The page of summer is turning from July to August, which means it’s time for the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, California. Surfing action is underway, and the skateboarding action via the Vans Park Series also kicked off this past weekend with Americas Continental Championships for the amateur skaters.
But the main action at the Vans Park Series, the Men’s and Women’s Pro Tour events, is still on the horizon for this coming weekend. With action-packed stops in Sydney, Sao Paulo, Malmö and Vancouver having already taken place this year, Huntington Beach will provide the final event before the World Championships in Shanghai this September.
To catch us up on the 2017 Vans Park Series and what to look out for this weekend, we chatted with action sports podcaster and Vans Park Series announcer Chris Coté for an insider’s perspective into one of the biggest top-tier skate contest series in the world.
If you can’t get yourself to Huntington Beach to see the biggest names in skateboard in person, or if you would rather watch it from the confines of your couch, all the Vans Park Series action will be airing on Red Bull TV LIVE starting at 5 p.m. EST.
What’s your favorite thing about the Vans Park Series?
It’s always incredible to watch the sessions develop. The first day or two you see the skaters cruising around the park sussing out their lines in practice, then it’s a slow burn through practice as the level starts to rise with each session. By the time the contest runs, everybody is so fired up it’s like each skater is getting shot out of a cannon! No one has ever seen park skating at this level, and every contest just seems to get better and better.
Most memorable contest of 2017 (so far)?
Pedro Barros’s final run in Vancouver this year was beyond the realm of what anyone thought was possible -- he set a new precedent. And Tom Schaar dominating in Australia was really fun to watch, it’s amazing to witness someone perform at the peak of their ability.
What is your favorite stop each year?
Malmö, Sweden. Skate the sickest street spots, DIY parks and perfect skateparks all day. Then you pop over to Copenhagen for the afternoon -- it’s the best. The whole city of Malmö loves and supports skateboarding so much! I feel like Sweden is the next best skate Mecca in Europe.
What are the down days like when traveling?
Skating! We have an epic crew of skate dads on the tour so we roll around all the time. When we’re not skating, we’re eating and doing touristy stuff. It’s fun for me cause after being on the surf tour for so long, it’s rad to go to cities and hit some different zones. Neal Hendrix usually acts as our tour guide cause he’s been everywhere in the word 10 times already.
Do the skaters all hang and do tourist things, too?
Yeah the crew of skaters on Park Series takes full advantage of the spots we hit. Of course they mainly stay at the park, but most of them fully engage in whatever nightlife and/or local wildlife that each place offers. It’s always a party when the Park Series comes to town.
What’s it like having the contest on the sand amongst the U.S. Open in HB?
The crowd is huge and the skaters seem to thrive on big crowds like that. The park at this year’s VPS HB is the best I’ve ever seen here, and the skaters have shown their appreciation by ripping the thing to bits in the practice sessions. When the comps go, for both men and women, it’s gonna be epic. Music blasting, crowd going nuts and we’re gonna see park skating taken to the next level of madness.
Who do we need to look out for in Huntington?
Hanna Zanzi is super fun to watch for the women. Jordyn Barret and Brighton Zuener have a rad little rivalry going which will be cool see play out. For the guys, it’s always insane to see the Skater’s of the Year rip, Ishod Wair and Grant Taylor! Tom Schaar, Alex Sorgente and Cory Juneau always shred. It’s hard ’cause everybody is ripping so hard this year.
What’s your best survival tip for the U.S. Open?
Drink water and pace yourself. For us commentators it’s about a steady pace, containing your excitement during the early rounds of the contest because you know it’s just gonna get crazier as the event rolls on.
Who are your picks for winning the championships this year?
Pedro Barros is pissed off after finishing second last year. He’s gonna be on the warpath in Shanghai.
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