Wednesday, June 8, 2016

2016 Austin Street Jam Recap

Theo Kotyk hit me up about sharing a recap of the latest Austin Street Jam, and ended up writing this awesome review to go along with the photography of Chris Dant. It's a bit lengthy but is an awesome way to relive the day, or experience it secondhand if you weren't there yourself.

This year Matt Ogle and I planned/hosted the third annual Street Jam in Austin, TX. But before jumping in to all that, I want to preface this tale of scooter exploits with some background on the scooter scene here in Texas. Like many scenes throughout the world, ours consists of a relatively small number of committed riders scattered throughout the 268,820 square miles that is the Lone Star State. This brings a new level of importance to any happening where we can all gather together, ride, and fellowship with old friends and new ones alike. This is the reason the Austin Street Jam exists, and why Matt and I hope to continue seeing it grow and flourish for the foreseeable future.
With that being said, let’s dive in to this recap of the Street Jam this year, because it was one for the books! Amid threats of thunderstorms throughout the weekend, and in light of last years unexpected turn of events, we waited with baited breath as the weekend approached. Friends from all over began to arrive; Tommy Daddono and Richard Harck from Chicago, Dan Barrett, Ryan Upchurch and Cooper Klaar from Portland, JonColin Senka, Henry Rohlfing, Dakota Dawkins and Ryan Fleet from Oklahoma, and a host of others from all around Texas. In the greatest turn of events, the clouds parted and the sun blasted down relentlessly on Saturday morning, and continued to do so for the entire weekend. The rendezvous point was House Skate Park downtown, so as the morning rolled on, skateboarders and BMX’ers alike scratched their heads in awe as the park swarmed with more and more kids riding- “WAIT…are those…scoooooters?!” (insert dumbfounded expression – typical reaction if you live in Texas, or anywhere that isn’t Australia or California). After everyone had rolled in and got a nice sweat going, Matt on the megaphone made a few announcements, thanked all the generous sponsors, and laid out the ground rules for a “street style” jam (hint: there aren’t many). Then, the stoke sank in immediately as we all started pushing our way to Spot #1.

