After a rigorous weekend, Flip's Luan De Oliveira was the clear winner of the Tampa Am contest. For the full list, check out the Skatepark Of Tampa site, and for the action shots, check out Transworld Skateboarding's site. Here are the top ten and my commentary on each. All 12 of these guys shredded in their own way, and made the cut out of 200 skaters.
1. Luan De Oliveira
He's a Flip am. That's all that really needs to be said about this guy. His tricks were so consistent, but also so properly executed. As his Flip ad indicated, he's not gonna be a "man-am." I'm guessing he'll be pro in six months.
2. Andrew Langi
This is the guy you'll be hearing a lot more about in the future. You'll watch him kill rails and stairs and think he's amazing, and then you'll realize he's actually more of a tranny skater. Oops.
3. Nick Merlino
This kid showed up on Foundation flow, but maybe after this weekend he'll be fully on the team. He's got a switch back 360 you can set your watch to.
4. Taylor Smith
This guy ripped. He's clean and he's from Carlsbad. This kid skates vert, too.
5. Kechaud Johnson
Apparently this guy's nickname is "krazybone," and I'm feeling it. He was my pick to win.
6. Cody Davis
Cody was the young gun in the finals. He had his run dialed perfectly every time, and I didn't think he weighed enough to muscle a back Smith across the tech center, but I was proven wrong every time.
7. Felipe Gustavo
Felipe won the Am contest two years ago, and I heard that his dad sold the family car to fly them from Brazil that year, in order to pay for their plane tickets. He was skating so good, nollie flipping to crooked grind smoother than I can roll down the street, but he just didn't put it together.
8. Anthony Schultz
We were rooting for Anthony because he's from North County San Diego, and he was ripping, but he couldn't put a run together. He also wore the same Eggo waffle tee shirt all weekend.
9. Willy Akers
Willy was the token "man-am" of the weekend, but only because he's 22 looking like 33, and killing it. There are skaters who flip their boards down stairs, and skaters who can grind over the love seat and skate the bank to wall. Willy was the latter.
10. Collin Hale
If the average skater does 10 tricks in his 50-second run, Collin does 30. He seriously hit every possible obstacle with crazy tricks, but he just didn't have it in the finals.
11. Kyle Walker
I really like the way this kid was skating, but I hadn't heard of him until this weekend. That's the beauty of this contest. Winning is rad, but what's almost more important is letting people know just how good you are. That's what Kyle did. Now I know. Emerica and Real knew before me, though.
12. Derek Elmendorf
He's outgrown the "deathwish" nickname, and fakie ollie switch front feebled his way into the finals. Dude was ripping.
After the finals, there was a best trick contest on the Tech Center while the judges tallied up their scorecards. Austyn Gilette won it with a bigspin back tail to forward.
One major highlight of the weekend was the 12-foot love seat on the far wall. That thing is seriously gnarly, and there were only a handful of skaters who could even hit it. Tom Grom Remillard back tailslid it in his run, and Grant Taylor frontside ollied it to tail. Tom took $50 from MC Brian Schaefer for his efforts. It's always fun to watch Schaefer pay up. And this year saw the first ever female to make the semifinals. Lacey Baker's got a mean hardflip.
All tolled, another amazing contest. When it comes to having fun, I think we all won Tampa Am. Well, except for the guy whose jeep fell in the moat. Thanks for everything Skatepark Of Tampa! See you next year!