The seventh Pro-tec Pool Party -- an annual gathering of skateboarding's best riders at one of the world's most formidable bowls -- wrapped Saturday at the Vans Combi in Orange, Calif. Both the masters and pro divisions were so close all the way through that it would've been hard to choose a clear-cut winner. Thankfully, I'm not a judge. In the end Brazilian Vans skateboarder Pedro Barros came out on top for the pros and Chris Miller, one of the smoothest skaters of all time, took the masters.
Personally, I would have taken it another direction. If you didn't get to see the webcast, go back and watch the footage. Rune Glifberg had two amazing, top-speed runs that included a switch backside flip, so I was a bit shocked that he didn't take first place. I give credit to both Glifberg and Barros, who killed the bowl while being injured. Glifberg's knees were hurting and he didn't get to practice all week, and Barros hurt his foot the day before in practice. First and second place could have easily gone either way.
The real shocker for me was that Real's Alex Perelson (fifth Place) didn't take third. I thought he was one of the most exciting to watch the entire contest, going faster and higher than anyone else competing.
The masters competition was the real highlight for those who put an emphasis on style. It seems that guys such as Miller, Steve Caballero (second) and Lance Mountain (third) just get better with age. Mountain had one run in which he hit 23 walls in a row with tricks. It was insane. In the days leading up to the contest, everyone I spoke with said they were going just to see Miller skate, and if that was the case, they got their money's worth.
Miller skates with the speed and energy of a 16-year-old and his trick selection is beyond difficult at that speed. He threw down 10-plus-foot blunt slides in every run and never missed one, back-lip slides around the corners and the biggest, highest airs of anyone of any age group. Justin Regan, head of Vans Skate marketing, said, "It's like he's the perfect man. Everything he does is flawless."
The Pro-tec Pool Party gets better and better every year. The only thing missing from this year was a classic battle in the masters division. I was hoping for a shootout for the ages of Miller versus Tony Hawk or Hawk versus Christian Hosoi, but Hosoi was injured and Miller was skating at such a high level that no one could touch him, not even Hawk, who placed fourth.
Where the masters sees the same faces year in and year out, the Pro Division gave us a glimpse of what the future holds for skateboarding. So many new guys destroyed it: Chicago's Mike Owens had some of the most unique lines of the day and took the best trick of the contest with an alley-oop nosegrind through the corner. Other notables were Sky Siljeg of Bothell, Wash. (ninth), who skated padless and fast all day, 14-year-old Steve Pineiro of Jacksonville, Fla., (seventh) and Nolan Munroe of New Hampshire (fourth), who had lines and tricks no one else had. With all these new names, the future of bowl riding and the Pro-tec Pool Party looks to be in good hands.