Vans Downtown Showdown 2008 Article at Skatepark of Tampa

Vans Downtown Showdown 2008

Posted on Monday, October 13, 2008 by Ryan

Words by Ryan Clements
Photos and Captions by Rob Meronek

Alex Olson - half cab flip late one foot
Austyn Gillette - switch 360 flip
Collin Provost - smith grind kickflip out
Rick McCrank is used by some skateboarding drug users as code to refer to a certain street substance. So is Shaun White. I'll let you figure out what drugs they're talking about
David Gravette - noseblunt slide
Neil Heddings - frontside flip with an Al Partanen costume
Jake Duncombe blew everyone away after he made this transfer
This overcrook is one of many reasons Jamie Tancowny got the Top Am award
Is the Three Pump Dump like the one-up to the two pump chump? Jamie Tancowny - one pump varial heel dump
Jani Laitiala - fakie flip. Somehow I missed everything else he threw down to get Top Pro. Filmer Sara's footage is coming to make up for that
I wonder if Billy Marks doesn't get kicked out of spots because the cops are down with his moustache?
Matt Bennett - ollie over to 50-50 on the moon hubba
I'm pretty sure Rick McCrank does not do the Rick McCrank
John Ponts ran out of time before he could make this huge transfer. He ate truckloads of poop in the process
Chocolate didn't have a team in the Contest, but Vincent Alvarez skated the whole time and ripped
This is behind the scenes at the live webcast by There were 2,594 messages sent by you guys. I'm estimating about 60% of them we couldn't read due to being racist, x-rated, or just plain lame, but still really funny. Thank you all for the entertainment
All that coverage you're seeing around the web and on TV is from this crew of lenspeople here
Andrew Langi continued to turn heads this weekend also. That's a 360 flip
The look on Grant Patterson's face says it all about this dude. Very entertaining to watch him try extra hard like a Special Olympics contestant, but he also almost killed half the people in the Contest while doing it, including himself
Johnny Layton - tuck and dump
No one ever gets called Baby Koston except Sean Malto
Jake Duncombe did one trick on the Black Label Dive Bar - this huge gap to lipslide down. Then he chilled and smoked for the rest of the time. I like his style on and off a skateboard
Look at that line-up. I spy Jake Duncombe, John Rattray, Abdias Rivera, Seth McCallum, Andrew Langi, Austyn Gillette, and Adam Alfaro
Tons of stuff went down on the Foundation obstacle, but I missed most of it due to yet another amateur move - dead camera battery. That's Josh Harmony on a smith grind. I heard Josh doesn't want to come back to Tampa because he thinks we're a filthy city of sin after last year's Tampa Pro. Good luck getting into heaven with that attitude
John Cardiel and Ray Barbee were guest judges
Jamie Tancowny walked away with two guitars. I wonder if I'm going to get an email from Fender asking why I didn't say "Fender Guitars" instead of just calling it a guitar. Nah, only Zumiez does that. Only kidding Stu. Please still buy me dinner and beers, just don't give me any of your stock
Jani killed it on every obstacle this weekend. He's like the grown up version of Marius. They're both from Helsinki
I wonder how the Blind Team split up the $30k they won
There wasn't an organized party after the Contest so everyone just kind of disbursed after that. I ended up at The Hub of Hollywood - a place called The Burgundy Room. They played good music. I got drunk. I danced. It was embarassing. Good times
I ran into John Ponts rolling with some ladies. Hope he didn't see me dancing
Isn't it amazing how many people have something to write with while using the bathroom? At Hollywood prices, that's over one Benjamin worth of drinks on our table
So I'm at the point where I only smoke when I'm in California and it's only indoors. This time I think I got through three or four before some ass pulled the citizen's arrest move on me
Whenever you light up indoors in California, at least one local is like, "Duuuude, what you doing????" Then they join you. Brian from Girl is now an indoor smoker. Thanks for the good times and the pizza, Brian
Of all these cities we are always flying into, Tampa is one of the best. Here's some of the swamplands in the bay. Are those square patterns man-made?
Vans Downtown Showdown 2008 Results
Stop 1 – Downtown LA – Upon landing, we grabbed the rental car and drove to Downtown LA to meet our DC contact, Brian Garofalow, at a hotel to check out the site of the After-Party for next weekend’s King of LA. More info on that later this week, but we went and checked out Lockwood and Belmont, too, the sites of the event.

