Place: Tulsa, Oklahoma.
John Ker, BMX Plus! august 1986: Racers might chuckle at the turnout for the typical freestyle contest, but they wouldn't laugh if they had to compete in one. The AFA's Tulsa event drew only a few hundred spectators, but it also brought out nearly every one of the world's top freestyle riders. If you thought the AFA's Velodrome contest in last month's issue was a major freestyle event, you should have been in Oklahoma a month later. The AFA's Tulsa contest turned out to be the most star-studded pro freestyle event ever. On the other hand, if you only looked at the number of spectators, you would have thought this was the most insignificant contest in history. This was one peculiar contest. Up until two days before the event, we weren't even planning on attending it. After all, the AFA's first King of the Skateparks contest of 1986 was scheduled for the following weekend, and we had decided that it would be the more interesting event by far.
Maybe it would have been, but Stan Hoffman, the owner of the Pipeline Skatepark, pulled the plug on the K.O.T.S. event. We heard that news on Thursday and decided that Tulsa sounded a lot better than nothing. By Friday we had our plane ticket, and Saturday evening we were flying into Oklahoma. With so little time to plan the trip, we were unable to make it to Tulsa in time for Saturday's novice and intermediate action. We arrived at the contest site at 11 o'clock Sunday morning, an hour before the start of the expert and pro competition.
The building was the Expo Square Pavilion on the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds in Tulsa. It was not the same gigantic building that the ABA Grands had been held in two years earlier. This one looks like it was designed more for basketball games. That other building looked like it was designed for indoor airplane races. Anyway, this one was perfect for a freestyle contest. It has a smooth concrete floor just about the right size, and seats for probably five or ten thousand people. The Haro Team's short ramp and eight-foot-high quarterpipe were set up on opposite ends of the arena. When we walked in, there were probably two or three dozen of the world's best freestylers practicing on the floor -and not many more people in the whole building. If there were 100 non-participants present, we'd be surprised. Oh well, it was still practice time. We figured the spectators would probably show up later. As it turned out, we were right. There must have been around 300 people in the building by the time the competition got under way.
|John Ker, BMX Plus! august 1986: The younger classes of flatland competition began shortly after 12. Besides Scotty Freeman, who beat Trevor Hernandez in the 13 & Under Expert class, there really weren't any big name riders until the 16 & Over Expert class was called. There were some great riders in that class, including Schwinn's Jason Parkes, Hutch's Rick Moliterno, Skyway's Eddie Roman, and the amazing Rothe brothers -Karl of Hutch and Chris of Haro. Human pretzel Karl Rothe was absolutely incredible, however; no one could touch his performance. The surprise of the class was that the much-heralded Josh White proved to be a red-hot ground styler, too. In fact, Josh originally tied Rick Moliterno for second with his routine and ended up with third only after losing a squeaker of a tie breaker. It was a bad day for Jason Parkes. Jason had won this class at the Velodrome a month earlier, but this time he contracted a bad case of foot-on-floor disease -the dreaded "touchdownitis" and ended up taking seventh here.
The excitement level took a quantum leap when the Pro Flatland class began. The order of the riders had been determined by drawing their names out of a hat. There were 16 guys in all, and each had five minutes to show his stuff.
Ron Wilton started it out and he bombed. Dave Nourie was next and he ripped. Then came Woody Itson and to the amazement of just about everyone, he bombed. He pulled off some great tricks but had also somehow contracted the dreaded "touchdownitis" before his routine, and foot faults did him in.
R.L. Osborn was next and was great as usual. Still, it appeared to be the same routine he had used at the VeIodrome, right down to the music-Elton John's "Funeral for a Friend" (there may be a sly message to his competitors in that song's title). R.L.'s routine was nearly perfect, even if his scratchy tape sounded as though it had been played 500 times too much.
Skyway's Maurice Meyer and Schwinn's Pete Augustin were next. They were both good, although nobody would know it when their scores were revealed later.
Ron Wilkerson was next and he was good. Fiola followed Wilkerson and was great -in our opinion- although some of his competitors said he did too many easy tricks and relied too much on showmanship and too little on skill. We still say that Fiola is vastly underrated as a flatland rider.
