Zitzer's 2017 Tampa Am Prepper's Guide Article at Skatepark of Tampa

Zitzer's 2017 Tampa Am Prepper's Guide

Posted on Thursday, November 2, 2017 by Paul


This is the 24th Annual Tampa Am. That’s hard to fathom for someone like myself who was at the first Tampa Am. Technically Josh Stewart won that one in 1995, but…no disrespect to His Static Life but that’s when the Am was still just a local yokel type of thing and didn’t mean much at the time. 1996 was the year Tampa Am went National, and was in my opinion the advent of what it’s grown into today: The International Amateur Skateboarding Finals. Donny Barley unveiled the Barley Grind that year, and proceeded to bell curve his way through a professional skateboarding jaunt and land here on the other side. Look at this all time winners list:

Tampa Am:
1995 Josh Stewart
1996 Donny Barley
1997 Judd Hertzler
1998 Nathan Smith
1999 Mike Peterson
2000 Kyle Berard
2001 Colt Cannon
2002 Caswell Berry
2003 Kevin "Spanky" Long
2004 Sierra Fellers
2005 Nyjah Huston
2006 Cody McEntire
2007 Felipe Gustavo
2008 Ryan Decenzo
2008* Luan Oliveira
2009 Luan Oliveira
2010 Elijah Berle
2011 Trevor Colden
2012 Alec Majerus
2013 Jack Olson
2014 Jagger Eaton
2015 Aurelien Giraud
2016 Dashawn Jordan

You’ll notice that besides some of the most recent winners like Jagger Eaton and Aurelien Giraud, the only winner since Barley to NOT go on to a stint as a professional skateboarder was Knoxville Tennessee’s Nathan Smith from 1998. Other interesting facts: Brazil, Canada, and France are the only three countries to have champs besides the good ol’ USofA. Luan Oliveira holds the distinction of winning twice, back to back. Nyjah won when he was 10. And in 2008 there were actually two Tampa Ams because it moved from January to November that year.

There is absolutely no telling what’s going to happen at any given Tampa Am, so it’s hard to make any predictions. I will say this though: Last year when Adam Lough of The Motivation movies approached us about making a documentary about skaters coming to Tampa to compete, I told him the one thing I could almost GUARANTEE was that no matter which skaters he chose to follow for the movie, none of them would actually win. In fact, I told him none of them might even make the Final. Well blow me down, not only did two of his eventual picks land on the podium (Zion and Dashawn), Dashawn took the grand prize and then went on to qualify into SLS and actually WIN the Chicago stop this past year. So…. it’s not impossible to pick the winner, but good luck. Here’s why: 250 skaters will be in Tampa, and based on our vetting process we give the thumbs up to skaters that don’t just rip, but have a fighting chance to make Finals. And when it comes down to the best of a three run Final, it is, in the legendary words of SPoT owner Brian Schafer “anybody’s game.”


The Open Qualifier will consist of approximately 150 skaters duking it out in three minute jams with three skaters at a time. And although each and every one of them is a killer on the board, these are the mutts, the stragglers, and the orphans with no traceable lineage. Their mom might be their biggest sponsor and most of them have never had a terrible amount of success in contests. That’s going to have to change for these lost boys (and girls?) because they’ll all be vying for a top 10 spot in order to live to skate another day. The number one qualifier will leapfrog over to the Semi Finals on Sunday. The 2nd through 10th place finishers will move on to Saturday’s Tampa Am Qualifier.

The Tampa Am Qualifier will consist of Exactly 100 skaters, laying it all on the line in three minute jams with two skaters on the course at a time. These are the big time ams, the shot callers, and the fortunate ones. Their group is made up of all of the skaters from the 2017 Damn Am stops that managed to snag a top ten spot. Other skaters in this bunch are the ones who are spoken for by some of the biggest brands in skateboarding and who you already know by name: Corey Glick, Yoshi Tanenbaum, Keegan Palmer, John Dilo, Hermann Stene, etc. And then there are those top guys from Friday’s Open. Oh, and the winner on Saturday gets a special Straight Shot award that is redeemable for one spot in the Finals. The 2nd – 24th place skaters will be facing their next hurdle on Sunday: The Semi Finals. I’m curious to see how many of the top skaters from Friday also finish in this top 24 on Saturday. Last year Angelo Caro from Peru was one of those who advanced from Friday’s Open all the way to the Finals. That’s tough to do.

