Damn Am Costa Mesa 2008 Presented by Volcom and Cons

Posted on Tuesday, October 28, 2008 by Rob

Words by Ryan Clements
Photos and Captions by Rob Meronek
Footage by Filmer Sara

Ben Gore - kickflip over the rail
Jeffrey Marshall - 360 flip, illegal gear
Filipe Ortiz - kickflip boardslide, bank robber gear
Tommy Fynn - nollie crook, Tampa kit
Axel Cruysberghs - 360 flip, Euro David Loy
Luis Tolentino - big snaps in the Ollie Pop High Ollie Contest
Nick Merlino - switch backside 360
Nick Tucker - nollie bigspin
Paul Torrento - bigspin boardslide
Kirk Rocha - switch heel
David Loy - frontside nosegrind pop in
Nate Principato - nollie half cab heel
Raymond Macken - hardflip
Andrew Cannon - lein nosegrab
Dylan Perry - alley oop backside disaster
Mike Sinclair and Kenny Hughes - ballin'
Tyson Bowerbank - backside 360
Dylan Perry - ollie over to 50-50
Felipe Gustavo - nollie flip noseslide
Rob Maatman - 360 flip
Rob Maatman - nollie bigspin
Taylor Smith - kickflip front board
Chase Webb - kickflip boardslide
Kenny Hughes - white guy dance
Nick Merlino - switch heel
David Loy - smith grind transfer
Louie Lopez - frontside big heel
Donovan Piscopo - back crail
David Loy's winning run in the Finals (10mb mpeg video file)
Cody Davis' 2nd place run in the Finals (10mb mpeg video file)
Jake the ATM with the BTM - bigspin front board
Alex Pellegrino - cab down the double set in the Darkstar Best Trick
Who dat? Crooked grind to 5-0 in the Darkstar Best Trick
Who dat? 360 double flip in the Darkstar Best Trick
Mikey Sanchez - switch frontside big heel in the Darkstar Best Trick
Eggy - switch dolphin flip in the Darkstar Best Trick
Manny Santiago - pop shuv feeble in the Darkstar Best Trick
Cody Davis - front board kickflip out in the Darkstar Best Trick
Mikey Sanchez - hardflip backside 180 in the Darkstar Best Trick
Moose - cab flip in the Darkstar Best Trick
Ryan Reyes - blunt slide shuv it out in the Darkstar Best Trick
Jordan Hoffart - frontside flip
Kyle Walker - front blunt, Tampa kit
Kyle Walker - frontside feeble, Tampa kit
Clint Walker - overcrook, Tampa kit
Timmy Knuth - 360 flip
Ryan Reyes - bluntslide
Robby Hargreaves - feeble, Tampa kit
My new longboard pal, Jeremy Peckham - 360 flip
Travis Glover - back lip, Tampa kit
Isiah Johnson - 360 flip
Ryan Thompson - crail grab
Chase Webb - kickflip back lip
Lee Loughridge - back lip
Cody Davis - back smith
Oscar Meza aka Pepe Knuth - crooked grind
Taylor McClung - 360 flip, Tampa kit
Sean Powell - back smith, Tampa kit
Weston Sparks - frontside flip
Rammy Issa - 360 flip
Curren Caples - frontside pop shuv
Christian Sereika - frontside nosegrind, Tampa kit
Rob Maatman - back smith
Jon Demar - frontside tailslide
I was the last of our crew to arrive in the O.C., which means that I made the trek solo and arrived the night before the first day of Qualifiers. Damn Am is the event that we run that most closely resembles Tampa Am. There is the standard two days of Qualifiers and then on Sunday we have the Semi-Finals, Finals, and Best Trick.

Since there is no direct flight to John Wayne Airport from Tampa, I had to fly all the way to Salt Lake City and then onto Costa Mesa. No big deal really because I’m good at keeping busy reading mags and typing away on the computer. However, it was a bit difficult to concentrate due to the old lady that was sitting next to me that kept wanting to talk.

