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WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?
BY ERIC KIRKWOOD

This is not necessarily a story, it is actually just some of my thoughts about a question that is asked by the riders to the judges on a fairly consistent basis. The question is (of course), “what do you guys look for”. For those of you who are thinking, “I don’t even care about that”, well that’s good because you shouldn’t have to worry about it. However, some of you don’t know some of us judges that well, or you’re just neurotic like me and want to know what makes everyone tick. For me, after fifteen years of being totally passionate about skateboarding, I feel very lucky to be able share my thoughts. For those interested, I’d like to talk a little about pro skateboarding contests.

As a judge, I would say I look for . . .your best skating. Not the best run ever in history (although that’s always nice), not the best super tech run, not even the biggest burliest run, . . . unless that is your style. I’d like to ‘name names’ so that everyone can go, “oh, I get that”(hopefully). Chris Senn is one of the chosen few skaters who can conceivably win a street contest without flipping his board. I say conceivably because it is a damn amazing thing to win a contest without flipping your board, maybe even impossible in this day of gifted skaters. Nevertheless, those of us who have witnessed Chris in action can see how differently he sees the course from almost everyone else. His style of reckless abandonment and ‘do or die’ attitude is truly rare.

Let’s put another name up for scrutiny, how about Frank Hirata. Frank is a really neat guy, skateboarding and otherwise. Frank gets it if you ask me. This guy has been skating basically from the mid-eighties through today. Seriously, he can do it all. Big, tech, fast, whatever’s clever. We have talked on occasion and I have come to realize that Frank sees this whole x-contests thing for what it is. The fact is, there is no street inside those contests. Frank knows this.

People poo-poo this stuff and I can totally understand that point of view. However, when I am at an event I think, this is a sixty-second game that you happen to play on a skateboard, that’s cool! To me it has never seemed like street. I love skating the street and I don’t even think that judging real street makes any sense. Koston, Trujillo, Bartie, Thomas (fill in the blank with whom ever you want). These guys don’t need to be compared under “street” mentality, they are all so amazing and original that there is no point. Some skaters get to contests and trip out on the fact that the set up is big or small or just ‘lame’. I seriously can’t wait to skate those crazy set-ups and figure out something fun to do on all those funky, twisty, high-to-low, upper, lower, tripped out ramps and rails. I can’t wait to see what the best skaters in the world will figure out. It’s not real street to me, but it is something that would have blown me away if I were to have seen it when I started skating. It blows me away to skate it now!

But I digress, back to Frank. His runs have been so fun to check out. He hits all the ramps, he hits the rails, when something is weird to skate he tries to use it. He spends sixty seconds skateboarding. When I watch him, I feel as though he thinks of this as just another something challenging to do on a skateboard. I would say that Frank Hirata is doing what I would look for in a contest run . . . from Frank Hirata.

Those who are coming to a contest to skate street and think it’s lame, I do feel you to some extent. Just remember the other way of looking at this stuff. Remember how when you started, a curb down the block was the best spot of all times. Now you’ve got super playland instead! What can you do on it?! I’m stoked to see.

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