On August 19th, skateboarding's epicenter temporarily relocated from sunny southern California to the more temperamental weather of New York City. Industry heads, pros, ams, skaters and lurkers from all over the world could be found within a mile radius of the Lower East Side at Coleman Oval skatepark. Manny Mania continues to be the untraditional, premiere event for skateboarders to display their ultra refined, technical tricks. Even with the open Red Bull bar at Epstein's on Saturday night, the level of manual, two-wheeled trickery continued to progress with maneuvers that have never been done or seen before.
There's a couple of things that make Manny Mania such a unique event. The obstacles are unconventional, with so many different ways to flip, grind, manual and combo the course -- making creativity more plentiful. Since there is no direction or one way to skate it, everyone is attacking the island of obstacles as they please. You're not going to see a lot of these obstacles -- like the curved manual pads -- in any other contests. Manny Mania lets the more technically inclined skateboarders shine, with no pressure to jump down massive stair gaps or impale themselves on handrails. They can focus on what they do best- technical wizardry.
Besides the standard lineup of pros from previous years, there were a couple of wildcards that came as a complete surprise. Austyn Gillette entered with a bunch of stylish manual tricks and skating off-course on the quarterpipe, which didn't make it into the contest judging. Gillette's backside Smith grind up the ledge and manual down was quite the handsome trick. Torey Pudwill was another skater who was new to the contest and came through with some signature "Tony Hawk Pro Skater" style combinations. His manual across the highest ledge of the course blew minds -- many people didn't believe it was even possible. Neither Gillette nor Pudwill made it to the finals but both were two of the most enjoyable skaters to watch during the entire event.
The finals came down to Sewa Kroetkov, a 21 year old skateboarder from the Netherlands, and California's Joey Brezinski -- the reigning Manny Mania champ. Kroetkov executed a bunch of ultra clean flip-in, flip-out manual tricks with a cool aloofness, but it wasn't enough to stop Brezinski. Brezinski's combinations of manual-to-grind tricks and consistency went completely unmatched. He utilized the course like it was his own little playground with the ability to execute tricks like half-Cab noseslide to backside tailslide to switch manny to switch 180 out. Repeating 2011, Brezinski took away the WWF styled, Manny Mania 1st place belt, the champagne, the money, and the bragging rights. If you plan on competing next year, you better start training now if you want to dethrone the king.