Stop 2 – Rob Dyrdek’s New Warehouse – Okay, in case you didn’t know, as I didn’t, Robby D. is busy working on another TV show, supposedly titled “Fantasy Life.” Apparently he and Big broke up, Rob started several new businesses, and he’s got a gigantic new warehouse to be the headquarters of his operations.

One thing that is particularly cool about the place is that if you step outside his office (with his attorney to his left and CPA to his right), you roll right into an indoor cement street plaza. It was still under construction when we visited, but there were literally 45 people working on it. Dyrdek never ceases to amaze me and hats off to him for his multiple successes.

Stop 3 – Lockwood Elementary – Apparently this is a gnarly neighborhood, but despite the school being locked down like a prison, nothing seemed really that sketchy. There’s a lot of smooth flat-ground and a decent bank that I recognized.

Stop 4 – Belmont High – Rolling through a high school in LA is quite an experience. The kids cuss like crazy in the halls and I counted two pregnant girls. The students look hard and didn’t hesitate to check us out and look us up and down. There are good spots in the back – both a rail as well as a three-stair up and another rail down that I’ve seen many times. Lockwood and Belmont are going to make great locations for King of LA.

Stop 5 – Vans Downtown Showdown – We showed up casually late to do a walk-through of the site at Paramount and handle some registration. The ramps were built, the sound was getting “checked,” and the final decorations were being fastened. We hung out for a few hours, drank the beer and ate the pizza, but not too many teams came to practice. It was a cool scene to catch up at and chill.

Stop 6 – Nike SB Release Party – It was getting late, especially when you’re still on Florida time, but Rob, Brian, and I couldn’t miss the release of Nike’s newest kick, a Blazer collaboration with Lance Mountain and C.R. Stecyk. After walking what seemed like 100 blocks, we arrived just before they closed to have a couple of free drinks and check out the art on display. Nike SB always does it right, and there were a lot of skateboarding’s big names in attendance. No, I’m not going to name-drop, so we’ll leave it by saying, thanks for the good time, SB.

Wow, what a long, eventful day! It was only midnight and I was absolutely beat and ready to hit the sack. Much rest was needed for the big day ahead…

Vans Downtown Showdown
During practice the day before the event, I heard one of the am skaters say, “I love this event; it’s one of the best ones.” That’s always rad to hear because you never know what someone is thinking, right? We’re the “contest dudes,” which is worse than being known as the “contest skaters,” but we’re having a damn fun time while it lasts. So it’s just nice to hear that someone is stoked on what we do when you really never know what people are thinking.

Showdown Rules and Regulations
I know, “rules and regulations” sounds all serious and all, but considering that this is a team vs. team Contest, there needs to be some sort of organization to it for it to work. Here are few of the more important rules:
  • Jams on each obstacle are 30-minutes
  • Teams are permitted a max of three skaters per obstacle
  • At least one pro from each team must skate each obstacle
  • The top two scores from each team for each obstacle are averaged to get the final
  • One pro’s score must be used in the calculation of each obstacle
  • Alternates are permitted, but the removed skater will not be scored
  • Overall winning team is calculated by the lowest placing riders from each team on each obstacle
I know, it’s slightly tech and a bit confusing, but the on-point team managers know what’s up. And let me not forget to mention that the teams are actually the ones that designed the obstacles. All invited teams get to submit ideas and drawings and the best ones are chosen by Vans and us, SPoTlight Productions. One cool thing about that is that no one really complains about how everything turns out because they’re the ones that designed it.

