Date: february 1, 1987.
Place: West Palm Beach, Florida.
|BMX Plus!: Someday, somebody will create a freestyle contest that is fun, fast-paced, exciting and shorter than three showings of Gone With the Wind. As freestyle contests grow in popularity, they also grow in length. Never before was that as obvious as at the opening contest of the 1987 AFA Freestyle Masters Series at the West Palm Beach Civic Auditorium in West Palm Beach, Florida.|
This was a big contest, the first contest of the '87 points year, so just about every major star in freestyle was on hand.
The building was modern, clean and well-lit, with good seating, safe parking, and a super-smooth concrete floor. You couldn't ask for much more.
The flatland competition was first, and it went from youngest to oldest to the pros. The way new tricks are being introduced nowadays, there's no telling what age class is going to come up with the best moves, so everybody is watched.
The first glimpses of major creativity came in the 14-15 Expert class. With 23 riders in the group, Scotty Freeman and Brian Belcher seemed like they'd probably be the stars of the class, but that was only before we got a chance to see New York's Joe Gruttola. Scotty was good but blew his attempt at a top gun and ended up touching a couple of times in his run. Belcher was radical and fast, even pulling off a rolling pedal picker (he actually pedals his bike in the pedal-picker position), but he touched too often at the end of his routine. (The AFA should have an official "touch counter," because it's such a sensitive issue with the riders. If we say a rider touched 'about three times" and he thinks it was only twice, he's usually ready to have us executed the following dawn.) Haro's Joe Gruttola wasn't perfect either, but his routine was hot anyway, and he came out with possibly the best trick of the contest: a no-handed backwards infinity roll with his handlebars spinning. That trick was so radical that even his brief backwards bar ride (he jumped off) paled by comparison. Gruttola slaughtered the class.
The 16-18 Expert class had 48 riders, all of them good. When you consider that every one of them scored between 80 and 87, you can imagine how close the scores were. Karl Rothe came out with a very fresh and innovative routine, including tricks we'd never seen before and wouldn't know how to describe. He was fast, fluid and hot. His best trick was probably his "turn bucket' -a backwards wheelie into a 180 decade. He had lots of tricks and lots of difficult combinations. Only a videotape would do him justice. Ron Camero gave some indication of how tough the comp was when he included an extremely hard triple boomerang in an otherwise good routine and still only ended up in a four-way tie for eleventh place. Craig Grasso of General ended up in the same finishing position, despite an incredible trick that looked like a backwards-facing, front-wheel hop, cancan spinner. He calls it a Japanese swirl, and it is bad! SE's Denny Howell pulled off what may have been the hottest move of the class, however: a bionic front-wheel wheelie infinity roll. It's a trick that Dennis McCoy invented and calls a 'hyperspastic fork spin," but Howell gets into it in a different way. Whatever you call it, it's rad, but it was still only enough to help Denny to a fourth-place finish. The top three guys in the class were Mongoose's Karl Rothe, Schwinn's Jason Parkes, and CW's Gary Pollack, each of whom could probably write an encyclopedia of freestyle tricks just from their own routines.
Ten guys came out for the 19 & Over Expert class, but nobody was as hot as Rick Moliterno and Kenneth Evans. Moliterno is Dennis McCoy's practice partner in Kansas City (Missouri, not Kansas), and his whirling, high-speed moves are very much like the ones McCoy does. We thought Rick touched three times, but he claims it was only twice. Whatever the case, his run was just good enough to beat Kenneth Evans, who put on a killer routine and touched only once in three minutes. Some people felt that Evans should have won, but everyone will admit that it was close, no matter how you looked at it. Next time, there's no telling how things will end up.