Spot #1 consisted of a block’s worth of ledge and stair spots. Part of the goal behind this year’s Street Jam was to emphasize the freedom and creativity of street riding itself, so we chose spots accordingly that had 3, 4, or 5 different options in one area. We figured the people would decide what they were the most stoked on and ride it. We figured right.
The crew immediately started throwing tricks down the three stair, feeling it out and pacing themselves for the long day of riding ahead. Some started sizing up the hubba to see if they wanted to take the hard way – gap out to the end, shortly followed by a kink – or the harder way – hop on immediately at the 3-4 foot high portion. Matt Ogle and Ryan Upchurch handled their business with a backside and frontside board slide, respectively. Other gnarly combos were thrown on the wall and over the stairs, while a few of us scoped out a ledge perpendicular to the stairs with no run up, a gap, and a nice drop.
Spot #1: Some chose to sesh the stairs and wallride, others chose to go for broke on the behemoth of a hubba. Ryan Upchurch with a frontside boardslide all the way through.
We then moved next door to another ledge spot that ended up revealing a gap from an aluminum roof to a crusty gravel parking lot. It was looked at a couple of times but the slots in the roof made it impossible to gap normally, this monster would need to be handled with a caveman off. Matt Ogle ended up taking this one, and instantly got the crowd hyped to see an OG still throwing down in his “twilight” years. We then moved a few feet away to a six flat three set right across from a skinny ledge, gap, ledge. As cars flew by in the street about 20 feet from the bottom of the set, the boys started throwing themselves down this set. Austen Hailey, an Austin local, demonstrated his smooth and dialed style with a firecracker down the six to fullwhip down the three, while Clinton Hall devoured the whole thing with a massive ollie. Dan and JonColin threw insane combos down the sets as well to close out the first spot of this year’s Jam.
Spot #1: “Age is just a number”, Matt Ogle seemed to say with this caveman off the roof over a 15 foot drop
Clint Hall throwing his body over a set that many would prefer not to do
We bombed the hilly streets of Austin to arrive at Spot #2 – two out rails for the goofy and regular riders to enjoy. Too many tricks went down at this spot to list, so I’ll let you watch the video recap to see that for yourself. But I will mention that in addition to the rails, JonColin and Landon Shea also discovered a huge gap off of a ledge and started hitting that. It was a beautiful use of the area and a fresh approach to a classic Austin spot. Cruising down the hill, we arrived at Spot #3 - the famous Museum Ledges. Countless tricks have been done at these ledges, and I was skeptical about seeing something new and original. I was proven wrong within five minutes, as JonColin and Cooper Klaar started sashing the not-so-small handrails with some uncanny scooter maneuvers. Groms and Pros alike started riding the ledges, most of which are skate stopped, but with a quick hop in the middle of your trick, you can add a new twist to an old classic.
Spot #2: Andy Koke represents Proto well with this tweaked-out frontside hurricane
Darrell Hendrix: The winner of best trick at Spot #2 and a brand new dirt scooter from The Scooter Farm
Spot #3: Landon Shea sliding a proper nosebluntslide at the Museum Ledges
Spot #3: JonColin Senka asserts his authority on this rail with a view
Time to Dip: This was the only kickout of the day, and sources later reported that the officer just wanted to block traffic for us so we wouldn’t get hit by the cars zipping by. He actually looked confused when we all took off right as he showed up.
After overstaying our welcome at the ledges, we took the sightseer’s route by the Capitol building to Spot #4 – a nine stair rail. This rail is perfect in a lot of ways until you take a slam, then you realize the ground is actually a cheese grater as the blood starts gushing out of your palms. Despite this fact, the more ambitious riders in our pack hucked themselves over the set and down the rail. There were certainly slams, but thanks to Jenn Lavallee, there was no shortage of Band-Aids and reassuring words. Shigeru “Shig” Gallagher, a hungry grom with a thirst for the shred, stole the show at this spot with a back board, front board, and chilling front board whip attempts. Caleb Eldridge impressed the crowd with his heelwhip double rewind attempts, even after blowing out his ankles. Prize money was handed out, it was a real hoot.
Spot #4: Shig with a front board down the nine like a grown-ass man
Spot #4: Okki Reinikainen sporting a cheese-grated elbow after encountering the nine stair rail. This didn’t stop him from riding the entire jam.
After making an essential gas station stop (because Texas heat), the posse arrived at Spot #5 – some buttery white ledges with infinite potential. Notable tricks were thrown by Henry Rohlfing, Dakota Dawkins, Dylan Odermott, Austen Hailey, and Dan Barrett. With everyone feeling a little burned out from the heat and 7-Eleven hot dogs, we rested up while some rode the ledges, and prepared for the next spot.
Spot #5: Austen Hailey providing a helpful tutorial on how to look great doing a many combo
Spot #5: Shade is hard to come by downtown during the middle of the afternoon. The crew took advantage of this cool, marble gem for a quick breather
We made our way to the sixth spot of the Austin Street Jam, anticipating the hubbas and the legendary Green Goblin 18-stair to follow. Upon arriving, the free-form nature of street riding once again made an appearance as a large group congregated around a perfect slanted wall, conveniently located in some shade. While mind-boggling wallride combos were being thrown down there, Dan Barrett proceeded to land the wildest line I’ve ever witnessed at this spot (see video for more details). A wedding happened to be wrapping up at an ornately-built cathedral across the street, and it wasn’t difficult to imagine their shock as the bride and groom exited to a mass of grimy scooter riders a few feet away. We diffused the situation by congratulating them as they drove off with a raucous applause, they seemed to appreciate that gesture.
Spot #6: The dedicated filmer, Mike DeJong takes a break from being behind the lens to show everyone this “East Koast” style everyone’s so crazy about
With the Jam drawing to a close, we rolled over to the Green Goblin – an 18 stair handrail with a death drop on one side and a rollaway into a busy intersection. Anticipation had been growing throughout the day with talk of who would attempt to toss their carcass down this iconic spot only ridden by the most fearless BMX riders. Everyone gathered where they were able, and some generous souls started guiding traffic as much as they could. Despite the assistance, this set is no joke, and one wrong move can send you straight to the hospital. Landon Shea and JonColin Senka responded to the cries from the crowd of their friends and random onlookers, and began rolling up to the set. After sizing up the set, JonColin proceeded to straight ollie, and then barspin all the way down the 18 steps first try. The crowd went nuts, and juiced Landon up enough to send a board slide down the handrail. The impact from the landing, combined with a curb placed inconveniently a few feet after the set, sent him into a roll. Feeling more motivated than ever, he sprinted back up the stairs and sent the perfect board slide back down it, emerging victorious at the end. I can’t give enough props to these brave souls for taking on the Green Goblin.
The Green Goblin: 18 stairs of death don’t scare Landon Shea
With that, the formal portion of the 2016 Austin Street Jam was a wrap. The last stop of the day was another Texas classic – the Austin High Ditch. This ditch is conveniently placed by the Colorado River, and after six hours of riding in the relentless heat, we were ready for a dip. Snacks and drinks were provided, and prizes were handed out to the notable shredders of the day. As the sun began to set and Dan threw slappy wallrides into the river, it was hard to deny that it had been the perfect day.
I want to thank everyone who participated in the Street Jam this year in any way. Our friends from out of state that are more like family to us; Tommy (who SnapChatted behind the scenes the whole day), Ricky Rechard, Dan, Coop and Ryan. Alejandro Cuellar and his dad, Arturo, for all the amazing ways they helped us this year and last. From handing out prizes, to directing traffic, to driving the paddy wagon for injured riders. All of the generous sponsors for this year; Rain from Rattlecan Skate Shop, Central Scooters, Phoenix, Hella Grip, The Scooter Farm, Elyts, AO, 841, Crisp, and Aztec. Mike DeJong for always holding it down as our filmer at these things. Chris Dant and Bobby Biedinger for snapping the incredible photos you’ve seen in this article, and many more that can be found on our Tumblr. Jenn Lavallee for providing first aid, snacks and drinks that kept us all pushing. Jordan for letting us share about this awesome happening. And of course YOU for reading this article. Hope you enjoyed it, and come out for the next Austin Street Jam in May 2017!

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