She had a heavy Spanish accent, which I found out later to be Cuban. She was straight from Cuba actually, and lived in Florida for the past 47 years, spending most of those years in Miami and then relocating to the Tampa area. “47 years? How old could this lady be?” I thought. Maybe she was reading my mind because she ended up telling me that she was 77-years-old and a former Olympic swimmer for Cuba prior to her defecting (Is that what you call it?) to the United States nearly 50 years ago.

Wow. That sure puts things into perspective. Here I was earlier that day complaining about having to fly to CA again, while this lady that sat next to me was like a little kid with all of her questions. I ended up thinking her wanting to talk to me was really cool and it left me with a renewed appreciation and anticipation for the upcoming weekend. So let’s get to it!

Qualifiers & Ollie Pop High Ollie Contest
You know the routine at Damn Am Costa Mesa, right? The format has been consistent for the past seven or eight years. We actually had a tough time figuring out if it was the 7th or 8th annual...not really sure, but it’s been a while either way. There were 63 participants on Friday and 83 on Saturday, so to make it fair we took the same percentage of skaters to the Semi-Finals from each day. They each got two, one-minute runs and on Friday we took 16 and on Saturday we took 22, which worked out to be just over 25% of the total going to the Semi-Finals. Additionally, the 1st place skater from each day gets the Golden Ticket and goes straight to the Finals. Not having to fight your way through the Semi-Finals is quite a treat.

For all of the Results of who got what, click right here, but I’m going to highlight a few things that I was stoked on throughout the two days in a very random order:
  • The Golden Ticket from Friday went to my boy from Florida, Timmy Knuth, while Saturday’s Ticket went to Louie Lopez
  • Dylan Perry, Abdias Rivera, and Jeffrey Marshall qualified 6th, 7th, and 8th respectively on Saturday
  • Knox Godoy – I hadn’t seen Knox in several years, and actually “cool-guyed” him when he said ‘hello’ to me…not that I meant to cool-guy him at all, but I did it by not realizing that it was him since I hadn’t seen him for so many years. If you don’t know what getting cool-guyed is, then that’s a good thing
  • Pat Pasquale – he’s the white version of Antwuan Dixon…super-nice and super-party mode
  • Speaking of being white, Kenny Hughes and Vern Laird kept ganging up on me and making fun of me for being white, but I was thinking that Kenny and I could have our own show called “Clem and Ken” on MTV. He could be my big black bodyguard while I talked crap to people all of the time
  • Thanks to our friend Raul at Mada for throwing together a quick After-Party at the Chronic Cantina on Friday night. That was a fun time with quality margaritas
  • On Saturday night Volcom hosted a Video Premiere at their TF, showing both Thrasher’s newest flick, Brutality, along with their very own All the Days Roll Together
After the Qualifiers were over on Saturday we knocked out a quick High Ollie Contest courtesy of Ollie Pop Gum. There were about six or seven guys that made it over the starting height of 36”. From there it kept creeping up an inch at a time, finally ending at 42” and breaking it down to only three remaining participants. I had my money on Luis, but I hadn’t seen Kechaud in a high ollie comp before. It’s interesting because both Luis and Kechaud are built like athletes. Kechaud could double as a wide-receiver while Luis is simply an athletic-looking dude that is probably really good at all sports. High Ollie Contests are so damn fun…the crowd was totally into it and the suspense was killer. Here’s how it broke down:
Semi-Finals & Finals
Considering the event didn’t start until 12pm, there was plenty of time to sleep in. Upon walking outside at about 10am, I realized that it was very foggy and a bit chilly. I thought, “Wow, maybe it won’t feel like we’re melting all day up on the judging area like we have the past couple of days.” So much for that thought because by the time the Contest started it felt like 100 degrees up there.