Kevin Foss and Chris Lashua were next. They were both good, and if they were more famous, they probably would have finished higher in the results.
The next rider up was Martin Aparijo, and he came out riding like a superstar. He started out with a 180 rollback into a one-handed reverse slider, and then went on to do almost every trick in the book. The crowd went wild at the end of his routine, and everyone knew that Martin's was now the performance to beat.
Oleg Konings and Robert Peterson tried, but as good as they were, they couldn't do it. Dennis McCoy, Rich Sigur, and Rick Allison were also good, but they couldn't do it either
It was no great surprise when the final results showed Martin as the winner. Once again, R.L. got second to the only rider he's never beaten. McCoy got third. Wilkerson got fourth, Fiola got fifth, and Sigur and Itson tied for sixth.
Pro flatland: 1.Martin Aparijo 2.R.L. Osborn 3.Dennis McCoy 4.Ron Wilkerson 5.Eddie Fiola 6(tie).Rich Sigur 6(tie).Woody Itson 8.Dave Nourie 9.Rick Alison 10.Robert Peterson
16 and over expert flatland: 1.Karl Rothe 2.Rick Moliterno 3.Josh White 4.Chris Rothe 5.Eddie Roman 6.Mark McKee 7.Jason Parkes 8(tie).Robert Castillo 8(tie).Rey Santimmian 10.Robert Saucedo 11.Joe Johnson
14-15 expert flatland: 1.Chris Romeo 2.Eddie Miller 3.Parks Carter
13 and under expert flatland: 1.Scotty Freeman 2.Trevor Hernandez 3.Ruben Castillo
16 and over intermediate flatland: 1.Sean Wilkerson 2.Chuck McCue 3.Sam Lincoln 4.John Hughes
14-15 intermediate flatland: 1.Tommy Phillips 2.Dustin Morgan 3.Dan Kaler 4.Ned Mansfield
16 and over novice flatland: 1.Gary Brown 2.Chuck Felder 3.Clint Cornett 4.Pat Gearhart
14-15 novice flatland: 1.Julian Watson 2.Daniel Vines 3.John Gearhart 4.Chris Borgen
13 and under novice flatland: 1.Timothy Carter 2.Bruce Hammock 3.Philip LoGrasso 4.Patrick Wiles
|Matt Hoffman won his age class, 14-15 expert ramp.
Mat, The ride of my Life, 2002: I got a chance to mingle with the elite, factory sponsored riders at the AFA Masters Series contest in Tulsa, Oklahoma. My peers dubbed me a local hotshot, and it was time to compete against riders from all over the country. I was expected to show these guys what Oklahoma City kids were made of. I was so nervous I spent the contest morning barfing up breakfast. During my run, my jittery hands could barely flutter back to my grips. When they announced the results, I couldn't believe it: I'd won my age class, 14-15 Expert Ramps.
John Ker, BMX Plus! august 1986: The talk of the arena so far was how high Josh White had been getting in practice on Saturday. Josh's GT teammate, Brian Scura, had recently told us that Josh, a relatively unknown rider from Oregon, was hotter than Fiola or Dominguez on the ramps. The stories we began hearing as soon as we arrived seemed to confirm that appraisal. R.L. Osborn told us that one aerial Josh did on Saturday was the highest he'd ever seen -up around the 11- or 12-foot mark. Josh came -and did a few practice runs Sunday morning, but he kept them "down" around the eight-foot level. We'd have to wait until the actual competition to see what he could really do.
Although there were some good performances in the younger ranks, the excitement didn't really begin until the 16 & Over Expert class.
There were several hot guys in the class, but the battle of the day was between Tony Murray and Josh White. Tony Murray was good as usual, but possibly not up to top form. When Josh White came out you would have thought someone from outer space had arrived, the excitement level jumped so much. With only two-and-a-half minutes to the routine, the photographers were all scrambling wildy to get the best possible angles on every aerial. Josh never did reach the extreme altitudes he had achieved in Saturday's practice, but he still beat Tony and blew the doors off everybody else in his class with eight-to-ten-foot aerials. Was he good enough for the pros? Definitely. Could he win that class too? Possibly so, but we'll have to wait until he turns pro to find out, and that could be another year.
