While the Maloof brothers have served as the name and face of the Maloof Money Cup, the people at Etnies shoes and apparel were there since the beginning, directing the highest-paying skate competition away from the pitfalls of past contests, while working to show skating in an accurate light. In this interview, Don Brown explains how Etnies got involved with the Maloofs and gives an answer to the most asked question, "Why do they have to destroy the skatepark every year?"
Since Etnies and Maloof got together on this project, how did it come about?
For Etnies, as a brand, we've been doing events for twenty years ... it lets people see the newest tricks and create innovation and progression. It's always been a big part of the Etnies brand, just to put on really top-quality events, such as the European Championships, GvR ... just various events. And, because we put on such quality events, the Maloofs wanted to get involved with contests with skateboarding (to continue, click read more). They were putting on basketball camps and they realized that all the kids that were coming to camp were riding skateboards and into skateboarding and they were like, 'We have to do something with skateboarding, because it's such a rad thing.' Then, they approached us to say, 'Hey, how do we do this?' Then, it just went from there. We did the first contest the Maloof Money Cup and Etnies was a big part of that.
So, how long before the first contest did the Maloofs contact you? How long did it take to plan?
It was right around a year. I remember it was right around the U.S. Open in Huntington Beach. Don Bostick of World Cup Skateboarding he came to us and was like, 'The Maloofs want to get into skateboarding,' and at first, we were like, it sounds a little fishy. Like, what's their interest in skateboarding, because it seemed so oddball?
Yeah, it seems like, when anybody from the outside comes into skateboarding, you think, what's the angle? You want to know why.
Yeah, exactly. I mean, with Etnies, we're one of the few skateboarder-owned companies out there, so I feel like we have that responsibility of keeping the spirit alive in skateboarding, because there are so many companies infiltrating into the sport right now and they have a lot of money and they look at it as what their return on investments is ... and we look at it as, what's good for skateboarding.
You want to keep skateboarding good.
We want to find ways to make skateboarding better and more quality. So, we get pitched from a lot of different people out there saying, 'Hey, let's do this, that' and most of them get thrown out. But, with the Maloofs, we met with the team with Joe and Gavin and we really found that they're very ... they're actually very similar to Etnies, in that they're more of a family. And, that's the way we see ourselves the employees are super tight and all the riders are super tight. So, we saw how they run their business it's privately owned and they're a family business. So, the thing that stood out is how they care about the people that they surround themselves with and that's something that we pride ourselves on, too. Then, the more things developed, the more they showed the commitment. One of the things Mark Waters, our events manager at Sole Tech. He worked closely with Tim McFarren, who was the project leader of the whole of the Maloof Money Cup. And, he basically just told Tim, 'No, no, no, no, no, no. ... this is what you have to do.'
I'm sure they tried to do things one way and you guys had to say, 'No.'
Exactly. Then, it was really like we got to the point where we started asking the Geoff Rowleys, the Eric Kostons, the Heath Kircharts, the Andrew Reynolds ...
Were you just getting as many people as you could involved?
Yeah, we talked to everyone. It was like, for one, it's the biggest prize money.
Which is a huge draw, right there.
A lot of them were like, 'Oh, okay, I'm interested.' You know, part of the big challenge with contests in the past is just how the contest wasn't really designed for the true, true skateboarder. They're more for the person who just likes skating skateparks, which is fine. But, one of the reasons that a lot of the top guys didn't enter the big contests was because they didn't all have true street courses.
One of the things I've noticed over the past two days is that it looks like a bunch of friends just skating together, but all of the well-known spots happen to be in one little area. It's a contest, but it feels more like people are just skateboarding together as friends, as opposed to a competition, you know?
Yeah, the prize money was a big draw and the riders could actually dictate, 'Hey, this is actually what we want,' to the point where, even this year's course, there's a little hip bank over in the corner. Geoff Rowley was pretty instrumental in designing the street course, and he didn't like the angle of the bank on the hip. So, he had them redo the whole angle on the bank. They really listened to him. But, they don't listen to Kirchart ... and they don't listen to Gilly [Don laughs and points at Heath Kirchart and Ben Gilley] ... so, that was a big draw obviously, the money and the fact that the riders really get to get what they want to ride.
They also raised money as part of a rider foundation that helped cover the cost of any of the riders if they got injured. If their insurance only covered so much, their [the Maloof's] money would cover the difference.
So it's really cool. And, just dealing with the Maloofs this last year, the biggest complaint was that the course gets knocked in.
I interviewed Joe and he said he wanted to do more contests and courses in other towns, but it's tough to do it with the cities and the liability.
It's definitely tough, but that's a big objective for the future. The first one that was the biggest complaint out there. This year, you know, it just kind of had to be done again here. I mean, the Orange County Fairgrounds gets over 300,000 people this weekend, so it's a huge draw, too, to get that exposure.
Joe was careful not to say, 'Blow up,' when talking about getting rid of the course, so it's clearly a delicate subject.
Yeah, exactly, but you know ... I mean, a lot of pieces out there are going to get reused in parks. That marble is going to get picked up pretty fast. Last year, even that grass around the outside got reused. Remy Stratton even took that home to his house. So, it's like, it sucks that it gets taken down, but people reuse what's out there, too.
But, is Etnies continuing to push for the event to be elsewhere?
There's a reality of doing it other places Vegas got mentioned, Paris got mentioned. Heath's backyard got mentioned [Laughs]. I hope it's big enough [Laughs].
Heath Kirchart: If you can fit a bowl back there.
So, I think in the long term, New York's got mentioned, too. There's a lot of searching for where it can be done. Obviously, the logistics of actually going somewhere and just leaving a park is kind of hard, since most of the places you can make a skatepark the plots of land are the cheapest pieces of land in the city, which are usually the most dangerous and sketchy areas. But, with the Maloofs and the way they're known all over the world, there's a lot of ins.
It seems like the Etnies and all the skateboarders involved can make a push and the Maloofs are a helpful ally.
Yeah, I mean, with the Etnies skatepark in Lake Forest, Calif., it's one of the biggest parks in the U.S., as far as area -- it's 40,000 square feet and we're actually expanding it to 50,000 square feet. But, you see all the energy from everyone involved from the community and all the kids that come there and it's like, it really cleans the place up and brings people together. It's been shown that when skateparks go in, graffiti actually goes down. That general mischief of youth, it just needs to be released and that's why we want to push to have these Maloof events more places in the future.
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