And what made it even hotter for me? My Phil Jackson outfit, that’s what. Yep, we kept the tradition alive by dressing up. The Damn Am judging staff and work-crew adorned Laker gear and I was the Coach. Schaefer then took wearing a costume to an all-new level by shaving his head and painting himself black to properly “fit” into his Kobe jersey.

To add to the festive mood, a few others in the crowd took it upon themselves to dress up, too. This is what makes Halloween so much damn fun. Most notably we had Jake Duncombe as DJ Wade and the ever-participatory Andrew Cannon appropriately dressed as Wet Willy, who we dubbed “Sweat Willy” for sweating all over the course while skating his ass off!

We got the event rolling just a couple of minutes after 12pm with a proper webcast introduction to those that were watching online both locally as well as all over the world. You should have read some of the emails that we were getting that we couldn’t read back over the mic! Then we gave each of the guys that made it to the Semis two, one-minute runs with the best run counting. We broke that group of 36 down to a mere 10, and then they were joined by the Golden Ticket winners, Timmy Knuth and Louie Lopez.

In the Finals, all skaters were given three, one-minute runs to make it happen. For the first two rounds of runs I still thought that it was anyone’s Contest because there hadn’t been any flawless runs completed that really stood out amongst the rest. Then on the third and final runs Loy, Davis, and Knuth all skated flawless, with Felipe Gustavo only falling once, but doing such difficult tricks that it was unreal.

After the insanity of the Best Trick and Product Toss settled down, here’s who walked away with the prizes. Top five got $500 Zumiez Travel Vouchers and a sweet-ass Kicker iPod docking station (modern-day boom box):
  • 1st – David Loy – 2nd time Damn Am Costa Mesa winner, but this time he dominated by taking it by over six points. David is one of the most polite, coolest kids you could ever meet. His parents done did well
  • 2nd – Cody Davis – with his Billy Idol locks and kickflips into everything, including fs crooks, Cody is getting really, really good…and he’s got a great sense of humor, too
  • 3rd – Felipe Gustavo – he came out of nowhere and won Tampa Am 2007 and has been here in the States ever since. In his last run he did a nollie flip noseslide 360 shove-it out so perfectly that it could have made the video
  • 4th – Timmy Knuth – my boy from Florida has been getting a lot of recognition recently, but that’s because he can kickflip crooks any rail on command every single try. Nice work, Timmy
  • 5th – Kechaud Johnson – Kenny Hughes thought I was making fun of Kechaud when I said he could be a wide receiver, but I wasn’t at all. This dude has the athletic skill to be at the top of any sport he chooses to play, but fortunately for us he’s a skateboarder
  • 6th – Louie Lopez – along with Curren, Louie is another one of my favorite little Flip dudes. He’s got a mean fs bigspin heelflip down the double-set, too
  • 7th – Shawn Hale – up until yesterday I didn’t realize that our girl Sierra had a crush on Shawn, but then we found out that Shawn is getting married soon, so she’s a bit disappointed. However, Shawn is an amazing skateboarder that continues to impress me every time I see him
  • 8th – Rob Maatman – although I didn’t get to see it in person, Rob destroyed AmsterDamn Am last summer and won it, therefore sneaking into the Semis at Tampa Am in December. At this Damn Am he would have been top three had he stayed on
  • 9th – Kyle Walker – only 14-years-old and straight outta’ Oklahoma City, this little guy has style for miles and great trick selection, so I know that you’ll see more of him in the near future
  • 10th – Tommy Fynn – I though that he was from Australia, but then found out that he’s lived in Oz, New Zealand, and South Africa. Talk about a man of the world…sure beats having only lived in Philly and Tampa like me!
  • 11th – Will Marshall – this little Canadian is growing into his own with solid runs and a good attitude. It doesn’t hurt that his pops sends us beer all of the time, too
  • 12th – Donovan Piscopo – I think I’ve said this before, but Jamie knows how to pick ‘em, and Donovan is by far one of the illest little dudes out there, which is why he represents Zero. Give him some time to grow up and look out!
Darkstar Best Trick
Volcom always has something planned that we haven’t really discussed and this time it was having a band called Axis play during the Best Trick. What we ended up finding out was that these kids were literally in Jr. High and High School and won a Battle of the Bands for the right to play.

