What started as a small idea in the South Lake Tahoe skateboarding community has snowballed into the revival of one of the largest skateboarding competitions to come to the basin. Terror in Tahoe, a skateboard competition for professionals and amateurs, will return to Tahoe this Saturday after a 27-year hiatus.
The event, officially called reTerror in Tahoe, is the brainchild of Michael Chantry, a longtime skater in the basin who hosted the first version of the skate competition in 1984 at his Mile High Ramp in Tahoe City. That first event, which took its name from the ramp, was bigger than many of the organizers expected, drawing professional skaters from across the state.
That growth continued the following year with the newly-named Terror in Tahoe. Emile Janicot, who was 10 years old at the time, remembers big-name skaters like Tony Hawk, Steve Caballero, Lance Mountain and Chris Miller traveling to the area and ripping it up on a hometown ramp built by Tahoe residents.
"There were a lot of old skaters involved and some of the amateurs helped build the ramp. When it first happened they didn't expect all these rippers to show up," Janicot said.
"It was awesome. I went up there to see all these huge-name pros. To see these guys in Tahoe was amazing," he said.
According to Janicot, skateboarding hadn't developed much of a following in Northern California in the early '80s, drawing most of its base from the southern half of the state. It was a big deal to see legends like Hawk and Caballero in Tahoe, but there was also an air of informality about it, Janicot said, like a backyard barbecue. They were just there to ride a sweet ramp.
To get those big-name professionals out here now would take thousands of dollars, Janicot said. He still anticipates some top-level talent making an appearance at this Saturday's competition though, which will celebrate the memory of skate and snowboard pioneer Tom Sims who died from cardiac arrest on Wednesday. Janicot, who will announce for the reTerror in Tahoe, said the response to Chantry's suggestion has been overwhelming in the skateboard community.
"Having this big ramp, a lot of the vertical riders can show their stuff. It's definitely a high-energy contest, that's for sure. I think this is going to be one of the best events to come to Lake Tahoe," Janicot said.
With a 14-foot vertical wall and a monster clamshell bowl, the ramp is primed to be the arena for the weekend's skating battle. Pat Solomon, aka Pat Splatt, hand-built the structure 14 years ago in his backyard. According to Shon Baughman, owner of the Skate House in South Lake Tahoe, it's now been beefed up to pro-worthy status.
"Pictures don't do it justice. It'll baffle you. I've got about $4,200 to $5,000 invested in that ramp. I've got more lumber in it than most people have in their houses," Solomon said.
Although there's still no guarantee regarding which professionals will make an appearance on the ramp, event promoter Jon Schurke said both Jeff Hedges and Jason Richardson are confirmed. Caballero and Mountain might also be among the competitors, Solomon said.
One thing that is assured is that there will be plenty of Tahoe talent ripping it up on Pat Splatt's ramp this Saturday, according to Janicot. The day starts early with an 8 a.m. practice session before the competition begins with skaters 18 years old and younger. Live music and a laser show will wrap up the festivities sometime after dark.
"I think there's going to be a lot more local, raw talent. People who have been skating in the Lake Tahoe Basin. We want as many people to come out as possible even if they don't skate. Skateboarding is like rock and roll - it's never going to go away," Janicot said.