Not to long ago ESPN made waves in the skating world that hey were going to phase out vert skating and move on to bigger and better things. The world of transition skating at the X games would wave bye-bye to the longstanding u-ramp comps and now be encompassed in the realm of Super park and mega Ramp. I know, add in the words "defies the rabbit robot" and it sounds less like skating and more like a Flaming Lips Album. At the time I wrote a little letter explaining it to the X Games how they were blowing it. Should you have been one of the 12 people who read that, thanks. If not it was pretty simple and upfront rant on well...nothing, I mean it was a rant. So after my little letter and then plenty of teeth gnashing, foot stomping, hand shaking fist pounds and long walks on the beach X games put vert skating back in. All in all it was sideshow but it was there. So, the pros were happy. ESPN was admonished for saying vert is dead and we all sailed off happily into the future skating world. Well, not really.
In reading the recap from last weeks Tampa Pro I was kinda of shocked by one simple fact. No, not that they choose to put Felix's face on the big checks. The fact was that out of all the big name pros, who came to compete for all the money in the Tampa Pro Vert comp ... pretty much nobody showed up. That's right the $25,000 prize purse wasn't enough to get the rokstars to Florida. To their credit PLG, Danny Mayer, Lincoln Ueada and Chris gentry rolled into town. Now, it pains me to write this because do you know how much mileage a blogger can get out of Chris Gentry? Just watch the video below starting at 4:26 (or maybe earlier) and you'll know what i mean. I actually feel like I have to walk around the guy for being stand up. Maybe it was scheduling conflicts, maybe it was the economy hell maybe it was a plague of locusts but this seems like the type of event all pro skaters not just street skaters should be supporting.
The soap box I'm standing on here isn't "save vert" skating. Vert isn't alive or dead it just ... is. Vert will never grow to the size of or be as accessible as street skating. Fact. A vert ramp is hard to come by and it take s a level of commitment that is easier to access at your local ledge, rail or skate park. There's nothing wrong with that it's just the plain truth. No, the soap box here is that while I believe in payday I believe more in skating. You can got to the Dew Tour, the X Games or whatever big event will pay you the most dollars but they will cease to exist eventually. The prize money may shrink, the dollars may eventually go away or they might just cancel the event all together. If I recall correctly, yep that almost happened last year. So why not support the contest and the crew putting it on who are here for skating. Sure, Skate Park of Tampa is a business but the Tampa Pro and Tampa Am are institutions run by skaters. That should count for much more than it currently does.
I've been lucky. I've had the opportunity to sit down and talk or be around some of the best skaters in the world. To their credit they do give back to skating in their own way. Bucky Lasek has camps through Vans skate parks which are amazing, The Tony Hawk foundation has helped countless skate parks get off the ground. But, I can't believe the pool of competitive vert skating has grown so small that only a handful or recognizable pros can make it out to these events. Vert skaters and industry folk alike should pull their collective heads out of their asses and think about where skating is heading. Do we want to steer it's course or is all now a made for TV event? Leave the moronic words like "amplitude" behind, don't worry if your energy drink logo is visible on your helmet and set a course for what really matters: skating.