The Semi Finals this year will most likely consist of 27 skaters, barring any last minute format changes or injuries. These skaters will be broken into two heats, and each skater will get two 1-minute runs on the course. This batch of 27 will consist of Friday’s 1st place qualifier, the 2nd through 24th place skaters from Saturday, PLUS the winners of the 2017 Damn Am stops. But since we had so many repeat winners on the Damn Am this year, there are only three skaters who you’ll be seeing skate Tampa for the first time on Sunday: Marcos Montoya, Maurio McCoy, and Daisuke Ikeda from Japan. The top 10 Skaters from the Semis will be slotted directly into the Finals.

The skaters in the Finals will be lumped into one heat, each getting three 1-minute runs. A skater’s best run will count. The 12 skaters in the Finals will consist of the top 10 from Semi Finals, plus the number one finisher from the Tampa Am Qualifier on Saturday, plus Ivan Monteiro. How did Ivan Monteiro already lock down a spot in the Tampa Am Final you ask? Well my friends, he did the best out of any other skater in the entire world in the 2017 Damn Am series and skated off with the title of Damn Am of the Year. So each skater will take their three runs, and when the last trick is landed (or bailed), we’ll anoint the winner of the 2017 Tampa Am and send them on to next year’s SLS Pro Open. Boo yeah.
We’ll have a 5-judge panel at Tampa Am this year, just like every other year. The judges are either current pros [Kelly Hart, Billy Marks, Jordan Hoffart], past pros [Matt Milligan], or top sponsored ams that can still switch back tail like nothing [Pat Stiener]. They score everyone from 0 – 100. The high scores and low scores are dropped, and the remaining three scores are averaged to get a skater’s final score. The better the ripping the higher the score. People will complain about the judging no matter who is sitting up there, no matter who wins, or who loses. But at the end of the day these guys are deciding what skating was the best in their opinion, and since they’ve all got street cred for days in our world, we are going to take their word for it.

This year Tampa Am will be 100% free to watch on the ETN app. What does that mean? It’s simple: you go to wherever it is you normally go to get your apps, download ETN, and then at 12pm EST on Saturday and Sunday you click play.
SPoT Life
If you have a job on Wall Street and your boss has you working weekends and you just can’t watch, you can always head over to RIDE Channel on YouTube and watch our daily SPoT Life edits. If you read the comments you’ll assume SPoT Life is a scourge on humanity, but it’s actually pretty tight. But go ahead, hate on the SPoT Life hosts in the comments section to keep their egos in check.
Right after Qualifiers are over on Saturday, we open up the coping monster obstacle right in front of the judges’ stand for the Independent Best Trick contest. The clock will be set to 30 minutes and then you just need to sit back and wait for amazing things to happen. They always do. The skater who does the most ridiculously great thing on their skateboard wins. High fives!

On Saturday night, as part of the Skatepark of Tampa 25 Year Anniversary Party we’ll be doing the Converse Concrete Jam again. We’re talking about the concrete bowl section in the courtyard of SPoT, and kind of like in Best Trick, we set the clock and open the floodgates. This is a one hour festival of shred, and anything goes, including things like that Scotty Laird / Pedro Delfino collision heard ‘round the world a couple years back. The top 3 skaters in the Jam get to come back and skate the CCJ at Pro in the spring. The winner gets $1000 to help him buy his flight and pay for a room and hopefully have some left over for some delicious PBR. Wait, are you even 21? Didn’t think so.
Schaefer has rebuilt the street course inside SPoT every year since I don’t even know how long. Some years it’s had the full rebuild, other years it’s been just an obstacle or two. This year falls somewhere in between but the new ski-ball ledge and A-frame rail are sure to reignite stoke and keep things lit. Don’t tell the fire marshal!
Every year we hire a rad artist to develop the theme / look / vibe for the contest via the contest poster, and course color palette. In the past it’s been Neckface, Sieben, Todd Bratrud, even Lance Mountain. This year we brought in Andrew Schoultz, who if you don’t already know designed the visually ballistic skate course installation at Art Basil in Miami last year and has painted these beautiful and massive murals all around the world. The best part about bringing Andrew on board is that he actually spent weeks staying at SPoT back when it was still an impromptu hostel, and he even entered Tampa Am 1999. And he still rips! Follow him on Insta: @aschoultz for more. Oh, and you can buy one of 15 hand painted original Andrew Schoultz decks if you come to the Bricks on Friday night for his Art Show.
Schaefer got the keys to the building that would become Skatepark of Tampa on January 1st, 1993. That means two months from now, at the start of 2018, we’ll be marking 25 years of SPoT. But the question is, with thousands of people coming to town from all over the world for Tampa Am, why wait to start the party? Be at SPoT on Saturday night and chug a couple of beers for old times sake. But word to the wise: If you’re skating the contest you might want to wait until Sunday night to start your chuggin. Or not. Yewwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!!!!!


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