Street skateboarding goes big with $1.2M tour
Street skateboarding is going big league.
Rob Dyrdek, the street skater turned MTV star, is launching his Street League Skateboarding on Saturday at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Ariz., the first of three contests that will pay a total of $1.2 million in prize money.
The winner at each stop earns $150,000, the biggest prize in skateboarding.
“That’s a great opportunity to shoot for,” said Paul Rodriguez, one of the world’s top 24 skateboarders who’ve signed on. “It would be nice to come across that once or twice.”
Other top skaters competing will be Chris Cole, Ryan Sheckler, Nyjah Huston, Torey Pudwill, Eric Koston and Mike Mo Capaldi.
“For me, personally, I’ve always felt like it was even bigger than this,” Dyrdek said in a phone interview. “I love skateboarding so much and know how special it is, and I know how incredibly gifted these elite guys are. It’s just a matter of putting it in the proper package for the rest of world to become engaged and follow along. It’s just the beginning of the true emergence of street skateboarding into the mainstream.”
Contested on prefabricated concrete skate plazas set up in arenas, Street League will use instant scoring, a big change from most competitions that feature jam sessions where several skaters are doing tricks at the same time.
The other stops on what will be called the DC Pro Tour fueled by Monster Energy will be in Ontario, Calif., on Sept. 11 and Las Vegas on Sept. 25.
Street League is the latest infusion of big money into skateboarding. The first contest comes less than a month after the third Maloof Money Cup in Orange County, which paid out nearly $450,000 in cash and prizes.
Cole has won the last three Maloof contests, including the inaugural Maloof Money Cup New York in June, pocketing a total of $300,000.
“I think there was this weird mentality that street skaters just didn’t want to go to contests and be part of it,” Dyrdek said. “I think it led to when the Maloofs came in with that big prize money. That set the new standard for what was possible. But for me, I felt even that still has a long way to go. Eventually, I wanted to be where these guys go on tour in the summer and skate for millions of dollars. We’re already able to do that, by having the first million-dollar skateboard tour.”
The Maloof Money Cups are hosted by Joe and Gavin Maloof, the brothers who own the NBA’s Sacramento Kings.
Having done all the other contests, Rodriguez is all for Street League.
“I love it,” said Rodriguez, who won the inaugural Maloof Money Cup and $100,000 in 2008. “I think it’s going to be the best contest thus far, ever, for sure.”
Dyrdek said the purse for this year’s three Street League events outstrips the combined payouts of the Dew Tour, X Games and the Maloof contests. He wants to hold at least five contests next year, including on the East Coast.
“We’ve never really had too big an opportunity to win such huge cash prizes,” Pudwill said. “It’s kind of crazy that it came out of nowhere. But if you look at how much skating has progressed in the last three years, you see how much harder skateboarders are working. It’s awesome to see. It brings a lot of attention to skateboarding.”
Street League has caused some controversy because its skaters are signed exclusively. They had a two-event exemption for this year, but in the future won’t be able to compete in the Maloof Money Cup, Dew Tour or X Games.
“Point blank, the reality of Street League will be where the elite street skaters end up,” Dyrdek said. “To me it is the ultimate tier and there’ll be a grand sort of understanding, if you’re one of the best, this is where you skate.”
Only six skaters will qualify for the finals, with a seventh getting in via a last-chance qualifier.
“It’s going to be tough to get into that seven and chase down that big money,” Dyrdek said.
The instant scoring format brings a competitive strategy to skateboarding for the first time. Each skateboarder will get seven attempts on the four sections of the course: technical, creative, line and big. Each attempt gets an instant score on a scale of 0 to 10, averaged from five judges. Each landed trick contributes to a cumulative point total. Tricks that aren’t landed are given a 0.
It’s a change from the jam format, where a handful of skaters all do tricks at the same time.
“It could be up to Paul Rodriguez to switch heel flip down the triple-set (of stairs) on the final trick of the whole event,” Dyrdek said. “He needs a 3.2 to overtake Chris Cole, and bam, he has to do a single trick for $150,000. It’s the same way you watch four quarters of football for that field goal, or four quarters that lead Kobe Bryant to a 3-pointer.”
“Falls become exciting. If he falls, he just lost $150,000.”
In the Maloof Money Cup three weeks ago, Cole landed enough tricks to top a sensational performance by the 15-year-old Huston, who landed all 16 of his tricks in his section of the third and final heat. Huston was crushed. The difference between first and second place was $60,000.
Dyrdek spent six years planning Street League, and Rodriguez lauds the attention paid to such elements as style, cleanliness of landing a trick and creativity.
“It suits skateboarding as best as possible,” Rodriguez said. “Skateboarding is a hard thing to judge anyway. It’s not something that can be put in a box, but we’re putting it as best as possible into a box.
Dyrdek said there will be revenue sharing for the skaters, and there will even be an online fantasy game at streetleague.com.
Each city that hosts a Street League event will get the obstacles as well as $50,000 from Dyrdek’s foundation for construction and design costs to build a permanent skate plaza.
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