Pro flatland. Woody Itson fell on his opening bar ride and went downhill from there. When Woody's "on," he's amazing, but this just wasn't one of those days. Dennis McCoy came out next, jamming as always, and the crowd went crazy. He started with a 180 rollout, went into a smoothie and then into a reverse top gun. When he dropped his feet back down to his front wheel, he went right into some high-speed footwork, then into a backwards wheelie in a circle, into a sweeper, into a side glide, into a G-string (a rolling tail whip while doing a G-turn) and from there into a mega-spin (a bionic rearwheel spinner), into a double boomerang. Do you get the picture? He was insane! That was only the start of his routine. Everything was a-mile-a-minute and interconnected. Before he was done, he also included a Miami hopper, a triple boomerang, a double tail whip, a fire hydrant into a side squeak, an over-andout, and for his grand finale, his own incredible hyperspastic fork spins. He touched cement maybe three or four times in five minutes, which is incredibly little considering the number and difficulty of his tricks. It was going to be a tough routine to beat. McCoy's riding style has changed the face of freestyle. Nowhere was that more apparent than in the runs of R.L. Osborn and Martin Aparijo. They both know how it feels to be considered the top flatland rider in freestyle and then have someone else come along and snatch that distinction away. To combat McCoy's frenetic style, they've both had to copy it, and as a result, their routines have gotten so much better, there's no telling which one of the three will win the next contest. R.L. put together a super routine here, with fast moves and tough tricks, but he fell on his coup de grace-a backwards bar ride on the grips alone (he'd done it the length of the floor in practice and got down to his pedals again, too). It may be the hardest trick in the sport, but when he fell off he lost the advantage it would have given him. We think he touched twice before that. With no mistakes he probably would have won. He was good. Martin rode just as hot as R.L. and almost as perfectly, touching maybe three or four times. Second and third could have gone either way, but the judges gave second to Martin and third to R.L. The win went to "The Real" McCoy.
Pro flatland: 1.Dennis McCoy 2.Martin Aparijo 3.R.L. Osborn 4.Rick Allison 5.Josh White 6.Chris Lashua 7.Woody Itson 8.(tie)Fred Blood 8.(tie)Rich Sigur 10.Ron Wilkerson
19 and over expert flatland: 1.Rick Moliterno 2.Kenneth Evans 3.Dino DeLuca 4.Bruce King 5.Bob LePera
16-18 expert flatland: 1.Karl Rothe 2.Jason Parkes 3.Gary Pollack 4.Denny Howell 5.(tie)Darren Pelio 5.(tie)Pete Kearney 5.(tie)Terry Cleaton
14-15 expert flatland: 1.Joe Gruttola 2.Brian Belcher 3.Scott Freeman 4.James Coppock 5.Gregg Rogers
13 and under expert flatland: 1.Eric Evans 2.David Dugger 3.Carl Argila 4.Bill Gawrych 5.Rick Rickard
Every two months or so, somebody comes up with a move that looks like the all-time hardest trick in the world. R.L Osborn's backwards bar ride on the grips is a definite contender for the honors this time.
|There are two things that are becoming ridiculously apparent about the ramp competition at AFA contests. First is the fact that Matt Hoffman is quickly becoming (or has already become) the raddest ramp rider alive. Second is that he still doesn't know how to put together a great routine. The most exciting thing you'll see at an AFA contest is Matt's practice routine. If he can figure out how to put as much excitement into his points run, the judges may have to create a whole new points category for him alone. Even though his routine could be better, it's not likely that anyone else in his class will ever better him. His points run in West Palm Beach included a no-footed cancan fakie air, a no-footer into a no-hander in one aerial, a fully twisted cancan, a radical no-hander, and one of his insane no-footed cancans. His altitude was up around eight feet on most of his tricks, about as high as the highest airs in the whole contest. If he'd learn how to choreograph his routine and do abubacas and 540s, he could move into the pro class tomorrow (if the AFA would let him) and win that. It's a shame that Matt's age class, 14-15 Ramps, gets only two minutes each, because he deserves four like the pros. Do we need to mention that he won ?
In 16-18 Ramps, Joe Johnson showed how he got so famous so fast himself. With his insanely inverted one-footers (the raddest in the sport) and full-spread no-handers, his win was a certainty.
