflip in on the sub-box
  • 3rd – Chris Lehman - $300 – Tampa’s finest bowl ripper flowed and used the entire ramp, with highlights of bs boneless reverts on the bank extension and Andrects on the other extensions
  • 4th – Dustin Blauvelt - $200 – qualifying 1st doesn’t necessarily dictate an overall win. The kid from Detroit had the best runs of the day in Qualifiers, but fell back a bit in the Jams. He’s now got the blunt bigspin on lock
  • 5th – Dalton Dern - $100 – this kid grew into a force to be reckoned with on tranny in about the last year. He’s still got a little bit of the little-kid steez to out-grow, but he’ll be spinning those 540’s every try in no time
  • 6th – Josh Folley - $100 – Josh is a quiet guy from Minnesota, but definitely lets his full-speed-ahead skating do the talking. He’s pulls the longest bs 5-0’s to fakie and bs crailslides every time
  • 7th – Shawn Hale - $100 – in Practice I saw Shawn doing some of the most difficult lines of the Contest, but he just couldn’t pull it together for the Finals. The one thing that I specifically recall was the switch blunt on the sub-box. See you in Amsterdam again next year, Homie
  • 8th – Alex Brunelle - $100 – all the way from Colorado, Alex knows how to stay on his skateboard during a Contest. Also, he’s really good at the “old guy” moves like sweepers and all of the footplants
  • 9th – Timmy Knuth - $100 – Graffiti Skate Zone’s OG ripper has the skills on all terrain and just enough to make it happen for himself every time at the Expo Mini-Ramp Jams. Kickflip indy fakies and lien melons over the channel all day long
  • 10th – Jordan Price - $100 – I love this little guy. He reminds me a bit of Curren Caples, with huge airs and good style, especially for an oompa-loompa. The Jam was a bit gnar for the little dude, but he made up for it with killer runs
When it was over and the winners were announced, I couldn’t pack my bags fast enough and get back on the road to Tampa. I was officially “over” trade shows for the time being. Now I’m sitting back at Skatepark of Tampa, enjoying the peace and quiet of my office.

Thanks to all of the guys at Volcom for making it happen once again at yet another Mini-Ramp Jam. The prizes this time were the best ones yet! Thanks to the crowd for hanging in there just long enough to be properly supportive. Thanks to Surf Expo for always attempting to accommodate our requests.

See you guys in January for the next round…



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