PHOENIX -- For the second year in-a-row, Virginia's Ben Hatchell won the Phoenix Am at the Desert West Plaza. Following in his footsteps from last year's event, Hatchell won the Golden Ticket on Saturday, earning a bye to the finals where he continued his domination, taking home the glory and $3000.
With wacky weather this weekend, qualifiers were held on Saturday and 184 skateboarders battled it out, jam-style, in 95 degree heat. The top 40 were selected and moved on to semifinals, which was held earlier Sunday in a very windy, but cool, 75 degrees.
Semifinals saw two heats of five jams each. Each jam had four skaters and were three minutes long. The top 11 moved on to meet Ben Hatchell in finals.
Finals featured two 90-second runs along with a three-minute jam. With the course being as spread out as it was, the 90-second run gave the skaters plenty of time to work their way around and hit all the obstacles.
Robbie Brockel, a Phoenix-area local, manhandled the course. With eggplants on the tombstone and a big ollie over to backside 50-50 down the hubba, Brockel skated everything with speed. At the beginning of the jam he slammed doing a body jar on the tombstone, and although it looked painful, he carried on and took home ninth place.
Trevor Colden, who won the 2011 Tampa Am, cruised around with the relaxed demeanor of a veteran pro. He mixed up his tricks this year, doing heel flips down the double set opposed to last year's switch heels. He spent a lot of time skating the rail and stairs, and had he skated more of the park he could have ended up higher on the list. Colden took home fifth place.
Fourth place was given to Louie Lopez who has been stepping his skating up a lot in 2012. Unlike most of the guys in the finals, 16-year-old Lopez was able to fend off the wind enough to land flip tricks, including a frontside kickflip and a half Cab kickflip down the double set. He knows how to put runs together and keep the momentum going, and his skating was exciting to watch. With a whole year of contests ahead, Lopez is one to watch out for.
And then there were three. Jack Olson, who has really come into his own over the past couple of years, stood out by skating the big obstacles like the hubba and rail, switch. Olson took home third place in finals and won the best trick contest with a nosegrind nollie kickflip on the bump to rail. With $1000 for third and $2500 for best trick, Olson said, "I'm going to save the money for my move out to Long Beach after I graduate high school this year."
Denver's Julian Christianson had trouble on his first run but came out swinging on the second. His run was full of bigspin variations and a switch 360 kickflip over the bump to bump that was caught clean and really helped boost his score. Christianson ended up in second place and walked away with $2000.
But the big winner Sunday was Ben Hatchell. Making it directly to the finals, he made his second run count and continued to step up his skating in the jam. Hatchell's ability to mix technical flip tricks -- like a full Cab kickflip over the bump to bump and followed by a massive 540 on the tombstone -- is what really put him ahead of the rest. With history repeating itself, Ben Hatchell walked away with $3000 and another Phoenix Am title under his belt.