In the 19 & Over Ramp class, Dyno's Dave Voelker showed the stuff that got him where he is today. Dave blasted mongo aerials, possibly the highest of the contest at around nine feet, plus what may have been the highest no-hander in history, about eight feet out if we remember correctly-a suicide aerial if anything went wrong. Nothing did, so Dave won the division.
Rick Moliterno and Dino DeLuca took second and third this day, and they were both hot. Dino's raddest move was his recovery from a back-wheel hang-up that ripped the quarterpipe loose from the giant mass of duct tape that held it in place on the floor, and moved the ramp back six inches in a fraction of a second. After Dino rode, a whole new tape job was in order.
There were ten guys in the Pro Ramps class. On the right day, almost any one of them could win. This day belonged to Wilkerson, however. Eight-foot airs? Cake. No-handers? You bet. Abubacas? Any way you want 'em. No-footed cancans? Why not? Wilkerson blew everybody away this time. And after his time ran out, he even did a backwards drop-in from a Miami hopper. You can't get much radder. What happened to Dominguez, you wonder? Well, believe it or not, Michael put on the lamest performance of his career. He spent most of his four minutes doing basic aerials mostly five or six feet out. Except for one or two low 540s, the hardest aerial he did was a lookback maybe five feet out. What happened? Well, Michael had picked this contest to debut his newest aerial, and was riding super carefully all the way to the end until he finally went for it. What was his grand finale? Most people at the contest never knew, because his front wheel washed out on his take-off. It looked like he bailed on his way to doing a 540. In reality, he was going for a "900"-a two and-a-half rotation aerial-a full rotation more than a 540! Michael later told us that he'd done maybe six in his life before this contest, and it was what he was going for when he bailed. Without the 900, Michael's routine was a waste. It showed how risky it is to rely on one trick to win a contest. Even if he'd pulled off the 900, he probably wouldn't have won; the rest of his routine was that lame. As it was, Michael ended up with eighth place.
Pro ramp: 1.Ron Wilkerson 2.Josh White 3.Dennis McCoy 4.Brian Blyther 5.(tie)Eddie Fiola 5.(tie)Rich Sigur 5.(tie)Todd Anderson 8.Mike Dominguez 9.Hugo Gonzales 10.Dennis Langlais
19 and over expert ramp: 1.Dave Voelker 2.Rick Moliterno 3.Dino DeLuca 4.Monte Hill 5.Dizz Hicks
16-18 expert ramp: 1.Joe Johnson 2.Chris Rothrock 3.Gary Pollack 4.Eddie Roman 5.Mitch Collins
14-15 expert ramp: 1.Matt Hoffman 2.Carlo Griggs 3.Brian Belcher 4.Jeremy Alder 5.Tony Martin
13 and under expert ramp: 1.Eric Evans 2.Rick Rickard
| There was no question who was the top Overall Pro in the contest. McCoy won that title with ease, thanks to his win in Pro Flatland and strong third in Pro Ramps (after losing a one-minute tie breaker for second to Josh White). We didn't even mention how radical McCoy's ramp runs were, but believe us, they were. He did eight-foot cancans and 540s three feet above the ramp. The guy is rad! (Josh White was even radder, however.)
Rick Moliterno got the Overall title just as obviously in 19 & Over Expert. Dyno's Dino DeLuca was Rick's toughest competition, and for once, Rick beat Dino in ramps. Don't count Dino out in the future, though. He totally jammed in the Flatland competition, taking a third here, and he can normally toast Moliterno in the ramps category.
CW's Gary Pollak won neither Ramps nor Flatland, but he positively ripped in both and took the Overall win with a third in each class. Brilliant on ground (he invented the "fire hydrant"!) and ramps (he's one of the few amateurs who does 540 aerials in his runs), he's one of the most respected amateurs in freestyle.
Brian Belcher and Eric Evans took the Overall titles in the younger classes. Both were hot on ramps and ground.