The only category left was the pro ramps competition, and on hand was the heaviest line-up in freestyle history. Here's how it went down.
Todd Anderson and Hugo Gonzales started things out with good solid runs. Neither one looked as though he would win, however, despite Hugo's grand finale of a flyaway no-hander off the short ramp out of the arena's floor area and into one of the exit corridors.
Rich Sigur followed and he rode perfectly, hitting around six to eight feet with his best aerials and pulling off two of the cleanest 540 aerials (about two or three feet out) of the contest.
Then came Fiola, and his routine was also virtually perfect, with a great assortment of roughly six-to-eight foot aerials and some good short ramp an ground tricks thrown in for good measure.
Ron Witton was next. His routine was okay but unremarkable. Brian Blyther came next, and his routine was pretty good but way below par for his normally amazing abilities. Donovan Ritter followed and was good but not extraordinary.
That brought up Ron Wilkerson. Wilkerson came out and did a 540 to start his routine, but his landing blew out his tire. One of the officials told him he could keep riding if he could hurry up and get a replacement bike. Ron ran off the floor and came back about half a minute later with teammate Rich Sigur's bike. Wilkerson wasn't used to riding Sigur's bike, which has the seat and bars positioned differently from his own, but he still put on an excellent routine with his typically spectacular riding. It wasn't until after he finished that he found out from the AFA that they didn't count any of his performance on Sigur's bike. According to page one of the AFA rules, a rider is only allowed 15 seconds to get a replacement bike. Ron took 35 seconds, according to AFA official Todd Hoffman. Wilkerson was furious, but the decision stood.
Dennis McCoy was next and he was hot as usual, although his airs were a tad too low to put him in contention for the win.
Mike Dominguez was last and he came out charging. His first air was close to the ten-foot level, but after that, he ran into problems aplenty. He ended up crashing three times in his routine, twice on 540 aerials and once on a no-footer fakie air. There was no way he could win with that kind of run.
Who had won? The judges weren't saying, but they called Fiola and Sigur back for a special run-off, something that's only done when riders tie for one of the top three positions.
Sigur came out and gave one minute of perfection, including another perfect 540 aerial and a variety of other moves. Fiola came out and did couple of good aerials but he also squandered precious seconds on some ground moves in front of the quarterpipe. When time was called, it was clear he had spent too much effort on variety and too little on pure unadulterated radness. The proof was in the scoring. Sigur won the run-off, which was indeed for first place in the whole class. Fiola got second; Blyther ended up with third.
The contest ended around five-thirty Sunday afternoon. Dennis McCoy was declared the overall pro winner, thank to the combined score of 185.3 in his two routines. But who was the real star of the contest? Sure, you could say it was McCoy. Or Aparijo. Or Sigur. But if we had to pick just one person, we have to say it was Josh White. The toughest thing he's going to face in the next few months is living up to this reputation he created for himself here. Is he really the raddest aerial freestyle in the world? Only time will tell.
Pro ramps: 1.Rich Sigur 2.Eddie Fiola 3.Brian Blyther 4.Dennis McCoy 5.Mike Dominguez 6.Donovan Ritter 7.Todd Anderson 8.Hugo Gonzales 9.Ron Wilton 10.Ron Wilkerson
16&over expert ramps: 1.Josh White 2.Tony Murray 3.Joe Johnson 4.jack Smith 5.Rick Moliterno 6.Steve Broderson 7.Eddie Roman 8.Martin Schlessinger 9.Robert Saucedo 10.Rick Thorne 11.Jerry McCoy
14-15 expert ramps: 1.Mathew Hoffman 2.Jeff Thurman
16&over intermediate ramps: 1.Sean Wilkerson 2.John Hughes 3.Darren Price 4.Jody Johnson
14-15 intermediate ramps: 1.Tommy Phillips 2.Dustin Morgan 3.Tony Hamel 4.Joel Alamo