They proceeded to play some serious High School Rock while more skaters than I’ve ever seen tried to handle business in a very over-crowded Best Trick Contest all at once! It was humorous at times because there would literally be three or four skaters hucking themselves down the double-set and rails at any given second.

We let it go a little over 20-minutes and by that time enough quality maneuvers were landed to call it. Thanks to DNA Orange Juice, Silent Skateboards, and Mimik Clothing for kicking down some extra loot:
  • 1st – $500 – Daniel Espinoza – his front blunt bs flip out on the rail got him a $500 Zumiez Travel Voucher, Kicker iPod dock, and Sony PSP, too
  • 2nd – $200 – Ryan Reyes – fs smith kickflip out on the rail
  • 3rd – $100 – Moose! – cab flip down the stairs
  • 4th – $100 – Cody Davis – fsbs kickflip out
  • 5th – $100 – Grant "Eggy" Muller – switch dolphin flip
Schaefer stayed with the worker-crew to begin the break-down while I got the hell out of there to catch the first plane back to Tampa. It was four weekends in a row away from home and I really needed to be back in my living room, which is where I’m sitting right now.

As I’ve said 100 times before, it’s always a pleasure working with the crew at Volcom. Thanks for taking care of everything and making us feel like we’re at home…and for feeding us everyday with some killer BBQ. Thanks to Cons for coming in last minute and taking the title shoe sponsorship…and to all of the other sponsors like Red Bull, Mob, Almost, Ollie Pop, Vestal, and everyone else that supports what we do. Finally, thanks to Chris Ortiz and the crew at skateboard.com for doing such a professional job on the webcast production. We couldn’t do it without all of you and it sure always is a damn good time. See you at Make-A-Wish on November 8th.


  • Sponsors: Volcom, Cons, Red Bull, Darkstar, Blind, Indy, Almost, Ollie Pop, Real, Thunder, skateboard.com, Dakine, Saturday Skateboards, Vestal, Electric, Zumiez, Vitamin Water, Honest Tea, Kicker, Thrasher, Transworld, Skateboarder, The Skateboard Mag, Focus, Lowcard, Automatic, Solar Power
  • Thanks to skateboard.com. Rebroadcast Thursday, October 30th at noon.
  • Thanks to skate parents, friends, family, spectators, skaters
  • Also, Tampa Am live webcast December 7, 2008 (NEW DATES!!!)
  • Thanks to Sierra for all the help
  • Thanks to Jared, Lauren, and all the crew for keeping the place clean and serving food
  • Thanks to the blue collar crew for building the course and tearing it down tomorrow - Neil Heddings, Dogboy, Allen Russell, Gene Rosmarin, Cody Hager, Joe Flores, Tony Fraude
  • Thanks to the judges - Brian Howard, Mike Sinclair, Kenny Hughes, Jason Rothmeyer, Brian Young. Announcers: Vern Laird, Brian Schaefer, Clements
  • Thanks to DJ Wade
  • Paul Schmitt - endless support since day one
Damn Am Thanks For Nothing Awards
  • Volcom - Kevin Braden, Steve Stratton, Jared Hager, Jake the ATM with the BTM, Remy Stratton
  • Cons - Sharon Bayron, Steve Luther
  • Jorge Angel - hard work
  • Cameo Wilson - quit his job to skate the contest
  • Andrew Cannon - overall good sport, great costume, blue semen
  • Jake Duncombe - DJ Wade best costume
  • Chris Ortiz - webcast, skateboard.com crew
  • Barak Wiser from Skatepark of Tampa - thanks for all the help all weekend