Obstacle Winners
Girl’s Three Pump Dump
  • 1st - $2,500 – Jani Laitiala (Blind) – I’ve seen him around for years, but don’t ask us how to pronounce his last name. So we stick to his first one, which is much easier. Jani put the lines together and made it happen
  • 2nd - $1,500 – Billy Marks (Toy Machine) – I specifically recall huge half-cab kickflips over the first bump
  • 3rd - $1,000 – Rick McCrank (Girl) – one of my favorite skaters because he can be joking around and still totally ripping at the same time
Black Label’s Dive Bar
  • 1st - $2,500 – Jamie Tancowny (Zero) – the flat bar on top of the Bar was really gnar. Jamie stepped up to the plate with pretty much everything, but the clincher was the bs noseblunt
  • 2nd - $1,500 – Sean Malto (Girl) – his fs krooks may have been one of the most stylish of all times from one of the most stylish skaters of all time. I know, it’s bold to say he’s one of the most stylish at only 18, but I’m sure you’ll agree
  • 3rd - $1,000 – David Gravette (Creature) – rounding out the three young guns that seemed to conquer the Dive Bar, Baby Lamb took a couple of hard slams, but that will never stop him from ripping
Creature’s Five Points of Pure Evil
  • 1st - $2,500 – Jake Duncombe (Blind) – it’s not often that one trick makes you the winner of a jam, but Jake took an ollie where no one imagined it would go…from the quarter-pipe, over the whole 12’ or so deck, and into a bank that’s steep enough to be considered a wall-ride. He then proceeded to smash into the judges and onto victory
  • 2nd - $1,500 – Rick McCrank (Girl) – over the past few years, Rick has managed to make quite a bit of money at the Showdown. I was calling his 360 bs ollie to board to rock n’ roll out a “540 rock n’ roll,” but Alex Olson corrected me and said, “It’s called a ‘natural disaster.’”
  • 3rd - $1,000 – Al Partanen (Creature) – it’s not too often that you see Al up in the top three, but he earned it with his silent destruction of the pool coping corner, quarter-pipes, and boneless transfers onto the steep bank
Foundation’s Lunar Eclipsey Hubba
  • 1st - $2,500 – Billy Marks (Toy Machine) – just watch his video part in Ride the Sky to see everything that Marks and his moustache did down the set of stairs. It’s amazing that he can do so many tricks in such a short period of time
  • 2nd - $1,500 – Jani Laitiala – okay, this is where I tell you that I was announcing and therefore didn’t get to write down any notes
  • 3rd - $1,000 – Ethan Fitzpatrick – all I can recall is the after-time bs tailslide down the curved hubba. It’s odd to even say “curved” hubba, but that’s what we were dealing with and anything on it was pretty sick
Am MVP - $5,000 – Jamie Tancowny – I think that last year at the Showdown was the first time that I ever even saw Jamie in person. And honestly, I don’t recall him doing all that much last year, but after his destruction of Label’s Dive Bar and overall enthusiasm and great attitude, there was no denying that he was the Am MVP.

Pro MVP - $10,000 – Jani Laitiala – This one was between Billy Marks and Jani, but Schaefer gave it away when he said, “One is a weird Euro…” Ha. It was actually very funny and Jani’s got a great sense of humor…so would I if I was receiving 10 G’s. Hell, call me whatever you want and give me the money.

Overall Team Winner - $30,000 – Blind – After Thrasher’s King of the Road, I have it embedded in my brain to never under-estimate Blind. Our boy Bill Weiss has done a great job over the past few years to assimilate an amazing, diverse team…and they truly seem like a team to me because all of them were there, including Jake Brown and James Craig, who’s out with a broken wing.

2nd Place Team - $15,000 – Girl – 2006’s winner almost did it again.

3rd Place Team - $5,000 – Toy Machine – I bet if Ed Templeton himself was there they would have won.

Let me start by saying ‘no thanks’ to the cold weather. I’m not used to anything below 70 degrees. And with the wind whipping through the buildings on the set, it felt like we were in SF or something. Thanks to our friends at Vans for letting SPoTlight be a part of yet another fun Showdown…and for the free drinks and grub.

Thanks to the legendary John Cardiel and the always classy Ray Barbee for giving us a hand with the judging by picking the Am and Pro MVP’s. Special thanks to all of the teams that showed up: Foundation, Toy Machine, Girl, Zero, Element, Habitat, Black Label, Creature, and Blind. And thanks to SpeerCo for doing a great job constructing all of the ramps.

Check the re-broadcast of the webcast at

Rumor has it that Vans might be bringing this event to Europe, so hopefully we’ll see you there!



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